Pill bottles, swabs, toothpaste, and toothbrushes piled on a bathroom counter can make the whole room look sloppy and disorganized. A medicine cabinet goes a long way toward eradicating the clutter.
Typically designed to be installed above a sink or a commode, medicine cabinets feature shallow shelves that can hold several toiletries, makeup, and sundries. Many also feature a mirrored door that takes the place of a flat, wall-mounted bathroom mirror.
Some of the best medicine cabinets are attractive, come with durable shelving, and offer ample room for storage. If you’re shopping for bathroom storage, keep reading to learn what factors to consider and find out why any one of the following could be an asset in your bathroom.
- BEST OVERALL: Jensen Bevel Mirror Medicine Cabinet, 16″ x 36″
- BEST BUDGET: TANGKULA Mirrored Bathroom Cabinet
- BEST WITH SHELF: Tangkula Bathroom Cabinet Wall Mounted
- BEST FOR APPLYING MAKEUP: DECADOM 24in LED Mirror Medicine Cabinet
- BEST RECESSED: Kohler Frameless 16 Inch X 20 Inch Medicine Cabinet
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Medicine Cabinet
Creating continuity of design in the bathroom is just as important as providing a spot to organize and store small items. A medicine cabinet usually sits at eye level, and as such, it is one of the most visible fixtures in the room. When considering medicine cabinet options, take both form and function into account. What the cabinet is made from, how much storage space it has, and whether it offers any additional options are all part of the selection process.
Medicine cabinets feature water-resistant materials, including metal, molded plastic, sealed or painted wood, and glass. Like other household fixtures, you typically get what you pay for when it comes to medicine cabinets. Inexpensive cabinets often contain thin plastic that yellows over time, becomes brittle and cracks.
A cheap door frame that allows steam to seep behind the mirror leads to a process known as “desilvering” that separates the silver backing from the glass and ruins the mirror. A good-quality medicine cabinet should last for many years.
Standard over-the-sink medicine cabinets are pretty shallow, with an interior depth of about 3 to 5 inches, so keep in mind that you’ll only be able to store smaller bathroom items. Interior shelves are often made from glass and may be adjustable in some models, so you can raise the height of a shelf to store taller items.
Over-the-commode medicine cabinets typically offer a bit more shelf depth, from about 5 to 8 inches, allowing users to keep bigger items, such as bottles of shampoo and conditioner or neatly folded washcloths.
Surface Mounting vs. Recessed
A surface-mounted medicine cabinet refers to a medicine cabinet that is fixed to the wall. A recessed medicine cabinet’s interior fits into the space between wall studs while the cabinet door sits flush along the surface of the wall, which adds a sleek look to the bathroom.
If you’re replacing an old medicine cabinet, the simplest solution is to opt for a new model that’s the same size and type. If the existing cabinet is recessed, replace it with a recessed model of the same size. If you currently have a surface-mount model but prefer a sleeker look, make sure to purchase a recessed model, so its inner cabinet will fit between standard wall studs.
Most residential wall studs are spaced 16 inches apart on center (OC), which leaves just 14.5 inches of free space between the studs. A surface-mount cabinet is often too wide to fit between studs.
Style is just as important as storage when choosing a bathroom medicine cabinet.
- Finish frame: Mirrored medicine cabinet doors often come with metal frames such as brushed nickel or chrome. Selecting a finish that matches the sink and tub faucets will create a uniform look. Painted cabinet door frames look best when they match the other cabinetry or trim in the bathroom.
- Concealed look: Most medicine cabinets are recognizable by their location over a sink or by the fact they extend a few inches out from the wall, but a few models conceal their purpose. These medicine cabinets are typically recessed and feature a face frame that holds a painting, making the cabinet resemble a traditional painting hanging on the wall.
- Makeup mirrored cabinets: Steamy mirrors and harsh overhead lighting can make it challenging to apply makeup. Specialized medicine cabinets with built-in makeup lighting and antifog fans allow users to see clearly in the mirror, even if they just stepped out of the shower.
Our Top Picks
To qualify as a top pick, a medicine cabinet should be made from quality materials and have a secure latch that holds the door closed. Style and design will vary by the individual user’s needs. The following models were all chosen for their durability, functionality, and attractiveness.
The Jensen medicine cabinet is both striking and functional. It features a frameless mirrored door with a beveled edge, making it well suited for a contemporary or modern-style bathroom. In addition, the door is reversible, allowing it to be installed on either the right or the left side to best suit the individual bathroom configuration.
The cabinet comes with two adjustable steel shelves, and its base is made from durable steel and coated with white acrylic paint for an easy-to-clean finish. With a 14-inch cabinet width, the interior portion will fit within a standard stud space. The medicine cabinet’s overall size (mirrored door included) is 16 inches wide by 36 inches high and 4.75 inches deep.
At just 13.5 inches wide by 21 inches high and 6 inches deep, the Tangkula mirrored bathroom cabinet is compact enough to fit in small bathrooms while providing essential storage space for toiletries and medicines. The Tangkula cabinet is a wall-mount model, featuring two shelves behind a white mirrored door.
While the cabinet is small in height and width, its 6-inch depth offers ample storage room for larger items, such as lotion bottles or even toothbrush holders. Install it above the sink, the commode, or on any wall for some additional storage space. Its simple straight lines complement most bathroom styles, and it’s made of easy-to-clean MDF board that offers durability and water resistance.
The open shelf at the bottom of the Tangkula double mirror medicine cabinet is just the ticket for holding items that look good enough to display, such as folded washcloths or ornamental soaps. The Tangkula medicine cabinet is a wall-mount model that features two additional height-adjustable shelves behind double doors.
This mirrored cabinet can be installed above a sink or a toilet or elsewhere in the room when extra storage space is necessary. Its simple straight lines complement most bathroom styles, and it features waterproof paint that makes it easy to wipe clean.
The DECADOM medicine cabinet comes with internal light strips on the sides that emit an adjustable mix of cool, neutral, or warm tone light for selecting the lighting that best suits the user’s complexion. The lighting is also dimmable. The medicine cabinet features a defogger that keeps the mirror clear even after a steamy shower, and the entire cabinet mounts to the surface of the wall.
This high-end cabinet also comes with an integrated clock, making it easy to know how much time is left to get ready. An electrical outlet behind the cabinet (or nearby) is necessary to use all electronic functions. It measures 24 inches wide by 30 inches high and is 5 inches deep.
The Kohler recessed medicine cabinet boasts sleek anodized aluminum construction for a timeless finish. The frameless mirrored door is reversible and installs on either the right or the left side. The Kohler cabinet features additional mirrors on the inside of the door and behind the shelving on the cabinet wall’s back.
This medicine cabinet recesses between standard wall studs and measures (with the mirrored door) 16 inches wide, 20 inches high, and 5 inches deep. It also comes with two adjustable interior shelves made of glass.
FAQs About Medicine Cabinets
A new medicine can change your bathroom’s look, so choosing one that complements rather than detracts from the bathroom’s style is essential. If this is the first time you’ve shopped for a medicine cabinet, you likely have some questions.
Q. How do you install a recessed medicine cabinet?
To install a medicine cabinet that’s recessed, first locate the studs beneath the drywall (a stud locator helps), then cut the drywall to match the cabinet’s dimensions. Many recessed medicine cabinets come with templates for marking the wall before cutting. A recessed cabinet attaches from inside the cabinet to the adjacent wall studs.
Q. What is the standard medicine cabinet size?
No one size is standard. Medicine cabinets range from 14 inches wide (for recessed models) up to 65 inches wide for wall-mount installation over double vanities. Height ranges from about 22 to 40 inches, with the taller models being better suited to rooms with ceilings that are 9 feet or higher.
Q. How do you organize a medicine cabinet?
Fill it with items that would otherwise clutter your vanity top. Put makeup items in one spot, oral hygiene products in another spot, and reserve the top shelves for medications.