When I start a New Year, I like to get organized. It’s out with the old and in with the new and that includes my bathroom where, like most IC patients, I spend a considerable amount of time. Having IC is challenging and I want to make sure that I have some small pleasures that will make those restroom moments more bearable. To avoid unnecessary bladder infections, I also need to make sure that my bathroom stays clean. Here are some ideas!

1. Linens That Comfort You! We all have thin towels and rugs that have seen better days. Once a year, donate your old, ratty towels and/or rugs to your local animal shelter and buy yourself some soft, warm and cozy towels and mats. Keep towels clean by washing atleast twice a week. If it’s been sitting, damp on your floor or sink for more than a day, it needs to be washed. To reduce skin irritation, we suggest using Ivory Snow or Dreft as laundry detergents.

2. Scents To Please You! If you’re like most IC patients, you probably have a very sensitive sense of smell and the smells that bother us the most usually originate from the bathroom. Yet most bathroom sprays are just too strong. Make your own spray using a few drops of your favorite essential oil scent in a quart water. We love citrus scents, like orange, for their invigorating effect but you can also try to make a custom spa scent using peppermint, eucalyptus, tea tree and rosemary.  Or if you don’t want to make a spray, just put a few drops of essential oil inside your roll of toilet paper.

3. Soaps That Don’t Irritate You! With our sensitive skin and/or vulvodynia, most mass market soaps are too harsh for our skin. The IC friendliest soaps to use in the shower or bath are Basis for Sensitive Skin or a plain Dove Bar. At your sink, you might find bar soaps too messy. We like to use liquid soaps for our hands, preferably those for sensitive skin. The Rainbow brand is perfect if you can find it.

4. Tissues That Please You! There’s nothing worse than needing to use the restroom only to discover no toilet tissue. Yikes!! Buy toilet tissue in bulk and always keep at least two new rolls in your bathroom. You might consider trying unscented, flushable moist wipes from Natracare or Seventh Generation for an extra soothing experience. Patients struggling with vulvodynia might find facial tissues softer than regular toilet tissue however, if used in quantity, may cause clogs in pipes. ICN member GoldFinch has a daughter with a very sensitive nose who finds facial tissues irritating. She suggests cutting up some old t-shirts or cotton sheets for use when you have a runny nose. Simply wash in hot water and then reuse.

5. Water To Soothe You! If you struggle with “urine burn,” vulvodynia or rectal discomfort, a periwash bottle is a must addition to your toilet routine. Simply fill with water and rinse off your sensitive areas each time you use the facilities. Not only will this calm and soothe your vulva and perineum, it also helps keep bacteria at bay.

6. Heat To Relax You! One of the most comforting things you can use during an IC flare is a heating pad. Once a year, buy yourself a new electric heating pad (make sure it

7. Soda For A Sitz Bath! Most IC patients have learned quickly that bubble baths and gels can be very irritating. So, what do you put in your bathwater for a comforting soak?? We suggest that you use baking soda (1/2 to 1 cup) for an extra soothing sensation. Some patients like using Aveeno as well!

8. Cleanliness Counts – The cleanliness of your toilet area can help prevent painful bladder infections. Use clean towels for your hands and body and wash these regularly. Dispose of trash. Using a disinfectant wipe, wipe down your sink, toilet seat and toilet rim atleast twice a week. Scrub the inside of your toilet atleast once a week with a toilet brush. Wash bathroom floors at least once a week. Look for environmentally sensitive cleansing supplies like those from Seventh Generation. Bathtubs require special attention, especially if they have bubble jets. Follow your manufacturers instructions and clean the jet pipes regularly as they have been proven to harbor bacteria.

9. Remove Clutter – We’ve all seen the old bottles of shaving cream, toothpaste and/or perfume sitting lined up along the sink in your bathroom. They’re so dusty, it’s obvious they haven’t been touched in years. It’s time to clear the clutter on your sink, shelves and drawers! Throw out items past their expiration date. Eliminate as many jars as you can from your sinks and bathtubs. Your goal – a clean sink area that’s pleasing to the eye and nose!

10. Dispose of Old Medications – Medications and OTC products that have passed their expiration date should be disposed of promptly. Failure to do so could endanger your life because some medications can become harmful or ineffective over time. Once a year, go through your medications, cough drops, shampoos etc. and purge the old, expired items. Some pharmacies accept medications for disposal. Yes, it might take you a few hours to get your bathroom organized for the New Year, but it’s worth it in the long run! Ideally, we want your bathroom to be a clean and soothing refuge. A lighted candle, a warm shower, cozy towels and a warm robe can work wonders for