Medicine bottles take up space in practically every home across the U.S. Even those fortunate enough to avoid the costs of prescription drugs have over-the-counter medicines and vitamins, supplements, and other natural health enhancers.
In some households the number of medicine bottles is extreme. In fact, some require an entire cabinet or drawer. It’s important to understand how to store these bottles properly—for safety as well as for neatness and convenience.
Items Needed for Organizing Medicine Bottles
In addition to a designated medicine cabinet, cupboard, or drawer, the following items may come into play when organizing your medicine bottles. Decide which way you plan to organize before assembling the items so you’ll only get out or purchase the ones you actually need.
- Soft cleaning cloth
- Liquid dish soap
- Basin or bucket
- Assorted boxes or bins—perhaps both
- Label maker or stickers to make your own labels
- Permanent marker if making own labels
- Cabinet or drawer childproof lock
- Paper towels
Purge Before Organizing
The first step at organizing your medicine bottles is to gather all the bottles from all areas in your home. Set them out onto a table or countertop and find the expiration dates of all. Call your local pharmacist and ask his or her opinion on discarding outdated medicines. Some are okay to keep for a while, while others should be tossed out right away. Only a professional can determine this.
Once you have tossed the outdated medicines, it’s time to clean all of the bottles. Soak a cleaning cloth in a basin or bucket of warm water mixed with a few drops of liquid dish soap. Wring out the cloth and wipe down each bottle. Set them on a clean paper towel to air dry.
Where to Store?
Most bathrooms are equipped with a medicine cabinet, but most professionals will tell you the bathroom is the worst room in the house in which to store your medicine, because the temperature fluctuates with showers and baths. This is the perfect time to take on the ominous home cleaning task of moving all medicines from the bathroom to a different room. The kitchen is usually the next likely option. It features cabinets that children can’t reach or drawers that are easily accessed by older people who have difficulty reaching up high.
Next, decide upon whether you’ll utilize a cabinet or a drawer. Choose one as far away from the stove and oven as possible.
Storage Bins or Boxes
Now it’s time to sort through all those clean medicine bottles sitting on your table or countertop. Start by designated one group as “prescriptions.” Then move on to the different types of medicine. For example, “cold medicine” will be separate from “pain medicine” such as aspirin, Tylenol, or Advil.
If you’re like many people, you seldom take on the home cleaning task of organizing your medicines. That means you probably have several bottles of each type of medicine. It will be easier to take out a box or bin of one type of medicine than to rummage through a bunch of loose bottles when trying to ease your headache.
That said, your next step is to decide whether you want to use plastic bins or heavy cardboard boxes for your medicine storage. Both are available inexpensively at your local dollar or discount store. You may buy higher quality boxes or bins at kitchen or department stores. You can save money by covering food or other boxes with contact or wrapping paper.
Once you’ve chosen boxes or bins, it’s time to make sure they are all properly labeled. If you have more than one person in your household who takes prescription medicines daily, you should have those medicine bottles separated into different bins or boxes. Each should be labeled with the name of the person who takes them, along with the word, “prescriptions.”
You may choose to use a standard label maker or some stickers and a permanent marker. Once you’ve labeled prescriptions, vitamins, cold medicines, herbal supplements, etc., it’s time to put the medicine bottles away in their new, safe storage place.
Organizing Those Boxes or Bins
Organizing the boxes or bins filled with medicine bottles is pretty much a no-brainer. The box or bin holding your prescriptions needs to be up front. After all, you’ll access it at least once—and perhaps more than that—every single day.
Over-the-counter pain medicines will likely be utilized more frequently than anti-diarrhea medication. Don’t relegate that box or bin to the very back of the cabinet or drawer. You get the idea. Making sure what you need most frequently is up front will prevent the need for hauling out all the boxes or bins to find the right medicine bottles.
Keeping Loved Ones Safe
Now that your medicine bottles are clean and have a nicely organized “new home,” your final step in this home cleaning process is to make sure your loved ones stay safe. If you have children who live in or visit your house frequently, you must install a child-proof lock on your cabinet or drawer. If you have a loved one with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, you must do the same. These locks aren’t expensive, and may be purchased at pharmacies, grocery stores, and many department stores. They come with easy to understand instructions that most teenagers could easily comprehend.
If you are concerned about the safety of your prescription drugs, get more secure form of lock on your cabinet or drawer. These usually involve a combination lock or one that requires a key for opening. Keep a copy of the combination or key, but store them in yet another secure place where no one else can find them.
Now that your medicine bottles are organized, and labeled, the next time you have a cold or a headache, your medicine will be easy to access. You can also ease your mind knowing all expired medications have been thrown out. No one can access your meds unless you need them to. There is a month to raise awareness of safety but safety is something we all should keep in mind everyday.