It’s Time to Spring Clean Your Medicine Cabinet!

When was the last time you took a deep dive through the depths of your medicine cabinet? Just like the food in your fridge, the medications in your cabinet can expire too. And old, unused prescription medications can be dangerous for others in your household if they’re not properly disposed. Spring cleaning is the perfect time to clean out your medicine cabinet and protect the health of you and your family.

Check expiration dates.
Medications, ointments, supplements, vitamins: most of the items in your medicine cabinet have expiration dates. Medications lose their effectiveness over time and may not give the desired result after the manufacturer’s expiration date. And just like you would pitch food that changed colors or smelled a little off, you should pitch any medications that have changed color, smell or texture too.

Don’t hoard leftover medications.
“Many people hold onto leftover medications to self-medicate at times when they don’t think they need to see a doctor. But this can be dangerous, particularly with medications that treat blood pressure, infections, or blood sugar conditions,” said Andrew Kurtz, Pharm D., RPh., System Director for Pharmacy Services at Penn Highlands Healthcare. “For your own health and safety, only use prescriptions as they are prescribed. If you need a new prescription, simply contact your healthcare provider.”

Hmm, I wonder what this pill is?
It’s always best to leave medications in the original container so you can easily identify them. If you come across something and you’re not sure what it is, properly dispose of it or call your local pharmacy or Poison Control Hotline at (800) 222-1222 to assist in identifying the unknown medication.

Safely dispose unused prescription medications.
Keeping unused prescription drugs in your medicine cabinet, or elsewhere in your home, can be very dangerous. Unused prescription drugs are the most common source of misuse by teens, according to the 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

To find out more information about Pennsylvania drug take back programs, visit

If you do not have access to an approved collection site, follow these steps:

  1. Remove the medication from its original container and put it in a zipper storage bag.
  2. Add something undesirable, like coffee grounds, cat litter or dirt, to the bag.
  3. of the bag in the garbage.
  4. Cross out personal information on the original container and throw it away.

Store remaining medications safely.
Make sure that all of your medications are safely stored out of the reach of children and pets. You should also make sure all medications are clearly labeled. This is especially important if you live with a senior.

The Penn Highlands Community Pharmacy is located at 621 South Main Street, within the DuBois Community Medical Building. You can walk in to the first-floor location from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. seven days a week or visit the drive-through 24 hours a day.