Medications on the Shelves of a Medicine Cabinet

Organize Your Medicine Cabinet

Tips For Proper Health Item Storage

Almost every bathroom comes with one, usually disguised as a mirror over the sink. In addition to prescription and over-the-counter drugs, medicine cabinets are also handy places to stow all the things you need to make yourself presentable. Unfortunately, they’re also clutter magnets that can quickly turn into vertical junk drawers. They can even harbor dangerously outdated medications. So take some time to clean up your act with these tips to help you organize your medicine cabinet. 

Need a little motivation to get started? If the righteous feeling of being neat isn’t enough, FamilyCircle.com writer Laura Serino says restoring order to your medicine cabinet is a genuine time-saver. “Lessen the stress of morning bathroom bottleneck by streamlining your stuff,” Serino writes.[1] Anybody who has ever shared a bathroom with a teenager will appreciate anything that eliminates early morning angst.

Step One: Purge

Your first step is to empty the medicine cabinet and give it a good a cleaning. Sort the contents into things you’ll be keeping and things you’ll be throwing away. That second category should include dried-up tubes of toothpaste, any makeup that smells funny or looks off and all medications that have past their expiration dates.

In the case of drugs, take care how you dispose of them. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) offers the following advice: “Follow any specific disposal instructions on the drug label or patient information that accompanies the medication. Do not flush prescription drugs down the toilet unless this information specifically instructs you to do so.”[2]

The FDA advises that even if you can flush it, consider a more environmentally sensitive method like a community drug-take-back program or removing the meds from their original container and sealing them in a leak-proof plastic bag with kitty litter or coffee grounds before tossing them in the trash. If you’re concerned about identify theft, the FDA suggests you black out the RX label before disposing of the container.

Organize Medicine Cabinet Pic 2

Step Two: Preparation

Before you restock your clean medicine cabinet, RealSimple.com’s Stephanie Sisco says to “adjust the shelves to maximize height for tallest items.”[3] Sisco also suggests that you put buy-in-bulk items in smaller containers. Repurpose small glass jars to store things like cotton swabs and bandages and stow the rest in their original packages in plastic boxes under the sink or in a linen cabinet.

Create extra storage for small items using this tip from Curbly.com feature writer Faith Towers: “Attach a sheet of precut galvanized steel to the back wall of the cabinet. Now you can attach magnetic hooks for hanging things like eyelash curlers and scissors.”[4]

You can also purchase plastic risers specifically designed for the narrow shelves of medicine cabinets that will let you stack items vertically.

Step Three: Organize

Now you’re ready to put everything back in order. Diane Hoffmaster of Suburbia-unwrapped.com offers two good tips for doing that:

  • Medicine cabinet real estate is limited, so only include the things you use most frequently. Put everything else in a labeled box under the sink, in a hall closet, or in a storage unit.
  • Group like items together so you can find them quickly.[5]

You’re done! That wasn’t so hard, was it? Now you’re ready for more decluttering projects, taking baby steps from organizing the hall closet to cleaning out the garage.



[1] Laura Serino, “Organize Your Medicine Cabinet,” FamilyCircle.com, http://www.familycircle.com/home/organization/rooms/medicine-cabinet.

[2] “How to Dispose of Unused Medicines,” U.S. Food and Drug Administration, http://www.fda.gov/forconsumers/consumerupdates/ucm101653.htm.

[4] Faith Towers, “8 Quick Tips for Organizing Your Medicine Cabinet,” Curbly.com, http://www.curbly.com/users/faith-towers/posts/14846-8-quick-tips-for-organizing-your-medicine-cabinet.

[5] Diane Hoffmaster, “Tips for Organizing Your Medicine Cabinet and a Johnson & Johnson Giveaway #HealthyEssentials,” Suburbia Unwrapped, http://www.suburbia-unwrapped.com/2013/04/organizing-your-medicine-cabinet.html.

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