We spent 20 hours researching how to make the most of small bathroom space, speaking with five organizing experts and closely considering over 130 items. Whether you’re looking for clever solutions for towel storage, good ways to keep medicine cabinets tidy, or cabinets and shelves to stow lotions and potions, the 13 items we recommend should help clear clutter and make your tiny bathroom feel more luxurious.
We reached out to a handful of home organizers and small-space experts for their thoughts on keeping the smallest but most-used room in our homes in check, including: Erin Boyle of Reading My Tea Leaves and author of Simple Matters: Living with Less and Ending Up with More; Julie Morgenstern, organizer and author of Organizing from the Inside Out; Sharon Lowenheim, home organizer; Debbie Harwin, professional organizer and owner/president of I Need My Space; and Standolyn Robertson, certified professional organizer.
We looked at nearly 200 items on Amazon, Bed Bath & Beyond, The Container Store, and a few other sites to find items we wanted to test. We looked closely at user reviews, in some cases making our picks based on those reviews. In a few cases, we took personal recommendations from Wirecutter staffers who’ve had a lot of experience organizing their small bathrooms.
Our experts stressed the importance of paring down the items we keep in our bathrooms and managing the items we do keep by organizing. They helped us define the following four guiding principles for small bathrooms:
Medicine cabinet organizers are especially useful for keeping things like mascara, thermometers, and other tubes upright, minimizing the amount of space they would be taking up if you left them lying horizontally on the shelf. After considering seven and testing four, we liked the Linus Medicine Cabinet Organizer from The Container Store. It has the most small cubbies for vertical storage, and at only 7 inches wide, it didn’t take up the entirety of my 12-inch-wide medicine cabinet. The four vertical storage cubbies in the Linus easily fit items like mascara and tubes of anti-itch cream, but its wider cubbies could fit a handful of Q-tips or a box of floss. All of the organizers we looked at were made of hard clear plastic, making it easy to see what you’ve stored and easy to clean.
The slightly larger 9-inch-wide InterDesign Med+ Makeup and Medicine Cabinet Short Organizer that we tested didn’t fit mascaras and other tubes very well because the small vertical storage cubbies weren’t large enough. We didn’t love either of the 12-inch-wide containers we looked at because they completely filled the entire lower level of my small medicine cabinet without fully fitting some of the bulkier items I have, like a big box of cold medicine.
If you have a larger medicine cabinet, though, and can accommodate the space, we liked the 12-inch-wide InterDesign Med+ Makeup and Medicine Cabinet Multi-Level Organizer, because it had plenty of vertical storage, easily fit dental floss and Band-aids, and had some room to spare in the large central cubby for cotton balls or pads. If you want to keep your cotton balls in a small drawer, consider the Linus Cabinet Organizer with Drawer.
For some, even a 7-inch organizer will take up too much space for the medicine cabinet. The MagnaPods have magnetic strips on the back and stick onto the inside of a metal medicine cabinet door, taking advantage of the extra empty space between the cabinet door and interior shelving. They’re ideal for lipsticks, makeup pencils, kid’s toothbrushes, and other items that are difficult to keep vertical on their own. These are the only organizers of this kind that we were able to find. Reviewers love the MagnaPods too, giving them 4.9 stars (over 8 reviews) and writing they use the containers for lip balm, tweezers, or other tubes. A few people even mentioned using these pods for storing pens and pencils on their fridge doors.
Most reviewers think that the magnets on the MagnaPods are pretty secure. One even says that they “stick great and don’t come off if I close the door a little too hard.” But if you store a lot of items in your medicine cabinet, these pods might not fit. Another reviewer cited some trial and error in figuring out how to close their cabinet door without the pods bumping into anything.
Bathroom drawers tend to collect small items make a mess when loose, such as hair elastics, toothbrush heads, and makeup tubes. Drawer-organizing cubbies can help keep these things in order so you don’t waste time looking for what you need. After researching six and testing three types of drawer organizers, we found the InterDesign Kitchen Drawer Organizer 6-piece set was the best, as it was more durable and came in more versatile sizes than the competition.
Some drawer organizers lock onto each other, some have grips on the bottom, and nearly all are made from plastic. We like the InterDesign organizers because they fit more snugly in the drawers we tested them in. A snug fit ensures that they won’t go sliding around everywhere and eliminates the need for interlocking cubbies, which we didn’t find very helpful anyway. Non-skid rubber feet also help the cubbies stay put.
The InterDesign kitchen cubbies are made of a thick plastic that won’t bend or break easily, unlike the Rubbermaid Interlocking Drawer organizers, which folded easily in half when squeezed. At 2 inches deep, these compartments are also shallow enough to fit in most drawers, something we didn’t think the 3-inch Linus Deep Drawer organizers would be capable of. Not only is the InterDesign more durable and sized better, but these organizers also come in a six-pack, making it the perfect starter kit. (The other organizers we tested were only sold as singles.)
If you do happen to want to purchase individual containers to perfectly fit your drawers, we recommend the Linus Shallow Drawer Organizers. These are made of thicker, more heavy-duty plastic than the InterDesign containers, but they come in the same 2-inch depth (ideal for fitting into shallow drawers). Although we did not bring these in for testing, I checked them out at The Container Store and feel confident recommending them. They’re the same style as the 3-inch-deep Linus organizers we tested and liked (but thought were too deep for most bathroom drawers). With 4.8 stars over 150 reviews, we are confident they will be an excellent choice.
One of the best ways to work with the space you have in a small bathroom is to take full advantage of the storage cabinet below your sink. Below-sink organizers make good use of the vertical space otherwise occupied by your pipes. The stacking drawers double storage space while keeping everything easily accessible. Of the six drawer sets we considered and tested, the Silver 2-drawer Mesh Organizer from The Container Store is best suited to fit below a small bathroom vanity because of its narrow-but-tall size and all-around superior durability.
The Silver 2-drawer Mesh Organizer requires no assembly, comes with durable mesh, and fits taller items better than the competition. Our pick features a latching mechanism that keeps the top drawer in place, and since the frame is all one apparatus, there is no chance of the top falling off like we saw with competing shelves. In case you are worried about the stand falling over, the Silver 2-drawer organizer also comes with four holes in the base so it can be screwed into the bottom of a vanity for further stability (a feature none of the other drawers we looked at had). This organizer also has slightly more clearance between its bottom drawer and top drawer, making it easier to store taller bottles either below or above.
The Umbra Hide ‘n’ Sink Under Sink Caddy slips right over the door of a vanity cabinet, leaving floor space free to store other items. We liked the Umbra as an alternative to below-sink drawers because it has a unique slot designed for storing a hair dryer, something that none of the other bathroom accessories we looked at were explicitly designed to do. The Umbra is also a good solution for storing sponges or other cleaning supplies that you might ordinarily keep below the sink if you don’t have quite enough space to accommodate drawers. While the Umbra receives good user reviews (4.1 stars over 55 reviews), some people did complain that their taller bottles and containers fell out of the caddy.
We also tried the Deco Bros and .Org Under the Sink Mesh Slide-Out Cabinet Drawer, but both had a crucial design flaw: the mesh baskets are two-piece stacking units, and the top section of each toppled repeatedly during testing. We liked the looks of the Madesmart 2-tier White Pull-Out Cabinet Organizer, but its frame felt unsteady when we put any weight in the top drawer, and we faced the same issues of the top drawer toppling over. Finally, we also tested the Design Ideas Cabinet Baskets, which were functionally the same as our main pick from The Container Store, but they felt less sturdy.
After researching more than twenty over-toilet storage racks and considering nine, we found the Rebrilliant Over the Toilet Storage is the best. This cabinet is made from more durable materials than the competition, has sliding doors that hide visual clutter while taking up less space than swinging doors, and has the highest user reviews of any cabinet we looked at. We didn’t actually test racks, but the specs, user reviews, and a recommendation from one of our editors who owns the Rebrilliant make us confident in recommending it.
Durability was one of the biggest factors we considered when researching above-toilet racks. We saw many negative reviews about over-toilet racks being unstable and falling apart, so it was important to us to find an option that would be both sturdy and built to last. Bamboo is one of the most durable materials we found for bathroom furniture, as it resists swelling with changes in humidity. The Rebrilliant’s bamboo construction should be more durable over time because it withstands humidity and moisture better than manufactured wood or particle board.
After speaking to experts, we also limited our search to options that came with doors to hide visible clutter. Open shelves also allow items to fall off, often into the toilet. The Rebrilliant has sliding doors, which occupy far less space than swinging doors would, making it not only more functional but also more compact for a small bathroom.
Although this rack is the most expensive we considered, it had the best reviews of the competition, with 4.5 stars over 214 reviews. (The only other bamboo rack we found had a 3.8-star rating over 55 reviews.) People who like it cite that it’s easy to assemble and looks great in their bathrooms. One reviewer mentioned that the top shelf is tall enough for mouthwash and hairspray and that the cabinet can easily fit washcloths and large towels. (At only 8 inches deep, though, we think it’d be a stretch to store bath towels). Among the cons, reviewers were mainly concerned with stability, and some had issues getting the rack to fit behind their toilets. Measure your toilet (and the placement of any hoses or valves) before ordering this rack; the part that fits over the toilet measures 22¾ inches wide, 9¼ inches deep, and 36¼ inches high. (The total height of the cabinet is 67 inches.)
We also considered the Zena Home Bathroom Saver, the Beyond Value Summit Space Saver, the Rebrilliant with plain doors, the Rebrilliant with slatted doors, the Rebrilliant with toilet-paper dispensers, and the Ambassador with modern doors, but we dismissed these styles because they either had unattractive designs, did not fit our materials criteria, or earned poor user reviews.
Do note: Any over-toilet rack may be unstable if it’s not properly anchored to a wall. We recommending doing so, especially if you have small children.
We looked at both mirrored and non-mirrored “medicine” cabinets when we were searching for a good wall-mounted storage option for this guide. After researching 50 options and considering 13, the Godmorgon wall cabinet from IKEA is the best because it fits bathroom essentials better than the competition, has the best warranty we found for any bath furniture, and comes in more sizes and finishes than any other option we looked at. (And the entire Godmorgon line gets great reviews from DIY home enthusiasts across the internet.)
The biggest issue facing friends and colleagues when we asked about their small bathrooms was not knowing where to store towels. The Godmorgon wall cabinet comes in two depths, 11.75 and 12.6 inches, which is enough space to comfortably fit folded bath towels and everyday toiletries. All of the competing cabinets we looked at were between 7 and 8 inches deep, which is a definite detractor for people who need added room for bulky items. This cabinet also comes with two adjustable tempered glass shelves, so you can customize the placement to suit your needs.
Any item in IKEA’s Godmorgon line comes with a 10-year warranty. Of the 13 options we considered, only two others came with warranties—a limited lifetime for this Glacier Bay model, and 5 years for this Sauder model. And for only $70 at the time of writing, a cabinet like this is a very reasonable storage option for anyone willing to drill holes in the wall.
In addition to being available in two depths, the Godmorgon wall cabinet comes in seven different finishes. Beyond that, IKEA also makes a taller version of this cabinet that is only 5 inches deep and would be a great option if you just want to store toiletries. All of the other cabinets we looked at lack size or finish customization options.
We also seriously considered but dismissed three other non-mirrored cabinets. The Lillangen from IKEA would be a great alternative if you want something slightly smaller and cheaper than the Godmorgon; however, it’s not deep enough to store towels (only 8 inches) and doesn’t have a warranty. The Sumter from Wayfair and Elegant Home from Amazon appear to be exactly the same in size, style, and finish; we eliminated them because their clear glass doors will show clutter. Most of the mirrored cabinets we looked into were the same stylistically—and not big enough to offer much storage—but if you need a medicine cabinet, the Pegasus and Kohler got the best reviews of those we researched.
When we brought up the challenge of towel storage with our experts, all of them said that if you must keep towels in the bathroom, shelves above the toilet or door frame are a good solution. As pro organizer Debbie Harwin told us, shelves make “use of all your vertical space all the way up from floor to ceiling.” After considering 25 floating shelves (and looking at hundreds more), the IKEA Grundtal shelving was our favorite because of its more-durable materials than the competition and multifunctional design—it serves as both shelving and a towel hanger.
We focused on shelving that would be ideal for storing towels and linens: deep enough to hold a folded towel (about 10 to 12 inches) and durable enough to withstand prolonged exposure to humidity. The Grundtal shelves fit the bill, as they are 11 inches deep—the deepest shelf we could find.1 Unlike shelving made from particleboard, these should not delaminate or deteriorate over time and unlike glass they are less likely to break during shipping, assembly, or use.
We also like that these shelves are multifunctional as both a shelf and a towel rack. The other metal shelves we looked at had towel rods, which would make them impractical to mount over a door. At 31½ inches wide, the Grundtal should also be a perfect fit when mounted above a door frame.
Not only does the Grundtal pack in a ton of functionality, but reviewers on Amazon awarded the kitchen version of these shelves 4.2 stars (over 80 reviews) and were quick to shout out their sturdiness and functionality. One dissatisfied reviewer did mention that this shelf may not fit on standard spaced studs, so we would recommend using drywall anchors if you can’t drill both ends of the shelf into studs.2
We considered tons of other shelves from retailers including Amazon, Pottery Barn, West Elm, Bed Bath & Beyond, Wayfair, CB2, and The Container Store. The primary issue with all of the shelves we looked at was that they weren’t deep enough to hold bulkier items. The Organize It All shelf with towel rack in either chrome or bamboo would be a good alternative to the Grundtal, but didn’t receive quite as positive reviews, isn’t as deep, and a lower towel bar makes it difficult to mount above a door frame. If you’re okay with spending a bit more and want a bigger unit that is still deep enough for towels, this wire rack from West Elm or this heftier cabinet from Pottery Barn were nice. For those of you who just need something unobtrusive to store toiletries, we also like the acrylic shelves from The Container Store and CB2, which take up little visual space and come in a variety of sizes but will not fit towels comfortably at only 8 inches deep.
Pedestal sinks pose challenges for a small bathroom: the lack of a sink cabinet eliminates potential storage for toilet paper, cleaning supplies, and other essentials. We found a number of recommendations online for using a sink skirt or large baskets, but we don’t love either solution. Sink skirts can easily get dusty and mildewy, and baskets can attract more clutter. The best space-maximizing storage solutions we found were the Rågrund shelving and the Råskog cart from IKEA.
The Rågrund shelves are the only kind we found that are the ideal size and shape to fit around pipes or a sink pedestal. At around 20 inches high, they are short enough to fit below a variety of pedestal sinks without bumping into the bowl, and their triangular shape is ideal for presenting a clean look on the front while still fitting to hide ugly pipes in the center. Durability in moist environments is a crucial factor in all of the items we recommend, and this shelving is not different, as it is made from bamboo—a strong material that will not swell or shrink with moisture. Finally, each shelf is 13⅜ inches deep with 8½ inches of clearance—enough space to comfortably store bulky linens. Since they are triangular, these shelves would also work in a corner too.
If you’d prefer storage you can roll from under your pedestal sink, the IKEA Råskog cart is an affordable storage option with sturdy steel construction and three shelves to keep your additional bathroom items. This cart’s epoxy-coated steel frame should stand up well to repeated moisture, and its 13-by-17-inch trays have plenty of space to store bulky linens or cleaning supplies. Another bonus is how simple it is to assemble; when we put this cart together ourselves, it only took about 15 minutes. While most IKEA items seldom receive user reviews online, this cart received 4.9 stars from 44 reviewers. Depending on what time of year you order, IKEA seems to cycle in and out a variety of fun color options.
The only other cart we saw that was well-suited to bathroom use was the Tower Bathroom Storage Cart from Urban Outfitters. Ultimately we weren’t impressed, as this cart is much smaller, costs about $50 more, and one reviewer had issues attaching some of the bolts during assembly.
Whether you have kids that need help reaching the sink or you just need a little bit of assistance reaching high places, we recommend the Greenco Folding Step Stool. Most of the folding stools we looked at had identical designs. The Greenco stool, while a few dollars more than some of its competitors, stood out for having 4.6 stars over more than 1,000 reviews, earning a higher rating than much of the competition over nearly double the reviews. Greenco’s stool also comes in five colors, while most others only came in one or two. Although it costs a bit more, we felt it was important to give people color choices for a stool that would suit their decor best. This stool also comes with a handle so you can carry it around the house easily, a feature that some of the others did not have, and it can support weight up to 300 pounds.
I inherited one of these stools with my first apartment in New York City, and now that I have one, I can’t imagine what I did without it. This thing is great for hitting those hard to reach places, but it also folds down about as thick as hardcover coffee table book so you can easily tuck it away in any corner of the house.
We also looked at three competing folding stools: the Jeronic, which looks identical to the Greenco, is only available in one color; The Handy Laundry, a slightly better rated (4.7 stars) alternative available only in black; and the Acko, which looked a bit too tall and cost twice as much as our pick.
*At the time of publishing, the price was $10.
All of the experts we spoke to strongly recommended using hooks in lieu of a towel rod in a small bathroom. They allow you to hang more towels and other essentials in a smaller space, and as Robertson said, “maybe you don’t have the place to have towels spread out on these thick rods.” For people who live in rentals, have tiled bathroom walls, or just prefer something a bit more temporary, we love Command hooks for bathrooms. In general, Command hooks receive excellent reviews from buyers on Amazon, came recommended from expert Sharon Lowenheim, and far outperform any competing adhesive hooks available. We also tested Command hooks for our small apartment guide and found them to be excellent around other parts of the house, too.
The Command large double bath hook is a great option for people who need an attractive temporary hook with multiple hooks in one. They are the bestseller on Amazon for robe and towel hooks and receive 4.3 stars from over 130 reviewers. The other adhesive hooks we saw on Amazon were largely bulk-purchase off-brand options that don’t look particularly durable or attractive. In lieu of the double bath hook, we also liked the Command Designer Bath Hooks, which receive slightly better reviews with 4.7 stars from over 800 reviewers. We like these two styles in particular because they are designed for bath (supposedly making the adhesive more effective in rooms with high heat and humidity). The nickel finish on the double hook also looks nice despite being temporary. 3M makes some other adhesive hooks designed specifically for bathrooms, but they didn’t receive equally good reviews (or weren’t as attractive).
If you’re prepared to drill into a wall, we also like the KES Solid Metal Swivel hook that we recommend in our small apartment guide, but we don’t think it’s ideal for all bathroom purposes. The KES has a 3-in-1 design, with three hooks that you can swivel 180 degrees. These would be great for hanging dry towels, robes, or underwear, but we worry that wet towels would be unable to dry fully on the KES. If you hang your wet towels elsewhere, these would be a good option for keeping the bathroom floor free of clutter.
Some people prefer more substantial hook solutions. If you can’t hang a hook rack on the back of your bathroom door, the Liberty 129848 Hook Rail/Coat Rack we recommend in our Small Apartment collective would be a great option.
Finally, Wirecutter writer Gregory Han, who has lived with small bathrooms for many years, recommended the Home So Bathroom Hook with Suction Cup Holder to us, citing that they were the first attractive suction cup hooks he had been able to find. When we ordered these to try our ourselves, we only received one hook despite the listing being for a two-pack, and the finish was pretty plastic feeling. These would be great for hanging a swimsuit or any other wet gear to dry in the shower.
We researched a variety of behind-door storage options ranging from large racks that fit the entire height of a door to smaller racks that slip over the door. When we looked at eight models closely, the Bino Madison stood out for receiving better reviews than the competition (4.5 stars, 90 reviews) and being the only multifunctional rack we could find with both deep hooks and a mesh storage basket to keep items in place better. With five towel hooks and a 4-inch-deep hanging basket, the Bino Madison is a great choice for hanging towels while also storing a hair dryer or extra cleaning supplies. The hooks are a good option for people who don’t want to drill holes in the wall.
We found only one other rack with the storage basket up top. A review on Amazon notes that the storage basket on the Bino Madison has a mesh bottom, preventing mold or mildew on any items you place up there. We also noticed, when we brought this rack in for testing, that the hooks were fairly deep, so it was easy to hang towels without worrying about them slipping and falling off.
If you need only hooks, or if our main pick sells out, we like the Nickel Duchess 5-Hook Over the Door Rack from The Container Store. This rack is solidly built, with large oval nubs at the end of each hook that should keep your towels firmly in place and won’t damage delicate fabrics. We tested this rack for our guide to gear for small apartments, and we found that it hung easily over small doors (1½ inches thick) but had a bit of wiggle room in the bracket. Some commenters complained that the bracket made it hard to shut the door, but this is something that could happen with any over-the-door rack, depending on the clearance between the door and the frame. We’ve also been long-term testing this rack for more than three years, and it has held up well.
The best competing rack we saw in a similar style (with a storage basket) was an option from Target that has since been discontinued. While it was functionally the same but with four double hooks instead of six singles, the Target rack didn’t have the well-enclosed mesh bottom that we saw on the Bino, and smaller bottles would be unsuitable for storing in this rack.
If you lack a place to store extra toilet paper, we liked the InterDesign Classico toilet paper stand. This rack is the best because it receives excellent reviews, is the only stand we found with dual functionality for both storage and roll dispensing, and has a small footprint.
With triple the number of reviews of the competition (over 1,300), this toilet paper tower averages a 4.6-star rating and is a top-seller on Amazon. The Classico holds up to three rolls of toilet paper in storage (we discovered during testing you can actually squeeze four rolls in if you want), and has a horizontal roll holder to dispense the roll currently in use. If you can’t wall-mount a toilet-paper dispenser, this is a great alternative that takes up little floor space. This stand is also available in eight different colors/finishes, making it easily customizable for any style bathroom.
We also considered two fully enclosed options by InterDesign and Zenna Home, but we dismissed these because they lacked the functionality of having a place for the roll in use. This open air option from Spectrum had a similar issue; while it would be possible to use one of the rolls on this rod, it wouldn’t be ideal.
Beyond what we’ve covered in this guide, we’ve spent hundreds of hours researching and testing a variety of other bathroom gear. We kept the recommendations in this guide focused on items to specifically help in a small bathroom. But you may also be interested in our recommendations for other things you might need:
Please don't overwater the ficus.