on 28 May 2020 in At Home

Tips on Organizing your Household Medications

Find a system that works for you ~

Do you take multiple medicines – or multiple doses of a single medicine – each day? Are you a parent or the caregiver for a loved one? If you’re reading this article, the chances are that you answered “yes” to one of these questions – and that you could use a system to help organize your household medicines. No matter what your schedule or personal preferences may be, establishing and sticking to an organizational system is important for helping you to remember each dose. Here are a few tips that can help:

First, create a record.

When you’re managing multiple medicines, there can be a lot of information to track. Having a written record of the essential information about each medicine can help you to keep things straight and to decrease the chances of making a mistake. Creating a record is a helpful first step, no matter which organizational system you choose to use on a day-to-day basis.

Information to include:

  • The name of the medicine
  • Its appearance (“round pink tablet with line down middle and numbers 123”)
  • Dose
  • Time(s) of day to take it
  • What it does
  • Possible side effects

The FDA also has a great template that you can print out and use to create your medicine record.

Make a checklist.

Write out a list of all of your medicines, and what time you take each. Next to each medicine and time, leave a space to check off when you’ve taken that dose. Keep your checklist with your medicine to easily remember to check off when you take each dose.

Color-code your medicines.

Do you take two (or more) medications that are similar in appearance? Keeping each medicine in its original bottle or packaging can be helpful if you have difficulty distinguishing between individual pills. It can also allow you to consult each medicine’s label as needed. The downside is that you may end up with several nearly identical prescription bottles: that’s where color-coding can come in handy!

If you take medications multiple times each day, you may find it helpful to color-code them based on time of day. For example, red marks or stickers on medicines you take in the morning, green for lunchtime, blue for dinnertime, and yellow for medicines you take at bedtime.

Use a pill organizer or pill dispenser.

There are many options available for pill organizers (available at drug stores and online) and automatic pill dispensers (available online). Deciding which will work best for you will depend on your schedule and preferences. Your pharmacist can be an excellent resource for helping you to make a selection.

Here are just a couple of things to consider about organizers and dispensers:

  • Pill organizers: Consider how many times each day you take your medicines, as different organizers have different numbers of compartments. For example, if you take medicine four times a day, you can select an organizer with four compartments for each day of the week.
  • Pill dispensers: These are designed to dispense pills automatically and may even have an audio alarm and blinking light to notify you when your dose is dispensed. Automatic dispensers can be a great option if you tend to have difficulty sticking to a schedule on your own.

Dispose of medicine promptly and correctly.

When you have multiple medicines, keeping ones that you no longer take or that are expired might lead to confusion. Being diligent about prompt and proper disposal may help you stay organized.

Disposing of household medicines is easy: visit our Kiosk Site Locator to find a safe and secure kiosk site near you. Kiosk sites are often located in your local pharmacy, health care facility, or law enforcement facility. They are an anonymous and convenient way to securely dispose of unwanted, unused, or expired medicines.


The bottom line: Create a medicine record, determine which system works the best for you, and write down the details. Everyone’s medicines, schedules, and preferences are different. The most important thing about the system you choose to organize your medicines and dose schedule is that you can easily stick to it.

Due to possible disruptions associated with COVID-19, kiosk access to and operating hours at the listed kiosk locations may be impacted. If you have questions about a kiosk site, including current kiosk access, what can be disposed of, and hours of operation, contact the kiosk site directly. If you are not able to visit a kiosk and have immediate disposal needs, visit the FDA website for additional guidance and be sure to comply with all applicable federal, state, and local legal requirements.

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