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Medicine Cabinet Clutter - Part 2

Dear Jo the Clutterbuster:

The prescription and non-prescription meds are now up to date. I watch enough medical programs to know that an emergency can happen when you are least prepared for it. (Guess that might be a definition of emergency, huh?)

It’s been a long time since my Red Cross first aid class. What should I do to be better prepared?


Out of Practice

PS. There is STILL a mountain of make up and non-medicine related items littering my counters, cupboards, and drawers. Where is that stuff going to live?

Dear OOP:

Once again, set up the worktable and pile all the first aid materials on it. Discard any items whose use-by dates have expired. You are going to create 3 (or more) first aid kits individualized for your household: 1 for the kitchen, 1 for the bathroom, and 1 for the workshop or car. You can use lunch boxes as containers. I prefer brightly colored containers to make them easier to find. You can also use plastic containers labeled “First Aid.” Include cold packs, bandages, bandaids, tweezers, antiseptic, cortisone cream, aspirin, and a First Aid pamphlet. If someone in your family needs an Epi-Pen for allergic reactions, include those in the kit.

Prepare an Emergency Contact Information “cheat sheet” that lists allergies, prescription drugs, and doctor contact information for each person in your household (don’t forget your pets.) Include the telephone number for Poison Control as well as everyone’s work and cell numbers. Include this list in each first aid kit.

Also, post this sheet in a prominent place that visitors, cleaning persons, childcare persons can refer to in an emergency. Copy the information onto a thumb drive, PDA and your computer.

If you really want to be prepared, contact your local Red Cross and take a CPR class.

Be sure to show everyone in the house where the Emergency Kits are now kept.

Make up Mess


Make-up that didn’t look good when you bought it, will never look good on you. Discard it. Color palettes from 10 years ago probably should join the other discarded makeup.

Most products have a use-by date. Bacteria can grow in some products and change the composition of the ingredients. Direct contact make-up (lipstick, mascara) that has gone bad could possibly cause infection. If the product smells bad or moldy, discard it.


Donate unopened items to shelters or half way houses. If the make up is safe for children, you could allow them to use it for dress up or Halloween.


The bathroom is one of the worst places to keep makeup due to the humidity and heat that decreases the shelf life of the product. In addition, the moment you open a package of make up, oxygen begins to destroy it. If you buy make up in small sizes, you have a greater chance to use it all before it: smaller quantities use less space.

Once you determine the make up you want to keep and use, sort your make up into products that you use on a daily basis and those for just special occasions. Purchase or devise separate storage containers in which to organize the make up. Choose organizers that allow you to view all the items at one time so you will know when you need to replace a product.

Store materials of the same type together like lip liners and lipsticks. Keep eye shadow in a separate compartment. Mascara and eyeliner should be together. Don’t forget to have a place for brushes, cotton balls, q-tips. Be sure to put each item away in its proper place so you will know where it is for the next time you want to use it.

Select a place far from the bathroom to keep the cosmetics such as in a bedroom dresser.

Miscellaneous Mess

For all that other stuff that has crept into the medicine cabinet and bathroom drawers that is neither medicine nor make up:

  • Return them to their original home.
  • Make a home for those you want to keep.
  • Discard or donate whatever remains.

Set a yearly medicine cabinet clean out day. It could be the day you check your smoke detector batteries. Don’t forget to give everyone a “tour” of the new “home” for all the medicines, make up and emergency information.