a woman in her medicine cabinet for post on how i organized my medicine cabinet

How I Tackled My Medicine Cabinet and 8 Easy Steps for You to Organize Yours Too

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I know how many times I’ve scoured my medicine cabinet searching for something for a headache or bee sting but only find expired bottles of cough medicine and half-empty prescription bottles. If you are like me, then you might want to check out how I have worked on my medicine cabinet organization.

Despite this seemingly daunting task, this project won’t take long, I promise. Read on and learn how to get to tackling that medicine cabinet but be careful…this MAY result in you wanting to organize the rest of your cabinets!

An image of a medicine cabinet and text that says How I Tackled My Medicine Cabinet and 8 Easy Steps for You to Organize Yours Too

Here’s how I tackled my medicine cabinet organization:

Start by decluttering the space.

I started by taking everything out of my medicine cabinet – everything

Clean it thoroughly (you should do this at least once or twice a year).

Wipe down the interior of your medicine cabinet and storage bins, if you have them.

You’ve just cleaned your cabinet or bins, and you are left with some dust/dirt/baby powder. Wipe it out before putting things back in there to not bring the crud into any other shelves.

Throw away all old or unused prescriptions and first aid items

If you find some medicine that is expired and you need to get rid of it, there are some things you need to keep in mind. 

First, if you have medicine that could be harmful to someone in large doses (like pain killers or narcotics), the FDA urges you to flush them down the toilet. Their guide is extremely helpful.

If you have some expired over the counter medications, you can simply throw those in the trash. The best way to throw them away, according to the FDA, is to: 

  1. Mix the medication with an unpalatable substance like coffee grounds or dirt (do not crush pills).
  2. Put the mixture in a resealable plastic bag.
  3. Seal the bag and throw it in your trash.

(In our signature course, One Cupboard at a Time, we go into this a bit deeper and include some helpful printables on properly disposing prescription medication).

Throwing away things you don’t use, or need is a way to clear the clutter for good. You’re bound to have at least one bottle of expired medicines that’s been sitting in your cabinet since before 2012! Clear it out and start fresh!

For anything else, such as over-the-counter drugs, creams, and other products, look for an expiration date. If it is expired, throw it away. If you can’t find an expiration date, look at the condition of the container/box and the product itself.

My medicine cabinet also houses my toiletries; if yours does, too, then you probably have a TON of other items in there that are just taking up space, too. Shampoo samples, or even half empty packages of razors and isn’t it funny how we find random items in there, as well.  I just pulled a bottle of coconut oil from my medicine cabinet!

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Check to see if the cream is hardened or congealed, toss it. If the box looks old or damaged, toss it.

For any duplicates, keep the oldest one aside (if it is not expired – then trash it!) to put back in the cabinet and put the extra in a container for the closet (you will have it handy to replace when the oldest one is used).

For all new prescriptions and other purchases for my medicine cabinet, I mark the date of the purchase on the container before putting it away. This will make it much easier for me the next time I tackle this space.

Ask yourself these questions when you look at everything you took out: 

  • When did I last use this? If the answer is more than a year ago, don’t keep it. Chances are it will hit its expiration date before you use it again.
  • Is it expired? Don’t even hesitate on this one. If it is expired, get rid of it. 
  • Is it usable? If it isn’t usable at all, throw it away. If the case is cracked, think of a way to relocate it in something else.

Here are the minimum things that I keep in my medicine cabinet: 

  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • First Aid products
  • Daily medications
  • Daily beauty routine products

Beyond that, try and find some other places to store things you don’t need. This list is especially helpful if you have a small bathroom without very much storage available. 

Here are some other places you can store extra medications and beauty products: 

  • Under your bed
  • In your bedroom closet
  • Under the bathroom sink
  • On a bookshelf
  • In a linen closet

Now that the cabinet is cleared out, sort each item by type.

  • Prescriptions
  • Over-the-counter medicines
  • Band-Aids
  • Toiletries

After you have done the initial sorting, I like to further refine the items that go back in my medicine cabinet. For example, all cold remedies together, all first-aid supplies, all hair products, and so on.

If you have a TON of medicines, then it’s important to have a good organization system, and that means CATEGORIES!

Group all your first aid supplies, medicines, and ointments by category so that you can quickly find what you need, rather than having to sort through tons of bottles when you are looking for Neosporin!

Here are some category ideas that I use in my medicine cabinet:

  • Cough/Cold and Flu – cough syrups, cough drops, chest rub, etc.
  • Pain Relief – acetaminophen, ibuprofen, etc.
  • First Aid – bandages, anti-itch lotions, antibiotic ointments, gauze, alcohol wipes, etc.
  • Allergies
  • Rx – Prescription Medicines
  • Kids – includes all children’s medicines

One way to transform your medicine/toiletries/miscellaneous closet is by organizing like supplies together.

Here are some other categories you might consider:

  • Hair – extra shampoo and conditioner, hair ties, etc.
  • Teeth – extra toothbrushes, travel toothpastes, mouthwash, etc.
  • Body – extra body lotions, razors, baby powder, etc.
  • Cleaning – cleaning supplies that I keep in the bathroom
  • Travel – for mini toiletry items, sample sizes, etc.
  • Misc. – for the extra items that don’t fit into another category

Forming a Plan

Now that everything is sorted, take a look at what you have. Could the hair products best be stored in a basket under the sink?

Would your makeup make most sense stored in a drawer in the bathroom or a vanity, if you have one?

Think about the flow of your morning routine. Do you do everything in the bathroom or have to carry some products to another room to finish getting ready?

Consider the package sizes, as well. Are you trying to fit an economy sized bottle of peroxide in the cabinet when it really doesn’t fit?

For me, this is one of the exciting parts about organizing my medicine cabinet – the fun bins and organizers that I get to use!

Putting Everything Away

Once I have decided what will remain in my medicine cabinet, you can start putting things back. I like to have several narrow organizing trays, baskets, or organizers, such as the ones below from Amazon, to use to organize this space.

It’s neater and saves time when you are reorganizing or cleaning this space. Just pull out the trays, wipe down and sort one basket at a time.

If you are short on medicine cabinet space, consider storing items in a bathroom closet, under the sink or installing a shelf in the bathroom.

I have a basket labeled “hair”, and another that says “body.” This helps keep the clutter down in my space, so everything looks neat.

The baskets help cut down the amount of time needed to find something because all related products get grouped together without being buried beneath other miscellany or crammed into an unorganized drawer.

Here are some of our favorite bathroom storage bins. You can choose to match your decor or use clear to easily see inside. And, with their small size, they easily fit in your medicine cabinet, under your sink or closet.

You know those frustrating small items in your medicine cabinet? They’re hard to find when you need them, and they take up so much space!

The answer is simple: use something that can hold it all like bobby pins or cotton swabs with a lid on top. You’ll be able to quickly sift through the cabinet for what you want without having to pick these little things from the shelf or waste time looking around inside. There are tons of creative hacks online but my favorites for my medicine cabinet are:

  • Baby food jars
  • Bubble gum containers
  • Small mason jars (both the 8oz and 4 oz work great)
  • Old medicine bottles – just be sure to remove the old label and add a new label.

Look around your home and create new ideas and ways to repurpose things. There are a ton of ways to organize every small item in your medicine cabinet. 

Label your organizers

After you’ve sorted your meds, then it’s time to label your bins so that you can easily find what you need.

I used chalkboard tags from Amazon. They came attached to clothespins already, so they were super easy to attach to the labels to the baskets in my medicine cabinet , and they were ONLY .43 CENTS each! You can’t beat that!

I used a white paint pen, but you can use scrapbook letter stickers instead!

You can also use a label maker like one of those listed below … I LOVE my Brother label maker and I use it all the time, like when I organized my file cabinet.

Final Steps

Take stock of what you have and what you need. Now that you have purged, do you need to buy a box of Band-Aids or antiseptic cream?

Consider hanging a small dry erase board with marker on the inside of the medicine cabinet. As you run out of an item, jot it down so you’ll remember when you go to the store.

You can also jot down dates that you need to refill prescriptions.

Medicine cabinet organization doesn’t have to be complicated or fancy; it just has to work for you.

Storage Ideas If You Don’t Have A Medicine Cabinet

If you don’t have a medicine cabinet in your bathroom and need some creative storage solutions for that space. There are plenty! From a traditional cabinet which can be a good option to place on an empty wall or even get taller ones with mirrors on them, too.

Use a Magnetic Strip

If you have tweezers or anything else metal, hang them to a magnetic strip on the wall. This will get the small tools within your reach and off the countertop for easy use any time!

Try Pull-Out Cabinet Organizers

Storing items under the bathroom sink is a perfect solution if you don’t have a medicine cabinet.

Utilize every inch of this space by installing pull-out organizers. These can come in two levels, making it easier to store even more under your sink and make everything neatly organized with baskets or other organization methods.

Use a Wheeled Cart

The small space storage solution you never knew you needed is a bathroom cart.

If you’re looking for a place to store towels, hair care essentials, personal care products, items that would normally be in a medicine cabinet, but you don’t have one, a bathroom cart is a terrific choice.

There are many benefits to using a cart in your bathroom instead of shelves or cabinets, including:

  • Carts are often compact and fit in small bathrooms and spaces.
  • They come in open shelf or closed drawer options.
  • They keep supplies easily accessible.
  • Carts are easy to move around when you need to clean.
  • They’re renter-friendly and can be taken with you when you move.
  • Many carts are stylish and can also serve as decor.

Here are some of our favorites; both with and without drawers.

You may enjoy this brief video by The Container Store with some creative medicine cabinet organization solutions.

And be sure to get your FREE Bathroom Organizing Checklist below as our gift to you!

I had a blast decluttering my medicine cabinet and organizing it! I hope you will, too! Do you have a creative medicine cabinet organization solution? Share with us in the comments below. We’d love to hear about it!

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