HDYDI: Keeping Track of Meds

With seven people in the house we have a lot of germs.  Even though I’ve become quite the germaphobe, sickness happens.  I used to have baskets of medicine and first aid supplies and it was just all thrown in the cabinet (or two or three cabinets).  That system worked for a while, but it wasn’t efficient and I found myself chunking so many unopened bottles of expired medications and 2-3 half-used bottles of another.

I detest inefficiency.

In an effort to curb the waste, organize what we had and make it accessible and easy to find, I created three baskets:

Child Medicine

Adult Medicine

First Aid Supplies

I placed the appropriate medicine/supplies in each basket, made a tag with my handy laminator (thanks for getting me addicted, Ali), strung it on with some twine and voila.  Who knew cold medicine could get me so excited?  I found the baskets at Target, my favorite place next to the Container Store, for $6, everything else I had here.  I threw out the expired medications (trash can, not the toilet) and recycled the boxes.  I made sure to put the pills in my kids used pullups – ick – so no one would be tempted to take them.

About twice a year, usually before cold/flu season and before summer arrives, I go through the baskets, getting rid of old stuff and stocking up on things I know we’ll need for that season.  Just think about doing it around Daylight Savings Time.

For the child medicine basket I found these great dosing guides online.  My pediatrician gave them to me a while back, but it was a huge 8.5″x11″ sheet and because it was unlaminated, it kept getting torn and unreadable.  So, I shrunk both sheets down – one for acetaminophen and one for ibuprofen – laminated them and tucked them in the back of the basket for easy reference.  All the little dosing cups, syringes and smaller bottles of medicine got put into a smaller basket so they don’t roll around.  The forehead thermometer wasn’t cheap, but it has been awesome!  I can wipe it down with alcohol between sick kids and I keep the instruction booklet tucked behind the dosing sheets in case I need it.

Happily, the adult medicine basket only has a few cold/allergy meds, along with some cough drops.  I consider it a mild success when your basket has “room to grow” as you get older!

The first aid supply basket is probably the one that gets the biggest workout at our house.  I put the things we use the most up front – neosporin and bandaids.  After all of Luke’s hospital stays, we scored some great stuff like steri-strips and unisolve.  Those are all in the back, along with the first aid scissors and tape.  That awesome ice pack was a Container Store find.  Don’t you remember having one of those as a kid?  It leaked everywhere!  This one is just as cute, but doesn’t leak.  Woo hoo.

It’s probably worth mentioning we keep all these baskets on a high shelf in our master closet, off the bathroom.  That’s usually where all the “doctoring” takes place and it removes the temptation for my children to do it themselves.  All our babysitters know the location of these baskets, but we just ask that they text us before dosing anything.  Bandaids are the exception 🙂  I should buy stock in that company.  Two of the kids have a daily medication and I keep those two in our kitchen, away from the hot stove, but out of their reach.  It just wasn’t practical to keep them in these baskets.

Better run, I hear a reason to use the first aid basket!


  1. christine on February 6, 2012 at 3:26 pm

    I am totally do this!! My medicine shelf in the kitchen is a complete disaster!

  2. Carolina on February 6, 2012 at 9:39 pm

    Looking forward for this proyect. I need this too! Can you tell me where to get that laminator. I don’t have one and it looks like I really need one with all the projects in mind. Thanks for sharing.


  3. Kathryn on February 6, 2012 at 10:02 pm

    Office Max – and it was even on sale!

  4. Michelle F. on February 7, 2012 at 11:40 am

    Wow! Come organize my house anytime…(What prayers do you need right now for Luke?)

  5. Wiley on February 8, 2012 at 2:46 pm

    I somehow totally missed the detail of you throwing out pills in uesd pullups!

    Other than the one day a year when the city does the expired medication take back day, I never really know what you’re supposed to do with them. I’m pretty sure I don’t do it right now, but the idea of using a dirty diaper is at least intriguing.

  6. Kathryn on February 8, 2012 at 2:48 pm

    Elizabeth, when does the city do that? Awesome! Everywhere I read said don’t throw them down the toilet (bad for the water supply), but the suggestions were to throw them out with something unappealing like kitty litter. I don’t have cats, but the kids’ diapers work!

  7. Leslie on August 1, 2012 at 3:43 pm

    Where did you get those awesome green baskets?! Love them!!

    • Kathryn on August 1, 2012 at 3:47 pm

      Target, on sale. Double win!

  8. Zoe on August 4, 2012 at 12:09 pm

    Hi! What a great blog and website. I have book marked you! Over here in the UK we are asked not to bin any meds as there is a concern about them getting in the water supply through ground water. We just bag em up and take them to the pharmacy. I do that when I am restocking so they at least get some business too. Take care. Love Zoe x

    • Kathryn on August 5, 2012 at 12:02 am

      I need to find a pharmacy that takes back old meds. Thanks for the reminder!

  9. kraft on August 4, 2012 at 11:51 pm

    I just stumbled upon this post (one of the side benefits of seeing the admin e-mails for the site!). This is excellent. With O’s allergies and eczema, we have a mini-pharmacy in our house.

    I think I know what I”m going to do tomorrow for my offline time.

    • Kathryn on August 5, 2012 at 12:02 am

      It was a quick and easy project, Kraft. Have fun!

  10. GB on February 16, 2013 at 9:53 am

    You can buy medication disposal envelopes at Walgreens and CVS. They’re about $5 each but include the postage. Sometimes they’re hard to find, but ask the pharmacist. You just fill it up and drop it in the mail (there is a short list of meds that can’t be mailed, mostly controlled substances like some strong painkillers). Everything is properly disposed of, so no environmental or abuse concerns!

    • Kathryn on February 18, 2013 at 1:09 pm

      Thank you for posting – what a great resource!

  11. {Before & After} The Master Closet on March 5, 2014 at 7:30 am

    […] I’ve blogged about our medicine baskets before, inspired by Jen at iHeartOrganizing. Now, the baskets are within reach for adults, but out of the way for kids. Usually every 6-9 months I toss the expired meds and reorganize what’s left. So far, it’s been a great system. […]

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