Clean Your Medicine Cabinet Out Right

Clean Your Medicine Cabinet Out Right

Are out-of-date drugs piling up in your medicine cabinet? If so, it’s time for a cabinet clean out.

One choice is to take your meds to a collection center near you on National Drug Take Back Day

All meds have a “shelf-life.” That’s the time a drug is most effective and safe. Later, it may be weak, so you may not get its full help. Some out-of-date meds may be unsafe. It’s just not a risk worth taking.

How to Dispose of Drugs
  1. To make it simpler to safely get rid of not wanted meds, the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA)  is partnering with Walgreens to expand Walgreens Safe Medication Disposal Program

    The Walgreens drug takeback kiosks give a free, year-round way to get rid of not wanted, unused or out-of-date prescription meds. You can use the kiosks to get rid of expired over-the-counter drugs too.

  2. If a site is not near you, Food and Drug Administration (FDA)   says to:
    • Call your city or county government and ask about a drug take-back program   or a central place for proper disposal of prescription drugs or other meds.
    • Follow the directions on the label or patient facts brochure that comes with the medication. Do not flush drugs down the toilet unless the label says you can.
  3. If there are no instructions for disposal and no take-back programs in your community, you can throw your prescription drugs in the trash by taking the following steps:
    • Take the medication out of its containers. Mix it with used coffee grounds, kitty litter or something else that will make the prescription drug unusable. Do NOT crush the pills.
    • Put the whole mixture in a can or sealable bag so it does not leak.
    • Remove personal information from the empty medicine containers before recycling.
  4. The FDA also has a “flush list  of drugs that are safe to flush down the toilet.

Safe medication disposal is one of the ways to make sure meds don’t harm someone else, or spoil our ground or water resources.

Sources: National drug take back day Drug Enforcement Administration, 2020; Safe medication disposal Walgreens, 2020; Safe medication disposal Food and Drug Administration, 2020; Medicines recommended for disposal by flushing only when take back options are not readily available Food and Drug Administration, 2018.

Originally published October 21, 2016,; Revised 2018, 2020