How To Clean Up a Mess in the Bathroom




Our most used bathroom was a mess, cleaning it up a priority. That’s the one with the clawfoot bathtub and shower in it, the room where all three of us take our showers. It was better organized than a year or two ago, perhaps, but still awash in clutter littering the floor.

“We need some baskets in there for the shampoo bottles and stuff,” Pam declared.

She had a point, but…. “Not baskets, I think. How about a set of shelves?”

“You can do that?”

Well, duh. “That, or something like it. Just leave the shower stuff baskets on the shopping list. When I’m in town tomorrow, I’ll look around, see what I can find that might work.”

“Can we have one over by the doorway?”

“No.” I shook my head emphatically. “Not enough room.”

With that, I left her pouting a little. There really was no option. Any storage set up between the doorway and the tub would (a) get in the way of foot traffic and (b) get in the way of the all-important safety grab rail bolted to the wall in that area. I was motivated to get this Honey Do item done, though. Since Alta moved in with us in December and began sharing that bathroom (with me, after I split my bedroom into two bedrooms), her feminine hygiene projects have tended to get slightly underfoot. Having a bit of shelf space for wet wipes and tampons, or pads, or whatever it is she uses (I try not to look too closely at the packaging)…yeah. That would be good.

There was an item in yesterday’s local paper that mentioned a “large new home” being built in the King’s Ranch development. 8,900 + square feet. The Border Fort started out at 1,296 square feet. Two small porches, one front, one back, have amped that up to 1,416 square feet, but it’s still not a behemoth of a building by 21st century American standards. Making that bathroom function within its present space limitations did seem like a really, really good idea.

Besides, the mess in there wasn’t a dirty baby diaper mess or a cat hairball hack-up mess or anything like that. Just the aforementioned feminine hygiene products plus shampoo bottles and more shampoo bottles and…more shampoo bottles.

One of those is mine, a combo product good for body wash, shampoo, and conditioner all three. Everything else belongs to the women of the house. Sheesh.

The clutter-mess in the bathroom.

The clutter-mess in the bathroom.

As it turned out, Walmart had a cool multi-use cart in stock, originally designed with the kitchen in mind but ever so fitting for the bathroom as well. At a few pennies below $40 before tax, a few dollars above $40 after tax, we were in business.

Box containing multi-purpose cart from Walmart.  Some assembly required.

Box containing multi-purpose cart from Walmart. Some assembly required.

Assembling the cart turned out to be slightly trickier than advertised. To make it clear how that worked out, let’s run through the steps–not in the order the instruction sheet (such as it is) advises, but the way I chose to do it.

Step 1.
Attach the casters to the lower-half uprights. That’s simple enough, basically because the casters have bolts on the tops of them that screw right into the bottoms of said uprights. There’s no way to go wrong there, except for one thing. The parts list shows an open end wrench, necessarily included with the product because it has to be extremely thin, unlike any wrench available in a local hardware store. However, I couldn’t find the wrench at first.

As it turned out, the wrench was “hiding” inside the clear plastic that held the casters.

Don't blink, or you'll miss this wrench entirely.

Don’t blink, or you’ll miss this wrench entirely.

Upright with caster attached.  Note the very thin (light metal) nut, which requires the equally thin mini-wrench included in the box.

Upright with caster attached. Note the very thin (light metal) nut, which requires the equally thin mini-wrench included in the box.

The shelf-holding arrangement on this cart is intriguing, involving the application of sets of two half-round plastic shims which are sort of “snapped” into tiny horizontal grooves on the uprights. Each shim piece is marked “TOP” with an arrow. This is critical because of the way the piece is tapered, being thicker at the bottom and thinner at the top. When four sets are positioned at the desired height, a wire shelf (there are two) slides its little tube-corners down over the shims–and the tube-corners are also tapered.

This allows the tubes to cinch tighter and tighter as they descend. Unfortunately, the tolerances weren’t even. There are 10 total shim sets, four for each wire shelf and two for the wire hanger set. Of those ten sets, the corner tubes shifted down too far (when pressed hard) on three separate corners.

No problemo. Shims, we understand. A quick wrap (or two wraps, in one case) of Reynolds wrap, plain ordinary tinfoil, and the tube-settling ended up where it should be.

Close up of a shim set applied to an upright.

Close up of a shim set applied to an upright.

Cart assembly with one wire shelf in place and one to go.

Cart assembly with one wire shelf in place and one to go.

Once the shim adjustments were all in place, the Made in China cart project was straightforward. The top shelf (wooden) has four simple plastic legs that snap down into the tops of the four upright pipes. To keep them from popping back out, a small screw is inserted through a hole near the top of each upright, screwed viciously through the sidewall of the little plastic leg-thingy, and the cart is ready for use.

What? For a simple do it yourself assembly project, the word “viciously” doesn’t seem to fit?

Yeah. Well. It’s all in your perspective. If you were that plastic mini-leg and this nasty sharp pointy piece of steel came boring through your ribs, I’ll bet you’d consider it vicious. So there.

Then it was simply a matter of lugging the cart into the bathroom, lugging the bucket of tools out of the bathroom (What idiot parked his bucket of pliers and wrenches and other rust-vulnerable stuff in there, anyway?), removing the pieces of 2″ x 6″ that used to sit under a hot 6 gallon stockpot full of boiling water before we had a real hot water heater, taking out the filthy floor towel to be washed, and then putting all those womanly shampoo bottles and such on the shelves.

And by golly, it did look better. The mess in the bathroom was pretty well cleaned up. Not that the bottles on the shelves will stay in their present positions. When my wife sees them on the morrow, she’ll undoubtedly need to rearrange every single one of them.

With luck, I’ll still be able to find my one bottle in the mix.

Yes, the bathroom mess has been cleaned up.  The question long will it stay that way?

Yes, the bathroom mess has been cleaned up. The question is…how long will it stay that way?

2 thoughts on “How To Clean Up a Mess in the Bathroom

  1. I like your little shelves. They look nice. I have the same problem, but we don’t have room in our little bathroom for something like that. We don’t have any extra floor space at all. I would hang something on the wall, but the walls won’t hold anything at all. The towel rack falls down, the toilet paper holder falls off the walls. They are the old lathe walls.

  2. I get the picture. Thankfully, I’ve only lived in one home with the old lathe walls–and that was a rented upstairs room, short term. Got there (Portland, Oregon) in February of 1983 and moved out in April.

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