Weekend project idea: Clear clutter from your medicine chest

wall mount medicine chestFirst, before I get into the depths of this post, I want to say that you shouldn’t be storing medicines in your bathroom. Humidity is bad for your medicines, and most in-wall cabinets don’t have locks on them and can be accessed by little ones. So, you should begin your weekend project by getting a lockable chest that you can store in a closet or another dry place in your home for your medicines. This modern-style medicine chest with locking glass door mounts on the wall. If you’re worried about losing keys, a portable chest with combination lock is a good alternative.

Next, get rid of all drugs that have passed their expiration dates. Return medications, both prescription and over-the-counter types, to your pharmacy for safe disposal. You can also read our tips on disposing of unused medications.

combo lock medicine chestThird, clear out all items that are not actually medicine-related from your medicine chest and find proper homes for these items.

Fourth, evaluate your medicine chest for duplicates and missing items. You should have at least one thermometer, but not four (like I just found … how in the world do I have four thermometers?).

Finally, lock up your medicine chest and enjoy the rest of your weekend knowing that you helped restore sanity in at least one aspect of your life.


This post was originally published in June 2007.

9 Comments for “Weekend project idea: Clear clutter from your medicine chest”

  1. posted by Jennifer on

    I don’t worry about locking, because the only child in the house is 9 and sensible. I keep all the cold medicines, peroxide, etc in a couple of dishpans from the dollar store – I store them on a shelf of my linen closet in the hall – the shelf is far above anything a *visiting* small child could reach.

  2. posted by Chris Garrett on

    I daren’t look in our medicine cabinet. Fortunately it is well out of reach of small hands but at the same time it is an avalanche risk 🙂

  3. posted by dott on

    Do you have recommendations about how many different types of pain relievers to keep on hand? I am confused. I prefer aspirin (somehow I think it is more “natural” but is it?)

    My partner likes Tylenol (or the generic version) but we also have Advil (what is different about that) and some other varieties too.

  4. posted by Erin on

    dott —

    The answer to that question could easily (and preferably) come from your doctor. He or she can describe to you how the different pain relievers work and which one is best under which circumstance.

  5. posted by Tom Karches on

    FYI, most over the counter medications are fully effective long after the due date.


    No point in throwing away perfectly good medicine

  6. posted by Sara on

    Oh god I need to do this. Half of our medicine cabinet stuff is in a Safeway bag in the bottom of our closet.

  7. posted by Andamom on

    Great points here — but I agree with Tom that expiration dates don’t necessarily indicate that the medicine is ineffective or harmful.

    The real question for us is where to store true medicine. I’ve got a toddler, a teen, and a husband in an apartment. We need to ensure that 3/4 of us can access the medicine — but the 1/4 toddler element doesn’t get near it. One option would be a closet — but that is easier said than done in our place.

    And we have multiple thermometers as well… It happened to us because all of them have different purposes… We’ve got the ear one (most used), a rectal one (I think–better check because it has mercury and cannot be disposed of easily), one used for fertility charting, and a random one that seemingly just appeared one day. I know some parents have the forehead one for babies too…

  8. posted by BobbyEsq on

    Weekend? Really? Seems like this could be done in the space of about a week’s worth of teeth-brushings.

  9. posted by Jeri Dansky on

    And when you do this, please dispose of old medicines responsibly. I’ve provided some information here: http://jdorganizer.blogspot.co.....paces.html

    I’m lucky in that my county (San Mateo, California) has provided a number of places to drop off old medicines – maybe your local government has put something in place, too. San Mateo County: http://www.rethinkwaste.org/news.php?id=medicines

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