How to Organize a Medicine Cabinet

Keep it clean to keep it easy.
Keep it clean to keep it easy.

When cold and flu season pops up, it's a real nuisance to have to dig around in your overflowing medicine cabinet to find what you need -- if you even still have some. But unless you have a strategy for organizing all of those boxes, bottles and tubes, that's usually what happens. Ready to take back some control? Start by pulling out all of the contents and looking at the expiration dates. Old medicine is bad medicine, so it should get the boot immediately, just be sure to follow the disposal instructions on the packaging. It's not a bad idea as you sort items into the "to keep" pile to write the expiration dates in magic marker somewhere noticeable on the bottle or box. That way, you can identify old stuff at a quick glance. Experts say you should give your medicine collection a once-over every year.

Next, you'll need to decide how you want to be able to access meds. Do you want to store them by type? In this scenario, all ointments and creams go with first aid supplies, while cough and flu medicines are kept separately from antacids and heartburn pills. If a person in your household is on a number of medications that he or she needs to access daily, it's a good idea to store them all together in a separate box. And definitely be sure to keep kids' medications separate from adult medications for easy access.


Tips for Organizing Your Medicine Cabinet

The main rule of organization is to have a place for everything and keep everything in its place. Space in medicine cabinets is generally pretty limited, so keep it to medications only. This means making a plan to stash toiletries under the sink or in other shelves or cabinets. Once you've decided how to categorize your boxes and bottles, now it's time to decide how to store them. You can go old school and simply line them up on the shelves, but that's not always the most convenient way to access things. Bottles get turned around or hidden behind others, so you end up rifling through in a hurry and churning it back into its same former mess.

In the age of Martha Stewart, there are containers that pretty much fit any scenario, and medicine cabinets are no exception. Most medicine cabinets are only 3-to-4 inches deep, so keep this in mind while shopping for containers. A great option is to find some clear acrylic containers that fit narrow medicine cabinet shelves and group items together in several of those. That way, when you need something, you can simply pull down the container or caddy and take it with you. If you're a big discount club shopper and like to buy large sizes of things like aspirin and mouthwash, it's a good idea to invest in some smaller size containers that will fit in a medicine cabinet to keep a supply of these things on hand and then store the large containers in a pantry or cabinet. Be sure to clearly label any containers that aren't original to the medication.


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