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Instantly Organize Your Medicine Cabinet in 11 Simple Steps

Reign in the mess of a too-small medicine cabinet for a happier, faster morning routine.

istock/Sandy Jones

Get rid of the Ick

The medicine cabinet houses all kinds of spillable liquids from foundation to shaving cream. Start fresh: Take everything out and wipe it all down—shelves, bottles, makeup containers. Throw away any expired over-the-counter meds and dried-out makeup. While you’re at it, don’t make these bathroom cleaning mistakes.

istock/Steve Debenport

Move out your meds

Oh the irony: The medicine cabinet is actually one of the worst places to store prescription and over-the-counter drugs. Medications best maintain their effectiveness when stored at room temperature under dry conditions—and most bathrooms become steamy saunas whenever the shower runs. Find a shelf or drawer in the bedroom or kitchen (but not near the stove), out of reach of children and pets. Now your drugs will stay potent, and you’ve got the medicine cabinet space you need for bathroom essentials.


Caveat: Do not toss expired prescription drugs

Throwing them in the garbage can help someone searching for narcotics get their hands on them. Flushing them down the toilet can pollute the water supply. Your best bet: Take them to your pharmacy (many have publicized drug take-back days) or a local police department. If you must throw medicine away, “ruin” the drugs by mixing them with coffee grounds or kitty litter in a sealed plastic bag.


Put in big items first

Think toothbrushes, toothpaste, or large ointment bottles. Then you can see just how much space you have to work with for the rest of your stuff. If they take up too much room, they may need to find a new home.


Prioritize your shelves

Keep the items you use every day in easy reach on the bottom shelf. (Ideally, your cabinet has adjustable shelves to allow your largest essentials to fit within easy reach.) Less important things go up top. If you’re not using an item every week at least, move it to a longer-term storage space.


Don’t lose loose items

Stray Q-tips or lip balm tubes adding to the clutter? Put them in a clear glass container. They’ll fit the vertical space better, and you’ll be able to see exactly what’s inside.

istock/Simone Andress

Try magnetic strips for metal trinkets

What do nail clippers, tweezers, and hair clips have in common? They all stick to magnets! Put a magnetic strip on the back of the cabinet door or behind the shelves, and never think twice about where those small tools might be hiding.

istock/Aleksandr Ugorenkov

Don’t ignore the door

Your cabinet door is prime storage real estate that often goes untouched, but there are a number of ways you can customize it for your storage needs. Stick on hooks to hold small scissors or plastic pockets to hold makeup supplies, for example. There also are a number of DIY storage solutions that help you use hidden nooks around your shower, sink, and cabinets too.

isrock/Diane Diederich

Watch what rolls

Don’t risk bottles falling out every time you open the cabinet door. Invest in some mini shelves (also called vertical risers) to keep objects in place and maximize your storage space.

istock/LucA-a CAppola

Label, label, label

Small bins are perfect for makeup and toiletries, but not all of them are see-through. Create your own colorful labels to stay organized in style. These easy tricks will also instantly organize other small areas of your home.

Sources: National Library of Medicine;;;;

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest

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