How to Organize Medicine Bottles (How to Organize Medicine Cabinet)

how to organize medicine cabinet

Question: 

Please help! I have two large shoes boxes overflowing with medicines. I’m sure a few of them have expired, but most are here to stay. The bottles are 85 different sizes. We’ve got supplements, vitamins, and OTC meds for every occasion. And, don’t get me started on the pet medicines. I know this problem is going to spiral out of control when we start having kids. Do you have a good way to sort & store these?
Answer:
This is an area that I have always struggled with organizing.  I seriously think that medicine companies should be required to all have the same size & shape bottles.  It is so hard to organize them when, like you said, they “are 85 different sizes”!
When we moved a year ago I bought this sliding storage container and organized all of our medicines.  Over the year though we have started purchasing different pain meds for Malea (now that she’s a toddler and no longer an infant), my husband broke his face last year so that required more meds, I’ve had like 6 sinus infections this year so I’ve bought stuff to try to help me with that, etc., the list goes on…  So basically this sliding storage container is no longer big enough for all of our stuff and, as you can see, it is FAR from organized!
While I was doing some shopping I came across these great storage boxes.  I bought 4 of them, one for each category of medicine: Malea’s Meds, Pain Meds, Cold & Sinus, Ice Packs & Wraps.  I store our vitamins in the kitchen so that we remember to take them everyday but if you have vitamins and pet meds that need to be stored, you will need to buy a few more containers.
Here’s my little helper.  This is her saying “cheese.”
Step 1: Categorize all of your medications.  Like I mentioned above categorize them into groups: Pain Meds, Cold & Sinus, Ice Packs & Wraps, etc.
Step 2: Make sure to check the expiration date on each item in the medicine box.  You don’t want to use anything that has expired.  I was SHOCKED to find that some of the meds I had just bought in the last year were already expired!
Here’s Malea helping me check dates. :)
This was by far the worst expiration date I found.  Can’t believe I didn’t catch it before now!  It only expired 9 years ago!!!
This is my stash of expired meds, WAY bigger then I thought it would be.
This pile also contains all of the bulky boxes that were in my medicine box before.  All boxes do is take up unnecessary space.  Take things out of the boxes and you’ll be surprised how much easier they fit!
 Step 3: Properly label each box.
Bust out the label maker, or if you don’t have one, a permanent marker.  When you’re not feeling well and you need some medicine you are not going to want to have to guess which box is the one you need, and you definitely don’t want to be taking any of your pets meds!  So take a couple of minutes and properly label each box.
Here’s what mine look like:
I also bought this small set of plastic drawers for all of our little random things.  I always have such a hard time getting band aids out of the box so–I know it doesn’t sound organized–but when I buy a box of band aids I dump it in the band aid drawer and it makes them much easier to access when I need one.  I also have a drawer for Neosporin, poison oak cream, etc.  Ointments are too small for a whole box so I gave them their own drawer instead.
The only things that wouldn’t fit in the boxes were the alcohol and hydrogen peroxide.  I have plenty of room in my linen closet (where I keep all of our meds) so I just placed them next to everything else.
I am very happy with the transformation and I think it will be SO MUCH easier to keep these boxes organized.
Do you have any great tips for keeping your medicines organized?  I’d love to hear your ideas.

 

About the Author

"Hi I'm Anna! Welcome to Ask Anna where I love to answer your household questions! I have always loved to clean, organize and decorate and this blog is a fun way for me to help you love it too! I am a busy mom of a beautiful little girl and I'm married to the love of my life. Together we fill our days with projects , laughter and love. I serve an incredible God and overall I'd say I'm truly blessed!"

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Discussion

  1. 1

    Loved these ideas! Thanks!

  2. 2

    Sandi @ Making It Homey said… Thanks for the idea's, I have the same problem. I know what to do now though.

  3. 3

    I love your idea Anna…. I have had all my stuff in different baskets. But the baskets get messed up after a while. I have stuff upstairs and downstairs you never know where to look. I like the the little drawers labeled and the little containers. And maybe one central place would help too. Thanks for sharing. :)

  4. 4

    I bet I have 12 things of Tylenol because I can't ever find them. I'm going to have to try this method! Thanks for sharing!

  5. 5

    I love your ideas and applied them with one modification. Because of the dangers of prescription meds and children/teenagers, I purchased one small lockbox and all prescription pain meds (or potentially dangerous meds) go in my combination lockbox for which my husband and I know the combo.

  6. 6

    Such great tips and I'm just in awe of your organization Anna! Thanks so much for sharing it with us at Inspiration Friday!Vanessa

  7. 7

    Wow! Great ideas!

  8. 8

    That looks so tidy! I may have to follow suit!Your little girl is adorable!!

  9. 9

    PLEASE tell me where you got that star-patterned ice pack? I love it!

  10. 10

    Thanks for the inspiration and how to! I need to start childproofing and medicines are obviously not to be strewn around the bathroom for my baby to get ahold of! Now, I just need help organizing the multitudes of shampoo, conditioner, body wash, deodorant, and toothpaste that also lives in my linen closet…

  11. 11

    I have done a similar organization of my entire bathroom closet. I used white stack-able baskets, which saved space, but also makes it easier to reach in and grab something. Each basket is for a separate categories, dental, paper products, frequently used medicines, "monthly supplies", hair products, contacts and glasses supplies, and a couple more. I then added a couple extra baskets for things that we each use everyday and placed those baskets in the most accessible spots.

  12. 12

    Hi Anna! This is my first visit to your blog, I was drawn in by this very post! I just did this in my bathroom closet, thanks for validating my effort!

  13. 13

    This is a great idea. Never thought of categorizing them into separate bins. On my to do list now!

  14. 14

    What a great idea! On my to-do-list for sure!

  15. 15

    That is how I currently store my meds, but reading this motivated me to reorganize and toss out expired meds. Now if I could just get my husband to put the meds back in the right place… Also love the three drawer idea for small first aid items, it's on my shopping list! Thanks!

  16. 16

    For your alcohol, put it in the freezer. I was told this by my daughters pediatrician when they were little. They're allergic to insect bites and he said to put the rubbing alcohol in the freezer and when they get a bite/sting, put some cold alcohol on a cotton ball and hold on affected area. The alcohol will help disinfect and the cold will help numb. My daughters are 19 & 22 and we STILL use rubbing alcohol in the freezer! Don't know about the peroxide but it's not an expensive investment to experiment with. LOVE your organized bathroom! WISH I could get my grown girls on board with that!

  17. 17

    Such great ideas! This is an area that I struggle with also and it was kismet when I saw your medi cabinet pinned on a friend's pinterest board today! Thanks for sharing!

  18. 18

    Loved your ideas!! I am definitely going to do!! Just wanted to add. Do not throw away or flush expired/unneeded medications (this is very dangerous for the landfills/waste water systems). Instead, go to http://www.dea.gov to see when the next (Nationwide) Prescription Drug DIsposal Event will happen. The next one should be in 4/2012. Thanks Anna for all your great ideas.

  19. 19

    I recently organized my medicine cabinet. Instead of storing our vitamins in the kitchen, I bought pill organizers & labeled for each family member. Once a week, i fill them up with our vitamins. I store the vitamins along with the other meds labeled as "supplements". Now we have less clutter in the kitchen. The pill containers also help my son learn the days of the week as well!

  20. 20

    Great post! I'm currently working on organizing our linen closet and this has been a big help!

  21. 21

    I use a 2 shelf lazy susan and keep the same categories of meds together. And then for all of the tubes of creams or ointments i use a wide mouth jar. The bandaids and neosporin are kept in a red first aid kit that zips up. This way my older kids can help themselves without getting into everything else.

  22. 22

    I use plastic drawers just like yours for my bandaides and ointments too, but I purchased 2 divided trays in the closet section at target that fit PERFECTLY in one drawer. There are 3 sections in each tray, letting me organize the bandaides according to their size. This way my husband isn't wearing princess bandaides either! :)

  23. 23

    Hi from a PharmD,Medicine should never be kept in the bathroom! The temperature fluctuates too greatly as well as the humidity (even with excellent ventilation and fan systems). Your clearly labeled boxes are a great idea. If you have a two story house I would suggest moving most medications to a high cabinet in the kitchen, but be sure to keep them away from sources of heat like the stove and fridge. Then try keeping a small supply upstairs in your bedroom closet (high shelf again) if you don't want to go down stairs in the middle of the night for Advil for yourself or kids tylenol(be sure to keep appropriate dosing cups with any liquids, most pharmacists are happy to give an extra 1 or 2 away if asked). When medications are not stored at proper temperatures they lose there effectiveness more quickly then the date on the package, but because we wouldn't be able to calculate how much was lost, it would never be safe to give a dose of an ineffective medication due to improper storage early and as we Mom's know watching our little guys suffer with a fever or throbbing ear ache makes us feel helpless as it is.

  24. 24

    love these websites, there are sure helpful, and make the brain work… Thanks.

  25. 25

    WOW! Your medicine cabinet looks very neat and it’s definitely organized.
    Putting labels would really help and organize our medicine cabinet. Nice idea.

  26. 27

    Thanks for the suggestions. I saw your post and then ran out and bought containers before reading the details. It turns out I bought the same containers! I have mine categorized slightly differently — Cough/Cold/Allergy, Pain/Ointments, Bandage Materials, and Tummy/Eyes/Ears/Nose. I’m thinking of going back and getting a matching container that is taller to hold the alcohol, peroxide and rice sock heat packs. My only problem is now I CAN’T FIND MY DANG LABEL MAKER!!

  27. 29

    So my question now is… What do we do with the medicine cabinet?

  28. 30

    God bless you. My kitchen over the microwave and one entire cabinet have been taken over by the medicine army. We stayed sick with everything we could possibly catch from September through beginning of January, and now we have strep throat (hey we went almost two months!! Not bad for first year in school for two kids). I tried doing tiered shelving in my pantry and it just.didnt.work. If the meds weren’t so expensive I would have thrown them all away out of frustration. I never considered separating types into boxes with labels, I’m not a natural organizer but I try try try! Thank you!!! I’m doing this TONIGHT.

  29. 31

    God bless you. My kitchen over the microwave and one entire cabinet have been taken over by the medicine army. We stayed sick with everything we could possibly catch from September through beginning of January, and now we have strep throat (hey we went almost two months!! Not bad for first year in school for two kids). I tried doing tiered shelving in my pantry and it just.didnt.work. If the meds weren’t so expensive I would have thrown them all away out of frustration. I never considered separating types into boxes with labels, I’m not a natural organizer but I try try try! Thank you!!! I’m doing this TONIGHT.

  30. 32

    Using spice racks is an option also.

  31. 33

    our linen closet is very deep – any suggestions?

  32. 35

    Thanks for the great advice! I’m off to get the boxes and drawers. We use them all the time at work, not sure why I didn’t think of them for home. The medicine/linen closet has always baffled me.

  33. 36

    We have a organizer that can house about 21 different bottled and boxed medicine

  34. 38

    Love these ideas- my stuff is all over the place since I recently moved. Definitely need to start organizing now that we are settled in! Can’t wait to look at other ideas on your site and pinterest.

  35. 39

    On what category did you put your thermometers? Just wondering…

  36. 41

    The only concern I would have is that pills do not like humidity and storing them in the bathroom is not the best place to store them due to the potential to dissolve from the humidity.

  37. 42
    Stephanie F says:

    We’ve used a system just like this for a five years now. We have a few of the most common daily items (cold and allergy stuff, kids’ vitamins, etc) in the kitchen in plastic bins to pull easily from upper cabinets, but the rest is in drawers like yours in the bathroom. When the kids were younger, we had magnetic locks on the cabinets that required a magnet key to open. Our kids are now 8 & 9, so those were removed. For First Aid supplies, I found the same thing, too many different sizes of boxes of band aids and gauzes and it kept overflowing the drawer. I didn’t have room to separate into different drawers like you did, so I used quart-size zip lock bags inside my already-existing plastic bin drawers. I took everything out of their boxes and put them in see-thru ziplock bags instead, keeping like-sized items together, thermometer with thermometer covers, etc. And that has worked very well. Also note that when disposing of expired meds, remember to check in your community for proper disposal procedures. Meds should never be thrown in garbage or flushed down drains/toilets. Our local police dept has a box in the lobby where we can drop off expired meds for correct disposal, and the local fire dept also has free sharps containers, and will take full containers for disposal, if you need to dispose of syringes like we do (b12 shots).

  38. 44

    I’m loving your medicine cabinet makeover!! I’m trying to find out where you bought these plastic tubs to put everything in… Do you remember where you bought them?

    Thanks!

  39. 46

    Hello. I love this! Could you tell me where the boxes and drawers came from or at least dimensions. The links don’t work. Thank you!

    • 47

      I’m sorry the links aren’t working, we will get those fixed. The boxes are from Target, they still have them because I’ve seen them recently. It’s been years since I wrote this post but I still have my medicines organized this way and I still love it! :)