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medicine cabinet

Spring Cleaning and De-cluttering? Don’t Forget Your Medicine Cabinet!

By Mary Sue Kennington, Family & Consumer Sciences Extension Agent at UF IFAS Extension-Orange County

Reviewed by Randall Cantrell, PhD, Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences, University of Florida

Spring is on its way, and soon it will be time to enjoy the outdoors again. For many of us, especially in Florida, this also means the possibility of sunburn, along with exposure to biting insects. Now is a great time to ensure that you have the right supplies for spring activities while also inspecting and de-cluttering the medicine cabinet after a long winter. Take time now to rid your cabinet of potentially dangerous and outdated items, and add a few necessary components to prepare for spring and fun in the sun.

First, check the expiration dates of all items in your medicine cabinet and drawers. Expired medicines lose their effectiveness and may become dangerous if ingested. You also should dispose of items that were not sealed or stored properly. Evaporation may have occurred, leaving them more concentrated and dangerous.

Consider disposing of duplicate items, which are often not used and create clutter in the medicine cabinet. If you do want to keep duplicates, move them out of the medicine cabinet into a larger storage area, such as a closet or pantry.

When you dispose of old medicine, NEVER throw it in the trash or down the drain. This isn’t good for our water systems and can be dangerous for children and pets. The best way to dispose of expired and unwanted medications is to take them to a household hazardous waste collection site (call 1-800-882-9539 to find one, or check the “blue” section of your local phone book for information). To learn more about how to safely dispose of unwanted medication, check out Healthy Living: Use Your Medicines Safely.

Now that you’ve cleared things out and made some space, restock your medicine cabinet with:

Finally, refresh the family first-aid kit by adding new Band-Aids, antiseptic wash, and antibiotic ointment, as needed.

With all this complete, you and your family will be ready for some safe and healthy springtime outings. Enjoy!

(Note: We are aware that there are more items required for safe, healthy springtime outings, but they are better suited for the first-aid kit, due to the limited size of the medicine cabinet.)

(Photo credit: medicine cabinet by sanzibar. CC BY-NC-SA 2.0. Cropped.)


Rutledge, C. R., & Day, J. F. (2014). Mosquito repellents. Retrieved from

Wittkowsky, P., Linda B. Bobroff, L.B., & Minton, E. (2014). Healthy living: Use your medicines safely! Retrieved from