How to Dispose of Old Medicine: 3 Best Ways

Old medicine can be dangerous if not disposed of properly. Most people don’t know how to dispose of old medicine and throw it away. To avoid accidental or deliberate misuse, there is a need to dispose of medicines safely. It also protects the environment from hazardous residues.

Old Medicine
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How to Dispose of Old Medicine Safely?

There are various ways to dispose of old medicine that you can follow. Here we will discuss the most convenient ones:

1. Do Not Flush Unused Medicines

You should not flush most medicines down the toilet or throw them away. Many drugs are made of chemicals that do not decompose in the environment. When flushed down the toilet or sink, these residues can pollute our waterways and contaminate our drinking water. Pharmaceutical residue may be found worldwide in lakes, rivers, springs, and reservoirs.

However, certain drugs must be disposed of as soon as possible to minimize potential risks. You should flush them down the toilet to prevent someone from abusing them. These include opioid or narcotic medications that are commonly given for pain. Only flush medicines when the label specifically instructs you to do so.

2. Drug Take-back Programs

The safest way to get rid of old medicines is by taking them to local drug take-back programs. These types of programs properly dispose of medicines by incinerating them. There are usually drop boxes available for unused medicine, or on special days, you may be able to bring these hazardous household items (like expired medicines) to a designated location in your town for safety reasons.

Contact your local trash and recycling service to see where you can chuck away your medicines and when the next collection is scheduled in your area. You may also visit the US Drug Enforcement Administration’s website to look for a drug take-back program near you.

3. Household Disposal

If you don’t have a take-back program, you may dispose of your medicines with the family trash. To do so securely:

  • Combine the medicine with other noxious rubbish like cat litter or used coffee grounds to extract it from its container. Do not pulverize pills or capsules, as this might cause them to break apart.
  • Put the mixture into lock-tight plastic bags or containers so they don’t cause leakage, and then get rid of them in the trash.
  • Remove your prescription number and any personal information from the bottle of medicine. Remove or cover it with a permanent marker or duct tape to prevent scratches.
  • You can dispose of the pill bottles and containers with your other trash or wash them and reuse them for screws, nails, and other objects around the house.

The Bottom Line

Proper disposal of old medicines can help protect you and the environment. Follow these simple steps to dispose of your unused or old medicines safely. By taking a few minutes to discard your medicines properly, you can help keep our communities safe from potential harm.


How long can the medicine be stored safely before it needs to be discarded?

Every six months, check the expiration date on all medicines you have in your home. You should not take any chances with a medicine that might not work properly past its expiration date. Also, don’t use any medicines that are discolored, dried out, or crumbling.

How do you dispose of expired medicines in the pharmacy?

Encapsulation, flushing it down the sewer, and incineration are three options for disposing of expired and unused drugs. Despite the precautions that come with these procedures, they are ineffective.

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