Spring Cleaning – Don’t Forget the Medicine Cabinet
Nice weather is around the corner, which means spring cleaning time isn’t far off. This often includes lots of dusting, sweeping, scrubbing and decluttering. One area that should be added to your cleaning list is the medicine cabinet.
We often hang on to old medications, telling ourselves “it might come in handy someday” or struggling to toss a medication that was expensive. However, after time, the medication will not only expire and lose its effectiveness, it may also become harmful.
Here are five tips for cleaning out your medicine cabinet (or that of a senior loved one).
- Check dates. Get rid of anything that has expired – including ointments, supplements and vitamins. In addition to losing effectiveness after expiration dates, some medications may even become toxic.
- Follow the one year cut off rule. Throw out any medication that is more than one year old.
- Discard items that have changed color, smell or taste. This includes colors that have faded.
- Get rid of unmarked containers. If something is not in its original container and cannot be identified, get rid of it. Try to keep medications in their original containers so they can be easily recognized. This includes ointments, which can be mistaken as creams.
- Use caution when discarding medications. To prevent environmental harm or getting into the wrong hands, do not simply throw away or flush medication. Instead, follow these steps:
- Place medication in a sealable bag. If there are solid medications, add water so they can dissolve.
- Mix them with an undesirable substance, such as coffee grounds or kitty litter.
- Seal the bag and put it in the trash.
- Remove (or scratch out) any identifying information on the prescription bottle (such as the label), clean and recycle.
Your local pharmacy, police department or Drug Enforcement Agency may also be able to assist in disposing of medications in a safe manner. For help finding a collection site, call 1-800-882-9539.
Help the environment and your health by properly disposing of unused medicines.
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