Day 10 – Medicine Cabinet | 31 Days of Decluttering

Hello friends! 

Welcome to day 10 of the decluttering challenge. Today we are going to reorganize and refill our medicine cabinets – which is often a troublesome little clutter magnet inside the home. But even the smallest room in your home needs attention...

For safety reasons, it's important to revise your medicine cabinet two times a year (e.g. New Year's and July 4th) since the chemical compounds of your meds will they break down over time, and expired medications can be ineffective or even toxic. So let's take a trip to our bathroom for 30 minutes of decluttering! Time to throw out any expired medication and forgotten old ointments.

The Goal

  • an organized medicine collection
  • safe-to-use medication
  • easy access
  • knowing exactly what you've got and where it is 
  • strategic grouping and safe stashing
  • a neat and fully equipped first aid kit
  • creating more space in the bathroom

Guiding Questions

Does my first aid kit feel like a mess and health hazard?
Does my medicine cabinet desperately need to be purged?
Do I know which meds are where?
Do I know the content and purpose of each package?
Are all meds out of the reach of children?
Are they stored in a dry, cool place like they should be?
Which of the meds do I use regularly? 
Have any of them reached their expiration date?

Working Steps

1. Declutter

Gather all of your medicine and supplies from your medicine cabinet, as well as your first aid kit, and where ever else you keep your meds, to put in one central location. Yes, even the handful of cough sweets you always keep in your purse!

Wipe down the shelves and interior of your cabinet. Also clean any organizing caddies, containers or boxes.

2. Go through your guiding questions

Do you actively use the products, or do you just hold on to them in case you MIGHT need them someday? Anything you need to refill or reorder? Any medications that are not in their original container, and you don't remember what they are? Toss it! 

3. Assess and organize

Today's decluttering process is super easy. Let go of any items that

a) you no longer use
b) you haven't used in 12 months
c) are expired
d) are discoloured, dried out, separated, or appear in any way suspect.

Also get rid of medicine if

a) a prescription drug wasn't completed, or you have a few left over
b) you can't remember how long you've had it.

Put these in your don't keep pile.

Make a list of items that you need to replace.

4. Return

Refill your medicine cabinet with the products and supplies you decided to keep. Keep in mind: Since bathrooms are often hot and humid, perhaps consider storing your meds in a drier and colder place such as your hall or an upper kitchen cabinet. When it comes to storing, I suggest the following:

  • Keep like items together in groups. So meds for a cough, for a cold, for fever, for digestion, for open wounds etc. Prescription pills should go in a childproof lock box, and your first aid items (including band aids, gauze and a pair of scissors) go in a zippered pouch
  • Prioritize! Use the lower shelves for essentials, and move occasionals up top.
  • If you also store beauty products and make up in your medicine cabinet (such as shaving cream, hair tools, toothbrushes, tweezers etc.), use pull-out cosmetics caddies or small boxes to organize and save space. Don't forget to label each organizer!

PRO TIP: Get the most out of the space in your cabinet by adjusting the heights of the shelves to best accommodate those items you wish to store with the least amount of wasted space!

5. Donate / Discard 

Toss any products that are past their expiration date. 

To avoid potential contamination of the water in your area, DO NOT flush medications down the toilet or pour them down the drain. Instead, find a drug take-back or prescription drug program. Ask at your local pharmacy if such a program exists in your area, or ask them how best to dispose of specific medications. You can also contact your local hazardous waste facility for instructions. 

In general, federal guidelines recommend removing medications from their original packaging, crushing them up, and mixing them with an undesirable substance such as cat litter, sawdust or coffee grounds. Place them in a seal-able disposable container and place in the trash.  

6. Celebrate

Et voila! We're one step closer to a cleaner, clearer and simpler life :) Now that wasn't too hard, was it?... See you tomorrow for a day of recreation!

left: MEDICINE (cough syrup, cough sweets, oral expectorants, sage tea, cough drops, cold remedies, saline nose spray etc.) // right: VITAMINS (B12 supplements, vitamins E, C and B complex, St. John's wort dragées, band aids, and homoeopathic remedies: Bach flowers, globuli, arnica ointment)