Safe Medicine Disposal FAQ

Question 1: Why should I dispose of medicine in my home?

Answer: Disposing of medicines in your home can reduce the risk of children getting into those medicines. You can do this by disposing of medicines with a passed expiration date or with medicines you are no longer using.  Regularly checking the medicines in your home and safely disposing of the ones that are no longer needed can help keep children in your home safer.

Question 2: What is the safest way to dispose of medicines in my home?

Answer: The safest way to dispose of medicines that are no longer needed is to physically remove them from the home by using one of the following two options:

Option 1: Community Take-Back Events and Medicine Drop-Off Sites

Many communities have a medicine take-back program to collect and safely dispose of your unused or expired medicines, either on specific drug take-back days or year-round. To find a medicine drop-off location in your community, visit takebackday.dea.gov or https://safe.pharmacy/drug-disposal/.  

Option 2: Household Disposal

If a medicine drop-off location is not an option, don’t worry. Most medicines can be disposed of safely in household trash by following these steps:

  1. Mix medicine with something unappealing such as coffee grounds, dirt or kitty litter.
  2. Seal medicine in a plastic bag or other container.
  3. Throw the sealed bag or container into your household trash can.
  4. Remove personal information from the medicine bottle or package.

Question 3: I’ve heard of other people disposing of medicines by flushing them down the toilet. Is this safe for me to do?

Answer: Community drop-off sites are the safest option to dispose of medicine. If a drop-off site is not possible, then it is true that some medicines, especially those that can cause severe harm when not used correctly, not only can, but should, be flushed down a toilet. Before you flush any medicines, however, make sure they are on the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) list of medicines recommended for disposal by flushing. If the medicine is not on the list and you do not have a drop-off site in your community, then follow the four steps listed above for household disposal or any disposal instructions that may come with your medicine.

For more medicine safety tips visit www.safekids.org/medicinesafety.