I love badminton. And I’m (reasonably!) good at it. In fact, it’s the only competitive sport I play. Mostly, despite being a total fitness bunny, I don’t like competitive sports.

I often wonder how much I like badminton because I’m good at it (alright, OK at it) and how much I’m good (OK!) at it because I like it.

I’ve gotta admit. I do like a “challenge” that I know I can succeed at.

Recently, the American Recall Centre invited me to take part in their Medicine Cabinet Clean-Out Challenge.



I’m a Professional Organiser! I continually declutter my house on a rotating schedule. And I went through my medicines only a couple of months ago.

So, predictably, no I haven’t got any medicines that have expired and, yes, they are all stored correctly.

Smug mode!

But how would I do on their other questions?

Know your medications

Do you take your prescriptions as prescribed?

Again, predictably for a Professional Organiser, I always follow the instructions.

This is more important than many people realise. It’s not just that it’s easy to accidentally miss a dose if you don’t. With some medicines, such as antibiotics, failing to finish the course can lead to antibiotic resistance. Some of the bacteria, with some immunity to the drug, may survive to multiply and spread.

Do you understand all possible side effects?

Well I read the leaflets my medicines come with. Which is enough to give anyone a headache.

I was glad I did recently though when I bought a decongestant only to find, when I read the label, that I’d been sold one that also contained paracetamol – which I was already taking.

Secure your medications

Are your medicines stored in a secured location?

Actually, no. They’re in the cupboard under my sink. But I live alone and never have young children unsupervised in my house. If you’ve got kids, put your medicines out of reach or in a locked cabinet.

How do you monitor the amount left in each medicine bottle?

Umm…by looking at the bottle? If it’s a medicine I like to keep in stock, I add it to my shopping list if it’s getting low.

Dispose of your medications

Do you know how to safely dispose of any unused or expired medications?

It’s important that you don’t dispose of medications in general waste. Don’t put them down the toilet or sink and don’t throw them into landfill. There’s a risk they could leach into the water supply. Take them to a pharmacist for safe disposal.

Have you checked to see if any medications are recalled?

They got me on that one. I can’t say that I have!

Smug or not, I had reason to be glad of my well-ordered medicine cabinet a couple of months ago when, for the first time in many years, I was pole-axed by the ‘flu.

When I woke feeling terrible on day one, it was all I could do to drag myself out of bed to get what I needed.

But I least I HAD what I needed and I knew where it was!

I was able to grab paracetamol, cough medicine, clean handkerchiefs, a thermometer, a hot water bottle…and get back into bed in a matter of minutes.

Although it wasn’t easy being unable to work for a week, the way I had things set up made it relatively easy to cope.

Here’s how to do it:

1. Gather

Get everything out of the medicine cabinet and, if there are medicines elsewhere in the house, get them too.

2. Clean

While you’ve got everything out of your medicine cupboard, give it a clean. Wipe up the sticky rings left by cough medicines and the like.

3. Get rid

Let go of any medicines that have expired or that you’re unlikely to use

Take them to a pharmacist for safe disposal, to ensure they don’t leach into the drinking water supply.

4. Return

Put what you’re keeping back in an organised way.

Put stuff you use the most frequently in an accessible place, near the front.

Group like with like, e.g. painkillers, stomach settlers, cold remedies, plasters and dressings…

Chances are that the times you go to get something from your medicine cupboard will be when you’re not feeling your best. You don’t want to have to rummage to find a plaster when there’s blood dripping down your hand!

So OK, the Medicine Cabinet Clear Out Challenge was a game of badminton for me but, take it from one who knows, get your medicine cupboard organised, and your future poorly self will thank you.

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