How to organize a medicine cabinet that's out of control

The cure if you're sick of clutter

Medicine cabinet on purple shiny background
(Image credit: Future)

When it comes to organizing cabinets in your home, all immediately come to mind minus the medicine cabinet. In your medicine cabinet, you’ll find your prescriptions, Midol, rash cream, and more, which makes it difficult at times to organize because the boxes and bottles all start to look the same. 

Not to mention, you might not even utilize all of the items in your medicine cabinet (or assume some time is going to roll around when you'll need it!).

With that said, your medicine cabinet requires organizing. Pharmacist Dr. Sierra Richard, of @happypharmlife, provided us with her take on organizing a medicine cabinet that’ll actually keep you up to date with all of your prescriptions and more. 

Tips for organizing a medicine cabinet

Richards stated cleaning your medication cabinet thoroughly ensures that there aren't any unwanted spills or medications in your cabinet and allows you to check what medications may need to be restocked regularly. Not only that but from a home life perspective, your apartment or space often feels better when small corners and areas are in check, too.

1. Check the expiration dates

Check the expiration dates on your medications as you organize them and discard the medications you no longer need. One of the best ways to maximize the space in your medicine cabinet is to ensure only the products you need are in there and stored neatly away in a good bathroom organizer. This also ensures that medications in your cabinet will be safe to use when you need them. Remember to check the FDA website to learn what the most appropriate disposal method is as some medications can be harmful to the environment and should not be thrown away in the trash or flushed down the toilet.

2. Make a list

As you review all the medications you have, create a list of medications you have on hand and when they will expire. Knowing which medications you have available can help you identify which medications you may be out of or need to purchase. Keeping a list near or with your medications that reminds you of upcoming expiration dates can help you stay ahead of these dates to ensure you always have in-date medications on hand when you need them. 

3. Track open containers with an X

If you have ever seen the shelves behind the counter in a pharmacy, you will see many of the bottles marked with an “X.” Pharmacists and pharmacy technicians use this practice to know which medication bottles have been opened as many of them are not able to be seen through. Using this practice is a good reminder that the bottle may be low and you need to check the contents inside to make sure you have plenty of medication left. It is also helpful for creams, ointments, and liquid medications that may have a short shelf life once the medication is opened. 

4. Organize by purpose

Organize your medications by reason for use. When you organize your medications by the reason you are using them, it makes it easy to find and see all of your options even when you may not be feeling well. Consider using categories such as pain relief, cough and cold, and vitamins and supplements when organizing your medications and storing them inside small organizers

5. Get acrylic containers

Consider using acrylic containers instead of a traditional medicine cabinet. The most common location for a medicine cabinet is in the bathroom. The temperature and humidity in this room often change when water is run for showers and baths, making it a less-than-ideal place to store things. Keeping your medications in a closet or cabinet with a more stable environment ensures your medications stay good for longer. The use of acrylic containers can help you easily see the medications you have while also keeping them organized. Just remember to keep all your medications in a child-proof and/or pet-proof environment if you have children or pets in your home.

How do you keep a medicine cabinet organized for longer?

Richard suggests creating a system that is easy to follow is the best way to keep your medication cabinet organized. Some helpful processes include setting a reminder once a month to check your cabinet for low supply and expiration dates and organizing the medications in a way that is easy for you and your household to maintain such as using bins or labels.

How to clean a medicine cabinet

Richard removes all of her medications from her cabinet before utilizing her preferred disinfectant spray or wipes. She wipes the cabinet down completely and allows the cabinet to fully dry before putting the medications back in the cabinet. 

If you have a medication spill, she recommends doing your best to remove the medication from the surface as much as possible and clean the residue using water to ensure that the medication and the cleaning products don’t have any negative reactions.

Richards stated cleaning your medication cabinet thoroughly ensures that there aren't any unwanted spills or medications in your cabinet and allows you to check what medications may need to be restocked regularly.

Aida M. Toro
Freelance Writer

About Me:

Hello! My name is Aida M. Toro and I am a freelance writer that loves cultivating stories about amazing people, fashion, interiors, art, and food. I currently write for Harper’s Bazaar Vietnam, The House Magazine, Hobnob Magazine, The C-Word, and Real Homes. I live in West New York, New Jersey, which is literally a 10-minute ferry ride or 20-minute bus ride away from New York City. Although I was born and raised in West New York, I consider NYC my home, as I believe it to be the place where all dreams come to fruition, and of course, spend most of my time in. When I’m not writing, I love perusing the city streets and taking snaps with my iPhone of street art along with random things, scoping out new restaurants as well as their spaces, shopping at some of my favorite stores, spending time with family and friends, walking my cockapoodle Benji, and working out at Lifetime or DOGPOUND, which are some of the top fitness spaces in Manhattan and overall the U.S.