Spring Clean Your Medicine Cabinet

The weather is slowly warming up and the days are getting longer and spring is in the air. It’s that time of year when thoughts turn to that annual spring cleaning ritual. But wait, have you thought about cleaning up your medicine cabinet?

Yes, you might come across some leftover medication that “might come in handy someday” but in reality those medications probably have expired and may cause more harm than your realize.

Add these tips to get you started on a new spring cleaning ritual – and have a safer year.

  1. CHECK THE DATES. Examine everything in your medicine cabinet, including ointments, supplements and vitamins – not just prescription medicines. Discard any item that is beyond the expiration date. Many medications lose their effectiveness after the expiration date and some may even be toxic.
  2. ONE YEAR CUT OFF RULE. Discard any prescription medications that are more than one year old.
  3. DISCARD UNMARKED CONTAINERS. If something is no longer in its original container and cannot be identified, throw it out. In the future, try to keep medications in their original containers so you can easily recognize every medication. This includes ointments, since these easily can be mistaken for creams.
  4. RELOCATE MEDICINES. Many people don’t realize the bathroom cabinet isn’t the best place to store medication. The temperature and humidity changes that take place while showering may lower the potency of your medication. Keep medications in a cool dry place, away from children. Consider a drawer in your dresser or a lock box in your closet.
  5. USE CAUTION WHEN DISCARDING. Because of the potential harm to the environment, it is not recommended to simply throw out medications or flush them down the toilet. Do this instead:
    * Place all medications in a sealable bag. If they are solid, add water so they can dissolve.
    * Add cat litter, coffee ground, saw dust, or any material that mixes well and makes it unappealing for children or animals to eat.
    * Seal the bag and put it in the trash.
    * Remove all identifying information on the prescription bottles, clean and recycle.
    * Henry County Sheriff’s Office and New Castle Police Department have year round drop off boxes for unused medications.