bathroom counter with containers

Organizing Your Medicine Cabinet – Step By Step Instructions From A Pro Organizer

August 3, 2020

According to the National Museum of American History, built-in medicine cabinets became popular in the 1920s when an increasing focus on hygiene led to the popularity of tiled bathrooms with modern conveniences. Nowadays, those quaint built-in cabinets seem barely large enough to hold the most basic of essentials. Medicine, toiletries, and the like are now apt to overflow into any available nearby space. To corral the clutter and make the most efficient use of your bathroom’s prime real estate, a regular cleanout and organizing session is a must. But where to begin?

Before you start emptying out the contents of your medicine cabinet, make sure you have a place to set items as you work. Use towels or a plastic trash bag to protect the surfaces in case any bottles or tubes have sprung a leak. Have another trash bag handy so that you can throw away things you no longer want. Take all the items out of the medicine cabinet and as you go sort like items together. Put all band-aids, cough medicines, lotions, tubes of toothpaste, and so on together. Once you have all the items in categories, go through each category, and see if there are any items to purge, such as:

Expired items
Throw away anything old or expired, these things may no longer be safe to use and, if you haven’t used them by now, they are probably only going to get older, not used. However, be careful with how you dispose of medicine. Not all medicine can be safely thrown into the trash. For recommendations on how to dispose of prescription and over-the-counter medication, click here. To find a location where you can drop off your old, unwanted medications year round click here.

Damaged Items
Crumpled bandages, broken thermometers, dried out lotions, dusty cotton swabs… none of these things are useful or appealing! Unless there is an easy fix, it may be time to let these items go.

No-Longer-Needed Items
That special syringe you got when you had your wisdom teeth removed, that awful lipstick, the mouth wash that made your eyes water? If you know deep down inside that you are not ever going to use something again, get rid of it, and free up space! No matter how much you spent on it, if you aren’t using it, your space is far more valuable.

Now that you have finished sorting and cleared out all the clutter, take a minute to clean your medicine cabinet and any organizing containers you are using before you put the items away. It feels really good to have a fresh start, doesn’t it?

Now, ask yourself if all your items have a home. This means a place where the thing can be returned to wait until the next time it is needed. The home should be based on how often something is used. For example, dental supplies that you go to every day should be easy to see and reach, while things you only use once in a blue moon can live on the top shelf or an out-of-the-way spot.

When you decide where something should live, you can then determine if you need any additional organizing containers to help keep things tidy. Depending on the size of your medicine cabinet, you might want open acrylic containers, containers with lids that can be stacked, or drawer dividers like these. There are so many sizes and variations you can mix and match according to your needs.

Put all your items away, labeling any containers that you are using. While labeling is optional, doing so makes it easier for you, and others in your household, to put things back where they belong.

Maintenance Tip
Go through your medicine cabinet a couple of times a year so that you can keep things current and restock before you run out.

Pro Tip
Give yourself permission to let go of sample sizes and products that you thought you’d love but didn’t. Offer them to your friends or family members or, if they are unopened, donate them to a local shelter or human service agency. If you are on the fence, ask yourself if replacing the thing would cost less than $20 or take less than 20 minutes—if the answer is “no,” the space you gain by letting it go is probably more valuable than the cost of hanging on to it “just in case.” Read this article for more tips on organizing beauty samples!