How to Safely Dispose of Unused and Unwanted Medications

Do you know how to safely dispose of medications you no longer need?  There are free options available to safely and securely dispose of unwanted household medications in Washington state.

According to the Washington State Department of Health's Safe Medication Return Program, opens a new window, making sure unused and unwanted medications are disposed of safely, opens a new window helps reduce poisonings, overdoses, and suicide attempts. Safely disposing of medications also keeps them out of our environment, which helps protect our water and soil.  Washington’s Safe Medication Return lets people dispose of household over-the-counter, and prescription medications (including medications for household pets).

Here is how you can safely dispose of medications:

  1. Take them to a drop-off site and deposit them in a kiosk
    • There is no charge for this service.
    • You do not need to provide identification or fill out paperwork.
    • You can locate the nearest drop-off site online, opens a new window or by calling, toll-free, 844-482-5322 (844-4-TAKE-BACK), TTY 711.
    • Kiosks accept household prescription and over-the-counter medications (including medications for household pets). This includes inhalers and similar devices that contain medications.
    • Kiosks cannot accept pre-filled injectors, like epi-pens or pre-filled syringes. You can return them by using the mail-back service described below.
  2. Return them using free, prepaid, preaddressed mail-back supplies.
    • There are three types of mailers:
      • Medicine mail-back envelopes for returning household prescription and over-the-counter medications (including medications for household pets). Do not return inhalers or pre-filled injectors in medicine mail-back envelopes.
      • Inhaler mail-back envelopes are for returning inhalers.
      • Injector mail-back packages are for returning pre-filled injectors like epi-pens and pre-filled syringes.
    • You can order mail-back supplies online, opens a new window or toll-free at 844-482-5322 (844-4-TAKE-BACK), TTY 711. You may submit as many requests for mailers as you want and can choose up to three of the same type of mailer per request. For online and phone orders, you must provide your first and last name and the address you want the supplies shipped to.
    • You can also pick up mail-back supplies at mail-back distribution locations, opens a new window. You do not need to provide identification, or complete paperwork when picking up these supplies.
  3. Take-back events, opens a new window may also be held in some areas of the state. You can bring your unused or unwanted medications to these events. As with kiosk drop-offs, you do not have to provide ID or fill out paperwork to dispose of medication at these events.

Local resources are also available to assist residents in safely disposing of medications.  Click the links below to find out more in your county:

Remember that taking the time to safely dispose your unwanted medications protects our environment and the people in our communities.