It’s that time of year again – spring cleaning time! Clearing out your medicine cabinet is just as important as spring cleaning your home because some medicines may have expired and could be really harmful to you and your family. Not only are expired medicines potentially toxic, but many lose their effectiveness, so you’re not actually saving money by hanging onto them for “just in case”.
Here are some useful tips on how to spring clean your medicine cabinet, including what to keep and how to store it, as well as how to dispose of expired medicines safely.
Check everything in your medicine cabinet, including prescription medicines, over-the-counter products, natural remedies, ointments, supplements and vitamins for an expiration date. Set aside everything that has expired, including prescription medication that is more than one year old. When in doubt, set it aside and ask your pharmacist.
Also set aside anything that has changed colour (including fading), odour or taste possibly due to heat or sunlight exposure.
Do not keep anything that cannot be identified because it’s not in its original container. You don’t want to mistake anything for something it’s not as it could be seriously harmful.
Do not keep any medicines that have caused allergic reactions or side effects. Only keep what you need and that hasn’t expired. Some essentials to keep in your medicine cabinet are treatments for pain, fever, nausea and diarrhoea, as well as an antiseptic solution and allergy medicine. Of course, any unexpired chronic medication you’ve been prescribed should also be kept.
It’s always best to store medicine in a cool, dry place out of reach of children and pets. Avoid storing medicine in a bathroom cabinet as temperature and humidity changes can make it expire faster. Also make sure that your medicine is not stored in direct sunlight.
Also, keep your medicines in their original packaging so as not to confuse them.
To make your next spring cleaning session a breeze, follow these tips:
Never place expired or unwanted products in the bin, nor flush them down the toilet. All medical waste poses a hazard to other people and the environment whether it ends up on a landfill or as trace amounts in the water supply. Children and pets could also easily take expired medicine out the bin without your knowledge.
Contact your nearest pharmacy and find out whether they offer an environmentally friendly medical waste disposal programme. Alternatively, take all old medicine to your nearest hospital or clinic, where it will be placed in biohazard containers for incineration.
Extra tip: Before disposing of medicines, remove or scratch out any personal information on container labels to keep your medical information private.
Did you know?