Safe Medication Return

Safe Medication Return is free, convenient, safe, and environmentally responsible

Washington’s Safe Medication Return lets people dispose of household over-the-counter, and prescription medications (including medications for household pets).

Safe Medication Return is for household medication. You may not use it to dispose of business-generated pharmaceutical waste. If you are a business, please visit the Department of Ecology Pharmaceutical Waste website for more information.

It's important to store and dispose of medication safely

Storing medication securely and making sure unused and unwanted medication is disposed of safely helps reduce poisonings, overdoses, and suicide attempts. Safely disposing of medication also keeps it out of our environment which helps protect our water and soil.

There are several ways to dispose of your household medications

1. Take it to a drop-off site and deposit it 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 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 it 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 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. You do not need to provide identification, or complete paperwork when picking up these supplies.

3. Take-back events may also be held in some areas of the state. You can bring your unused or unwanted medication 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.

Your medication can be in its original container or in a sealed bag

If you put your medications in a sealed bag, please recycle the original containers, if possible. (Check with your local solid waste program.) You can comingle medications in the sealed bag.

Please remove any personal or identifying information from packaging and labels. This helps us protect your personal information.

This program is for household prescription and over the counter medications

This includes household:

  • prescription medications including controlled substances such as OxyContin and Ritalin, pre-filled injectors like epi-pens and pre-filled syringes, and inhalers.
  • over-the-counter medications (non-prescription medications).
  • prescription and over-the-counter medications for household pets.

Kiosks, mailers, and take-back events cannot accept:

  • business generated pharmaceutical waste.
  • vitamins, minerals, and supplements.
  • homeopathic and herbal-based remedies.
  • cosmetics, shampoo, toothpaste, and sunscreen.
  • empty injectors, empty inhalers, and medical devices that do not contain medication.
  • livestock medication.
  • pet pesticide products.
  • illicit or illegal drugs (contact your local law enforcement agency for disposal assistance. In many areas you can do this by calling 311).
More safe medication return information

Laws, funding, and oversight - Includes information about manufacturer and wholesaler requirements.

Program operations - Includes information on becoming an authorized collector (hosting a kiosk), providing mail-back supplies, hosting take-back events, and becoming a new program operator.

Program plans and reports

Related resources

Managing business-generated pharmaceutical waste (Department of Ecology)

Recycling or disposing of other household products (Department of Ecology)

Disposing of illegal drugs and drug paraphernalia — contact your local law enforcement agency. In many areas you can call 311 to do this.

Healthy home guide (Department of Ecology)

Healthy Home (Department of Health)

Drug User Health (Department of Health)

Suicide Prevention (Department of Health)

Prescription drug and opioid misuse information from Washington State Health Care Authority (HCA)

Washington Tracking Network (data) (Department of Health)

Educational material (Inmar) (MED-Project)

Disposal locations and mail-back supplies (jointly operated by MED-Project and Inmar)

Washington Poison Center (800-222-1122)

Questions, concerns or complaints?

Contact the Department of Health by email or call 360-236-4698 if you have questions, concerns, or complaints about oversight, enforcement, and program compliance.

Contact one of the state-approved program operators with questions, concerns, or complaints about kiosks, mailers, and take-back events.

Sign up for GovDelivery to receive notifications regarding Safe Medication Return rule making and proposal review. Choose subscription topic “Safe Medication Return” topic under “Health Systems Quality Assurance (HSQA), Health Professions.”