Five Tips for Cleaning out the Medicine Cabinet

Home Health Aide

Home Health Aide

For caregivers, medication management is one of the main tenets of watching over an aging loved one. Ask any home health aide, and they’ll tell you: a clean medicine cabinet directly correlates with orderly and safe medication management.

Here are five tips for cleaning out the medicine cabinet!

1. Remove all medication from the cabinet.

The best way to start is to physically remove all medication from the cabinet and place it on a flat surface. This will allow you to see the bulk of everything you have, physically organize the pill bottles, and wipe down the cabinet itself!

2. Check the expiration date!

Check the expiration date on all medications, and discard expired ones. Remember, many prescriptions will lose their efficiency past its “use by” date and may even become toxic. So, if something has expired past the last year, get rid of it!

3. Beware the unmarked bottle.

If you find yourself with a pill bottle of nondescript medicine, then your best way forward is to throw it away. Unmarked medication is a dangerous guessing game that no caregiver or patient should play! So, if you see any loose or nondescript pills, you should throw them away.

If it seems like a waste, it will serve as a good incentive to always label medicine in the future!

4. Use your senses (and common sense).

When cleaning out a medicine cabinet, it’s best to use common sense and look for sense-based cues that the medication might not be safe. There are the obvious tells, such as a different smell or consistency.

For visual cues, make sure to discard any discolored bottles. Look for water damage or faded labels: this can show that the bottle was overexposed to the elements.

5. Discard with care!

Once you have gotten rid of the medications, it’s important to use best practices when discarding. Loose medication can be a biohazard and dangerous to any unsuspecting individuals.

The safest way to discard medicine is to remove any discernible information from the medication bottle and place it in the recycling bin.

For the loose pills, it’s best to place them into a sealable bag. You’ll want to add materials to the bag that will make the medications unappealing to children or animals. This can be kitty litter, diatomaceous earth, sand, etc. Once the pills are combined with the materials, seal the bag and discard!