January is a great time to get the medicine cabinet cleaned out.

In fact, the American Pharmacists Association encourages everyone to make an annual New Years clean out of their medicine cabinets.

Not only will you be reducing clutter and gaining more space, but you may also be securing your health. Old medications and cosmetics can at best be ineffective and at worse be dangerous.

So, pick a day this month to get ‘er done!

Medicine cabinets can quickly become filled with all sorts of expired and unused medication.

This is because each month, especially in the winter, can bring new conditions and ailments.

The first thing you should toss is old or expired medications.

The obvious reason is that they can degrade, become ineffective or make you sick. But there is another reason for tossing those old medications.

With extra medication around, you might inadvertently take the wrong one by mistake. Eliminating extra unused medication can also eliminate that risk.

Extra unused medication also carries the risk of being misused or abused. Unfortunately, someone else may decide to take advantage of it.

While many of use grew up with the direction to dispose of medication by flushing it, we now know that flushed medications do get into the water system and can be consumed in drinking water.

Properly disposing of medication is very important. Either throw them in the trash or dispose of them through a community disposal program.

To avoid anyone getting into the medication, such as children or pets, place it first in a sealable plastic bag.

If the medication is in a solid form, such as a pill, add water or dissolve the medication.

Then add something to make it unappealing, such as cat litter, sawdust or even coffee grounds. Seal the bag and then dispose of it in the trash.

Cosmetics and lotions should be tossed if they are opened and 12 months old (or older).

Mascara or anything that goes near the eyes should be tossed after four month because it probably has high levels of bacteria.

The same is true for any age cosmetic that has an off color or smell.