Spring cleaning for your medicine cabinet

prescription medicine bottles medication

Spring cleaning—it’s a rite of passage as temperatures begin to heat up and the season starts to change. This year, remember to add your medicine cabinet, kitchen cupboard or wherever you keep medications to your spring-cleaning list. April 28 is National Prescription Drug Take Back Day, so the timing is perfect to see what’s hanging around in your medicine cabinet that you need to say goodbye to.

Removing old medicine from your home prevents family members from taking outdated medicine, removes the risk of self-prescribing and eliminates the risk of someone abusing or accidently ingesting the medications.

Here are some tips for spring-cleaning your medicine cabinet:

Check the dates. Throw away any item that is beyond the expiration date or has an expiration date that is no longer readable. Medications may lose their effectiveness after the expiration date. Some may even be poisonous. Remember to check over-the-counter medications, too.

Ditch any items that have changed color, smell or taste. This includes any colors that have faded because they may have been exposed to too much light.

Keep medications in their original containers. This makes them easily recognizable and provides safety because many have tamper-proof tops. If it is no longer in its original container, get rid of it.

Consider relocating your medicine. The bathroom is not the best place to store medication. Medications should be kept in a cool, dry place, away from children. Consider a drawer in your dresser or a lock box.

Prevent drug abuse. Drug abuse is on the rise, including among children and teens. Many teens admit that they take prescription medications from their parents’ or their friends’ parents’ medicine cabinets.

Dispose of medication properly to protect the environment. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency provides guidelines for disposing of medications. DO NOT flush expired or unwanted prescriptions and over-the-counter drugs down the toilet or drain unless the label or accompanying patient information specifically instructs you to do so. 

The safest and most environmentally friendly way to dispose of old or unneeded prescription medicines is to return them to a secure medication drop box. You can find medicine dropboxes at the following upstate locations:

Greenville County

Greenville County Sheriff’s Office
4 McGee St., Greenville

Greenville Memorial Hospital
701 Grove Road, Greenville

Greer Memorial Hospital
830 South Buncombe Road, Greer

Greer Police Department
102 South Main St., Greer

Hillcrest Memorial Hospital
729 S.E. Main St., Simpsonville

Travelers Rest Police Department
6711 State Park Road, Travelers Rest

Laurens County

Laurens County Memorial Hospital
22725 Highway 76 East, Clinton

Oconee County

Oconee Memorial Hospital
298 Memorial Dr, Seneca

For home disposal of medications

  • Take your prescription drugs out of their original containers.
  • Put the mixture into a disposable container with a lid, such as an empty margarine tub, or into a sealable bag.
  • Mix drugs with an undesirable substance, such as cat litter or used coffee grounds.
  • Conceal or remove any personal information, including Rx number, on the empty containers by covering it with permanent marker or duct tape, or by scratching it off.
  • The sealed container with the drug mixture, and the empty drug containers, can now be placed in the trash.

This blog is adapted from one that originally appeared in Palmetto Health’s Flourish blog.

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