How to Spring Clean Your Medicine Cabinet

Written by Kylie Lucas, Pharmacist. 

Alas! Spring is almost over! Do you think you’ve finished your spring cleaning? Well, if you didn’t tackle your medicines’ cabinet then your job isn’t done yet! Here are a pharmacist’s tips on what you should and shouldn’t keep.

Why should I clean out my medicines cabinet?

Over time, we all accumulate medicines that are expired or no longer needed. It is good to go through them periodically so that we don’t accidentally consume them at a later date, and so that they are not left to be accessed by children or other family members who may not realise. Expired medicines don’t just become less effective, they can sometimes be harmful as the substances in them start to break down.

To quickly and easily clear the medicines clutter:

  1. Take everything out of your cabinet or cupboard and give the empty cabinet a wipe down.
  2. Go through each item one by one and check:
    • If it is past it’s expiry date
    • If the person it was prescribed or purchased for, no longer needs it
    • If the packaging is damaged or unreadable
  3.  If the answer to any of the above is “YES”, put the item aside and continue collecting all of these items in a plastic bag as you go.
  4. Remember that wound dressings and bandages also have expiry dates, as the packaging and product can still break down over time, so check them too.
  5. Check any vitamins or supplements, and remember medicines which may be stored in other locations – such as the fridge.
  6. Go through any veterinary medicines you may have used for your pet – these also expire!
  7. Pack all current, in-date medicines neatly back into your storage area. It’s best to organise them in sections such as pain relievers, allergy treatments, upset stomach remedies, first aid dressings etc. You may decide that clear plastic boxes for storing each category are a good idea.
  8. Remember that all medicines should be stored in a locked cupboard and out of reach of children, even if you don’t usually have children in your house.

Your plastic bag full of unwanted medicines is now ready to be returned to your local pharmacy. Congratulations on successfully spring cleaning your medicines cabinet!

This post was written by Kylie Lucas. Kylie has been a pharmacist for over 10 years and works in a country town pharmacy in the south west of Western Australia. She lives on a farm with her husband, daughter and lots of pet animals.

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