If your medicine cabinet is disorganized, not only are you creating stress, you are also creating a possible hazard for your family. Here are several tips on how to organize your medicine cabinet and make it work for you:
The first step is to get the contents of your cabinet down to a workable size. Determine what products are essential to your family and toss the rest. Although you want to be prepared, you don’t need four different bottles of cough medicine or three containers of floss. Figure out the products that work best for your family and purchase those. The others are simply taking up space in an already tight area. Most cabinets (barring any special situations) are sufficient with these items:
Getting organized at home:
- Vitamins and/or supplements
- Daily prescription medication
- Toothpaste and dental floss
- Creams for minor cuts, burns and/or rash
- Cold and cough relief
- Antihistamine (for allergies or allergic reaction)
- Stomach or bowel medication
- First Aid Kit – bandages, thermometer…
Over the counter medications, vitamins, supplements, and other products DO expire. Take time to go through the cabinet and discard anything that is no longer safe to use. At the same time, get rid of any medications that are no longer appropriate for your family, such as infant cold/cough medicine, if you no longer have an infant living in your household.
Unless otherwise directed by your doctor or pharmacist, throw out leftover prescriptions when your course of medication is done. You can do this by pouring liquids down the drain or taking leftovers to your pharmacy to dispose of properly. Keeping medications after you need them takes up space in your medicine cabinet, and also helps people self-medicate which contributes to the misuse of antibiotics.
Do not keep medicines out of their original containers. Not only is it messy to have single pills floating around on the shelves, it’s unsafe. Do not assume that all pill bubble wrappers carry the name of the product on the back – some don’t. And the last thing you want to do is think you are taking something for the stomach flu when you’re actually taking something for a cough.
For ease in selecting which medication you need, store all products in your cabinet label side out. If you are not able to do this, you either need to weed additional products from the space, or invest in a bigger cabinet.
Post the pharmacist, doctor and poison control phone numbers in the cabinet, especially if they aren’t posted by your telephone.
After your medicine cabinet is whittled down to the products you need, your next step is to decide how to organize the products within. There are several options available to you, depending on how much space you have and the number of family members using it.
One option is to put medicines used most often on the bottom shelf, and those used less often on the upper shelves. The lower shelf could contain daily prescriptions, supplements, and vitamins. The upper shelves could hold medicines that are seasonal (such as allergy relief in the summer or cold and flu for the winter) or things that are only used occasionally, such as bandages or thermometers.
Another idea is to store children’s medicines on the top shelves and adult medicines on the bottom shelves. Any medicine or products that are shared can be placed on a middle shelf or on the shelf of the family members who use them more often.
You could also let each family member have a shelf/space for their own things. Dad’s cholesterol medicine and vitamins on one shelf, Mom’s herbal supplements on another, and Johnny’s allergy medication on the next. Each member can have easy access to their medicines without having to search through anyone else’s.
If you find you simply don’t have enough room to store your medications, consider investing in a larger cabinet, or purchasing an additional cabinet to supplement the one you already use. It is also common for people to use a shelf in a bathroom, hallway, or kitchen closet. Be sure, however, especially if you have young children, that the shelf is out of reach and the door can be locked.
Your medicine cabinet stores products that are very important to your family, from daily medications to emergency first aid. By keeping it organized, you will know what you have, what you need, and have easy access to anything required in an emergency.