It’s a bitter cold winter for many this year, but before long spring will be in the air along with allergens, sun burns, insect bites and scraped up knees! Now is a great time to for you add a few necessary supplies to your medicine cabinet so you are ready for spring’s medical needs. “Clearing the Clutter” in this one area of your home will get rid of outdated medicines so you are prepared for what ever comes your way later this year.
Let’s start by gathering all the medicine in your house to one location. Now you can go through all of it at the same time. As you are checking expiration dates on the bottles or boxes, start categorizing your medicine. For example; children’s medicine and adult medicine. From there make sub-categories; allergies, cold, flu, upset stomach, antibacterial ointment and so on. Keep in mind that expired medicines lose their effectiveness and nearly empty bottles create clutter and may not even have enough medicine left for a full dose.
As for the disposal of your medicine, some people liked to throw it into the trash while others preferred to flush it down the toilet. Now we know that medicine can actually get into our soil, creating an environmental hazard. A good disposal option is to contact your local pharmacy. Many pharmacies have established drug recycling programs. Some take old pills back at any time while others hold periodic drives to collect expired medicine. Protect our environment and seriously think about choosing this last option.
Now that all of your medicine is thoroughly checked and categorized, look to see what duplicates of items you may have that you can store in two places. I would suggest keeping all adult medicine in your master bathroom, including any prescriptions that you currently use. In your kitchen you might want to keep vitamins, children’s Motrin or Tylenol, or any medicine that you need to administer daily/frequently to family members (allergy medicine, current antibiotic or cold medicine). You may want to consider having some of these medicines in your main bathroom, too. If your child wakes up in the middle of the night coughing or crying from an ear infection, it is nice to have their medicine handy rather than running back to the kitchen to get the needed item. I also like to keep a Ziploc bag of Neosporin, antiseptic foam wash, Band-Aids, sunscreen and children’s chewable Motrin tablets in the glove box of my car for any collisions/accidents the boys may have while playing at the park.
Some things you may want to make sure you add to your medicine cabinet later this spring are sunscreen with the right amount of SPF protection, Aloe Vera to treat burns, insect repellent and insect bite relief. Do make sure you have a heating or cooling pack for sprains.
If storage is an issue in your bathroom, try Sterlite’s three-drawer units. They are great for organizing your medicine. Again you can categorize each drawer. One for pain reliever, one for cough and cold, and a bandage drawer. They are around $20 at Target or Wal-Mart and are deep enough to hold a full-size bottle of pain reliever, cough syrup, or a bandage box. Each drawer can be fully removed so you can take the entire “cold” drawer to your child’s bed to take their temperature and administer medicine or take the “bandage” drawer to the child with the scraped knee or elbow.
Once you have organized your medicine cabinet you will be surprised how much faster you can find any item for which you are looking. Most important of all is that you will not have to worry whether the product is still “good” to use. Take some time during these long winter evenings, and play a great game of “toss or save” with your medicines, and you will thank yourself when the warmer weather arrives….and you will also be ready for any winter colds or flu that take members of your family by surprise, especially in the middle of the night!
Author Michelle Lehman of Organizing Solutions “Clear the Clutter” Michelle is a Professional Organizer in the Tulsa area. Her articles have been featured in the Tulsa World, The Oklahoman, and The Chicago Post-Tribune. Michelle appears on Fox23 News DayBreak giving organizing tips and recommendations.
Photo credit © Dave Bredeson