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Fairfax County, VA

11/05/2018 | News release | Distributed by Public on 11/05/2018 15:49

4 Ways to Safely Dispose of Unused Medications

In this age of opioid addiction, reduce the danger lurking in your medicine cabinet and safely dispose of unused medications in multiple ways. In addition, flushing medications can contaminate the water supply and unused medications thrown in the trash can be found by children and pets.

1.Use a Permanent Dropbox or Drug Take Back Day

  • Permanent dropboxes will take medications any time of the year during business hours. Check the maps below. Liquids and sharps (needles and syringes) are not accepted.
  • Drug Take Back Days occur twice a year, usually in October and April.

2. Get a Deactivation Kit

Deactivation kits contain a substance that neutralizes medications. Fairfax County offers deactivation kits. To use:

  • Place unused medication in pouch. Each pouch can deactivate 45 pills or 6 oz. liquid or 6 patches.
  • Fill halfway with warm tap water and wait 30 seconds.
  • Seal, gently shake pouch and throw out in trash.

You can pick up a drug disposal kit at Fairfax County Health Department offices (when supplies are available) and other drug disposal kit distribution locations. Before visiting a Health Department office, please call to confirm that kits are available.

3. Mix Medications with an Inedible Substance and Throw in the Trash

Check the pill bottle for any instructions on proper disposal. If none are present, follow these steps:

  • Remove medication from original containers. Do not crush tablets or capsules.
  • Mix medication with undesirable substance like kitty litter or used coffee grounds.
  • Place mixture in a sealable bag, or container and throw away in trash.
  • Black out all personal information on the prescription label so that it is unreadable.

4. Guidance for Sharps Disposal

Sharps are more commonly known as needles and syringes. Use the following steps for disposal of this home generated medical waste:

  • Use a RIGID CONTAINTER with a screw-on cap such as an empty laundry detergent or bleach bottle.
  • LABEL the container 'CAUTION! SYRINGES- NEEDLES. DO NOT RECYCLE.'
  • CLIP the needle and carefully place into labeled container or RECAP or RE-SHEATH the needle.
  • After container is full, SEAL with screw-on lid and WRAP tap over the lid.
  • DISPOSE of the sealed, full container with your household trash. DO NOT place in the recycle bin.

Other Resources

Read More on Proper Disposal of MedicationsRead More on Proper Disposal for Sharps