Re-use Your Empty Prescription Pill Bottles

March 23, 2011 22 comments View all articles in Re-Use-It

Chances are you have at least one prescription bottle lurking in your medicine cabinet at this very moment. What are you going to do with it when you refill your prescription or no longer have to take your medication? Many curbside recycling programs don't pickup prescription bottles.


Preserve Gimme 5 Logo Fortunately, you can drop off your Type 5 prescription bottles for recycling at a nearby Whole Foods Market, or you can mail your bottles directly to Preserve's Gimme 5 program (visit their website for a mailing address and instructions). If those suggestions don't suit you, however, you could always try out some of the following tips for re-using and recycling your empty prescription bottles.



  • Check with your local free clinic or veterinarian's office to see if they accept used prescription bottles. If they do, ask them for further instructions on how you can donate all your empty bottles.
  • The American Foundation for Children with AIDS accepts empty, clean, amber/blue/green prescription bottles and sends them to Africa to be re-used over and over again at hospitals and pharmacies. Visit their website,, or mail as many bottles as you have to:

    American Foundation for Children with AIDS
    Prescription Bottle First Aid Kit 6221 Blue Grass Avenue
    Harrisburg, PA 17112

  • Use empty prescription bottles to mix and store powdered, tempera, or acrylic paints. Just dab a bit of paint on the lid to distinguish the color.
  • Larger sized prescription bottles make excellent first-aid kits. They're just big enough to squeeze in folded alcohol pads, Band-Aids, a miniature tube of antiseptic ointment, and one or two cotton balls.
  • After you've painted or covered several empty prescription bottles with colorful paper, glue the bottles onto a piece of cardboard, and place them in a desk drawer to organize office supplies like pens, pencils, paperclips, thumbtacks, staples, postage stamps, rubber bands, etc.
  • Keep screws, tacks, small nails, nuts, bolts, and picture hooks organized and in one place inside prescription bottles.
  • Always have safety pins available when you need them by keeping them in plastic prescription bottles.
  • Create a sewing kit for travel or the workplace by putting a needle, thread, straight pins, safety pins, and spare buttons in a plastic prescription bottle
  • A great use for prescription bottles is bobby pin storage. The bottle is the perfect size for these hairpins and its secure lid will save you time looking in cupboards and drawers when you're running late. Prescription Bottle Q-tips
  • Q-tips and other cotton swabs fit nicely inside prescription bottles and can be used for bathroom storage or travel.
  • Empty prescription bottles are ideal for storing BBs and air-gun pellets. The contents will be securely stored, and the child-proof lid might come in handy.
  • Store-bought garments almost always come with tiny packets of spare buttons or snaps. You can keep these inside an empty prescription bottle so you always know where to find them.
  • These bottles fit perfectly inside your car's glove compartment or door cubby, and they're great for storing change or small amounts of cash for garage parking, toll fare, or the Laundromat.
  • New Christmas tree lights usually come with packets of spare bulbs and fuses. Keep these in one place and with your other Christmas ornaments inside an empty prescription bottle and.
  • Keep track of fishing hooks and lures by sealing them in plastic prescription bottles. Organize your tackle box by using several bottles to sort and store different angling accessories.
  • Prescription bottles are just the right size for keeping inside board game boxes and storing dice, tokens, and other small game pieces that often go missing. Prescription Bottle Bead Storage
  • Little beads, clasps, hooks, and other jewelry-making supplies can be organized and kept from spilling if stored in a prescription bottle.
  • Craft glitter, sequins, confetti, and sand art can all be stored in plastic prescription bottles so they're organized and kept from spilling.
  • An easy solution for keeping matches dry on boating, camping, and canoeing trips is to store them inside a plastic prescription bottle.
  • It's common practice in senior citizen communities to place a list of pertinent personal and medical information inside a prescription bottle, and store it inside the freezer with a note on the refrigerator door to alert paramedics.
  • If you or someone in your household wears braces, conveniently store those tiny orthodontic rubber bands inside a prescription bottle to avoid misplacement.

Reminder: before re-using, recycling, or even donating your empty prescription bottles, it's a good idea to wash them thoroughly in hot, soapy water and remove all the labels.


Mary on Feb. 5, 2012 at 7:26 a.m.

These are all great ideas. Three months ago, I was put on 5 different medications and was wondering what to do with my empty containers! Thanks!

Denise on March 2, 2012 at 8:16 a.m. is NOT accepting bottles at this time.

Jen on Jan. 25, 2013 at 3:15 p.m.

You may want to use a different container....Its actually illegal to carry a medicine bottle around without the prescription on it....Just Sayin!!!!!

Jeff on Jan. 25, 2013 at 6:49 p.m.

I'm pretty sure it would only be illegal if you had the medicine still in the bottle but no prescription to show it was in fact yours.

Casey on March 13, 2013 at 12:32 p.m.

Some girl scout groups will take them, too. They make the firstaid kits for camping. And yes Jeff, it's only illegal to carry a controlled substance around without a valid prescription. You can carry ibuprofen or any other otc around in an old prescription bottle anywhere you choose.

Karen on May 6, 2013 at 11:11 p.m.

As a crafter and unfortunately on meds as well, there are so many little bits and bobs that an empty med bottle is perfect. I use the for beads, sequins, buttons, craft flowers, etc. It also feels good recycling the bottles.

JH on May 19, 2013 at 7:09 a.m.

This is brilliant! Thanks for the post.

Barbara on June 22, 2013 at 7:11 a.m.

Large bottles can hold 2 insulin bottles (long acting & regular) plus syringes. Place current labels on outside. If you put in your lunch box & it falls out at work, protects from breaking, & identified as yours too!

Michele M. on July 4, 2013 at 4:52 a.m.

Thank you for all these fabulous ideas. I will definitely be using most of the craft related and first aid ones.

Michelle Miller on March 28, 2014 at 2:03 p.m.

The American Foundation for Children with AIDS is still accepting medicine bottles, but the address has changed ...

1141 Cumberland Street
Dock #5
Lebanon, PA 17042

Suzanne on April 3, 2014 at 10:31 p.m.

I too have many left over prescription bottles. One of my favorite uses is to put my earrings, rings and other jewelry items in them so I can just toss in my purse without the worry of damaging them! I also have one with extra earring backs, ponytail holders, and an eyeglass repair kit in it, stored in my camper. It's amazing what you need when you don't have it!!

Nanette on July 26, 2014 at 11:21 a.m.

Why can't we reuse them for our own prescriptions? Or why can't pharmacys re-use after some kind of process?

Laurie on Sept. 20, 2014 at 2:26 p.m.

I also use mine for campsite spices.

briggs on Sept. 23, 2014 at 7:02 a.m.

I use tic tac containers for spices when camping it works great I saw it on pinterest

There's Just One Mommy on Dec. 31, 2014 at 10:51 a.m.

Love the idea of using them for glitter and sequins! Right now I have several colors of glitter in huge bottles -- such a waste of my craft space! This will work much better!

Sharon on Feb. 19, 2015 at 7:49 p.m.

Punch hole in center of lid and use for disposing of dull sewing/embroidery needles. Keep near sewing machine.

Dee on May 5, 2015 at 8:49 p.m.

I use them to store flower and veggie seeds that I harvest every year

Jonathan on May 17, 2015 at 8:18 p.m.

Some prescription bottles with a "push down and turn" lid can be dismantled, a small, but strong magnet inserted, reassembled and used to store odd workshop nails and screws. A metal surface, like a strip of steel or the underside of an overhanging steel surface or the side of one will hold the bottles within handy reach. I was inspired of this by memory of my dad's use of baby food jars for this purpose in his long gone workshop. If the contents aren't visible enough, you can apply a small label identifying what's inside. I also keep some in a drawer in my shop with labels on the lids.

Lucia Stegemeyer on July 14, 2015 at 2:08 p.m.

All great ideas. Another for the elderly who have suffered a stroke or have severe arthritis and/or children or adults with physical disabilities....If fine motor is a problem to hold a pen, pencil, toothbrush, silverware, etc. drill or cut a hole into the center of the lid so you can stick the handle of the item through the top of the lid and into the bottle with the lid attached to the bottle. This allows the user to have an enlarged surface to use the item if their grip or fine motor skills are impaired.

Sam on Aug. 13, 2015 at 7:49 p.m.

I store Quarters in them. Then when my children want to go to the game arcade, I give them a container of quarters.

Karen on April 6, 2016 at 9:47 p.m.

Um.....where is the statute stating it is illegal to have a prescription bottle without the prescription on it? Now I'm thinking that is a stretch...

Erin on April 7, 2016 at 6:37 a.m.

If you live near a Publix pharmacy, they take them, clean them again, and reuse/recycle. Not sure of other pharmacies.

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