Clean out your medicine cabinet

Tips for cleaning out your medicine cabinet:

  • Once a year, at a minimum, go through the medicine cabinet and dispose of any unwanted or expired medications.

  • Obtain a replacement prescription if necessary.

  • Medications should be stored in a hallway closet away from humidity and heat and out of reach from children.
Questions To Ask While Cleaning Out Your Medicine Cabinet:
  • Is the medication currently being used? Why is the medication still hanging around?

  • Is it expired? The expiration date for medication is the date that the manufacturer cannot guarantee its potency and safety. If there is no expiration date, use a date of one year from when the medication was originally dispensed.

  • Has the medication been properly stored? Medication should be stored according the manufacturers instructions. Usually in a cool, dry place with a consistent temperature. Like a hallway closet, not the bathroom or kitchen cabinets.

  • What is the appearance of the medication? Does it look like it is supposed to look like. Is there any change in the appearance, color, smell?

  • Generally, expired medications are not harmful. Check with your doctor or pharmacist before taking any expired medications.
Reasons Why Not To Use And Dispose of Expired Medications:
  • The medication may not be as potent and thus, less effective in treating the medical condition. This is especially a concern for the treatment of a serious or life threatening medical condition.

  • The medication may be contaminated or unsterile, as with liquid medications.

  • To prevent over medicating. The medication may have been replaced with a new prescription for the same medication, a new strength, or a new type of medication.

  • To prevent potential, harmful drug interactions with any current medications or health conditions.

  • To prevent misuse and abuse by others.
How To Properly Dispose Of Unwanted/Expired Medications:
  • Do not flush down the toilet unless the manufacturer specifically instructs this as the proper disposal method.

  • Remove or mark out any personal information from the label.

  • Mix the medication with something to make it unpalatable, such as cat liter or old coffee grounds.

  • Place the medication in a non identifiable, sealed container and discard in the trash.
Take advantage of any local community or government medication take-back programs, go to

About Jason Willman, RPh:

Jason has been a Registered Pharmacist for nearly 16 years and holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Pharmaceutical Sciences from Purdue University.

Over the course of 12 years, he held several management positions while working at Mallinckrodt Incorporated in the field of Nuclear Pharmacy.

Currently, he is working as a Pharmacist for Walgreens in San Francisco, having joined the company in March of 2007.

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