How To Legally Dispose Of Medication

From the Desk of Clearissa’s Command Center – Divinely Organized

How To Legally Dispose Of Medication

Today’s discussion is a serious one. We all have old, unused medications, both over-the-counter and prescribed. Disposing of old and/or unused medication requires some thought and planning. I have done the research and there are several legal and safe ways to clean out/purge and organize your medicine cabinet or drawer.

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  • If you are like me, you thought flushing unused or outdated medications is the proper way to dispose of them; however, that is not appropriate. Visit the FDA website for a list of medications that are safe to flush. There is useful information on this site.
  • You can also contact your pharmacy or city or county government’s household trash and recycling service to see if there is a medicine take-back program in your community. This organization can also explain any special rules regarding which medicines can be taken back.
  • If your community does not have a take-back program, the FDA suggests the following for disposing of your old medications with your regular household trash.

o    Mix medicines (do NOT crush tablets or capsules) with an unpalatable substance such as kitty litter or used coffee grounds.

o    Place the mixture in a container such as a sealed plastic bag; and

o    Throw the container in your household trash.

o    Before throwing out your empty pill bottle or another empty medicine packaging, remember to scratch out all information on the prescription label to make it unreadable.


Let’s move on to the steps of organizing your medicine cabinet.

  1. Remember to set your timer or alarm on your cell phone so that you do not get involved and spend more than the allotted 10 minutes (that would be a disaster). Just kidding, I realize sometimes organizing can become addictive.
  2. First step, by now you know the routine, pull everything out of the cabinet and wipe it out. Always start with a clean slate.
  3. Now that the cabinet is empty and clean, inspect your medications.
  4. Separate the expired or old medications and the valid ones you intend to keep.
  5. All expired medications should be disposed of in one of the ways suggested above.
  6. Ensure the meds that you are keeping are in child-proof bottles.
  7. Return the medication that you are keeping to the medicine cabinet or drawer.
  8. Remember to scratch off all of the information on the label s of the medication bottles before discarding. Labels should be unreadable.

Medicine Cabinet

There you have it…a 10-minute organization tip under your organization belt.

Note:  Be sure to follow the FDA guidelines to properly dispose of old medications.


Remember the rules for disposing of medications include both over the counter medications (aspirin, allergy and cold remedies, even old band aides that will no longer stick, etc.) as well as prescription drugs.

Medicine Cabinet

Enjoy your 10 minutes of organizing and remember to be safe when disposing of medications.

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22 thoughts on “How To Legally Dispose Of Medication

  1. Such an important post everyone needs to read.

  2. Thank you Candy! I thought so too.

  3. Thank you for the tips! Our medicine cabinet definitely needs ten minutes of attention! 😉 -Marci @ Stone Cottage Adventures

  4. A great post for all and an organizing how to as well. Shared on Fb, G+, Pn, and Tw ♥

  5. Who knew that flushing was wrong?? I love that picture with all the old tincture and medicine bottles.
    🙂 gwingal

  6. Hi Nikki,

    I learned a lot researching for this article. I was shocked to find out that flushing was not advised as well. 🙂

  7. Hey Dee. Thank you. 🙂

  8. Hi Marci,

    You are very welcome. The research for this article was very enlightening to me as well. Good luck with your medicine cabinet. It will only take you about 10-minutes. 🙂

  9. Happy to share this post. I am OCD on organization (LOL..according to my family) but most of all, your article. I am a retired RN and did Home Health visits for 19 of my 43 years. Helping our patients to properly dispose of their medications is very important. You did great research.

  10. Good to know! TFS!

  11. Hi Amy, you are very welcome. I hope the info is useful.

  12. Awww that means so much coming from a health professional Pamela. I appreciate the feedback and it’s good to know the information is helpful.

  13. This is a great reminder for all of us. I knew about this because when my mamma passed away I had to get rid of her meds. Thank you for the great info.

  14. Hi Marisa,

    Thank you and so sorry about your mom.

  15. MY pharmacy has medicine disposable bags. I grabbed a few last time I was there as we have been working on decluttering our bathroom.

  16. I was JUST trying to figure out what to do with mine, then came across your post on Dr. Ho’s link up. Perfect timing! Thank you!!

  17. Oh great Laura. I am happy the timing was so perfect. You are very welcome. 🙂

  18. Absolutely great to know. I will ask the next time I’m in my pharmacy. I use CVS mostly. Such a large chain, they should have some. Thanks again.

  19. This was a very important post with valuable information. I agree we all have outdated medications that need to be disposed of correctly. Thank you for the information Clearissa!

  20. You are welcome Teresa. I had some pills left over from a surgery I had had years ago and was thinking of flushing them. However, that week I received a notice in a spam email about the dangers of flushing meds so I did some research and low and behold, the spam was right and it was right on time as well. I’m glad it was useful to you as well.

  21. Our pharmacy has a “yellow jug” collection bin. Really appropriate programs like that so we keep our environment safe! Good info.

  22. Thank you Ellen. Sounds like your pharmacy is doing it right and getting the word out. Thank you for stopping by.

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