Before we moved, I had planned on being super organized, purging and donating and tossing. Well, that didn’t happen, but when we moved in this did:
I just kind of tossed the medicine cabinet stuff in its new home. Well, I tried to organize it. I bought those little baskets with the intent to organize. You know, cold meds in one, stomach upset stuff in another. Sadly, I didn’t measure before buying the baskets and they never really fit. I put the meds in (what would fit anyway), placed the baskets on the shelves and closed the door…only the doors didn’t close. Yeah, organizing FAIL!
So I decided to try something different. I ran to Wal-Mart and grabbed two cheap 3 tiered spice racks and got to work.
First, I pulled everything out of the cabinet. Clearly we had a lot of over the counter medicines – some of which were expired! Yikes!
I went through everything and purged what was expired. (We’ll talk about what to do with all of that stuff in a minute.)
Then I nestled the racks on the bottom shelf of the cabinet and put all the bottles in their place, grouped by category.
But I still needed a solution for all of the boxed cold medicine, etc that wouldn’t fit on the racks. I had originally planned to make a flip book out of them with small, inexpensive photo brag books, but when I tried it, they became too thick.
I knew I needed a file box of some sort, but I didn’t want to spend more money on my medicine cabinet. As luck would have it, I found an extra recipe file box while I was organizing my craft room. Here’s what I did:
First, I labeled the box:
Then, I took all of our boxes of over the counter medicines and cut them apart, making sure to save the dosage and lot/expiration information. After that, I simply took large 4×6 index cards and paper clipped the back of each box to a card and slid it behind the appropriate category, placing the medicine for each in front of it’s index card. Here’s a picture. Where my thumb is, you can see the divider for the cold/flu category and behind it is the back of the Dayquil box clipped to a file card and in front of it is our supply of Dayquil. Super simple!
To keep us from losing the thermometer (which happens often around here), I created a quick little pocket that sticks to the inside of the door with some Command poster hanging strips. (Full disclosure: Since taking this picture, the pocket hasn’t stayed together with just double-stick tape. I’m going to have to use a stronger adhesive to keep it together. The Command strips have worked great keeping it on the door though!)
Now that the cabinet was clean, I needed to do something with all of those expired meds (and believe me, there were many!). I had heard that you can take them to a pharmacy and they’ll dispose of it for you, but when I called CVS, they said they didn’t. What they did have though were these handy TakeAway Environmental Return System envelopes. You purchase the envelope for $4.00 and slip your over the counter and prescription medicines inside and mail it. Just make sure they are in their original packaging. For liquids you have to wrap them securely in a paper towel and then slide them into a plastic baggie before putting them into the envelope.
It comes with a nice, concise set of instructions as well as what you can and cannot recycle through their program as they don’t take controlled substances.
It cost me about $16.00 for four envelopes and I don’t need to purchase extra postage, it’s covered in the cost of the envelope! I just have to drop them off at the post office.
By spending a couple of hours organizing and purging, I’ve managed to gain a shelf and I am loving it.

A Few Disclaimers and Tips:

  • I try, at least once a year, to purge our medicines. Expired medications can actually become stronger (not just weaker!) over time, so it’s super important to clean them out.
  • Don’t store medicines in a bathroom. They steam and temperatures can make your medicines go bad more quickly. Please know that I understand if that’s really your only option though. Our apartment was painfully small and the bathroom was the only spot to keep them for awhile. What you see in the above pictures is a kitchen cabinet, away from heat sources, in our new home. Get creative! See if you can eek out a drawer in your bedroom or find a nice box to put at the top of your closet.
  • Regarding the lot/expiration date information on boxes of cold medicine: I saved the expiration date for obvious reasons, but I saved the lot #/batch # in case of recall. If you want to do what I did with the recipe box, then you really should save that end of every box.
  • I realize that the recipe/file box is not kid friendly, but we don’t have kids. If you do, please keep this in mind or find a box or cabinet that has a lock on it to be safe.
  • Also, our file box o’meds is kept in a high cabinet out of reach of kid hands in case we have friends with kids over. Actually, it’s on such a high shelf it’s almost out of reach of me and I’m 5’3″. Please keep any and all medicines, regardless of how you store them, out of reach of little hands and have discussions with older kids and teens about medicines in the home. I am not responsible if your dog eats your entire supply of Tylenol. 😉  Please use common sense when dealing with your own storage system and err on the side of caution when in doubt.

Write A Comment