Not only will that clutter a small space, but it can quicken the demise of certain possessions (best-case scenario) and potentially even mess with your health (worst case scenario).
Here are the unexpected items you need to move out of your bathroom, post haste.
Let’s start with the category you know you should secure away, but probably store in your bathroom cabinets anyway: medications.
While it’s convenient to stash them above your sink, “it’s actually the last place you want to keep them,” says Morgan Statt, a health and safety investigator at ConsumerSafety.org. “High heat and humidity from showers and baths can mess with their effectiveness.” And let’s not even talk about keeping them away from the prying eyes of visitors or the grabby hands of kids.
You’re better off storing any Rx you use in a bedroom nightstand. Temps will be cooler there and, unless you live with SpongeBob, it should be free of moisture. If you have kids around, you may want to keep them in a small lockbox or other secure location. If you’ve been faithfully keeping prescription or OTC meds in your bathroom and notice their texture, smell or appearance has changed, don’t continue to use them—they could make you sick. Contact your doctor instead.
2. Extra razors
Buying razor blades in bulk isn’t a bad idea. Just don’t store the extras in your bathroom. “Shower steam and the build-up of humidity can rust or dull the blades before you even get the chance to use them,” Statt says.
Can’t come up with a better place to store them? At the very least, put them in a tightly sealed plastic bag to try to keep out the moisture.
3. Makeup and makeup brushes
The best lighting to put on your makeup may be in your bathroom, but you really shouldn’t stash your products—or even your brushes—in there.
Thank the usual culprits: Higher temps. Steam. Humidity. All of these “encourage mold growth and make your products expire faster,” Statt says. “Not to mention your makeup brushes will be picking up germs that you then apply right to your face.” Gross.
4. Your toothbrush
OK, this one might be a shocker: “If you store your toothbrush in a holder on your sink, you can put it at risk for bacteria growth,” Statt says.
(Now’s a good time to also mention the aerosol effect of flushing toilets.)
“If you flush the toilet with the lid up, it causes germs and bacteria from the waste to spray throughout the air and right towards your toothbrush,” Statt explains. “Toothbrushes stored in a holder on the sink are also in the direct line of fire for germs that come from people washing their hands.”
Although it’s inconvenient (and maybe a little strange), consider storing your toothbrush in an open, dry space in your bedroom, like the corner of your dresser. Or just make a habit of putting the toilet seat down before you flush. On second thought, do that no matter what.
5. Paintings and antique painted wooden objects
Of course you want to decorate your bathroom. You spend a lot of time in there, so why not?
Still, “American folk art and painted furniture, such as your New England chest of drawers, Japanned mirror, or your Hitchcock side chair from the 18th and 19th centuries, are perfect examples of items that should not be stored in your bathroom,” says Kelly Juhasz, an accredited member of the International Society of Appraisers based in Chicago.
The No. 1 sign you’ve already got a problem? Cracking paint.
Fluctuations in humidity cause wood to expand or shrink, stressing the paint on such objects, which doesn’t have that plasticity. Instead, “it breaks and blisters, which causes the painted areas to crack, and the paint to lift off,” Juhasz says.
The only way it’s (mostly) OK to display this type of art in your bathroom? If your bathroom’s so large that mirrors don’t fog up when you shower.
Still, that’s no guarantee that humidity won’t affect your stuff. “It will just take longer for the effects to show,” Juhasz says.
Even under glass, photographs and limited-edition prints can get seriously compromised in a steamy bathroom. Humidity gets trapped between the photo and the glass, causing mold to grow, Juhasz explains. The result is brown spots on the paper (called “foxing”) or haziness on the underside of the glass. The paper can also start to cockle, which appears as ripples across the artwork.
If humidity builds up on the outside of the glass, you may also see water droplets dripping between the frame and glass—resulting in water stains and damage. Not how you want to treat your priceless family photos.
A safer way to decorate: Choose objects made of stone, ceramics, and glass.
“These are some of the most durable forms of art, and decorative objects not easily affected by humidity,” notes Juhasz.
The bathroom ain’t the place to store your favorite bangles. Honest.
“Unless your jewelry is pure gold, objects composed of various metals will react faster in humidity,” Juhasz says. That causes corrosion on less valuable objects, while silver-based objects tarnish. Plus, you run the risk of dropping your favorite pieces down the sink drain.
No to your copy of “A Higher Loyalty.” And no, no, NO! to your copy of Shakespeare’s first folio.
“Humidity will cause paper to cockle, swell, and stick together,” Juhasz warns. It will also cause mold to start growing. Talk about reading the dirt!
9. Damp towels, mats, and laundry
Clean towels in the bathroom? Yes, please. Damp towels or dirty laundry on the bathroom floor? Please, no.
“They can trap in moisture and lead to a mold problem,” says Peter Duncanson, resident restoration expert for ServiceMaster Restore.
You should also pick up your bathmats after each use and put them somewhere to dry. Don’t forget to wash them regularly and dry them completely before returning them.
“This reduces a mold growth source, or potential damage to flooring from moisture,” Duncanson says.
To keep all your belongings as fresh as possible, do your best to keep your bathroom well-ventilated, Duncanson advises. Run the exhaust fan for at least 30 minutes after showering, to ensure the space has ample time to dry out.
If you don’t have a fan, open some windows or doors on opposite sides of your home to create cross-ventilation.
Leslie Sells Houses