If one of your New Year's resolutions was to get organized, you may not have been thinking you should start with your medicine cabinet. However, it is actually one of the most important areas to keep clean and stocked -- especially in the middle of cold and flu season. I recommend starting this process by clearing out all products and wiping down the inside and outside of the cabinet with an eco-friendly cleaning solution such as this homemade 3-ingredient all-purpose cleaner from Apartment Therapy (seriously, all you need is water, hydrogen peroxide and lemon juice!).
Once everything is out of the cabinet, you need to begin sorting through what you need, organizing what you have and purchasing what you may be missing. Here are some tips:
Out with the Old (& Smelly)
Are items outdated, old or smelly? They need to be thrown out, even if they're not empty. Expired items will no longer be effective and may even be hazardous to your health. Before you toss products into the trash, checkout these tips from the FDA on how to properly dispose of unused medicine. In addition to looking at dates on medicine, be sure to also look for cosmetics that may have expired--if the consistency and/or smell of the product has changed considerably, throw it out.
Add Cold Weather Medicines
There are certain items you should always have in your medicine cabinet regardless of the season such as basic pain relievers and products that relieve mild digestive ailments (here is a great checklist from Real Simple). However, in the winter months, you will want to add cough medicines, decongestants and a thermometer (I like the digital options such as these from Walgreens). I also recommend having children's versions of medicines available. Even if you don't have children of your own, you never know when a tiny house guest might need some immediate relief.
Do you have three of each item crowding your cabinet? Move the extra items to another area such as a linen closet or kitchen pantry. You can continue to keep them organized by creating small bins labeled by type of product (i.e. "Lotions", "Digestion"). Keep in mind that some medications and cosmetic products become less effective when stored in areas of high humidity or heat and you should always keep items out of reach of children.
Re-stock First Aid Kit
While you probably use your first aid kit more during the warmer weather months, never underestimate a slick sledding hill mishap or a fall on a slippery sidewalk. Your at-home emergency kit should include Band Aids, sterile wash for cleansing wounds, ointment, gauze and burn relief. The Red Cross gives you a more complete list of items to include. It's always better to take the time to make sure you're prepared before an emergency actually happens.
Make it Pretty
You may not think "medicine cabinet" and "pretty" should be used in the same sentence, but as someone who spends a great deal of time working with people and businesses on keeping their environments clean and healthy, I know that the more attractive an area is, the more likely you are to keep it organized. HGTV.com suggests purchasing glass jars for cotton balls or bandages, using small plastic organizers for tweezers and combs and taking advantage of the removable shelves to organize items by size.
Talk to us: What is the most used item in your medicine cabinet?