Don't Flush Your Medications
Do you have unused or expired over-the-counter or prescription medication in your cabinet? Dispose of them properly to help prevent misuse and accidental poisonings and to protect the environment. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, as well as local organizations, host "take-back" days, when residents can bring medications to a designated site for proper disposal. Learn more about the National Prescription Drug Take-Back Initiative.
You also can pick up a drug disposal kit at Health Department offices and other locations.
General Medical Disposal Information
DON'T flush unused medicines.
Why? Because they can end up in our rivers and streams. To help protect our environment, throw unused, unwanted or expired over-the-counter and prescription medicines in the trash. Don’t flush medicines — except when specifically instructed by the label.
DO throw them in the trash.
The American Pharmacists Association recommends steps for safely disposing of pills and liquids. These steps will help prevent their misuse or accidental ingestion by children or pets.
- Keep the medicines in their original container. This will help identify the contents if they are accidentally ingested.
- Cross out your name and prescription number for safety.
- For pills: Add some salt water to start dissolving them. For liquids: Add something inedible like cat litter, dirt or ash.
- Seal the container and secure with duct or packing tape.
- Put the container in the trash as close to pickup time as possible. Do not put in the recycle bin.
- Learn how to properly dispose of needles, syringes and other medical waste from your home. (Please note: Commercial facilities, such as nursing homes, must use a licensed disposal company to get rid of their waste.)
- Find out more about drugs in our water at Fairfax County's Chemicals and Drugs in the Water page.
- Learn about the Drug Enforcement Administration's National Take-Back Initiative, which schedules periodic National Prescription Drug Take-Back Days. On these days, residents can safely dispose of unwanted, unused prescription drugs at a nearby drop-off location.