Marie Kondo’s Drastic Bathroom Organization Strategy

In an excerpt from her cultish book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, the decluttering queen argues against keeping shampoo in the shower.

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bathroom organization- a plant and a jar of soap sits on a very clean bathroom counter

Marie Kondo’s method of organization — as evidenced in her best seller, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, and her new Netflix show, Tidying Up With Marie Kondois to discard everything that doesn’t bring you joy in one intense, marathon tidying session and then designate a spot for everything you love (this may take about six months). She guarantees that once you commit to her method, you’ll never have to do it again.

Read this excerpt from The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing on Kondo’s strict philosophy of not keeping bottles and bits around the kitchen sink and bathtub or in the shower stall.

Photo, Erik Putz.
Kondo would not be impressed by those shampoo bottles. (Photo, Erik Putz.)

Keep things out of the bath and the kitchen sink

How many bottles of shampoo and conditioner line your bathtub? Different family members may use different products, or you may have several kinds that you use depending on your mood or for once-a-week treatments. But these are such a bother to move when you clean the bath. Kept on the floor in the shower or on the edge of the bath, they become slimy. To avoid this, some people use a wire basket as a container, but from my own experience, this makes things even worse.

I once bought a wire basket big enough to fit all the soaps, shampoos, and even facial masks used by my family. My delight at this convenient item was short-lived. At first, I dried it every time I had a bath, but soon wiping every wire became a chore and I did it only once every three days, then every five days, then even less, until I had completely forgotten to take care of it. One day, I noticed that the shampoo bottle was red and slimy on the bottom. Examining the rack, I saw that it was so covered in slime I could not bear to look at it. Almost in tears, I scrubbed the wire rack clean and not long after got rid of it. It was just too much trouble and every time I got in the bath and saw it, it reminded me of that disgusting slime episode. I should have realized that the bath is the most humid place in the house, which obviously makes it the most unsuitable place for storing anything.
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There is no need to keep soaps and shampoos out when we are not using them, and the added exposure to heat and moisture when they aren’t in use is bound to affect their quality. It is therefore my policy to keep everything out of the bath or shower. Whatever is used in the bath should be dried after use anyway, so it makes far more sense to just wipe down the few items we use with our bath towel and then put them away in the cupboard. While this may seem like more work at first glance, it is actually less. It is much quicker and easier to clean the bath or shower without these items cluttering that space, and there will be less slime buildup.

The same is true for the kitchen sink area. Do you keep your sponges and dish detergent by the sink? I store mine underneath it. The secret is to make sure the sponge is completely dry. Many people use a wire sponge rack with suction cups that stick to the sink. If you do, too, I recommend that you remove it immediately. It cannot dry out if it is sprayed with water every time you use the sink, and it will soon start to smell. To prevent this, squeeze your sponge tightly after use and hang it up to dry. You can use a clothespin to pin it to your towel rack or to the handle of a kitchen drawer if you don’t have a rack. Personally, I recommend hanging sponges outside, such as on the veranda.

I dry not only my sponges but also my cutting boards, colanders, and dishes on my veranda. Sunlight is a good disinfectant, and my kitchen always looks very tidy because I don’t need a dish rack. In fact, I don’t even own a dish rack. I put all the dishes I wash into a large bowl or colander and place this on the veranda to dry. I can wash them in the morning and just leave them outside. This is an excellent solution for people living on their own or for those who don’t use many dishes.

Where do you store your oil, salt, pepper, soy sauce, and other seasonings? Many people keep them right beside the stove because they want them close at hand for the sake of convenience. If you are one of these people, I hope you will rescue them right now. For one thing, a counter is for preparing food, not for storing things. Counter space beside the stove, in particular, is exposed to splatters of food and oil, and the seasonings kept here are usually sticky with grease. Rows of bottles in this area also make it much harder to keep clean, and the kitchen area will always be covered in a film of oil. Kitchen shelves and cupboards are usually designed to store seasonings and spices, so put them away where they belong. Quite often, a long, narrow drawer is located next to the oven that can be used for this purpose.

Reprinted from the Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, Copyright © 2014 by Marie Kondo. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.