Organize your medicine chest

Last year we shared some advice on organizing a medicine chest. Now that cold and flu season is upon us, I want to revisit the topic with a few more best-practice tips and tricks.

As Erin previously stated, don’t store medicine in the bathroom. Humidity isn’t good for many medicines and unlocked cabinets can be an invitation to curious kids (or nosy house guests). Instead, invest in a lockable cabinet that can be mounted in a closet or somewhere similar. You’ll find the rest of Erin’s great tips here.

In this post, I’d like to offer some tips on how to organize the items within your medicine cabinet.

First, round up those little cylinders that love to fall over, roll around, and make a general nuisance of themselves. I’m talking about lip balm, sunscreen, and the like. Clear acrylic canisters will keep them tidy and easily identified.

Next, round up small metallic items like bobby pins and tweezers and stick them to a bit of adhesive magnetic strip. It will save you hours of hunting around trying to find them.

Move “leftovers” into smaller containers. You don’t need to store the last four bandages in that gigantic cardboard box that is already falling apart! Move them into something like a zipper lock bag or coupon organizer. The same goes for cotton balls, cotton swabs, etc.

If you keep cosmetics in the medicine chest, consider these stick-on mini-shelves for the inside of the door to keep them organized and separate from medication.

Lastly, give the cabinet a good cleaning. Remove everything, wipe down the entire interior with sanitizing wipes, and properly dispose of anything that is expired or no longer needed. When that is done, re-arrange the contents based on how you live. Put oft-used items front and center while moving the stuff you rarely use on a top shelf. You’ll spend less time digging around.

This is tangentially related, but I keep a dopp kit ready to go at all times, with the following inside:

  • Toothpaste
  • Toothbrush
  • Shampoo
  • Mouthwash
  • Deodorant
  • Disposable razor
  • Shaving cream

That way I don’t need to tear the medicine chest apart to find these things in an emergency or when I’m packing for a trip.

Unclutter the bathroom with these clever tricks

If you were to ask me which room is hardest to keep tidy, I’d say the bathroom. It is home to lots of small items that are used too often to be tucked away. Even the most diligent unclutterer’s sink or vanity can become a mess in no time as an endless parade of toothpaste, brushes, deodorant, razors, and floss makes its way into your home.

Fortunately, there is hope.

I spent a lot of time searching the internet for the best bathroom organization solutions. I don’t mean cutesy stuff that’s more clever style than substance. Instead, I’ve tracked down several useful ideas that you’ll actually want to put in place.

Toothbrushes and toothpaste

Let’s start with several items that love to congregate on vanities everywhere: toothbrushes and toothpaste. A cutlery sorting tray can keep these items separated and out if sight. I suggest using a plastic tray that is easily removed, as you’ll want to clean and sanitize it periodically.


These things amass themselves incredibly quickly. Spice racks mounted to the wall will hold hair spray, lotion, mouthwash and more that would otherwise clutter up the vanity.

Bobby pins, tweezers and other metal tools

It’s tempting to toss these into a drawer (or, if you’re my daughter, anywhere at all). Adhesive magnetic strips attached to the inside of a drawer or cabinet door will corral these small, easily lost items.

Hair dryers and other bulky items

Now we’ll move from small items to larger ones. Here’s a fantastic idea for storing bulky hair dryers and curling irons. Some PVC cut perfectly and stuck to the inside of a door keeps them out of site yet at hand.

Of course, there’s no “miracle fix” for bathroom clutter other than diligence. Hopefully one of these projects will inspire you to tacking a particular cluttered area.

Unitasker Wednesday: Jonny Glow

All Unitasker Wednesday posts are jokes — we don’t want you to buy these items, we want you to laugh at their ridiculousness. Enjoy!

My wife and I live in a rural home on a dirt road with no street lights. Most of our neighbors are “summer people,” meaning their houses are empty for eight or nine months out of the year. All this to say that, when the sun goes down, it gets dark. This can make it difficult to, among other things, find the bathroom at night. Fortunately, Jonny Glow is prepared to light the way!

Meant to “help you see where you are going,” Jonny Glow adheres to the inside of the bowl and is powerful enough to “glow all night.” You can buy one or even a five-pack if you’ve got a large home with several bathrooms. Sure, you could simply install a nightlight or just turn on a light, but whatever. Plus, I bet it really freaks out the cat.

Of course, if you’re the DIY type you easily make your own! Buy a roll of glowing tape, as is often used in theaters, and save a few bucks. Plus, 30 feet of tape should let you do just about every toilet, kitty litter box, doggie door in the house.

Vertabrae bathroom system for really small bathrooms

After our post on the hideaway sink ran two weeks ago, we received an email from one of our readers asking us if we had seen the Vertabrae® bathroom system. We hadn’t yet seen it, and we thought you might want to see it too. The Vertabrae system is an incredibly compact and vertical bathroom unit that houses just about everything you need in your bathroom. The design is by Paul Hernon of Design Odyssey Ltd.

More information on the Vertabrae:

This stylish aluminum sculpture of seven stacked modules that rotate from the center “spinal column,” has every basic item you need in a bathroom, plus it leaves you some room to bend down to touch your toes without hitting your head on the way up.

With a toilet, sink and two modules (one for children), the Vertibrae gives most of the space in your bathroom right back to you. And the Vertebrae even provides some space for shower, bath, shaving, and cosmetic products right along the column. Cleaning supplies and your favorite toilet paper… in the cupboards under the toilet seat.

Thanks to reader Richard for sharing this interesting concept with us.

Hideaway sink

Better Homes and Garden has some interesting ideas for small bathrooms. Among the many ideas is the hideaway sink (pictured). The sink pulls out of the wall only when needed. The ideas presented in the article can make your bathroom look and feel larger without having to knock out walls or add onto your home’s size.

I have yet to adjust to a smaller shared bathroom in our new home and many of these ideas struck a chord with me. There also is a great list of 22 bathroom storage ideas. Both of these features can give you ideas to keep your bathroom in order, while also making it more relaxing. 

(via Apartment Therapy)

Creating temporary storage that can be reused over and over again

The master bathroom in my home is a nightmare. It has zero built-in storage. There isn’t a single drawer, shelf, or cupboard in the entire space. Not only that, it doesn’t even have a toilet paper holder or towel rack attached to the wall. I wish I were kidding, but I’m not.

I have no idea what the previous owners were thinking when they gutted the room and redesigned it. It’s as if storage were something they feared.

After we finish our bedroom redesign project, we’re planning to take on the bathroom problem. But, until that point, we had to do something as a temporary solution:

We decided to use InterMETRO Shelving because it can be disassembled and reused in another area of our home when we create built-in storage in the bathroom. Additionally, we can reconfigure the set-up of the system as our needs change — add more shelves, swap out the shelves, make it taller, etc.

We also chose to use inexpensive boxes that look nice and can be repurposed when they’re no longer needed in this space. We went with white because it’s one color that appears in every room of our home.

(As a side note, if you’re trying to decide on tile colors for your bathroom floor, do not go with white. Every stray cat and human hair screams “LOOK AT ME,” which means that we are constantly cleaning the floor. A nice light gray would look just as nice and not require daily sweeping.)

If you have a temporary storage problem in your home, think about a solution that can be reused someplace else when it’s no longer needed in its temporary space. The InterMETRO Shelving also is a great idea for renters who need more storage but aren’t looking to make a permanent installment.

Bathroom storage is key

Our new bathroom has some rather odd storage. There isn’t a lot of storage space and we must figure out how to use what we have more wisely. In our new, smaller home, we no longer have our own master bathroom, so we will have to change our bathroom storage habits.

This article from Martha Stewart Living Magazine has some great ideas for bathroom storage. From the article:

To provide sufficient storage, add a standing cabinet. If you can, choose one with separate spaces, preferably one for each person — one drawer can hold Mom’s hair-care essentials, for instance, while another contains the kids’ bath toys.

Bathroom drawers are second only to junk drawers in their potential for messiness. It’s easy to toss grooming products in there pell-mell. Use wooden boxes and trays to help categorize the items. They are available in various sizes and materials, so they can be mixed and matched to fit any sort of drawer. Lazy Susans, too, make accessing toiletries a snap. As a final touch, paint the cabinet a color that coordinates with rest of the bathroom.

We are considering something like this corner cabinet as a storage unit. We have yet to decide if it’s the perfect solution for us, but the bathroom storage situation definitely is on top of our list of problems we need to solve.

Hide away step stool

Pierce Bath ConsoleI received a Pottery Barn Kids catalog in the mail a couple of days ago. I promptly added it to my ever growing list of catalogs that I no longer want using Catalog Choice. As my wife flipped through the unsolicited catalog, she came across an interesting option for a child who needs a step stool to reach the sink.

The Pierce Bath Console adds the step stool as a part of the console so you don’t have to take up space in your bathroom storing one. Obviously, the price on this console is a bit high, but the idea can be implemented into a custom made console that you may take on yourself. Or, look for this option at other retailers if you’re interested.

Don’t let bath toys consume your bathroom

I recently visited a home that had two children under the age of four. When I used their bathroom, I was overwhelmed by the crazy amount of bath toys. With bath toys, just like regular toys, you need to get rid of the old when they get worn out or when new ones are acquired.

My wife and I have yet to purchase a bath toy for our daughter (she is very young), but if you have a child you know how toys go. We have a small plastic tote not unlike the one you may have had back in your college days. The plastic tote holds all of my daughter’s bath supplies. Her soap, shampoo, and toys all fit into it. If we acquire a new toy there isn’t much room to work with, so we get rid of something old and keep the baby bath gear down to a minimum.


This post has been updated since its original publication in 2007.

Unitasker Wednesday: Heated lotion dispenser

Lotion Warmer

How many times have you cursed the ice cold lotion that you apply to your hands? I can honestly say I have never done such a thing, but that’s just me. Conair must believe that a lot of people are sick and tired of using ice cold lotions so they created the Heated Lotion Dispenser.

Now applying lotion to your body is no longer torture. You will now welcome the warmth of the electrically heated lotion. All you have to do is plug in the Conair Heated Lotion Dispenser and in two minutes you have warm buttery lotion to apply to your hands and skin. Features include:

  • Works with your favorite hand or body lotion
  • Heat works synergistically as lotion dispenses
  • Reservoir is removable and dishwasher safe
  • 1 hour auto shutoff
  • 2 Minute heat-up time
  • Variable temperature control
  • 6′ line cord

Now, all you need to do is plug this little thing in and enjoy the nice relaxing warmth of the lotion on your skin. Don’t thank me, thank Conair.

(Thanks to our reader Valerie for the suggested Unitasker.)

** Unitasker Wednesday posts humorously poke fun at the single-use items that seem to find their way into our homes.