What's the best way to safely dispose of unused or expired medications? The most efficient and safest way to dispose of most types of unused or expired medicines (both prescription and over the counter) is to drop off the medicine at a drug take back site, location, or program as soon as possible after they are no longer needed. Find the closest locations to you here.
Safe Disposal of Medications at Home
If you cannot take your medications to a drug take back location promptly, please DO NOT flush your medications! Instead, follow these simple steps to dispose of most medicines in your trash at home:
Step 1: Mix medicines (liquid or pills; do not crush tablets or capsules) with an unappealing substance such as dirt, cat litter, or used coffee grounds;
Step 2: Place the mixture in a container such as a sealed plastic bag;
Step 3: Throw away the container in your trash at home; and
Step 4: Delete all personal information on the prescription label of empty medicine bottles or medicine packaging, then trash or recycle the empty bottle or packaging.
Safe Disposal of "Sharps"
Also, it is important to dispose of "sharps" in the proper and safe way. The FDA recommends a two-step process for properly disposing of used needles and other sharps.
Step 1: Place all needles and other sharps in a sharps disposal container (an empty liquid laundry detergent bottle is ideal) immediately after they have been used. This will reduce the risk of needle sticks, cuts, and punctures from loose sharps. Sharps disposal containers should be kept out of reach of children and pets.
Step 2: Overfilling a sharps disposal container increases the risk of accidental needle-stick injury. When your sharps disposal container is about three-quarters (3/4) full, cap the container and dispose of it in your regular garbage can. DO NOT reuse sharps disposal containers and remember that these materials should NEVER be disposed of in your recycling can.