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How Do I Properly Store My Medications?

Have you ever wondered how to store your medications? Do different types of medications have special storage requirements? What happens if the medication is not stored properly? Here’s a quick guide on some common medications and how to store them.

How Do I Properly Store My Medications?

Why do Medications Require Proper Storage?

It is important to properly store your medication to ensure that your medication will work effectively, and in addition, it can prevent harmful events. Always keep your medications out of reach and out of sight from children and pets. If you do have children in the household, you may want to store your medication in a cabinet with a child-proof lock.

Many environmental factors can cause damage to your medication, including heat, air, light and moisture. It is recommended to keep it in an area away from these factors due to possible breakdown of your medications. Generally, you may want to keep it in a room-temperature, dry area. However, certain medications may require to be refrigerated.

*Please read the label on proper storage conditions for your medication*


Solid Dosage Forms

This include capsules, tablets, caplets, pellets, and pills which are easily damaged by heat and moisture. They are generally stable, only requiring a room-temperature dry area away from light.

  • For example, exposing aspirin to heat and moisture causes it to break down into vinegar and salicylic acid, which can cause upset stomach.

*Certain solid dosage forms do require to be stored in the refrigerator*


Liquid Dosage Forms

This includes syrups, suspensions, insulins, eardrops, eye drops, and nasal sprays. Liquid dosage forms are less stable than solid dosage forms, so they require a little extra care.

Suspensions are medications that are usually mixed and prepared when you pick up the medication. Most suspensions, such as amoxicillin and cephalexin, require to be refrigerated after being mixed. These medications are only good for 7-10 days after being mixed.

Insulins should be kept refrigerated. Certain used insulin pens can be kept at room-temperature for 4-6 weeks, depending on the type of insulin.

Syrups, eardrops, eye drops, and nasal sprays generally should be kept in a room-temperature, dry area and away from light.

*Certain nasal sprays and eye drops require refrigerating if unopened*


Dosage Forms for Topical or External Use

This includes creams, lotions, and ointments. They should be kept in room-temperature dry area away from light.

General Storage Conditions

Keep medications away from heat.

Keep medications away from moisture.

Keep medications away from direct sunlight.

Some examples of safe places to store medication include:

  • Dressers and drawers.
  • Kept in a locked cabinet in a closet.

*If you have to store your medication in the refrigerator, keep it away from children’s reach and away from food as much as possible.*

How do I Know if my Medication is Damaged due to Improper Storage?

Some common signs that your medication may be damaged include:

  • Changes in color
  • Changes in texture
  • Changes in smell
  • Pills that stick together
  • Pills that are cracked or chipped


How do I Properly Discard my Damaged Medication?

Do not take the medication if it shows signs of damage; this may lead to harmful effects.

Contact your local pharmacy immediately.

For a quick guide on proper medication disposal, please refer to our post, How to Get Rid of Medications?”.



This post does not list all types of medication. Always read the medication labels for proper and specific storage information. Any questions or concerns about your medications and how to store them, please contact your local pharmacy for additional instructions.