Disposing of Prescription Drugs

Expired and unused prescription drugs should be disposed of safely. This is a page about disposing of prescription drugs.


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I got this tip from Hospice. Sometimes we all have expired medications, prescription change medications or left over medications from pass away loved ones. This nurse told me to dispose of them by adding them to coffee grounds or soiled diapers. This stops people who go through trash cans from getting them or contaminated by them. This is vital when those medications are narcotics. He said that putting them down the toilet was not the way to dispose of them.

By Virginia G. from Porterville, CA

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Until recently I didn't have to worry about this question because I hadn't had to take anything except for vitamins most of my life. In the past four months, I now have a few different medications that are not working for me or had a bad reaction to so did some searching about what to do with them.


To keep our waterways and public drinking water safe, to keep medications out of the wrong hands and to ensure your general identity and medical identity are safe here is the FDA link regarding how to properly dispose of stale dated or unused over the counter and prescription medications:

By Deeli from Richland, WA

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If you have any unused prescription drugs around the house you can dispose of them safely on Saturday, April 27th, 2013 at one of the National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day events. Follow this link to find a collection box near you.



Even if you miss the day the link has information about where you can take old medication any day of the year.

Experts don't recommend flushing prescription drugs down the toilet or disposing of them in your trash since they dissolve and can harm wildlife. However, it is very important to get old prescription drugs out of your house.

Many drugs pose a danger to children so removing them once they are unneeded can help make your home safer. In addition, expired drugs can lose their efficacy, so you're better off getting a new prescription rather than holding onto an old one for years just in case.

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I went to get my flu shot and I am pleased to say we now have a medication disposal drop off box at our local CVS.

Safe Disposal of Medicine - disposal box at pharmacy

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Whether the prescription is for people or pets, most of us can find at least one or two bottles containing unused or outdated medications in our medicine cabinet.

The Green Way to Get Rid of Unused Prescription Drugs

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Our doctor's office has a drop off box for expired medications, which makes getting rid of them very easy. However, we aren't there very often so I collect any that we have in a large plastic container.

meds in container

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It's time to clean out your medicine chest. Be ruthless and discard ANY medicine which is past it's expiration date (adverse drug reactions is the 5th leading cause of DEATH in the USA).

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ThriftyFun is one of the longest running frugal living communities on the Internet. These are archives of older discussions.

October 7, 2010

Cleaning Out the Medicine Chest: Medicine Disposal

Resolve to clean out your medicine chest, never use medications that are not prescribed for you, are expired or which cannot be identified.

The proper way to dispose of unused medications:


  • DO NOT FLUSH medicine down the toilet or pour down the drain.
  • Place in a plastic bag and crush solid medications, then mix with water and kitty litter (This is how Hospice does it) or coffee grounds. Dispose of in the regular garbage.
  • OR talk to your pharmacist. They can guide you on medication disposal.
  • Dispose of any expired medications
  • Dispose of any prescription medications that you are not currently using under the care of the prescribing physician. That means the pain killer prescribed for you when you had that hernia surgery in July should be discarded.
  • Remove or destroy all identifying personal information from medication labels before placing in the trash.
  • Replenish items so you will be prepared when Junior wakes up at 3 am with a fever.
  • Always take medications according to their written directions (don't exceed dosages, take more frequently or mix with alcohol, etc.)
  • And lastly, make sure you read the label prior to taking any medication.

    Package inserts can change and some over the counter medications may not be safe to take with your prescriptions. When in doubt, consult your pharmacist. Always report ALL medications you take to your doctor-this includes your herbal supplements and any over the counter medications. Be safe, not sorry.

By Diana from Prospect, KY


Cleaning Out the Medicine Chest: Medicine Disposal

Our Hazardous Waste collection accepts meds. Look and see if your community/city has a haz mat office/collection. (01/10/2009)

By Shirley

Cleaning Out the Medicine Chest: Medicine Disposal

If you do not have a problem with someone stealing your medicines, and if they are still within a year of prescription date, I would not recommend destroying pain medication that was prescribed for an earlier ailment.


I remember once when my son was very young, he woke up in the middle of the night with a severe earache. I called the doctor on call who asked me to check my medicine cabinet to see what I had on hand. I listed the drug items in my cabinet and locked medicine box and when I mentioned that I had a prescription cough syrup that had codeine it, he prescribed that I give him some of that. He was not coughing so I would never have thought to give him that. My son was then able to sleep until we could get him into his regular doctor the next morning. So you really never know when an emergency will arise where it might be needed. (01/10/2009)

By Noella

Cleaning Out the Medicine Chest: Medicine Disposal

I work in a Pharmacy. We have a medication disposal drum that we fill, and when needed, we call a company who picks up the drum and incinerates it. Most Pharmacies carry one so if you need to dispose of medications, just take it to your local Pharmacist. (01/10/2009)

By Ragteller

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