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How to Put Together a Medical Cabinet at Home

medicine cabinet

Table of Contents

With many available choices out there, it can be tricky to figure out what medicine cabinet supplies are worth having on hand.

To cut through the confusion, we created our own list of essential medicines to have in your cabinet at home.

What is a Medicine Cabinet?

In addition to a first aid kit, a well stock medicine cabinet is a must-have for every home. It helps families prepare for and treat various illnesses that both children and adults might experience.

A medicine cabinet is stocked with essential items used in health care and wellness. It emerged in the early part of the twentieth century to develop the consumer market for the goods and tools for personal care.

With good management, this cabinet can be made for proper usage of medications at home.

The Absolute Essentials for Any Medicine Cabinet

Every home should have these basics on hand.

Pain relievers

Pain relievers come in handy when experiencing headaches, menstrual cramps, or pulled muscles. There are three main categories of pain medication – aspirin, anti-inflammatory, and acetaminophen.

  • Aspirin – for relieving minor aches, pain, and fever.
  • Anti-inflammatories – like Ibuprofen and Naproxen.
  • Acetaminophen – like Tylenol

Cough and cold medications

For chronic, persistent coughs, look for products with guaifenesin, which works by thinning the mucus in the air passages and clearing the airways.

For cold medications, decongestants will help with congestion associated with the common cold or virus.

Allergic medications

Allergic medications have multiple uses, including treatment for hay fever, insect bites, sting relief, chicken pox, and severe allergic reactions (anaphylaxis).

Digestive aids

There are three types of medication you can use to address digestive issues. These include:

  • Tums or Rolaids – for mild, food-related heartburn.
  • Mylanta or Maalox – for chronic heartburns. These are longer lasting than fast-release chewable like Tums.
  • Zantac or Prevacid – for long-acting relief.

Multipurpose antibiotic ointments

Multipurpose antibiotic ointments are commonly under the brand name Neosporin or Bacitracin. These topical medications help prevent possible infections arising from cuts, scrapes, and mild skin abrasions.


All medicine cabinets should have a basic, inexpensive digital thermometer, which is a device used to measure body temperature. It can be used orally for toddlers and children and rectally for infants.


Every home should keep bottles of sunblock in their medicine cabinet. Choose a sunblock with barrier forms that contain compounds that help block the sun and are safe for any age. Pick those who have SPC 40 or 50 claims for additional skin benefit.

A first aid kit

A predictable item in a medicine cabinet is a first aid kit. It should contain the basics such as bandages, tape, sterile wipes, tweezers, scissors, and an assortment of plasters.

Take all medications and supplies above as directed by the package labels. See a doctor if you are dealing with chronic conditions and if the symptoms did not improve after several days of home treatment.

How often should I refresh the contents of my medical cabinet

Every six months, check for any expired medications and throw them out. Use your senses as a guide if the label does not contain an expiration date.

Throw any medication that has changed colour, texture, or smell. When in doubt, it is best to toss it as old medicines lose their effectiveness and may even cause harm.

Adults must also ensure proper storage of these medications to prevent accidental ingestions. Keep medicines out of children’s reach and away from places that small children go often. If possible, keep the medicine in its original packaging.


Refreshing the contents of medicine cabinets regularly can keep everyone at home prepared for life’s small emergencies. Throw away any expired or damaged medications, and as your circumstances change, so should your stash.

It is also a good idea to learn basic first aid to know how to respond to various emergencies using medications and other medical supplies.

Visit our course page to find out more.

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