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Spring Is Here: Time to Replenish Your Medicine Cabinet

by Carissa Andrews  -  March 24th, 2014

Most people generally think of spring as the time for cleaning out those overrun closets, or donating unwanted items to goodwill. But let me ask you this; do you clean out your medicine cabinet, too? If you're like most of us, the answer is probably no.

Out With the Old

Throwing out anything expired, discontinued/recalled, or partially used (including any over the counter medicines) is critical to a healthy medicine cabinet. Medicines lose potency when they have gone past their expiration dates and it is recommended you check your medicine cabinet at least twice a year, getting rid of medications past their prime.

If you have some offenders lurking in your cupboard, prevent pets or other people from getting ahold of your unwanted medications by following the Guidelines for Drug Disposal. In most cases, this involves "trashing" the medications beyond usability and tossing them in your garbage bin.

Trashing Tips

Step 1: Empty medications from their original containers into one or more plastic, re-sealable bags or even a plastic container if it has a lid.

Step 2: Add a bit of water to each bag/container.

Step 3: Mix in other undesirable trash, such as coffee grounds or kitty litter.

Step 4: Seal the containers to prevent leakages and put them in the trash.

Step 5: Before you toss the original containers, be sure to scratch out all identifying information on the prescription label to make it unreadable to protect your privacy.

Liquid medications, such as expired cough, should be disposed of in the same way. Pour the liquid into a sealable plastic bag or container along with pills and other trash. Don't pour these liquids down the drain.

What about flushing them, you ask? Only a small handful (about 12 drugs, in fact) should be flushed down the sink or toilet. For a list of these drugs, click here.

Another way to manage your meds is by taking part of your community's drug take-back program. This year's US National Drug Take Back Day is April 26th, 2014 from 10am to 2pm. Check the site to find out how you can participate.

In With the New

In addition to purging the items we no longer need, spring is a great time to think ahead to the coming months, and be prepared for the inevitable; possible bug bites, scrapes, sun exposure. Also think about any medicines you typically use throughout the year, like allergy medicines or cough medicines and refill your cabinet as needed.

Here's a great list of items we recommend you have on-hand in your well-stocked medicine cabinet:

• Allergy medicines & ointments

• Pain reliever, such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen, naproxen for headaches and/or other aches and pains

• Hydrogen peroxide for wounds

• Antibiotic ointment

• Adhesive bandages and sterile gauze pads

• A thermometer; oral or ear (check the batteries)

• Sunscreen

• Cough medicine

• Cold/flu medicine


is an passionate author and freelancer from Minnesotan with a focus in creative writing.


The purpose of the above content is to raise awareness only and does not advocate treatment or diagnosis. This information should not be substituted for your physician's consultation and it should not indicate that use of the drug is safe and suitable for you or your (pet). Seek professional medical advice and treatment if you have any questions or concerns.
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