3 Tips to Organize Your Medicine Cabinet

posted by Andrea | 12/8/2017
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Last month, I shared how I pared down and organized all my gift wrapping supplies. That’s usually one of the mini organizing projects I try to tackle before the holiday season.

Another mini organizing project I almost always do right around this time every year is to weed through, purge, stock, and better organize our medicine cabinet.

I like to do this in late fall, partially because we’re right at the beginning of cold and flu season, but also because medicine tends to be on sale this time of year, so it’s cheaper for me to restock my stash!

As you can see by the pictures above, I don’t have a fancy or elaborate system to organize our medicine cabinet. I simply use several of our kid’s shoe boxes to keep like items together…

Our medicine cabinet is in the hallway between our bedroom and bathroom and the nursery — so it’s super convenient for me to access. It actually use to be the doorway to our office, but when we knocked out the living room wall, we turned the old doorway into a built-in medicine cabinet. It fits our needs perfectly!

I’ve thought about creating a space for kids’ medicine upstairs (since that’s where the kids spend much of their time) but I haven’t done it yet because I don’t want to give them easier access to medicine!

Anyway, I tackled this project early last week during one of Clara’s catnaps! It only tookΒ me 10-15 minutes to purge things we no longer need and make a list of things I need to stock up on. Now I’m done for another year!

Here are 3 of my tips to help you organize your medicine cabinet.

1. Combine same products into one box/bottle.

Some people might not agree with me, but I find it helpful to combine like items in the same box or bottle to save space — especially since most medicine boxes and bottles are only half full!

For example, if I buy 2 containers of Ibuprofen at the same time (and with the same dosage), I simply combine them into one bottle. I do this with bandages, gauze pads and other first aid supplies, and various other pills as well — as long as the dosage and expiration dates are the same.

It saves TONS of space!

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2. Rip the tops off boxes.

This might seem very insignificant, but it has always been quite helpful for me to rip the top flaps off most of our boxes of medicine and first aid supplies. They are easier to access and it’s easier for me to see when we’re running low on a particular item.

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3. Write expirations dates on each product.

There are always expiration dates on each container of medicine, but they are often REALLY hard to find and read — especially if you’re just quickly glancing at the container.

To make things easier on myself, I usually write the expiration dates with a black Sharpie so they are easy to find and read (and then toss if they are past the date).

It only takes a few seconds and saves me lots of searching throughout the year.

In my opinion, this is one of those projects that never really HAS to be done… but it sure makes times of sickness so much less stressful.

You don’t have to run to the store for the “right” medications because you already have what you need in the house and you don’t need to search for expiration dates in the middle of the night because you’ve purges old medicine and written the dates on your bottles.

This would be a perfect mini project to do over Christmas break, on a Saturday morning, or even some night after everyone else is asleep!

Filed under: OrganizingFamilyHomeChildrenHealth

 
 

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19 comments

  1. tina

    12/09/2017

    i wish this was as easy for me. as a coupon-er, i have overstock on everything. for example, of all my chewable vitamins, i have over 175 that are still new unopened unexpired packages. i would love to donate, but i dont have that luxury being single unemployed and paying something out of pocket for each one. regular medicines are even more complicated. i especially dont have that luxury living in a single room in a share house- i dont have storage space, ie closets etc.

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  2. Linda B.

    12/09/2017

    I take a fine tip Sharpie and write the name of the medication on the lid so it’s easier to find in the drawer I store mine in. It’s particularly helpful because we always buy generic over the counter medications. So instead of naproxen, I write Aleve on the lid. My husband is a biochemist and he’s the only one who knows off the top of his head what all the generic names translate to.

    I’m with you on combining bottles. I get one prescription. A 90-day supply comes in three bottles. I open them up and dump them all into the bottle marked 3 of 3…and there is still room to spare! But there’s no confusion that when I start running low on that bottle, it’s time to reorder.

    Time for me to clean out our medicine cabinet, too. Thanks for the reminder!

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  3. Roundup: Contigo Autoseal Mugs for $8.99, Free apples at Walmart, Free dog food at PetSmart, 30% off at Starbucks, and More

    12/09/2017

    […] What I love today: Andrea Dekker’s tips for organizing your medicine cabinet, especially #3. That had never occurred to me and yet […]

  4. Luba @ Healthy with Luba

    12/08/2017

    Andrea,

    What great tips. Of course expiration dates tend to disappear. I’ve often wondered what the logic was behind filling bottles only halfway.

    We don’t have any medicine in our house, and I am going to put these tips to use right away for our bandaids and such!

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  5. ShellyL

    12/08/2017

    Great tips! I love this post. It’s little projects like this that just make your whole household run more smoothly. I’d be interested to know what people think of using medicine that is just “a little bit expired.” I’m always tempted, especially if it’s the middle of the night and ours is expired. It’s amazing how quickly those things expire and you just don’t realize it. Thanks for the tips.

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    Andrea Reply:

    Hi Shelly,
    We definitley use medicine after it’s expired (especially just recently). I’ve even talked with nurses about it and they assure me it’s fine. The stuff I throw out is anything that is REALLy expired — like a year or so. If a bottle is almost empty and it’s almost expired (or just expired) I’ll probably just throw it out and buy new, but if it’s a completely full container, I’ll use it for a few months after the expiration date πŸ™‚

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    Rhonda Reply:

    I’d agree with Andrea. Not harmful to use, just maybe not quite as effective. 6 months to a year is a good rule of thumb.

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  6. Kim

    12/08/2017

    Great post Andrea. I do all 3 of your suggestions, plus I have a Google Docs spreadsheet with all the info. It’s set up so that when something is nearing expiration, the expiration date changes color from black to red so that I can easily just glance at it and know what needs to be replaced. I usually print it out and take it to the store so I can check it off as I go.

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    Andrea Reply:

    wow — a spreadsheet! That’s amazing!!

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  7. Stephanie

    12/08/2017

    Great post! A couple of years ago, I cleaned, organized, and checked the dates of our medicines. I also did the same for the spice cabinet. It is surprising how fast those expiration dates come up!

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    Andrea Reply:

    I know — you think “i just bought that” but it’s 3 years expired already!

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  8. Joy

    12/08/2017

    I’ve taken to writing my kids names on the top of the bottles of medicine. I have one using kids and one using infants medicine and in the middle of a sleepless night I want it as easy as possible to be sure I grab the right bottle.

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  9. Katie

    12/08/2017

    Great tips! One more thing that I do is write the name of the medicine on the top of the bottle… I, also, have all our meds arranged in bins, and this makes is super easy to quickly grab what you’re looking for without taking the bottles out of the bins πŸ™‚

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  10. Rhonda

    12/08/2017

    I’m a pharmacist and a mom…great tips Andrea, I do all 3 πŸ™‚

    Also don’t forget about tubes of ointments and creams – write the expiration big on those too. They are the hardest to decipher! We do the same for our sunscreen sprays and tubes. It’s amazing how often I am at a friend or relatives house and need something…and they pull out a product that is over 10 years old!

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    Andrea Reply:

    oh good — glad I’m not the only one combining medicines to save space!!
    And thanks for the tip about creams and sunscreens. I DO write the expiration date on creams, but I haven’t done it for sunscreen (probably because we don’t store that in our medicine cabinet so I don’t think about it).
    Also, since you are a pharmacist, do you have any tips or recommendations for the “best” way to dispose of expired meds?

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    Rhonda Reply:

    If possible, it’s best to get your expired medications to a “med drop” location. In our county in rural Wisconsin, our sheriffs department has a continuous process for taking back any expired medications. I would suggest check with local hospitals (maybe ask to speak to one of the inpatient pharmacists), retail pharmacies, or sheriffs department (especially now that places are focusing on getting expired or unused opioids out of communities). Some cities even have a once or twice a year “med drop” location set up.

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    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks so much — this was super helpful!

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    Carol Reply:

    I have never thought about combining bottles, but I also purge mine annually in January. I also check the sunscreen and deodorant expiration dates (who knew!) from personal experience; my son got a sunburn going to a water park at the beginning of the season when he was in high school because he used left over sunscreen out of our closet and I thought my deodorant had become less effective only to find out that it was expired (over a year, I used to be big on couponing and stocking up). I have also noticed expiration dates on toothpaste! I am now much more aware of expiration dates when I am shopping and have learned not to keep quite so much stock!
    As empty nesters who are watching our weight, I don’t bake too often. So this is the time of year I clean out and replace spices and baking supplies while most of it is on sale for holiday baking.

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    Andrea Reply:

    oh definitley combine bottles — they are always less than half full so you’ll save a BUNCH of space!!
    And good tip on the sunscreen. I’ve always wondered if it really ‘expires’ or if it’s just a gimmick to get us to buy more πŸ™‚

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