Spring-cleaning is a time-honored tradition. For many, it is a fun chance to reinvent their living space. For others, it might be more of a chore. Many people don’t include their medicine cabinets when they “spring-clean,” but keeping your medicine cabinet organized has many benefits.
Why clean your medicine cabinet?
A clean medicine cabinet reduces your chances of making mistakes. Taking wrong or expired medication can be dangerous. Some drugs get weaker after they expire. Others can become toxic. Many people keep medicines that they no longer need. When your medicine cabinet gets crowded, the possibility of taking the wrong medication grows. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends following prescription labels for disposal instructions. Try these tips for a simple medicine-cabinet-cleaning experience:
Save your emergency medications
Some people rely on medications that help them during an emergency. An example of this is a rescue inhaler, which stops asthma attacks. Move your emergency medicines to a safe spot before cleaning your space. This will reduce the risk of accidentally throwing away medicine you need.
What to throw away
- Expired medications: Most medications have an expiration date printed on the container. Some medicines can last up to a year after the expiration date. Others are less stable. To be safe, place all medicines that have expired to the side for disposal.
- Medications that smell “off” or are discolored: Medicine can go bad before the expiration date. Inspect your medications. If anything looks or smells off, place it in your disposal pile.
- Unlabeled medications: Keep your medication in its original container. If you find medication that has no label, do not try to guess what it is. Place it in the disposal pile.
- Medications you do not recognize: If you do not recognize a medication, do not save it.
Disposal of medication
Use medicine drop-off sites: Many companies have medicine drop-off sites. You can look online to find a drop-off site near you.
If getting to a drop-off site is difficult, you can do it at home. Follow these steps:
- Pour the medication into a sealed container like a plastic bag.
- Crush the pills so that there are no large chunks.
- Add water to the container and let the medication dissolve.
- Add kitty litter, soil or coffee grounds to the mixture and seal the container. Make sure to use a substance that looks unappealing to children and animals.
- Throw the sealed container in the garbage.
- Remove or black out the labels on the medicine containers. You can recycle the old containers.
- Do not flush. Flushing your medication can add to water system pollution and harm wildlife.
After you clean
Make sure none of your medications are missing. Refill any medications you may have thrown away by mistake. Take a deep breath. You did it! Managing multiple medicines can be difficult. Spring-cleaning your medicine cabinet will help you stay organized.