Especially if you don’t need a lot of medication, it is easy to forget about the contents of your medicine cabinet. However, it only needs a little bit of maintenance once or twice a year. I recommend tying this task to another one so it’s not forgotten. If you take out or put away your outdoor furniture every spring and autumn, clean the medicine cabinet at the same time. Or simply schedule it in your diary.
Dispose of unneeded stuff
Get rid of medicine that has expired, is ineffective or is almost empty. Expired medicine can become dangerous, so better not risk it. Discard it safely and take it to the pharmacy. Please don’t throw it in the bin or flush it down the toilet!
Check the fridge
Some medications need to be kept cool, but they easily get forgotten and take up valuable space in your kitchen.
Store duplicates correctly
If—for whatever reason—you have a lot of one particular medicine, don’t clutter the medicine cabinet with the reserve. Keep those packages or bottles somewhere else. Keep in mind it needs to be a dry, dark and cool space that is out of reach for children.
Take care of seasonal products
Spring is the time to buy some new sunscreen and insect repellent. You can use sunscreen from the year before as long as it’s not expired, has been closed firmly and was stored in the right place. Sunscreen generally keeps about three years. But if in doubt, toss it and buy a new one.
Test your medical devices
Know whether your thermometer, blood pressure monitor, etc. are still in good working condition. Exchange batteries if necessary (see here where to discard them if you are in Australia), have the device fixed or replace it if you still need it.
Replace only if necessary
If you needed two pain relief tablets in the last 12 months, they might not be worth replacing—or at least buy the smallest package possible.
More practical tips:
Write the opening date on your packages/bottles. The expiry date on medicine always refers to an un-opened package. As soon as it’s open, it should generally be used within 12 months. Careful—there are exceptions, such as eye drops. Write the date of opening on the container.
Children’s medicine. If you have children, keep their medicine in a separate container. When you need something, you won’t run the risk of grabbing the wrong bottle and giving them medicine that might harm them. It’s also easier for other people who may be looking after your kids.
My Top Tip: Keep a box or a bag for expired medicine. Every time you come across expired medicine, throw it in there. When it’s full, take it to the pharmacy for disposal.