Safely dispose of unwanted medications in your home

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Young woman in casual clothes with yellow gloves cleaning furniture in living room at home.

Are you in the midst of spring cleaning? While you tidy up and declutter, don’t forget your medicine cabinet! Regularly checking on your stored medications and disposing of any unused and expired medicines should be an important part of your cleaning routine.

Remember that secure storage and disposal are key safe medication-taking practices:

  • Keep medicines in a safe and secure location—a locked cabinet is best, and make sure they remain out of reach from children and pets.
  • Don’t take expired medications. These may be less effective than anticipated and may carry unexpected risks.
  • If you have unused or expired medications, properly dispose of them.

Don’t flush your medications.

Flushing medications down the toilet has been linked to water contamination, affecting local lakes and streams by disrupting the healthy water environment for fish and other wildlife. In addition, medications that are flushed are introduced to our water treatment system—your local water filtration system may not be prepared to filter all of these foreign substances. The best option to safely dispose of your unused or expired medications is through a formal drug take back event or drop box location. In some communities, you may be able to request drug deactivation pouches, which can render prescription medications ineffective.  

Here are a few things you can do right now!

  • Look through your home and medicine cabinet for any unused or expired medications. Don’t forget your furry family members—clean out old or unneeded pet medicines too. 
  • Dispose of your unused or expired medications safely.
  • The National Prescription Drug Take Back Day is coming up on April 30, 2022. Check to see if your local community is hosting an event near you! If you cannot participate on April 30, check to see if your community has a permanent drop box location.
  • If you have travel limitations, contact your local health department to see if any there are drug deactivation pouches available in your community. These are often available by request through mail and may be free of charge.
  • Be a role model – encourage your friends and family members to clean out their medicine cabinets too.

Remember, we can all promote safe medication use and make a difference in our homes and communities!

Image of an at-home lock box.
Image of a prescription drug drop box