If you have bottles of old vitamins sitting around your house gathering dust, you may wonder, "How do I dispose of old vitamins?" The answer to how to dispose of old vitamins depends partly on the type of vitamin it is, along with the form in which it comes. However, before deciding how to dispose of old vitamins, you should first determine whether or not the vitamins have likely lost their effectiveness and truly need to be thrown out.
- Determine the shelf life of your vitamins. Vitamins degrade at various rates, but all vitamins should have an expiration date on them, giving you a basic starting point. If you have kept your vitamins stored in a cool, dark place and they are not passed or just at their expiration date, they are probably still usable. Vitamins well past their expiration date or those that have not been stored carefully should be tossed. Old vitamins lose their potency and thus their effectiveness, so if you are in doubt, set the vitamins aside to be discarded.
- Remove any personal information. Though this may not apply to most people and most vitamins, some people do get vitamins prescribed to them by their doctors. In such cases, typical prescribing information including your name and prescription number are on the bottle. Before you dispose of old vitamins in such containers, mark out personal information with a black permanent marker. This ensures that no one will find the bottle and use the prescription in any illegal manner.
- Make the vitamins unusable. There are several ways to do this depending on the form of vitamin. Tablets can be crushed and mixed with dirt, used coffee grounds or other material no one is likely to want to touch or consume. Capsules can be opened and mixed with similar substances. Again, this ensures not only that these vitamins will not be purposefully abused, but also that children, pets and wildlife will not accidentally ingest them. Place in a disposable container with a sealed lid.
- You may now safely dispose of old vitamins. Simply throw away the container in your garbage. Tying the bag before placing it in a garbage container with a closed lid provides extra insurance that it will not be consumed by people or animals.
When you need to dispose of vitamins, never flush them down the toilet, wash them down the drain or do anything else that will introduce them to the public water system. Vitamins can harm animals, fish and small people and should be kept away from water sources during disposal.