Getting rid of unused medications is something all of us do at some point or another. How to do it safely, though, is another story. Typical parenting moment: you reach into the medicine cabinet for vitamins or you’re hunting for ibuprofen or acetaminophen for a child’s fever and you grab a bottle of medication that, on closer examination, has an expiration date from several years ago. You realize you won’t use it. Before you toss that bottle in the trash, there are some safety precautions you can take to ensure the medication doesn’t end up in your sewer water, water source, or worse, in the hands of a curious toddler looking for treasure in the garbage can. The FDA provides detailed instructions on how to properly dispose of medications, but for the busy parent in all of us, there are three key takeaways:
1. MIX the medicines with things that bind
Take a bag of coffee grounds or kitty litter and dump the medication into it. The medication will bind with grounds or litter and be less likely to leak or spill out of the garbage once disposed. This method also discourages those curious little fingers (and hungry pets) from ingesting or getting into the medication!
2. SEAL the mixture in a container
Make sure your kitty litter/medication mixture is properly sealed in a sealed plastic sandwich bag or a take-out food container with a sealed lid before throwing in the trash.
3. THROW the mixture away
Now you’re okay to throw the medication (and binder) into the trash safely. Don’t flush medications in the toilet or dump them into a body of water of any kind.