Proper Storage and Disposal of Unwanted Medications

  • October 05, 2016
  • |Quartz
As you know, information is always subject to change.
There may have been updates since this blog post was published.
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One of the proper ways to dispose of your unwanted medications is to check with your local pharmacists first to see if there is a drop-off site.

Storage and Disposal of Unwanted Drugs

It is important to perform a yearly medication cabinet check-up to look for expired drugs or ones you no longer use. While medications may be a part of managing your overall health, both prescription and non-prescription medications can be harmful if not used safely. Managing medications includes appropriate storage and disposal of medications that are no longer being used.

Where can I dispose of medication that is expired or no longer needed?

Check with your local pharmacist for recommendations. Several community pharmacies support the medication Take-Back effort and can assist you with medication disposal.

If a drop-off site is not available, do NOT flush your medications, but rather, dispose of them in the garbage. This is especially important when there is risk of accidental poisoning, overdose or theft. It is better to dispose of drugs than to keep them. To dispose of medications in the trash, be sure to –

  • Remove all labels that identify the medication or personal information contained on the prescription
  • Make them unattractive to children, pets or thieves by dissolving them in a small amount of alcohol or crush them and add to dirt, coffee grounds or kitty litter
  • Place them into a second container or bag and hide them in with your trash


More details are available from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA):

For those in Dane County, bring your medications to the FREE medication drop off
locations. There are 13 MedDrop box locations open and available year-round to get rid of unwanted and expired medications. A list of locations is available on

Not in Dane County?

Check for your local county Hazardous Waste drop-off available in your communities.
Consumers may also contact the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) call center at 800.882.9539 to locate an authorized drop-off center in their community.


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