Happy 2016! Hard to believe we are nearly half way through January as I look at my home STILL filled with Christmas decorations. Many of us tackle the new year with a cleaning or de-cluttering frenzy after we pack up the holiday decor. In fact, it can be overwhelming as we survey overflowing closets, desks and kids rooms…wishing for that magic wand to neatly organize our lives. I once read an organization plan that suggested a better chance of success if you tackled ONE specific area and thoroughly completed it before you moved on- whether that was one drawer of your dresser, a single shelf of books, or even cleaning the kitchen sink itself. So…instead of the sink or coat rack, may I suggest starting with your MEDICINE CABINET? Whether this means a simple first aid kit or an entire bathroom or kitchen cabinet, let’s get rid of the old and bring in a few selected new supplies.
Expired medications, in my experience, are rarely harmful in and of themselves, but they often have lost effectiveness. There is no point in saving the last few drops of prescription cough syrup from 2007…it’s not going to help you any more. If you are having an allergic reaction and your diphenhydramine (Benadryl) or worse, your Epi-Pen, has expired…this is not a good time to find out how much their effectiveness has decreased! Ditto with anti-nausea medications. In general, solid tablets have extended shelf lives more than liquids. Additionally, with liquids such as eye drops, the preservatives break down, allowing potential bacterial growth (and the obvious possibility of causing rather than treating an eye infection.)
However, taking leftover “spare” single or several antibiotic pills actually MAY be harmful- because as you partially treat an infection, you make the bugs effectively only weak and dizzy, not dead…and now you have a strain of bacteria that is resistant to new antibiotics. Just say NO and toss these.
Expired bandaids? Okay, you can keep those. But compression wraps (ACE wraps)? If you have washed them a dozen times- unlikely they have enough spring left in them to do their job. High quality splints from old injuries (wrist or ankle)? I keep those as long as they can be cleaned.
Once opened, over-the-counter acne medications with benzoyl peroxide (hello, high school and college students!) TOTALLY lose effectiveness after only a couple months- explains more than a few breakouts. Toss ’em.
Bottom Line: Make a HEALTHY START in 2016 by cleaning out your MEDICINE CABINET this weekend!