<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=1482296215398498&amp;ev=PageView&amp;noscript=1">
  Marjorie Comer   February 6, 2017   Medicine, medication 0 Comments

How often should you clean out your medicine cabinet?

Medication expiration dates matter

Make sure to toss out expired medicine before it could cause a problem.You hear your child coughing as he plays in the next room. After listening for a few minutes, you decide it’s bad enough that you should give him some cough medicine. Then, you discover the medicine expired three months ago. Now you must load your child into the car to purchase new medicine to ensure you aren’t risking his health by giving him expired medication.  

Keeping track of the expiration date of medicines and properly disposing of them is important to you and your family’s health and safety. 

Dangers of expired medicines

In 1979, the FDA passed a law that required all medications – prescriptions and over-the-counter – display an expiration date on the packaging. You can find the expiration date on the label or on the bottom of the medicine container.

The expiration date on your medications is the date until which the drug manufacturer guarantees the safety and potency of the medicine. Expired medicines can be less effective and potentially dangerous when consumed because the chemical composition changes as they deteriorate. People with diabetes are particularly at risk because insulin loses its potency over time. Additionally, bacterial growth can occur with some medications, which can lead to antibiotic resistance and an even more serious illness.

Clean out the cabinet

How often should you clean out your medicine cabinet? You should clean out your medicine cabinet at least once a year. Discard all expired medications (over-the-counter and prescriptions), vitamins, minerals and topical solutions. Be sure to dispose of items properly – away from children and pets.

Here are some important tips to know when you clean out your medicine cabinet:

  • Any creams in tubs (instead of tubes) that are open will start to turn yellow when exposed to air, and their efficacy may decrease. You should discard these as soon as they start to change color.
  • Discard liquids when they separate into layers.
  • Be sure to properly store your medications in order to preserve them as long as possible. Extreme temperature, light, moisture and oxygen can impact the medicines in your cabinet.

Remember, if someone has tampered with your medication prior to your opening it, don’t use it. It could be contaminated.

Keep track of when your medications expire by downloading the Medicines I Should Have in my Medicine Cabinet spreadsheet and checklist.

Medicine that should be in your medicine cabinet

Photo credit: 123RF Stock Photo

Medical disclaimer

This site offers medical, health, fitness and nutritional information and is designed for educational purposes only. General information found on this website is not intended to diagnose any medical condition or to replace your health care professional.  If reading after hours, one option for treatment is to seek an urgent care or  walk-in clinic for medical advice. 

Share your comments:

Subscribe to Email Updates

Recent Posts

Posts by Topic

see all