When disaster strikes, there's nothing better than knowing that everything you need is available and in its proper place, yet it's so easy to let the medicine cabinet fall into overpopulated disarray. Take some time this month to streamline and organize your medicine cabinet, and I promise that the future, sick you (or your future, sick family) will thank you.
1. Declutter: We all have those idle containers of expired and nearly-empty medications lurking around in the cabinet, and these should be the first to go. Second, try to target medications that you never use. Here are some tips for when to heed the expiration dates on drugs, and here is the FDA's guide to proper drug disposal.
2. Restock: Yes, this sounds a bit counter-intuitive after you've just spent all that effort pruning, but there are some things that every good medicine cabinet should have, and if you have them on hand now, your life will be much easier when sickness strikes. Obviously, everyone's needs are different, but here's a basic checklist:
- Medication for pain, headache and fever (acetaminophen, ibruprofen, or aspirin)
- Antihistamine (like Benadryl)
- Hydrocortisone cream
- Antiseptic for cleaning wounds (like hydrogen peroxide)
- Ointment to prevent wound infections (like Neosporin)
- Aloe vera gel
- Medication for digestive problems: antacids, antidiarrheal medication, stool softener
- Cough medicine (It may be good to keep both a.m. and p.m. formulas handy.)
- Throat Lozenges
- Nail Clippers
- Cotton Swabs
- Tweezers (for splinter removal)
3. Contain: Your organizational system need not be elaborate, but the neater and more localized your items are, the easier your life will be in the future. Think of classifying items by use. For instance, Benita from Chez Larsson keeps two separate kits: one for medicine and one for first aid supplies. DaNita from Delightful Order separates her children's medication from the adult medication. Think about how you use your medicines, and the organization most fitted to your situation will become clearer.
4. Store: Given that drugs should be kept in an area with low humidity and a steady temperature, the bathroom may not be the ideal place for medicine storage, even though that's the place that immediately comes to mind for most of us. If you have the space, consider moving your medicine storage to the kitchen, pantry, or linen closet. And as always, if you have small children, try to pick a place where their hands can't pry. If you don't have any available out-of-reach space, you may think of investing in a small child-proof medicine safe, like this one.