Where to Begin When You De-Clutter the Bathroom
Probably a good starting point to de-clutter your bathroom is your medicine cabinet…
There was a black hole in my in-law’s bathroom.
No! Not that one! This one was called the medicine cabinet. I married into a family of pharmacists who had also lived through the Great Depression. That is a lethal combination! They believed that it was a sin to throw away anything that might be usable by someone, anyone, somewhere, anywhere. “You never know when you might need that!”
This rule applied to every item that entered their territory. Never mind that they probably wouldn’t be able to find “it” when they had a use for “it.”
The medicine cabinet was only a slightly different story. While they had accumulated an impressive collection of pharmaceuticals, unlike the rest of the house, the prescriptions were stored with the precision of a commercial pharmacy. They could put their fingers on almost any drug within seconds.
The problem with holding on to pharmaceuticals…
But two pharmaceutical concepts had escaped their notice.
- The first concept was that of keeping those pills out reach of children. The candy-like pills were beautifully displayed in long orderly rows in the cupboards of each bathroom. My polite suggestions were dismissed, “Just tell the children that they aren’t to touch those things.” Successive generations of children and grandchildren were charged with the task of keeping their children away from the bathroom cupboards at all times.
- The second escaped concept was the importance of expiration dates. “Oh, those dates are too conservative!” Now, that’s probably true to a degree. But, I had to wonder, were the dates too conservative by 20 years?!
The accumulation of prescriptions and over-the-counter medicines is not unique to my in-laws, or even to retired pharmacists. It’s just that their collection was bigger, better, and more bountiful than any other such collection I had ever seen! We really wanted to dispose of this wealth of medicine.
When we finally got the opportunity to clean out those cupboards we were faced with a dilemma…
How to safely dispose of prescription drugs?
Several phone calls later, we had learned of the following three great options for disposal:
- Most pharmacies have a drop off box for old prescriptions. Ask yours! (Be sure to ask about any exclusions, such as controlled substances).
- Many animal shelters will happily accept donations of meds (even expired ones) and first aid supplies. Call around and ask those near you.
- As a last resort, you can remove the pills from their identifying container, mix them with an “icky” material (like shampoo or compost), seal the resulting goo into two layers of Ziploc bags and then discard them with your regular household trash.
Whatever you do: please DO NOT FLUSH DOWN THE TOILET! While this practice used to be recommended, researchers realized that it threatens the health of local wildlife and the potability of the local water supply.
Don’t let your medicine cabinets turn into a black-hole. Take the time now to dispose of outdated and unnecessary prescription medicines and make your medicine cabinet a safer and less cluttered place!
– Colleen Squier, Moving Forward, Inc.
**originally published 3/7/12