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Give Your Medicine Cabinet a Spring Cleaning

With springtime just around the corner, many people will be giving their homes a spring cleaning. This is a good time to do the same with your medicine cabinet and get rid of any old or unused medications.

It’s important at all times to keep track of when your medications expire and make sure you do not take any after they expire. Always be aware of the expiration date and check for any specific instructions regarding when to discard your medication.

When It’s Time Proper disposal of both prescription and over-the-counter medications can prevent accidental misuse or intentional abuse. Follow U.S. Food and Drug Administration guidelines for home disposal:

  • Go through your medications and check the labeling and any patient information to see if there are specific disposal instructions. Follow any instructions provided for safe disposal.
  • Do not flush medications down the toilet, unless the label instructs you to do so. According to the FDA, a small number of medicines may be especially harmful if taken by someone other than the person for whom the medicine was prescribed. Many of these have instructions to immediately flush them down the sink or toilet when they are no longer needed. For a list of medicines recommended for disposal by flushing, click here.
  • If there are no instructions provided, take the medication out of the original container and place it in a non-see-through container. Mix it with an undesirable substance, such as dirt, used coffee grounds or kitty litter. Be sure to scratch out all identifying information on the prescription label before throwing it away.

You can also take advantage of medication take-back programs that allow the public to bring unused drugs to a central location for proper disposal. The Drug Enforcement Administration holds national take-back events in the spring and fall of each year.

Find permanent local sites for take-back events in your community by using the AWARE Rx Drug Disposal Locator Tool.

The information provided within this site is for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for consultation with your physician or healthcare provider.