Are your OTC meds always out of date?

How do they smell? Aspirin is rather notorious for degrading over time and smelling like vinegar. That’s because aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid) breaks down through hydrolysis into acetic and salicylic acids. I’ve had many a bottle of old aspirin smell like it should be sprinkled on French fries. :slight_smile:

Going through my mom’s stuff after she passed, I found drugs going back to the '60s. And don’t ask me about her spice rack.

No vinegar smell. Guess they’re still ok. A while back I bought some sodium acetate (sodium salt of acetic acid) for some experiments with supersaturation. Smelled and tasted exactly like salt and vinegar potato chips. Which isn’t a surprise since it’s literally salt and vinegar and what they use on the chips. Tasty!

I treat my OTC drugs like I do my salad dressings. Never look at the expiration date.

A lot of our OTC stuff is a bit past its expiration date and still in use. Generally, if it’s more than a couple years out of date, we’ll buy new stuff. We don’t keep aspirin quite that long because I read that it breaks down and becomes less effective over time. Cough syrup and things that are in solution are generally only used until the expiration date because I read that the solvent can evaporate concentrating the effective ingredients.

There was one time we needed cough syrup, the bottle was out of date, and the bottle was still 90% full. I didn’t know how much of that was evaporation and how much was from the last time we used it but I guessed that evaporation had probably been pretty minimal. I just used ever so slightly less than the recommended dose and Mrs. Charming and Rested survived just fine.

The worst I would expect with this is that the volatile organic compounds in the scent have ecaporated so it doesn’t quite smell as nice. Aside from that, I can’t imagine what bad thing would happen from using outdated baby powder.

That’s really interesting. Thanks for the link. We replace the Neosporin when it goes out of date which means the average use of a tube is somewhere between zero and one uses. Perhaps we should just give up on Neosporin altogether,

I thought the expiration dates were based on the manufacturer’s tests and that they only test under their optimal conditions (cool, dry, dark) and only for as long as they want to label the ingredient as good for. So, the upper bound they test is perhaps a couple of years. When the military did its tests, it found that the same optimal storage conditions could preserve a lot of medicines for years beyond the listed expiration dates.

The thing is, I’m not aware of anyone doing the storage tests in typical medicine cabinet conditions (slightly warmer, definitely more humid, still dark for the most part). If anyone bothered to test this, we might find that suboptimal storage conditions don’t really affect how long you can store most OTC medicines and that they are, in fact, just fine for years after the expiration date. That seems to be the lived experience of some of the people in this thread.

The OTC drugs that I most often end up throwing away are things I buy for the grandkids - the just in case stuff. They sleep over once in a while so I like to have children’s pain meds on hand. But they use it so infrequently that I always throw it away before it’s used up.

I once had a small bottle of old fashioned original Listerine that I’d stopped using when it was about 3/4ths full. Sitting untouched under the bathroom sink it eventually became about 10 years old. About half of it had evaporated during that time and taking a swig produced an instant severe burning sensation. No lasting mouth damage, but it was far beyond unusable.

Is the whiskey doctor’s orders? :slightly_smiling_face:Can you even get codeine from a doctor anymore?

I knew there was alcohol in mouthwash but I thought it was a low percentage, no way is it 21%. Seems mine is 26%. If it tasted better, I’d stop drinking beer.

I wouldn’t be surprised if the vast majority of meds are stored in these two places.

Spice racks are much more important than medication! My spice rack is always filled with fresh stuff. I know what’s important!

It never would have occurred to me to look at the date on baby powder. I bet ours is 20 years out of date.

Yes, it seems to be very common to use way out of date meds with no problems.

Yes, actually, i discussed it with my doctor. I was wondering if something nasty might grow in the syrup over time. He thought that would be enough alcohol to keep it safe.

I think i can still get codeine, but as i got a large bottle when my prior doctor retired (“I’m not sick, but I’m running low, and i don’t want my first interaction with my new doctor to be seeking narcotics”) i haven’t tried in several years.

Most of the time i just use an otc expectorant. The last time i used a lot of cough suppressant was when i had whooping cough… more than 20 years ago. Since then, It’s a rare year when I’ve used more than 1-3 doses of the codeine. But it’s nice to have around, in case i have a dry cough and can’t sleep. And i had a really unpleasant reaction to the otc cough suppressant, so I’m not going to use that.