But the tiny bottles of shampoo are so cute.

Elizabeth Lee posted on 8th June 2009    CATEGORY: Organizing
clutter control, clutter management, help me, hotel mini soap, hotel shampoo bottles, seattle organizer, seattle organizing, What to do with hotel mini shampoo, Why do I take hotel soap?,

Not all good things come in small packages.

Recently I was in Las Vegas.  I went for a girl’s weekend with one of my closest friends.  We went to escape the rain and cold in Seattle, our children and husbands and the laundry that they create and most importantly we went to sleep in the sun.  When she and I travel we have really only one rule…”speak when spoken to”.  I am not quite certain how this rule came about or even how it works, but it does work and there are long long stretches of time when I am alone with my own thoughts (typically just a hum).  It was a most perfect trip.

Upon return to Seattle I unpacked my bag, put my dirty clothes in the wash, put the books I had finished reading back on the shelf AND put all of the soap, shampoo, body lotions and pre-packaged Q-Tips I had swiped from the hotel into the container of other soaps, shampoos, body lotions and pre-packaged Q-Tips that I have swiped over the years.

This is my stash. Pathetic isn't it?

This is my stash. Pathetic isn’t it?

Show of hands.  Who takes the bathroom swag from the hotel?  One, two…okay; I see another hand over there.

Ever since the Four Seasons placed complimentary shampoo in its guest rooms in the 1970s, travelers have come to expect mini bottles of personal care products in every hotel bathroom.  At first my habit started out of amazement.  When I was younger and we would travel it simply amazed me that the hotels would GIVE STUFF AWAY.  I would bring home the tiny bottles and line them up in my bathroom on a wash cloth just like a hotel would.  As I got older the habit became more of a need.  If I could afford to travel I needed the free goodies.  Even poor quality shampoo was better than anything I could afford.   Later, I convinced myself that the smaller sized items were perfect for camping, yeah that’s it.  When we go camping I will take the tiny bar of soap.  Must remember to go into the closet and open the container with all of the mini-products and the system will work.

As a professional organizer I meet clients all of the time that have the same “issue”.  Now the standard excuse is that the small bottle is the perfect size to get through airport security and with a handy dandy funnel you can put your own product into the bottle.  I don’t do this, you don’t, and NOBODY DOES!  We are liars and thieves with hundreds of bite sized bottles of mouthwash and Finesse shampoo and pocket sewing kits in our homes.

When I finished cramming in the last bottle of hotel mouthwash into the storage bin I had a long talk with myself (mostly humming again).  While I am not certain that I can stop taking the soap and lotion from the hotels that I visit, I believe that I can be more selective in what I take; better to go with the Bliss products at the W Hotel and avoid the Dial soap at the Doubletree.

Knowing my weakness this is what I am going to do with my version of the Hilton’s Maid Closet.  Might I suggest you do the same?

Women’s shelters and homeless shelters are usually happy to take donations of the soaps, shampoos, conditioners, moisturizers, etc., from hotels.

Do you know where your toothbrush is?

Elizabeth Lee posted on 13th April 2009    CATEGORY: Organizing
cannot find anything, closet organizing, clutter control, clutter management, help me, messy closets, seattle organizer, seattle organizing, strewn thong,

Even a pair of simple cotton undies deserve respect.

When you wake up in the morning and you go to brush your teeth you probably don’t have many problems finding your toothbrush do you?  And then when you are done brushing your teeth chances are that you put your toothbrush back right where you found it.  Am I right?  Floss might be a different story because it could be there on the sink or in the medicine cabinet or maybe you don’t floss at all.   You can always find your toothbrush because it has a home and so should all of your other belongings, especially those that you use on a regular basis. 2301336711

Case Study: Last week we helped this great gal organize her bedroom.   Her email said that her room was a “hot mess” and that “it looked like a 13 year old lived there with 2 dogs and fiancé.”  In my own life I have 2 dogs, teenage twin boys who rule the roost, a handsome hubby, but no “hot mess” to speak of.

When my partner and I arrive at the job, the place appears nice and neat and tidy with some basic storage issues going on but nothing out of the ordinary.  “Wait” she says, “come to the bedroom”.   Well let me tell you THAT PLACE WAS A HOT MESS!!  This poor girl had clothes everywhere.  Clothes falling out of the closet, on the floor, on the bed, on the TV, on the window ledge, on the bathroom counter….E V E R Y W H E R E.

After a brief scolding (“How can you throw your clothes all over the floor?”; “Do you know how to use a hanger?; “How many tank tops does one person need?”) we got down to work.  Pulling out everything (yes, everything) from the closet, small cabinet, unpacked suitcases and unpacked moving boxes in the kitchen (clothes had been there for 1 year) and piling it all on her stripped bed we began to create 4 piles:

KEEP (You love it and wear it)
TRASH (It is damaged and could be considered a rag)
DONATE (Someone else will love it)
CONSIGN (You paid a lot for it so get some money back if you can)

…oh and one more laundry/dry clean, (dog fur was everywhere)

After we sorted all of the clothes and cleared out at least 2/3 of them we were able to address some of the basic issues at hand. If you are going to have a lot of clothes you need to have proper storage solutions.  Invest in a dresser whether a nice one, or if your budget won’t permit, one from a discount store or tag sale.  If all else fails, purchase some clear plastic bins for overflow items and stack them neatly. Buy more shirt hangers (send the wire ones back to the dry cleaners if you have them) and vertical skirt/pant hangers with clips that hold 5 to 6 items to take up less room.  Homegoods stores have all sorts of hooks, drawers and shelves for what you need.

So, we have come to the part of the story where I disclose something about myself.  Perhaps many of you can relate to this.  I am 43 and while a select few think I still have it “going on” (thanks honey), I am not and have never been a Victoria Secret kind of girl.   I am your basic cotton panties sort and if need be something depending on the outfit.

It therefore came as a shock, and then major amusement, when we discovered no less than 45 pairs of thong panties strewn throughout this room.  Strewn you ask???  Yes strewn.  So I ask our client “What’s up with the panties?”  She tells me that whenever she can’t find clean ones she just goes and buys more.  I immediately think she can certainly afford our rates and this is out of control.  “YOU BUY NEW UNDERWEAR WHEN THE OTHER STUFF IS DIRTY??”  “Well no, I do the laundry, I just can’t find the clean ones so I have to buy more” she replied.

Life lesson:  Underwear and socks need to have homes too.