Medicine Cabinet Cleanout



Every family should have a first-aid kit with plenty of band-aids and antibiotic ointment. Always make sure you have a working humidifier and saline nasal spray. These are safe and useful to treat congestion, dry noses that can cause bloody noses, and they are safe for every age group- from infants to adults. I recommend you have some type of fever-reducer/pain-reliever on hand, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol®) or ibuprofen (Motrin®). It is not necessary to keep cough and cold remedies on hand as they change with your child’s age and severity of symptoms. Just have your pharmacist make a recommendation when you need to treat your cough and cold symptoms based on their severity.


Many people don’t clean out their medicine until they reach for a product to treat their fever, only to find the bottle is expired and are tempted to take it anyway – this is not safe.

You should throw out ALL EXPIRED medicine, both over-the-counter and prescription. You should also get rid of any medicine that your child has outgrown. For instance, if you have infant Tylenol Drops still in your medicine cabinet and your child is 4 years old now – they are probably expired anyway, check the date. If you still have that bottle of Syrup of Ipecac, just in case your child ingests something they shouldn’t, throw it out. Syrup of Ipecac is no longer recommended, it is best to call Poison Prevention at 1-800-222-1222 and they can offer assistance and advice for just about anything your little one could put in their mouths. Now is a good time to make sure you have this phone number handy just in case, written by your phone, on your first-aid kit, or better yet programmed into your cell phone.


If you have a small amount of medicine to dispose of, you can just seal it in a zip top bag and place it in your trash on trash day. If you are disposing of a large amount of medicine;

  1. Remove medicines from original prescription containers. Mark off any identifying information, your name, prescription number, and simply throw empty bottles in the trash.
  2. Mix drugs with something undesirable like kitty litter, coffee grounds, or potting soil.
  3. Place this mixture in a sealable plastic bag.
  4. Place the sealed bag in a container that has a tight lid (coffee tin, margarine container, etc.)
  5. Place the container with lid on in your trash. We recommend doing this on trash day so that the medications do not sit in your trash bin for more than one day.

This may seem like a lot, but it is the right thing to do to keep our community safe. For more information, read this article on Safe Medicine Disposal on our website, Another great way you can organize your medicine cabinet is to separate children’s medicine into a different locked case from the adult medicine. We do this at our house and we also have cough and cold medicines separated from first-aid medicine, but that is probably because I am a pharmacist. Always remember, medicine can be very helpful when used properly, but can be harmful if found by curious little hands. By taking a few simple steps, you can have peace of mind that your child is safe in your home.

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