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on 21 Feb 2020 in At Home

Time to Spring Clean Your Medicine Cabinet

Get Ready to Spring Clean Your Medicine Cabinet
Make it a habit to check your medicine cabinet ~

Ah, spring cleaning. That annual ritual when you throw open the windows to let the fresh air in and the clutter out. It’s a new start. It’s a time to shed the things you no longer need and embrace the newfound space and items that you appreciate.

Your household medicine cabinet is no different. But it doesn’t have to be spring for you to give it a good clearing out. When was the last time you cleaned out your medicine cabinet? Did you know that you were supposed to do that?

According to a 2017 study conducted by Consumer Reports, approximately one-third of Americans haven’t cleaned out their medicine cabinet in the past year, and almost one-fifth haven’t done so for three years, even though most medications expire within just a year.

There are some real dangers to keeping old medicine bottles and unwanted, unused, or expired medicines. People can be tempted to skip medical appointments by substituting old medications for updated prescriptions. Since pills, capsules, and liquids can spoil, they’re not likely to be effective past their expiration date. And when you’re depending upon life-saving medications, taking expired medications can be life-threatening.

First: How Often Should You Clean Out Your Medicine Cabinet?

At least once per year, or even every six months. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) hosts a “National Prescription Drug Take Back Day” twice each year. This is a great biannual reminder (and opportunity!) to get rid of unwanted, unused, and expired medication. (Related: What are DEA Take Back Days?)

If you’re ready to clean out your medicine cabinet and the next DEA Take Back Day isn’t just around the corner, check out our convenient Kiosk Site Locator to find a secure, year-round disposal location near you.

Next: Dispose of Unused, Unwanted, and Expired Medicines
  1. Take inventory. Gather all of your household medications (including those stored in various places) on a counter where you can see them. During this process, be sure that all medicines are out of reach of your pets or others who may accidentally come into contact with them.
  2. Check the expiration dates. Pull aside any medications that have expired. Make sure to pull out ointments, as they are commonly mistaken for non-medical creams. Any medications that are over one year old but do not have an expiration date must also be discarded, unless otherwise indicated on the label.
  3. Visually inspect all medications. Make sure they’re not sticking together, cracking, discolored, or exuding a strange smell. Medications may spoil prior to their expiration dates if exposed to too much moisture.
  4. Dispose of these unwanted, unused, or expired medicines correctly at a kiosk site near you. Make sure to first review each product’s label for any specific disposal information, and to remove any personal information from the packaging to protect your privacy.

Encourage others to take a look at their medicine cabinets too. Not only will you clear the clutter, but you’ll be keeping everyone healthier.

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