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The Best Place to Store Medicine Is Not the Bathroom Cabinet


Do you face an avalanche of orange bottles every time you open your bathroom cabinet? Then you need an Rx for how to organize medicine.

Keeping your medications, vitamins, and creams in a jumbled-up mess just slows you down when you need to find, say, the cure for your migraine. Worse, you can put your health at risk by mistakenly grabbing the wrong bottle of pills.

Despite these issues, most people still haven’t hit upon a strategy for how to organize medicine and vitamins, says Tania Elliott, MD, a board-certified allergist and internist in New York City. “During telemedicine appointments, I do a video tour of patients’ medicine cabinets, going through the meds they’re taking,” she says. “They often have a basket filled with random bottles and creams and no system for how to organize medicine. They also have no idea what certain meds are for.”

If this sounds like you, you need a plan, stat! Read on for expert advice on how to organize medications at home — the right way.

How to Store Medicine at Home

Before you begin the task of lining up all your bottles and tubes, you’ve got to figure out a proper storage space. So which is the best place to store medication?

Surprise — not the medicine cabinet! “I guarantee you people are snooping in there during dinner parties. A lot of times, people keep medicine under the sink, but don’t do that either,” says Dr. Elliott. “I recommend storing medicine in a decorative box in an inconspicuous place — like a shelf, closet, or even a kitchen drawer — which will give you a visual reminder to take your meds.”

The environment matters too. The best place to store medicine at home is generally somewhere cool, dry, and relatively dark. However, some medications have special storage requirements, says Elliott.

“Some things, like creams, may need to be kept away from direct sunlight. Storing medicine in the refrigerator might also be necessary for some types of prescriptions, like liquids. Usually when you have to be super careful with something, there are instructions on the bottle,” she says.

It’s smart to stash similar types of medicines together in one place. For example, putting all of your inhalers in a single container could make it easier to spot duplicates or expired items.

Finally, make sure kids and pets can’t come across any type of pills or ointments, even vitamins and creams with natural ingredients. “Keep medicine in a place they can’t reach, especially if you have medication for anxiety, depression, or pain. You may want to put a lock anywhere you’re storing controlled substances,” says Elliott.

How to Organize Medicine and Vitamin Bottles

“First, go through your stockpile of bottles and tubes and get rid of any mysterious, expired, or duplicate prescriptions. Medication is only useful if you know the name of the doctor who prescribed it, who it was prescribed to, what it’s for, and when it expires,” Elliott explains.

Is there a good strategy or how to organize medicine bottles, especially when they’re different shapes and sizes? Yes! Buy a pack of uniformly sized containers, and then transfer your meds into them. “You can peel off the label from your old bottle, or better yet, use a label maker to create a fresh label with the essential info for the new container,” says Elliott.

As you begin transferring meds to brand-new bottles, you might wonder, “Can you store different pills together?” While this method works for your weekly pill organizer, putting different medications in the same container can make it hard to recognize one from the other.

“Instead, keep pills in separate bottles, but color-code them, which is a super effective strategy for how to organize medications. Use different colored bottles, caps or markings to help group and locate specific kinds of medications,” says Elliott. Slap a red label or a heart-shaped sticker on all your heart medications, for example.

The color-coding system might also be the best way to organize medicine for the whole family — just designate a different color for each family member so you know which bottle belongs to who at a glance.

Once you’ve consistently bottled and labeled all your medications and vitamins, pick up a pill bottle organizer to help keep everything neat. You’ll never have to face an avalanche of bottles again!

How to Organize a Medicine Cabinet or Drawer

Streamlining, sorting, and storing your medications is just the start. Now you have to figure out how to organize a medicine cabinet or drawer. To solve the problem of cramming too much stuff into a tiny space, consider buying a medicine cabinet organizer.

Traditional medicine organizers aren’t the only option, though. There are many bloggers who’ve come up with a number of clever medicine cabinet ideas that are sure to inspire you. 

For instance, check out Organizing Home Life to see how one homeowner turned interlocking trays and simple plastic containers into a medicine organizer that saves space. The medicine drawers kept everything from bandages and thermometers to tummy meds and pain relievers stashed safely away.

Your medicine organizer can be stylish and functional, if you follow the plan used by the mom who blogs at I Heart Organizing. She used decorative tins to conceal and separate different types of meds, and a greeting-card container to corral her first-aid supplies.

A blogger at The Sunny Side Up took a more serene approach to medicine cabinet storage. She used pretty blue bowls and a clear plastic medicine bottle organizer so everything is easy to spot and stays clutter-free.

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to tidying up your prescriptions. Try different medicine organizer ideas until you find a system that works for you. Then, stick with it so you never have to waste time hunting down your meds again!

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