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a person organizes their medicine cabinet

Items in a medicine cabinet (or bathroom drawer or shelf) have a way of proliferating. “We think, well, this is a medicine-y, first aid-y, bathroom-y kind of thing, so I guess I’ll just throw it in the medicine cabinet because I don’t know where else to put it,” says certified organizer and life coach Sara Skillen. Next thing we know, the space is stuffed — and good luck finding the tweezers.

Why Decluttering Matters

Some toiletries, grooming supplies, and medications will be in daily rotation, while others get used only occasionally. A well-organized medicine cabinet will keep them separate, helping to ensure you don’t accidentally take the wrong medication or buy more tubes of hair gel or toothpaste than you need.

How to Declutter

Many items in a medicine cabinet are consumable, so start by weeding out expired items along with those no longer in their prime. Pull out first aid and medical supplies you aren’t currently using and store them together in a separate space.

Next, find duplicates of products and put the spares in an “overstock” container. When you run out of something, shop your overstock stash first. Consolidate half-filled bottles when possible, and if you have just a bit of lotion or soap left in a container, Gerasimo suggests, decant it into a small jar to make it easier to use up.

Finally, wipe down the shelves and arrange the remaining items for convenience. “Keep your daily self-care items [like toothbrush and toothpaste] in the area that’s easiest to reach,” she says. Place more occasional-use things — nail clippers, tweezers, razor — higher up. That way you won’t have to push aside the nail clippers twice a day just to get to your toothbrush.

How to Defend With Beauty

“Let something beautiful hold the mundane,” advises Laura Benko, author of The Holistic Home: Feng Shui for Mind, Body, Spirit, Space. For example, rather than leaving cotton swabs in their plastic clamshell, transfer them to a pretty glass jar. Seeing something a little bit lovely every time you open the medicine cabinet can be surprisingly satisfying.

Decluttering Inspiration

Clutter affects our mental and physical well-being. Check out “4 Easy Decluttering Projects” to discover three more high-impact areas to declutter.

Jill Patton, FMCHC

Jill Patton, FMCHC, is a Minneapolis-based health writer and functional-medicine certified health coach.

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