Day 26: Medicine Cabinet and
If you’ve ever rummaged through your medicine cabinet searching for headache relief and come up with only empty bottles and expired prescriptions, you know how important it is to keep your medicine cabinet organized.
It’s been said that medicine cabinets are merely closets… in miniature.
And closet organizers have a simple rule they follow, each and every time.
We’ll look at some helpful advice, apply the same organization techniques we’ve applied to every other area of our home, and look forward to a fresh, clean and organized medicine cabinet — where yes, everything will have a home.
How to Organize Medicine Cabinets
“So how do you find a place for everything and keep everything in its place in a medicine cabinet? Well, follow the same advice closet organizers have been selling for years: Get rid of anything you’re not using. “Most of us are pack rats,” says designer Lori Carroll of Lori Carroll and Associates in Tucson. ‘Go through the medicine cabinet every six months and throw out stuff you don’t use.’ That means discarding tubes of used-up lipstick, rusty nail files, and empty Band-Aid boxes.”
Medicine cabinets are only so big. It’s important to keep only items in the medicine cabinet you use regularly. Keep occasional use items, like hydrogen peroxide or aloe in another location, drawer or under the sink.
2. Determine to Stay Organized
Resist the urge in stuff more little bottles into the medicine cabinet in a rush to clean up after a hectic morning. It will multiply faster than you can imagine.
Prescription drugs are not advised to keep in a medicine cabinet because humidity and heat can cause some to lose potency. Consider finding another location.
4. First Aid
“Keep your first aid supplies together so you can find them easily in case of an emergency. You might consider reserving one shelf for emergency supplies such as aspirin, first aid cream and gauze. Or buy a small emergency kit to keep on the medicine cabinet shelf and store the larger boxes of Band-Aids and tubes of antibiotic creams in the linen closet.”
Organize items by use. Everyday items, including toothbrushes, should be at eye level. Infrequent use items should be organized on a higher shelf. Repackage bulky items into small containers (cotton balls, q-tips, etc). Maximize space by using shelf risers and grouping like items together. Small tubes should be in small upright containers.
12 Medicine Cabinet Essentials
We’ve organized and prioritized the contents of the medicine cabinet. Now we ask, “What types of medicines should be kept in the medicine cabinet?” Paul Holder, PharmD, clinical assistant professor of pharmacy practice at the Texas A&M Irma Lerma Rangel College of Pharmacy, gives the following guidelines for medicine cabinet essentials.
Depending on the time of year and where you live, well-stocked medicine cabinets should contain eye drops and antihistamines. Additionally, Holder recommends keeping both a “drowsy” antihistamine (for use before bed) and a non-drowsy antihistamine (for use during the day) on hand.
Anti-bacterial cream or ointment
Anti-bacterial creams and ointments are used to treat or prevent minor skin infections that can result from minor scraps, abrasions or insect bites. “There is a difference between a cream and ointment, so you need to pick which works best for your needs,” said Holder. “Creams are water soluble, and users should apply them after the wound is washed with soap and water. Holder recommends affected individual to apply the anti-bacterial cream when they will remain inside where perspiration is less likely. Ointments are oil-based, and can be used when the individual might be exposed to water.”
Decongestants typically found behind the pharmacy counter often have pseudoephedrine, which is frequently used in the production of methamphetamine, or meth. For this reason, Holder often recommends decongestants found on the standard shelves of the pharmacy, but decongestants found behind the counter work equally well.
When choosing a pain reliever for your medicine cabinet, be sure to evaluate the needs of your household. “Users can take some over-the-counter pain medication every 12 hours, but some pain medication needs to be taken every four hours,” said Holder. “Consider which painkillers work best for your needs, and pick at least one to have on hand. If you have children in your household, be sure to stock children’s pain relievers as well.”
“Particularly households have young children, or even elderly people, medicine cabinets should have an anti-diarrheal,” Holder said. This medication works by slowing down gut movement, which decreases the amount of movements and makes the stool less watery.
Calamine lotion is a great topical relief for minor skin irritations like a bug bite or minor burn. The lotion can reduce feelings of itchiness, and, in the case of a bug bite, Holder said pairing the calamine lotion with an antihistamine is a good idea as well.
Especially with young children, parents should have something to induce vomiting in the case of an accidentally ingested poison. “Activated charcoal is better at removing all contents of the stomach than syrup of ipecac,” added Holder. “However, when you suspected someone swallowed a poisonous substance or overdosed on medications, whether over-the-counter or prescription, nothing can substitute for professional help.” If this situation happens, you should immediately contact 9-1-1 or a local poison control center. If professional help is not readily available, then you should administer activated charcoal, in the meantime, without fear of substantial harm to the patient. The most common side effects are black stools, black tongue and vomiting or diarrhea. Activated charcoal may cause constipation if you administer too much, so users should be sure to follow the dosage guidelines.
Supplies to Store in the Medicine Cabinet
- Adhesive bandages
- Nasal aspirator bulb
Objective: to reclaim the medicine cabinet for healthcare and first aid items
• Completely empty contents of the medicine cabinet.
• Wipe out the cabinet, clean and sanitize all surfaces.
• Sort through products and discard any expired, empty or unusable products.
• Create usable containers for items that will remain, eliminate bulky packaging on frequently used items so it fits in the cabinet — see Inspirations below for ideas.
• Determine if there is another location for prescription drugs.
• Inventory the cabinet and make a note of any items that will need to be replaced soon.
GET THE BOOK:
Easy Steps to an Organized Life in 31 Days or Less (Amazon.com)
Medicine Cabinet Organization Ideas
Add a Door Pocket
Convenient in tight quarters, it can hold things like scissors, razors, tweezers, and nail clippers.
Keep everyday use items on the bottom shelf, less-used items at the top.