How to Organize Medicines and Supplements
Having an organized setup for medicines is beneficial not only when you are sick but when you are healthy as well. Let’s walk through Organize Medicines and Supplements so you can streamline this area that will help you when you are feeling ill and get you back on the road to recovery.
How to organize another important area in your home so you waste less money on expired medicines.
The other morning I woke up with a stuffy nose and a cough. Great, it looks like I am getting sick. Not the best way to start my day but I wasn’t panicking because I knew I had a few things in my medicine cabinet that could help.
I made my way to my, “crap, I think I’m getting sick” area and pulled the basket down onto the kitchen counter under the big light so I could find exactly what I was looking for.
I reached in and grabbed a bottle of cough syrup and checked the date. Expired
Back in I went pulling out a second bottle and wouldn’t you know it, that one was expired as well. And not just by a few months, I am talking years.
I worked my way through each bottle like a crazy game of go fish, getting more and more frustrated as I read the expiration dates.
Expired, expired, expired.
All that was left now was a single bag of cough drops. I picked it up only to see that 3 years had elapsed since I bought them.
This is usually the point where I get extremely frustrated with myself because once again, my clutter bug behavior is costing me money. Quite a bit of it actually.
We all know medicine isn’t cheap and every year it gets more and more expensive. And yes, I’m all for a natural remedy here and there, but when I am sick. Really really sick. I need something that packs a punch. I need heavy-duty meds and I don’t want to have to run to the store to grab a fresh supply.
Having an organizational system for every area in your home is the best way to streamline an efficient living space. But more often than not we put our focus on the bigger areas. Areas like the kitchen, the family room, and the bedroom.
And yes, those rooms are a great place to put your decluttering energy, but sometimes it’s the smaller areas that are more important. It’s the spaces that are hiding behind the cabinet doors, inside bathroom drawers, and even on the closet shelves that really need our attention the most.
Today we are going to tackle one space specifically.
How to Organize Medicines and Supplements
To make this project easier, let’s break it down into super easy steps.
Step #1. Prep
First, you will want to set up a sorting area. Choose a spot that has enough room so you can really spread out. A kitchen table is a great option as you should have enough room to sort things while keeping bottles up and out of the reach of any young children.
Next, gather up a few decluttering supplies so you are ready to go.
- Post-it notes
- Black magic marker
- Pen and a pad of paper
- A large trash can
- Ziploc baggies
Step #2. Gather
Before we start organizing your meds you first need to know exactly what you have. And for this project, it might take a bit longer to gather things up. In many homes, medicines and supplements tend to migrate into different rooms and that means you will want to walk each of them specifically.
Use a laundry basket to make this task a bit easier. Go into each room looking to see if you have any medications.
Be sure to check your nightstand in your bedroom, the tops of your dressers, kitchen cabinets and drawers, bathroom cabinets, purses, workout bags, and even your vehicle.
Take everything into one area so you can spread out and work through items one at a time.
Step #3. Sort
For this project, sorting is not something you can breeze through. You will need to read labels, and small ones at that. Take your time and sort things out as you go.
I like to use piles to make things a bit easier to work through. Use Post-it notes to label each pile and continue to add in new piles as they come up.
How your sort things out will all depend on your family. So, for example, if you have very young children, you will want an infant medication area to sort their items out separately.
A few ideas to consider are:
- Cough medication
- Cold medication
- Pain reliever
- Skin issues
- Infant medication
- Pet medications
- Family member-specific – if you or any of your family members have a series of prescriptions that you take, you will want to have an area for each person specifically.
I know this seems like a lot of back work but trust me on this, the more sorted out you are in this very first step the easier it will be to organize going forward. It will also help you to know exactly what containers will work best for each section and, finally, help you to better designate where to locate certain items so they are more easily accessible by you and the rest of your appropriately aged family members.
Continue sorting, going through each item paying close attention to the expiration date. If an item is expired and it is something that you know you will need within the next one to three months, write that item down on your pad and paper.
This is your medication shopping list and one you will work on fulfilling as your household budget allows.
D/M Pro Tip: Before disposing of any medication be sure you are doing it correctly. You can contact our local extension office or poison control for the best advice on how to dispose of medications in a safe way for not only your family but your environment as well.
Continue sorting through your medications, vitamins, supplements, and other miscellaneous supplies putting them in the appropriate piles. If you see or you are missing a category in your sorting area, take a Post-It note and create room for one.
Step #4. Organize
Now that you have sorted through all your medications you can organize each category in a way that works for your family.
But first, ensure that all the medication is appropriately contained. What I mean by that is, if you have a torn bag of cough drops that are spilling out, this is where you want to use a Ziploc baggie. Put the entire contents into the baggie and label the expiration date on the outside.
Next, you will want to decide where you would like to house your medications, vitamins, and supplements going forward. Please keep in mind that the area you are using now does not need to be the area you use going forward.
Take our family for example.
For the longest time we used to keep our medication in the bathroom but we eventually realized it is better to keep all of our medication and supplements in the kitchen. Most of the things that we take require either water, food, or both.
To keep our setup more efficient for our entire family we now keep all of our daily medications in a lower cabinet and seasonal medications above our refrigerator.
Everything is in the same room, yet located based on convenience and how often we use things.
A few areas for storing medications and supplements are:
- A drawer next to your bed
- A medicine cabinet in the bathroom
- A shelf in a linen closet
- A cabinet in the kitchen
- A drawer in a kitchen
D/M Pro Tip: Remember if you have young children please keep all medications, vitamins, and supplements up and out of their reach.
After you choose an area where you would like to locate your medicinal items you will next want to do a visual inventory of the space that you have available. This will help you to decide on the best containers that will allow you to keep this area clutter-free going forward.
Remember, our goal with any organizing project is to make it easy for us to find the items we are looking for and just as easy to put those items all the way away again.
If you notice a few weeks after setting up a newly organized area in your home that it is not working out as you planned, it is time to rethink things.
How will you know?
You will see items that belong in that space lying out on counters and not being put away. If you do, you may have a system that is just too complicated to work.
This is why I always suggest easier when organizing, at least in the beginning. Try to keep things to one step only. Baskets, bins, totes without lids, and even cardboard boxes all work great to encourage ourselves and our family members to put things in their specific spots.
The more we can learn to put items into their home, the more likely we will never have to declutter a space over and over again.
For me, I am all about simplicity. Whenever possible I will always use baskets to organize our things. One step is all we need to put something away and, for our family at least, one step is all they are willing to do.
Now, I am not saying this will work for everyone, you may want things a bit more organized out. Maybe the large basket appeals to you, but you would rather have color-coded bins inside of the basket to sort things down even more. You could do a small blue bin for cough medication, a red bin for allergies, and a green bin for infant medication.
Whatever you feel is going to help you stick with a system is the path that you want to take when organizing a new area.
Don’t overthink it, there are no rules here. Keep it simple so you stick with it. This is always the goal of an organizing project.
Step #5. Label
One of your greatest assets when setting up a new system is labels.
In the beginning, you will want them to be big, bold, or dare I say even ugly. Notecards work best for this. You can then use huge clothespins to hold them in place as you try out a newly organized area for your medications. As you let things coast for a while and see what works and what doesn’t you can use more permanent labels that appeal to your sense of style.
Once you have a system down and set into place let it stay for a few weeks to even a few months. It’s going to take some time for you to see what actually works and what doesn’t. If you see an item sitting out on the counter as I said earlier, that is your cue that you may want to rethink the plan you set into place.
Try not to get frustrated if you have to redo this area several times before you find what works.
Okay, now let’s have a little bit of fun. Let’s talk about a few shortcuts that you can use to organize your medications in a way that keeps you up to date when taking them. This is especially helpful if you take supplements, vitamins, or are on prescription medications that need to be taken every day.
Great Organizers for Medications and Supplements
#1. Lazy Susan
I love lazy susans and use them throughout my home. They are a great way to contain miscellaneous supplies while still keeping them all easy to access.
A few ideas for a lazy susan are:
- Daily vitamins and or supplements
- Deadly prescription medications
- Herbal daily medicines
- Other items you take routinely
You can keep the lazy susan on the kitchen counter, in a cabinet, or even a pantry. Where ever will work to ensure you are taking what you need every day/
#2. Daily, Weekly, or Monthly Pill Container
When I first started taking supplements I had a really hard time remembering not only where they were, but when I needed to take them, and how I needed to take them.
I finally invested in a pill organizer.
Since I take a lot of pills every day, I like a pretty sophisticated organizer, but you do not have to go this hardcore. My husband, for example, prefers a simple pill organizer that has one container for each day of the week. He keeps it in his office at work and takes his supplements at lunchtime.
I on the other hand like my medications and supplements to be a bit more streamlined. I have some pills that I need to take three times a day and for that reason, a container for each day that is then separated into three compartments works best for me.
When using your pill organizer, it is all about location. Be sure to keep it where you will see it. On your desk in your office or next to your nightstand are two options to consider.
Each Sunday we both fill up our pill containers making sure that everything is ready to go for Monday morning. This is a great clutter-free habit to incorporate into your own weekly schedule.
D/M Pro Tip: Take an index card and write the directions for each of the pills you take. Make a note if it needs to be taken with water, food, or on an empty stomach. This will be your reminder of how to take all of your medications without having to second guess yourself.
#3. A Bin for Each Family Member
If you have members in your family that are on specific supplements or medications, you may want to do a container for each person. You can use a bin with a secure lid, a tray on your kitchen counter, or even a long basket inside a medicine cabinet.
If you choose to do this option, your label is going to play a key role. Be sure it is big, bold, and extremely specific so that only the person whose medication is found inside is the only person to access them.
#4. Travel Containers
If you like to have a supply of medicines in your pocketbook, workout bag, or briefcase then a small travel container might be a good option for you.
A note of caution on this, be sure that you write the expiration date on the container for any pills found inside. This will allow you to be confident knowing that you are always taking something that is within its “use by” date.
When it comes to medication and supplements the cost investment constitutes how important this task is. There’s nothing more frustrating than throwing out costly medications that are out of date. But there is good news, once you have a system set into place, you will save so much money going forward.
To ensure your system works the very best, plan to go through your medications every three months to ensure that supplies are staying up-to-date and in stock. You can put a reminder in your calendar file, one on your smartphone, or even a reminder on your wall calendar.
Take a few minutes to revisit each container of medication in a routine timeframe and you will keep this system one that is super beneficial to you and your entire family
Once you have a system set to organize medicines and supplements for you and your family you can now feel more confident having another area in your home streamlined and organized.
In the past I would buy the economy size of OTC meds for short term use. While it may cost more per pill, I now buy smaller sizes that I know I will use before the expiration date.
That is a great plan for sure, Lydia!
We have lived in the same house for 41 years now. All of this time we have kept medications in the built-in cabinet above the toilet in our bathroom (for the children, when they were growing up, their medications were stored in the same location in the main bathroom.) The most important habit that needed to be developed for all of us was to put the toilet seat down before starting to reach into the cabinet! No matter how perfectly the medication container was designed and worked, medications that have been fished out of the toilet are not something that one feels good about consuming. The location was great for being out of the reach of small children, but. . . . .
Oh my goodness, that would be a tricky location for sure!!!
oops! LOL :Deadly prescription medications I think you meant DAILY prescription medications!!! so funny.