A recent trend featured in television shows has people organizing their pantries, closets, shelves, and countertops using clear acrylic containers. They are removing products from their original packaging to use color and space in a more pleasing way.
While I understand how satisfying this may be (hello, uniformly sized containers of colorful pasta and rice!), or how tempting it may be to stage a room for the perfect Instagram or TikTok moment, some things really need to stay in their original containers, specifically medications and cleaning products.
Both prescription and over-the-counter medicines need to be kept in their original packaging and stored up, away, and out of sight. From a child’s perspective, a clear container of colorful pills may look like a candy jar, and we don’t want them tempted to get into that container. It’s also important to keep medicine in its original package to ensure the right person is taking the correct dose of the correct medicine, and to have directions and side effects on hand for each medication.
If you want to store multiple containers of medicine together, consider putting the containers together in an opaque (not see-through) container to make them just a little less obvious to curious children. For example, my son’s medications are in their original containers in one bin and my medications are in their original containers in another bin.
Spray bottles have on/off nozzles, and detergent packets and other cleaning products are often sold in child-resistant containers. Pretty glass or plastic see-through containers usually don’t have these protections.
While it may be tempting to repackage these products to “decorate” or “style” a laundry area or storage closet, they need to be kept in their original containers. Cleaning products often have instructions for what to do if the product gets on skin or eyes and knowing its ingredients can be critical for poison control. It’s also helpful to have instructions from the packaging around so you’ll know if, for example, you need to use it in an area with fresh air or wear gloves while using it.
Even cleaning products that are “all natural,” organic, or even homemade still need to be stored safely. If you make your own products and you’re not using child-resistant containers, they absolutely need to be stored up, away, and out of sight, preferably in a locked cabinet, and used when children are not home or sleeping.
Still want to use those fancy containers? Try organizing similar products - in their original containers - in an acrylic container. For example, there’s a high shelf in my hall closet with several acrylic containers. One contains all my son’s medications, another contains extra toothbrushes, another has travel-size bottles of lotion, and I have a couple opaque (not see through) containers in my laundry area with sponges and other small cleaning supplies.
Laura Dattner is a research writer in the Center for Injury Research and Policy. With both a health communications and public health background, she works to translate pediatric injury research into meaningful, accurate messages which motivate the public to make positive behavior changes.
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