How to Get Rid of Prescription Drugs

Improper disposal of prescription drugs and over-the-counter medications can have negative effects on the environment. For example, trace amounts of flushed medications have been known to turn up in local waterways and, in some cases, in household tap water. On the other hand, unused drugs that are kept around the house can put youngsters and pets at risk of accidental poisoning from ingestion. If you have unused drugs you need to throw out, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends disposing of them in a way that will not put the environment, children and animals at risk.

  1. Remove the drugs from the containers in which they came.

  2. Mix the drugs in with used coffee grounds. If no coffee grounds are available, you can also mix the drugs with kitty litter.

  3. Place the drug mixture into a sealed container. Empty butter and sour cream tubs, or used freezer bags work well for this purpose.

  4. Remove or obscure all of your personal information from the label on the original prescription container, and toss the container in with the drugs.

  5. Throw the container into the trash and dispose of your trash as you normally would.


  • Do not ingest prescription or OTC drugs after the expiration date. Drugs can become weakened over time, which can adversely affect treatment of some medical conditions.
  • Do not toss pills directly into the trash without first sealing them into an impermeable container. Loose pills can break down and release drugs into the environment. In some cases, animals can also get into the trash and ingest these drugs.

About the Author

Barbara Stefano began writing and editing in 1990. Since then, she has served as associate editor of "The West End Word" in St. Louis, and has written for "Sauce" and "Feast" magazines, the "Leader" and "Suburban Journals" newspapers, "St. Louis Nursing News" and other respected publications. Stefano holds a Bachelor of Science in electronic media from Missouri State University-Springfield.