How to Dispose of Medication Safely

Nearly 70% of American adults take prescription medication every day. When you consider that America has a population of over 300 million, that’s a lot of pills and prescriptions being used and filled every day. However, not all of those pills are used, and in those cases, it’s important to know how to dispose of that unused or expired medication safely. 

The Best Way to Dispose of Medication Safely 

The recommended way of how to dispose of unused or expired medication, from the DEA and HHS to state health services, is dropping off the medication at a site specifically designed for it. 

In the past decade, many pharmacies, healthcare organizations, and even local police departments have installed takeback services. This is both in an effort to protect the environment and public, and to keep controlled substances out of the hands of people who would misuse them. 

If you’re looking for a drop-off location near you, Medical Waste Pros operates a directory, you can check with your local CVS, Walgreens, or pharmacy, or you can call your local police station on their non-emergency line to determine what drop-off location is most convenient for you. 

how to dispose of medication safely, steps by effectiveness

Before you drop-off your medication, make sure you take off any labels or other identifying information on the bottle to protect your privacy. 

How to Dispose of Medication in Other Ways 

While drop-off services are the preferred method, they’re not the only one. A variety of reasons could prevent drop-off services from being a feasible option, and in that case, there are three main options. 


The second best option of how to dispose of medication comes in the form of a mail-back service. Often the same places with drop-off services will have a mail-back service as well. 

However, when using mail-back services, it’s important to ensure that it’s legitimate. A real mail-back package will come with pre-paid postage, a unique identification number, and will be pre-addressed to a DEA authorized medication disposal site. 

Trash Disposal 

If there aren’t mail-back or drop-off services near you, or they don’t work for your situation, there are ways to make trash disposal safe. 

DisposeRx offers packets that can be used at home that when mixed with drugs make them safe for disposal. 

In addition, you can mix the pills in a container with something like cat litter, coffee grounds, or another substance that would make them unappealing. Then, seal the mixture, remove the label from your drug bottle, and toss them into the trash. While not ideal, it is better than just simply throwing them away as is. 


While ‘sewering,’ or flushing medication down a drain or toilet is an alternative option, it should only be done for medications that are on the FDA’s flush list. Many medications will also indicate on their label if they’re approved for flushing down the toilet or sink. 

Why It’s Important 

The importance of properly disposing unused or expired medications is twofold, but they’re both centered around protecting the people in your community. 

The first part of it means protecting those around you, particularly children, infants, and animals that might accidentally ingest the drugs if they’re not disposed of properly. 

The second part comes in protecting your community’s soil and water. Prescription drugs when disposed of improperly can leak into our soil and water, contaminating the food we eat and the water we drink every day.

Dispose of Your Medication Safely with Medical Waste Pros 

Whether you’re looking for drop-off or mailback medication disposal services, Medical Waste Pros can help. We partner with safe and regulated drop-off and mail-back partners across the country who can ensure your old and unused medication will be disposed of properly. Give us a call at (888) 755-6370, or fill out the form on the page, and we’ll find you a service or drop-off location that works for you in just minutes.