I was recently contacted to take on a spring cleaning challenge by the American Recall Center. I love getting rid of clutter, and given that we’re moving at the end of this month, I figured it would be a good challenge to accept. Here are some discoveries I made along the way.


Have meds, will sprawl

Piles starting to form

While we do have one tub of “medical supplies”, I realized how spread out all our meds really were. The tub had stuff for colds/flus and wounds (i.e. things not used often), but there were many other places our meds and such were hiding: in the nightstand, in a bathroom drawer, in a kitchen cabinet (vitamins/supplements mostly). To make this process easier, I first went around the apartment and tried to bring everything in one place, on the kitchen table.

Always the categorizer

I can’t help it; I love organizing. So I put things in “like” categories, ending up with: clearly expired and needs to be disposed of; questionable (for interactions with other medications, and things like, “do we really need 4 rolls of tape for wounds?”).

Project scope creep

I couldn’t help it. The clean out went into some other areas, like sunscreen, and other things I discovered like not-used-in-years leather protector and styling gels and lotions.  Moving, remember? Why not.

Everything in its proper place

All nice and neat
All nice and neat

Yes, so the melatonin and inhaler went back into the medicine cabinet; the jet lag remedy ended up properly put back with the travel stuff (it just got tossed into the primary tub after our last international trip); vitamins/supplements ended up back in the kitchen for morning reminders. Old band-aids that probably had no stick and old cough drops with wrappers glued on easily went in the trash. Even that hand sanitizer I’d meant to put into the car AGES ago finally made it’s way to the top of the stairs for my next trip down to the garage!

What to do with the rest?

Sadly, the other potential discards made me feel like now I had two more projects.

  1. Researching how to dispose of expired OTC and prescription medications
  2. Supplements / vitamins to check for potential drug interactions, which I’d stopped taking under “suspicion”

What else did I learn?

  • Well, first that drugs could be recalled! It makes perfect sense, but I hadn’t ever thought about it.
  • Even though it was a bit of a research project, I feel more informed about the various ways to dispose of medications. Sadly I’m not sure I like any of them, because the medications either end up in a landfill or in our water supply. Guess we need to all start using food as medicine so we have less of these to dispose of in general! 😉 But I digress…I also learned that there’s a “take back day” in some locations (sadly not mine).
  • I FINALLY understand interactions between various supplements and the (few) prescribed medications I take. I started with the easy ones: i.e. simple ingredients, then to the herbal / homeopathic combos because I had to look up each ingredient for a potential interaction! However, this was made easier by the fact that WebMD allows you to search for supplements as well as medications. I also really liked how they listed all interactions in one tab and specified the severity.
  • Several homeopathic and herbal supplements had ingredients that interacted with birth control pills (which I went back on after my brief stint with an IUD). I know that homeopathic is generally safer than herbal because there are trace amounts, but the more ingredients I found that had a potential interaction, the less I wanted to risk it!  LiveStrong had two short articles on common ingredients I found in my supplements like red clover and licorice. I wish more sites would list foods that could impact medications–until a friend’s visit last week I didn’t know that grapefruit was not good for birth control pills either!

So that’s the scoop on my “medicine cabinet” clean out challenge. I hope I inspire you to do some spring cleaning in this area. It might be a project, but it’s do-able, and you’ll have greater peace of mind after.

Medicine Cabinet Clean-Out Challenge
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