How to stop bumping head on bathroom medicine cabinet over sink?
April 9, 2018 12:12 PM   Subscribe

I am an adult but can't seem to learn my lesson and keep bumping my head on the bathroom vanity after using the sink. How can I train myself to avoid this? Or can somebody recommend a product to "child-proof" the hardware so at least I won't keep scraping my noggin into a bloody mess?

The vanity is one of those classic medicine cabinet boxes with three mirrored doors, above a tiny bathroom sink. The door hinges are on the top and bottom (not the sides) and the hardware I keep hitting is mounted underneath. It isn't flush and sticks out quite a bit. The vanity looks like this.

When I raise my head from the sink in a natural motion (after washing face, shaving, rinsing, etc), my head smacks right into the metal hardware. It leaves a nasty scrape just above my forehead. It hurts, I feel like an idiot, it's super visible, and it takes a long time to heal.

Looking for strategies to retrain myself so I can avoid bumping my head. You'd think bumping my head enough times would work, but it hasn't.

Also looking for recommendations for something I can buy to soften the blow, like a rubber bumper cover or something. So far everything I've come across would black the door hinge from functioning.

Or recommendations on how to find a suitable replacement hinge? It's a rental and I only have a basic tool set.
posted by mannermode to Home & Garden (16 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Some options to break the habit:

Can you wear a ball cap perched high on your crown anytime you are at your sink? Not covering your forehead but just so that when you lean forward into the sink and you are too far forward, the hat hits the mirror and reminds you to back up?

Alternatively, if you have a bathroom rug in front of your sink, move the rug back so that you are standing farther back from the sink. I HATE when my feet are only half on the rug, and I always stand fully on the rug. YMMV.

Or, you can straight up put a post-it on the mirror that says, "Watch your head [dummy]!" (I would totally call myself dummy but that's not to imply you are or that I think you should feel that way.)

Or all of the above!
posted by ancient star at 12:20 PM on April 9, 2018 [1 favorite]

You know how people hang a tennis ball in their garage so they know when to stop pulling in? I think something like that may be helpful here. If you put something soft but noticeable on the underneath of the cabinet, you can bump your head on that FIRST, and know you've got to stay in a duck to avoid the metal terror bits.

Maybe I'm just thinking too much in balls mode, but if you cut a nerf ball in half and hotglue it to the underside of the cabinet, that could be perfect.
posted by phunniemee at 12:21 PM on April 9, 2018 [5 favorites]

You need to build muscle memory, that is:
You need to train your brain to command a different motion when rising from the sink.
To do this, I'd go to the sink with this purpose alone, bend over and then raise my head deliberately, avoiding the cabinet.
When you have found a pattern of motion that works, repeat, say, ten times.
Do this every day for a week.
posted by Thug at 12:28 PM on April 9, 2018 [4 favorites]

I often use pipe insulation for softening corners - it's basically a pool noodle with a slit along it, and double-stick tape on the slit edges... so of course just cutting a pool noodle into the shape you want and taping it up is also an option.

The padding will be bigger than the hinge. You will bonk your head on it every freaking time. Eventually you'll adjust to that, and stand a bit farther back, such that you rarely hit the padding. At this point you could, if the aesthetics are bothering you, take the pad off, because you've trained yourself to allow a margin in front of the hinge.
posted by aimedwander at 12:31 PM on April 9, 2018 [1 favorite]

Also, sounds like the two ways to avoid it are to duck lower or to stand farther back; so maybe marking a masking tape line on the floor would help. You'd see it on the floor when you bend over the sink, and you'd practice skooting back to stand behind it, such that you're farther from the mirror and it will be safer to stand up. Maybe not 100% impossible to bonk your head, but the action of backing up to toe the line will remind you to duck your head too.
posted by aimedwander at 12:34 PM on April 9, 2018 [1 favorite]

Pool Noodle. Or appropriate size foam that goes over pipes. Cut to the bottom length of the mirror door, slice the tube lengthwise and slide it over the bottom edge of the mirror.

It won't be pretty, but CTE and similar repeated head injuries are no joke.
posted by jbenben at 12:35 PM on April 9, 2018

Could you wear some sort of terrycloth headband like this, positioned to cover the part of your head that you keep scraping? It won't train you not to hit your head, but should at least help you not get all scraped up.
posted by tan_coul at 12:36 PM on April 9, 2018

Avoid the lean. Wash your face with a cloth, and rinse out the cloth.
posted by Iris Gambol at 12:38 PM on April 9, 2018 [2 favorites]

Take the vanity down, put up a regular mirror, and place alternative storage in a more user-friendly location.
posted by cotton dress sock at 12:53 PM on April 9, 2018 [8 favorites]

Sorry, missed that you’re renting. Ask your landlord if it’d be ok to do that. (Personally, I’d pay to avoid concussions or the daily threat of concussions.) A bigger sink would help too, if that’d be a possibility.
posted by cotton dress sock at 12:56 PM on April 9, 2018

"Alternatively, if you have a bathroom rug in front of your sink, move the rug back so that you are standing farther back from the sink. I HATE when my feet are only half on the rug, and I always stand fully on the rug. YMMV. "

That's funny, I do everything I can possibly do to avoid ever stepping on anyone's bathroom rug. Just seems like a gross bathroom floor sponge to me.

As for OP, I drink out of the sink and do too many other duck-head-in-sink type moves to train myself not to, I'd look into changing the bathroom itself if it is allowable. Hitting head often is very bad but realistically training yourself not to do a logical and natural move seems like a fool's errand.
posted by GoblinHoney at 1:25 PM on April 9, 2018

I'm trying to figure out how you manage to hit your head on the cabinet while simultaneously not hitting your head on the faucet hardware. Even with the sink right up against the backsplash, I'd think that'd still protrude farther than the cabinet. Or is the faucet off to one side or something?

I'd personally second the idea to have something on the floor that reminds you to stand far enough back that it's a physical impossibility for you to hit your head on it, like a mat or something.
posted by Aleyn at 1:38 PM on April 9, 2018

I would suggest avoiding the lean all together. We have a little mirror mounted in our shower (not permanently -- it sticks up there with little suction cups) that my husband uses for shaving. Bonus: you avoid having to clean up all the little hairs in your sink (this was actually the impetus for him to shift to shaving in the shower, because I was so annoyed at all the mini hairs). I also wash my face in the shower, just out of laziness. :-D
posted by rainbowbrite at 2:09 PM on April 9, 2018

Based on you bumping in to it, I'd assume that it's a surface mount, not a recessed/flush mount medicine cabinet. It's probably secured to the wall with a couple of screws. As such, you could temporarily take it down and install a new medicine cabinet of your choice w/o protruding hinges. When you're ready to move out of your rental, put the old cabinet back. (Or as someone else suggested, take it down, put up a flat mirror and store your "medicine cabinet" items elsewhere.)
posted by Larry David Syndrome at 6:07 PM on April 9, 2018 [1 favorite]

You need to hang something from it, a piece of string (or several) would probably do. Anything that can hang in your peripheral vision will remind you not to straighten up too abruptly.

My 6'6" friends lived in an old house with 6' doorways; after hanging a piece of paper at the top of each door frame, no more bumping. My basement has pipes at my forehead height, so I'm successfully using the same tactic.
posted by anadem at 6:39 PM on April 9, 2018

A basic principle of occupational health and safety is the Hierarchy Of Controls for minimizing the risks associated with assorted kinds of hazard.

Caps and terry cloth bands count as Personal Protective Equipment. These are the least effective of all possible hazard controls.

Retraining, including devices like hanging strings used as training aids, counts as an Administrative Control. These are the second least effective.

Padding the hazardous edge with pool noodle would be an Engineering Control. This will be more effective than the other two, but still not great.

I concur with cotton dress sock that your best way forward is to pursue Elimination.
posted by flabdablet at 10:09 AM on April 10, 2018 [2 favorites]

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