07 March 2012

Cabinet cleanouts

You know the old trope about the houseguest that can’t resist peeking in their host’s medicine cabinet? And maybe... just maybe... you’ve done that too?

It’s okay. It’s okay!

Here, I’ll admit it: I’ve done that. And as penance, today I’m going to show you the inside of my bathroom cabinets. I don’t actually have a medicine cabinet, but I do have an under-sink cabinet in my guest bathroom that was looking incredibly embarrassing:

Oh good grief. Can you feel the heat radiating from my cheeks from where you’re sitting right now? That’s how hard I’m blushing.

The guest bathroom cabinet had become a bit of a catch-all of travel-sized toiletries and unused bathroom décor (including a shower caddy, shower curtain, a few towel racks, and an extendable mirror, among other things). It’s also the main place we keep sunscreen and insect repellant, buried somewhere in there, for reasons that are unclear even to me. And because none of that stuff is used regularly, I could mostly just keep the cabinet doors shut and pretend that horror did not lie within.

But because we’re moving soon (OH WAIT DID I NOT MENTION THAT TO YOU YET?) and our house will go up on the market, I knew it was time to deal with that mess. I’ve peeked in enough medicine cabinets that karmic retribution owes me some prospective home-buyers checking out the insides of our cabinets and closets.

First things first: I cleared out all the old toiletries I’d been hoarding for no discernable reason other than BEING CRAZY. Because really, I have traveled quite a bit in the last several years, and not once did I reach for either of these, which are both so old that the plastic has yellowed and the liquid within has degraded to something entirely too runny to be safely applied to skin:


Considering that I have other, newer lotions I packed for those trips, and that Bath and Body Works probably last used that logo circa 1996? Those went into the trash bag.

Most toiletries did not survive the great purge, and those that did got sorted according to function and baggied-up:

Not the most revolutionary or Pinterest-worthy organization system, but I think we can all agree that it is an improvement.

After sorting what to purge and what to send to Goodwill, I organized what would go back in the cabinet into bins. I even stored our travel toiletry bag down there, because it made the most sense to keep it in the same place as the things that would fill it. And before putting everything back in, I wiped down the interior of the cabinet, which accumulates grossness just by being in a warm, wet room. Here’s the end result:

Ta-da! Go ahead and peek in there. Go on!

Buoyed by the success of my guest bathroom cabinet organization, I decided to tackle the closest thing I have to a medicine cabinet: this cabinet, over the toilet in our master bathroom:

It wasn’t as crazy of a “before” as the downstairs bathroom because we actually reach into that cabinet daily. Still, it needed some improvement, because my bizarre lotion-hoarding problem extends across cabinets:

Yes, that bottle is nearly empty. Yes, it has been in our cabinet for years just like that. And yes, even last week I hesitated to purge it because it wasn’t totally empty. I finally parted with it but only after envisioning myself featured on Hoarders, surrounded by old mostly-empty lotion bottles, insisting that I would use them someday while the audience marvels at my denial.

I wanted to class-up this cabinet a little, knowing my effort would make me happy every day when I reached in. However, I’m on a pretty serious no-buying spree these days, partly because we’re basically living just on Mr. P’s income so I can live the dream, but also because anything I bring into this house will have to be moved back out pretty soon. Translation: no running off to shop the HomeGoods bathroom aisle. Sad face.

So, I looked around for what I had, and noticed that two of the baskets in the cabinet were similar – though one was painted, and one was not. Then I realized I had another basket of similar style, painted in another color, that I’d nearly put in the Goodwill pile.

(The blue sponge-painting was from high school. My mom made it to match my newly redecorated room. Don’t judge.)

I also happened to have half a can of white spraypaint from some other project (the laundry room brackets, perhaps). Heeey, that’s like new baskets for free!

After a few coats of paint, plus a few hours of drying time, I was able to fill them up with medicine that survived the purge – because in addition to hoarding old lotion, I was also hanging onto prescription medication that was dispensed in 2004:

After purging no less than three mostly-empty lotion bottles and many other items, I sorted the remaining toiletries, with the daily-use stuff to the bottom front and more sporadic-use stuff to the top. Check them out in my pretty baskets:

BAM. Another peek-worthy cabinet! Sure, the unpainted raw-wood basket could have used some primer, but I didn’t have any. And the green plastic baskets aren’t my favorite, but they hold Mr. P’s stuff, not mine, and that makes it okay somehow. And anyway, they are only supposed to peek. No one will notice!

But I wasn’t done yet. Exhilarated from disposing of countless bottles of old runny lotion, I decided to tackle the final two bathroom cabinets: the two under our double-sink in the master bathroom. By this point, I had been sorting bathroom cabinets for hours so it didn’t get before photos, or even during photos. Just pretend they were as awful as the other “befores”, and behold the “afters”:

No longer will I need to dig around under the sink for a band-aid! We’ve got eye care, razors, first aid, cleansers, and hairstyling tools arranged left to right, baby.

Aside from the afters, one of my favorite parts of this cabinet organization was that it cost me ZERO DOLLARS. White plastic dollar-store baskets are not the most exciting organizational tools, but I already owned them – more than I even needed, once I got the clutter under control.

There was also the catharsis of tossing out ALL THAT JUNK. I did check to see if anything could be donated to our local rescue mission, but I’m sorry that most things had been half-used years ago (and probably had been a bacterial breeding ground ever since, so unsafe for anyone to use). Being able to donate would have been an extra feel-good aspect of this, but as it was, a full garbage bag of bathroom cabinet clutter had me feeling pret-ty accomplished.

This is just the first part of a lot of purging that’s been going on around here. My mantra nowadays (for Lent and also HAVE I MENTIONED WE ARE MOVING BECAUSE WE ARE) is a slight corruption of Psalm 51: Create in me a clean home, O God. More to come!


Tina said...

You've inspired me. BUT it seems every time I plan to start the great purge, either I have to sub or the weather is going to be so ugly (like tomorrow's) - and so since I'm not moving my home any time soon (I hope), I'd rather read my books. I will stay motivated and be ready when the perfect day presents itself... Ugh. I just remembered I need to wash these windows if I want to continue looking out of 'em, too.=P
So glad you rescued the blue-white-sponge-painted-but-so-1990's-cute basket - and hopefully had sort of a learning there, too. I've given scads of organizational baskets away and have lived to sorta regret it. I've seen some on blogs that may have even at one time been mine redone and put to such good uses. I now have a pile of them just waiting for the organizational demon to take hold of me. (I even have the third wooden rectangle basket that matches your other two that goes with the redone blue & white square... they were bought as a set of 3+1 originally.;-);-))
Your cabinets look great and I love you!