Spring Cleaning Tips for Your Medicine Cabinet

Being aware of what is in your medicine cabinet (and when it expires!) can help you avoid injury and prevent error.

While you can afford not to think about some stored items, drugs and medical devices are another story. Unless you regularly clean out, reorganize, and reevaluate your medical products, you risk taking ineffective drugs, relying on outmoded devices, or causing environmental damage. So, in addition to knowing which drugs to take and how long a prescription is good for, you should take a look at your medicine cabinet this spring and give it a good clear-out.

Evaluate Your Equipment

Although medical devices rarely have hard-and-fast expiration dates, many need regular upgrades to continue working.

Simple devices, such as thermometers, are easy enough to test on your own. Glucose monitors, blood pressure tests, and heating pads, however, should be evaluated by a professional pharmacist. When cleaning your medicine cabinet, look for complicated equipment that you have had for a while, and take this equipment to your pharmacist for a test. If it does not work, replace it with functioning devices.

Deal with Expiration Dates

  • When to Toss: When evaluating whether to keep or discard medicines, be aware of the difference between the official expiration date and the practical use date.The date printed on the bottle only tells you how long the contents will last while sealed inside; once you open it, the clock ticks more quickly. Some expired medications are dangerous, and many are ineffective, making it crucial to replace drugs that are necessary for your health. As a rule of thumb, finish or discard medications within a year of opening them.
  • How to Toss: In addition to when, it is important to know how to dispose of prescription drugs. Benton Police Department partners with Smith-Caldwell Drug Store to provide safe pharmaceutical disposal services, so please take all of your expired or unused prescriptions to the Benton Police Department.

Store Drugs Safely

In addition to disposing of expired pharmaceuticals in a timely and safe manner, it is also important to store working drugs effectively. This may mean removing certain items from your medicine cabinet. Vitamins and painkillers, for example, lose their effectiveness when exposed to steam from hot showers and baths, so if your cabinet is in your bathroom, you should store them somewhere else.

Besides protecting potency, you should keep powerful painkillers, medicines with harmful side effects, and other dangerous substances out of reach of children. Either place them on a shelf that is too high for children to reach, or move them from the cabinet to a secure location. Even if you do not regularly have children in your home, you should never risk exposing anyone to harmful substances.

For more information on managing and disposing of drugs and devices, contact the pharmacists at Smith-Caldwell Drug Store by calling (501) 315-7700 today. Smith-Caldwell Drug Store promotes good health and responsible medicine use throughout the Benton, Arkansas area.