Don’t Store Medication in Your Bathroom Medicine Cabinet

A medicine cabinet is a great place to keep grooming tools or toiletries, but despite the name, it’s a terrible place to store medications. The temperature and humidity of a bathroom can make medications go bad more quickly than they otherwise would.



Open pill bottles viewed from overhead


© Photo: Steve Cukrov (Shutterstock)
Open pill bottles viewed from overhead

Yes, medications can expire—an expiration date will be listed somewhere on the box or bottle. But many drugs, especially those in pill form, can last for a long time (even longer than their expiration dates, in many cases)—though only if they’re stored in good conditions: cool, dry, dark places. Bathroom medicine cabinets fail two out of three: they tend to be hotspots for high temperatures and humidity.

Is It Safe to Take Expired Drugs?

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A dresser drawer or a kitchen cabinet (away from the stove, of course) would be a better place. According to Prescription Hope, a company that offers reduced cost medications to low-income patients, every medication has its own ideal storage conditions, so it’s a good idea to do a little research—which could be as simple as reading the fine print on the paperwork the pharmacy includes alongside your bottle of pills.

Also think about who can access the medications, since you’ll want to keep them away from kids and pets. It’s not unreasonable to keep meds in a lockbox to thwart marauding toddlers, and the FDA recommends locking up anything that might appeal to curious teens.

Storing Your Medicine | HealthDay

This post was originally published in April 2016 and updated in October 2020 with fresh links and a new header photo, as well as a copy edit to align it with current Lifehacker style.

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