Can You Flush Pills Down The Toilet?

It’s likely that you have old, unused medications lurking in your bathroom cabinet. Left over pain medication and antibiotics are the most common prescriptions that do not get finished. Disposing of unused medications is tricky; you want to get rid of it but want to do it quickly and safely. It’s tempting to just throw them in the toilet, but can you flush pills down the toilet?

Can you Flush Pills Down The Toilet?

Sometimes, yes you can flush pills down the toilet; but not always.

The US Food & Drug Administration’s (FDA) primary concern is with keeping dangerous medications and drugs off the street and out of the wrong hands. To that end, they have a list of medications that can be flushed down the toilet when there is no other option available for safe disposal. Flushing medications is not good for the environment as many medications do not degrade quickly and can accumulate causing environmental pollution.

So, safe disposal is best. There are a number of options:

Drug Take Back Programs. This is the best, and safest, option for disposing of unused medication. Often you can drop off old medication at your local pharmacy, or there are ‘take back’ locations that operate permanently or periodically. These programs destroy and dispose of all surrendered medications ensuring they are not available for unapproved use or end up  on the street.

Pharmaceutical Donation. Some states offer pharmaceutical donation and reuse, allowing for the safe redistribution of medications to patients who are in need but perhaps cannot afford medications for their situation. It’s worth looking into to see if your unused medication can help someone else.

Home Disposal. Home disposal should be a last resort. If the medication is on the immediately flush list, then it is safe to flush it down the toilet. If not, there are a number of things you can do to safely dispose of your old pills in your household garbage:

  • Mix liquid medicines with dirt, or kitty litter, or used coffee grounds so that it is unusable – dispose of in the garbage.
  • Crush pills and tablets and, again, mix with other garbage matter and dispose of in the garbage.
  • Remove all identifying information from prescription containers before placing in the garbage.
  • Remember, the goal is to render the medication as unusable and unrecognizable to prevent others from using it in unapproved ways

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