How To Legally Dispose Of Medication

Medicine Cabinet

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  • If you are like me, you thought flushing unused or outdated medications is the proper way to dispose of them; however, that is not appropriate.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. Clearissa Coward says:

    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. 🙂

  2. Pamela Shank says:

    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.

  3. Laura says:

    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!!

  4. Teresa says:

    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!

  5. Clearissa Coward says:

    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.

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