Planning to spring clean your home? Don’t forget to look through your medicine cabinet. Chances are, it’s full of half-used prescription bottles and cold medicine.
Leftover drugs stored in these cabinets can fall into the wrong hands. According to the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, two-thirds of teens who report abuse of prescription medicines say they got them from family and friends. Abuse isn’t the only risk. Consuming expired medication can harm children, pets or yourself.
Keep three tips in mind while spring cleaning your medicine cabinet.
Number 1, look for expiration dates. They are usually printed at the bottom of the bottle or carton. If the expiration date has passed, discard the medicine. If you don’t see an expiration date but bought the product at least one year prior, toss it. Most medicine expires one year after the prescription date.
Number 2, discard items that have changed color, smell or taste. This includes any medicines that have faded in color due to light exposure.
Number 3, toss anything you don’t recognize, including creams and pills kept in unmarked containers.
It’s important to properly dispose of these expired items. Toss old pills in undesired substances, such as kitty litter or old coffee grounds, and dispose in household trash. Many pharmacies and hospitals now have a drop-off spot for unused medication.
Do not flush old medications down the toilet, as they can end up in the water supply.
After you clean your medicine cabinet, stock it up with fresh supplies. Items to have on hand include pain relievers such as acetaminophen, antacids, cold and flu medicine, Band-Aids and antibiotic ointments.