Is It Okay to Flush Prescription Drugs Down the Toilet?

Can I Flush Prescriptions Down the Toilet?


Here’s why: when you flush medication down the toilet or drains, it stays with the water all the way to the water treatment plant. It will most likely dissolve on the way there, contaminating the water with the medication. Most plants filter and treat for common water contaminants like basic chemical imbalances or waste. Pharmaceuticals are not screened for or cleaned from the water and therefore remain after the plant begins sending out the “cleaned” water to homes or releasing it into the environment.

As a result, trace amounts of pharmaceuticals have been found in natural bodies of water. They’ve even been present in tap water testing. This is obviously an undesirable scenario. So what can you do to get rid of leftover or unwanted pills?

Proper Prescription Drug Disposal 101

Similar to how we think about managing kitchen drains (IE: the less waste that goes in, the better) is how you should be thinking about medication disposal. Trashing it is always the first option, though you should never simply toss an unwanted bottle into the garbage.

First, scratch off any personal information from the label. Then, fill the bottle with water so the medication will dissolve and no longer be in pill form. You should also add an animal deterrent like cat litter, cayenne pepper or charcoal to ensure no animals are harmed if your bottle somehow opens. Once you’ve sealed it, wrap the whole thing with duct tape so it is nearly impossible to reopen. After that, put it in a paper bag or other disguising container before trashing it as close as possible to pickup time.

If that is too labor intensive or risky for you, many pharmacies have medication disposal programs. CVS, Walgreens and most big name companies offer free disposal if you bring the prescription back to the store. There are also Hazardous Waste Collection facilities in almost every municipality. It may be more of a trek, but they will also properly dispose of your medication.

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Flush Prescriptions Down the Toilet

Think about your drinking water supply before you flush drugs down the toilet!

Article Summary

Quick question & answer: Can I flush prescription drugs down the toilet?

No, you cannot flush prescription drugs down the toilet because they stay with the water all the way to the water treatment plant, contaminating it with medication. Many pharmacies have medication disposal programs. Additionally, you can scratch personal information off the pill bottle, fill it with water and an animal deterrent, tape it, bag it, and throw it out.

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