Thursday, May 24, 2012

A little organization

Two things I write about often on the blog are 1. projects around the house, and 2. how to save some money. This post about how I spent my Monday afternoon ties in to both of those themes.

I spent that afternoon.... wait for it.... cleaning out the linen closet (and the vanity cabinets) in the bathroom. Exciting, no? No. But necessary. Actually, yes, perhaps it was a little exciting. It helped me get rid of old stuff, organize the stuff we still had, and think about all the new stuff we wouldn't have to buy.

I originally got the idea of downsizing and minimizing our products from this post by Young House Love. Sherry shares what products she and her husband, John, use. There aren't that many. They share shampoo, conditioner, and body wash. They use only a couple of cleaning products. Her regular makeup bag is small enough to be mistaken for a travel bag. As my brain wrapped around the idea of having fewer things (Less mess! Less buying more stuff we don't use!), I decided I could learn a few things here.

I thought about the idea for a while before mentioning it to David. We'd talked some about minimizing and purging and simplifying and just getting rid of "stuff" around the house that we don't use or need, but we didn't really know where to start. Cleaning out the linen closet in the bathroom seemed like a good starting point.

When I said something about it last weekend, David loved the idea. When I suggested sharing shampoo (right now, we each have our own because he uses the cheap stuff and I buy the nicer kind), his eyes lit up and he said, "Yeah! I don't mind if my hair smells girly!" I spent the next few seconds wondering about that answer before deciding that he was just probably excited about the idea of saving money. (I asked and he confirmed that. Apparently he doesn't strive to have girly-smelling hair. But he doesn't mind it if it will save us a few bucks.)

So, on Monday, I got to work. I threw out old hair products of mine that didn't have expiration dates but had been sitting there long enough (like, years) that I knew they probably weren't going to be very effective. (Plus, I had no use for them anyway.) I got rid of expired bottles of Advil and Tylenol. I discovered that we have three thermometers, four brand-new toothbrushes (too bad I didn't know about those the last time I bought some), four bottles of hand sanitizer (which we never use), and only one tube of toothpaste (we'll have to get more once we open that one up).

I also discovered that I have quite a few hair accessories. I generally wash, condition, and comb my hair and then let it air dry. That's it. I usually leave it down, but sometimes I pull it back (with just a regular hair band). Sometimes, if I'm going somewhere, I'll blow-dry it and then either curl or straighten it, but that doesn't happen very often (especially since I'm not going to work every day). Anyway, nothing in my hair routine accounts for the need of all this:

Too much stuff.
Anyway, I thew out all of our old stuff and then organized what was left. All the soap (eight bars and two bottles of body wash), shampoo (one bottle), and conditioner (two bottles) went together in a basket. The first-aid supplies went in another basket. Anything teeth-related got yet another basket. When I'd run out of baskets, I used zip-up bags that I'd previously gotten (generally from makeup giveaways) to store everything. One for my hair stuff. One for my makeup. One for all our travel-size bottles. One for miscellaneous. You get the idea. I didn't have to buy anything for storage.... I just used what I already had and even had a few zip-up bags left over. Hooray for reusing and saving money!

I wiped down the closet shelves and moved some things around so that they were easier to reach. I went through each of our personal drawers in the vanity, where we keep things we use daily (deodorant, dental floss, face lotion, etc.), and made sure there weren't any unneeded items there.  I grouped the cleaning supplies together under the vanity, along with both of our travel bags. With everything cleaned out, there was room to put away some of my stuff that I'd been leaving out on the counter.

I don't have a "before" picture, but here's are some "after" shots. Well, they're the best I could do, considering that the bathroom is too long and narrow to allow me to take a straight-on photo:

At first glance, it doesn't look super neat or organized, but if you go through things, you can see how they're all grouped together. And if you look more closely, you'll see that there's actually some extra space available! I probably could've consolidated what we still have even more, but I figured that as long as I had the space, I may as well use it, so I spread things out a little.

And to give you an idea of what the "before" may have looked like, here's what didn't survive the sweep:

It's such a nice feeling to have less stuff, and to know that we're going to save money by not buying more stuff (or least, nothing other than the few things we do need) to replace it.

We're going to continue going throughout the house and to do the same thing in other rooms: clean out and minimize and simplify. And, in many cases, not replace. Sure, some things will need to be purchased from time to time, but in general, we won't be buying as much. And while we'll have what we need, we won't have the excess. It will be easier to keep things neat and tidy.

As we continue simplifying throughout the house, we're going to have three piles: throw away, donate, and sell. So there's another money-saving factor.... not only will we be able to save money by not buying more stuff, but we may be able to make some money by selling some things we no longer need. And donations = tax deductions. I anticipate a big trip to Goodwill sometime in the near future.

Have you done any spring cleaning lately? Do you go through your house and find stuff to donate or sell? Do you want to buy any of my stuff?


  1. Love the organization! Looks great! :)


  2. Looks great! I went through our master bathroom and through out some stuff a while ago. I need to do it again because I definitely have things under the sink that I haven't used, let alone looked at, in years.

  3. Thanks, guys! A little organization really does go a long way. I've since started on my closet and already found quite a few things to get rid of, but I think the closet may take a while to get all the way through.... :)