Spring is the time a lot of us will go through and do a thorough
cleaning of our home. We pull back the furniture, wash the
curtains, and scrub the windows. This is a great time to also clean
out one of those forgotten cabinets in our home - the medicine
Many of us store medications "just in case" we need them.
However, most medications, even over-the-counter ones, expire after
a few years and are no longer effective.
The American Pharmacists Association (APhA) has come up with the
following guidelines for cleaning out your medicine cabinet:
- Check the date on everything in the medicine cabinet and
dispose of anything that has expired. Prescription drugs typically
have the date printed on the bottle label or on the original
- Properly dispose of any drugs not used within the past 12
- If you no longer need a prescription, properly dispose of it.
Do not share prescription medications with others.
- If you can't identify a medicine, or if it is no longer in its
original container, properly dispose of it.
- Properly dispose of medicines that have changed color, odor or
- Store medicines in a secure area with low humidity, a stable
temperature and adequate lighting.
- Do not flush unused or expired medications and do not pour them
down the sink or drain. Check to see if your community has a
medication disposal program or dispose of medication properly in
the household trash.
- Before disposing of medications in the trash, pour them into a
sealable plastic bag. If the medication is a solid pill, liquid
capsule, etc. add water to dissolve it first. It is a good idea to
add kitty litter, sawdust, coffee grounds or any material that
mixes with the medication to make it less appealing to children and
pets in the event they get into the garbage.
- Before disposing of your medication containers in the garbage
or recycle bin, be sure to remove all identifying personal
- APhA has a website where you can find out more information on
how to properly dispose of medications at SMARxTDisposal.net.