how to clean your medicine cabinet

You'll be amazed at what you'll find when you clean your medicine cabinet. (And maybe a bit scared, too.)

And you'll probably be even more amazed at how much additional bathroom storage space you've recovered when you've tossed old, expired medicines and relocated items that you don't use regularly.

Reserve that precious, accessible medicine cabinet space for items you use frequently - not for the Pepto-Bismol you only take on New Year's Day.

Judiciously review every item you keep inside your medicine cabinet, both as a spacing measure and for home safety.

Make Your Medicine Cabinet an Essentials-Only Zone

The medicine cabinet is front and center in most bathrooms, and is prime real estate when it comes to storage space here. Items kept inside should be those you use daily, or at least regularly.

Things like prescription medications, over-the-counter analgesics, 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 bathroom storage solutions.) 

Check Medicine Labels for Storage Instructions and Expiration Dates

As you're considering each item in your medicine cabinet, check each label carefully. Many of us treat medications much too casually.

Some medicine labels specify storage in a cool dark place, not the bathroom, due to its inherent humidity. Light, heat, or humidity may damage medications. Humid bathrooms are not the ticket for these.

Consider placing these medicines in a secure drawer the kids can't reach in your bedroom closet, or on a high shelf in the hall closet.

Clean Your Medicine Cabinet of Expired Items

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

Store Medicines 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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› How to Clean Your Medicine Cabinet