Cleaning Your Medicine Cabinet

5 housecleaning tips for pruning old and expired medications and organizing it so everything you need is front and center in the future. 

Space is at a premium in most bathrooms, so you'll want to make sure the medicine cabinet is a regular part of your housecleaning routine.

This is the time to judiciously review every item you keep inside your medicine cabinet, both as a space spacing measure and for home safety.

These 5 tips will help you keep it nicely pruned with space left over to stash at least a few of your daily essentials.

1. Essentials Only Zone.

Reserve that precious, accessible cabinet space for essential items only.

Things like prescription medications, over-the-counter analgesics, rubbing alcohol and perhaps hydrogen peroxide for disinfecting.

These are the items you're likely to need and use most frequently.

Obviously, this select group will not necessarily include the Pepto-Bismol you require only on New Year's Day.

Place these less-used items in a drawer or in an under-sink cabinet. (For more space-saving tips, see salvaging the bathroom sink area.) Chances are, you'll be pleasantly surprised at the number of items you can store elsewhere.

2. check medicine labels for storage instructions.

As you're looking at the items inside the cabinet, take a moment to check labels carefully for storage instructions.

Some labels specify storage in a cool dark place, which, ironically, is not the bathroom, due to its inherent humidity.

And light, heat, or humidity can damage prescriptions.

Humid bathrooms are not the parking place for these items, either.

Consider placing them instead in a (secure) drawer the kids can't reach. Good storage spots include your bedroom closet, on a high shelf in a hall closet, or perhaps a top shelf in the kitchen.

3. Check Expiration Dates.

Next, look carefully at expiration dates. Toss what's expired or no longer used. Expired prescriptions and vitamins lose their potency. (Ditto for sunscreens, by the way.)

4. Discard Expired Items Where Kids Can't Find Them.

Don't toss them into the bathroom wastebasket, where curious little hands could fish them out.

Instead, ask if your local pharmacy will dispose of expired or unused prescriptions. As a final resort: flush them down the toilet or place at the bottom of a trash can.

5. Store Prescriptions in their Original Containers.

Don't repackage them as you would food, even for space's sake. It's important that you have the original label so you can check dosages, expiration dates, and other safety information.

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About the Author

Tara Aronson is a native Californian. Having grown up in San Diego, she studied journalism and Spanish to pursue a career in newspaper writing. Tara, whose three children - Chris, Lyndsay, and Payne - are the light of her life, now lives and writes in Los Angeles. She also regularly appears on television news programs throughout the U.S.