RL Tips: Organizing Your Medicine Cabinet

Handy hints to help you keep your meds in place


Where do you usually keep your medicines and first-aid kit at home? Can you find it easily when you need it? Don’t be caught off-guard when the flu season arrives! The surefire cure—organize your T & B’s medicine stash.

Styling by Arlene Sanchez-Maslog. Sittings Editor: Gwyn GS Guanzon. Photographed by Miguel Nacianceno.

Read the original article ("Rx Bathroom!") in the May 2010 issue of Real Living Magazine. Download your digital copy of Real Living on the Real Living App now! Log on to for more details.  

Maximize shelves and your space.

Start by raising your medicine cabinet up several notches by keeping it organized and stylish at the same time. Here’s how:

1. Shelve it.

If your bathroom is separate from your kids’ rooms, your medicine “cabinet” doesn’t even have to be one with a Red Cross on the glass door. Use freestanding shelves or open square cubbyholes attached to the wall (find ready-built cubbies at True Value). 

2. Clean it out.

A clean medicine cabinet is a healthy one. First, take everything out of your medicine cabinet. Wipe down the sides and the shelves. Look through your toiletries and meds and throw out everything that is expired, or those with illegible labels.

3. Contain it.

For a more organized look especially if you are using open shelves, use containers with similar colors. Or if you want to make a style statement (it makes drinking your vitamins a bit easier) use out-of-the-box catchalls like jewelry boxes or cups from the kitchen for pills, cotton, and makeup, and dishes or small trays for razors and guests’ toothbrushes.

4. Keep it handy.

Place regularly used items like vitamins, moisturizers, and daily makeup on the most accessible shelf.

Examine your items.

Once the contents of your stash have been pared down and edited, make a list of items you need to stock up on, or look for additional containers to organize with.

Look at your medical supplies and toiletries and group them according to use—medicine for cough, fever, allergies, first aid supplies, and makeup, moisturizers and lotions, etc.

Important: If there is no expiry date on the medicine bottle or toiletry, check the condition of the packaging. If it’s damaged or unreadable, discard it.

Make lists.

Type up an inventory of your medicines and toiletries and where to find them. Stick it to the inside door of your cabinet, or in this case, display it in a picture frame for everyone to see, so there is no need to rifle through containers to look for aspirin.

In case you have a small cabinet or limited shelf space, don’t try to cram everything in it. Toiletries like extra bars of soap can be placed elsewhere, like in baskets or under your bathroom counter.

Group and Zip

Have one container for each type of medicine (i.e., all painkillers together, and all decongestants together). You can either use see-through or glass containers and label them. This way, you can access them easily during a medical emergency.

The next time you buy medicines, especially tablets or capsules, place them in small Ziploc or resealable plastic bags. Write the date you purchased the item and its expiration date on sticker paper and attach it to the bag.

Real Tip:

Everyone has that one piece of tablet or capsule remaining from your last bout with the flu. Store them in an opaque container like this ceramic sugar bowl, so as not to clutter your shelf. 

Make a First Aid Kit 

Aside from having Band-Aids for minor booboos, a First Aid kit is absolutely essential in any home, especially for potentially life-threatening medical emergencies. Assemble one and show every member of the house where it is. Here’s what you should stock:

  • Bandages
  • Medical adhesive tape
  • (like Leukoplast)
  • Gauze
  • Cotton
  • Cotton swabs
  • Small scissors
  • Hydrogen peroxide or alcohol
  • Iodine and/or antibiotic ointment
  • Ipecac syrup - (to induce vomiting)


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