How to Keep Your Bathroom Counter Clean and Organized

Enjoy a vanity that's sparkling and free of clutter, thanks to a bathroom counter organizer and more smart storage.

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Bathroom Counterhikesterson/Getty Images

Bathroom counters are an essential we all take for granted. When was the last time you stopped to think, “Wow, I’m thankful for my bathroom countertop”?

For most of us, it’s a background player — a place to rest a soap dispenser, or set out grooming products as you prep for the day. But once a countertop becomes cluttered or grimy, it becomes a center-stage, chaotic eyesore. With a few bathroom organizational strategies and cleaning tips that place all your essentials at the ready, you’ll restore order and find your morning and evening routines run smoother.

How to Organize a Bathroom Counter

  • Start your decluttering and organizing by clearing everything off your bathroom countertop. Sort items into categories — things that should be stored elsewhere in the bathroom, items that belong in another area of the house, and things you want on the countertop.
  • Assess the available space as you decide what to keep on the vanity. Even if you have ample counter space, a bathroom sink and vanity area is primarily for washing hands, brushing teeth and other self-care tasks. Pare down to the absolute necessities, such as a soap dispenser and toothbrush holder. When you keep the focus tight, you invite fewer opportunities for clutter and grime.
  • “Clutter on bathroom countertops slows down cleaning,” says TidyChoice co-founder Ana Andres. Soap scum and grime build up around items, which Andres says is all the more reason to move nonessentials to cabinets and shelves. When it’s time to clean, you’ll be glad the countertop is clear.
  • Before you return items, give the countertop, faucet and sink a good scrubbing with an all-purpose bathroom cleaner suited to your surfaces. Use a small, soft brush to get in all the crevices and crannies — around the base of the faucet, the lip between the countertop and sink bowl, and the seam where the countertop meets the wall.
  • With your surfaces sparkling, give every countertop item a designated home. Place a soap dispenser next to the sink. Locate your toothbrush holder far from the toilet while keeping toothbrushes in the open air. The American Dental Association recommends storing toothbrushes upright in an open container that permits air drying. Closed containers promote microbial growth.

Tips for Organizing a Bathroom Counter

  • Purge regularly and don’t let items pile up. “Dispose of any toiletries past their expiration date,” says Meck Organizing owner Nancy Meck. “The less you have, the less chance of your countertops getting overrun.”

  • Think about your daily routines and keep the items you use most frequently at the forefront and easily accessible.

  • When other areas of your bathroom are organized, your countertops are less likely to become havens for clutter. Meck advises using drawer dividers and containers that maximize storage space so fewer items are left on the countertop.

  • Take a few minutes in the morning and before going to bed to put everything back in its place. Keep a cleaning cloth underneath the sink and pull it out for a quick wipe-down every few days.

Products for Organizing a Bathroom Counter

Employing the right tools reduces bathroom countertop clutter. Select items best suited to what you need to store and how much countertop space you have. An oversized basket or organizer on a tiny countertop eats away valuable surface space.

  • A vanity tray corrals items into one tidy location. This modular tray set can be configured multiple ways. A magnetic strip sequesters metal hair accessories and other small items that tend to float into the oddest places.
  • Invest in matching items for a streamlined look. Christina Lee and Rebecka Jodeit, co-founders of the home organizing company Graceful Spaces, recommend placing lotion and soap next to each other in matching glass pumps.
  • For make-up and small odds and ends, look to stackable trays with divided compartments. Trays with layers of storage and compartments give everything a home. When choosing bathroom countertops organizers, select items made from easy-to-clean materials such as acrylic.
  • Decant cotton swabs, balls and pads into lidded clear jars. “We love using glass jars with lids to store items that are all neutral in color,” Lee and Jodeit say.
  • If you have the room, take your storage vertical. A tiered countertop shelving unit is especially useful in bathrooms without a medicine cabinet. When selecting a countertop shelving unit, note dimensions. Be sure the unit doesn’t obstruct the mirror or prevent you from plugging in a curling iron or electric razor.

Alicia Chilton
Alicia Chilton is an experienced writer and editor, based in Des Moines, Iowa. After spending several years as a digital editor for Better Homes and Gardens, covering all manner of topics related to home, Alicia took her writing and editorial skills into the marketing and communications world, where she has tapped into the power of storytelling to connect audiences to brands in the gardening and nonprofit spheres.