Proper Medication Storage

Proper Medication Storage

Fact or Myth: 

“Your bathroom medicine cabinet is the best place to store medications”

That’s a myth!

Medications should be stored in a cool, dark, and dry place unless otherwise specified by your pharmacist.

The heat and moisture from the shower, bath, and sink in the bathroom chemically damage medications, which can cause them to become less potent or go bad before their expiration date.

To learn more about proper medication storage, read on!

PLEASE NOTE: The information provided below is not intended to replace a consultation with your pharmacist or physician. If you have questions about your medication(s) or are experiencing a health concern, please talk to your pharmacist.

Medication Integrity

How you store your medications can affect how well they work. 

At their most basic level, medications are all chemicals—and chemicals react! When drugs are exposed to heat, light, air, or moisture, chemical reactions occur and begin breaking the medications down. These chemical reactions are too small for even a microscope to see, but they cause the medicine to lose its potency and chemical stability. This degradation results in medications going bad before their expiration date, even if the medicine looks the same as it did before.

Storing medications in a cool, dark, and dry place in their original packaging helps prevent these chemical reactions from occurring. Proper storage keeps the medicine chemicals more stable so that they can have their full and intended effect in the body. 

Choosing a Storage Location

In addition to being cool, dark, and dry, it is also important to select a secure location to store your medications. 

Choose a spot that is up, away, and out of sight from children and pets. When possible, secure medications with a lock or child safety latch. Unless they have special storage requirements, try to keep all your medications in the same place. Remember to put medications back in their designated spot each time after using them.

Some possible storage locations include:

However, medications are only effective when you remember to take them! Instead of placing your medication in an easily accessible, high-traffic area, try other types of reminders:

Safety and Storage Tips

Here are some more steps you can take to ensure your medications are protected and stored safely:

Remember to return unused, damaged, and expired medications to your pharmacy for safe disposal. To learn more, visit our Safe Medication Disposal webpage.

Medications With Special Storage Requirements

Always follow the storage instructions from your pharmacist and those printed on the medication package. If you are ever unsure of how to store a medication, ask your pharmacist for help.

The large majority of medications can be stored at room temperature in a cool, dry, dark, and secure location. However, some medications have special storage requirements that are critical for their safety and efficacy.  

Medications that Require Refrigeration

Some medications need to be stored in the refrigerator to keep them safe and effective. Common medications that require refrigeration include liquid antibiotic medicines and injectable medications for diabetes. Choose a place in the refrigerator that is apart from food products and out of sight and reach from children. Keep medications away from the refrigerator’s cooling element and ensure that they do not freeze.

Insulin for Diabetes 

For insulin to work properly, it is critical that it is stored as per the manufacturer’s instruction. Insulin products are very sensitive to extremes of heat and cold, which can result in a significant loss of efficacy.

When you bring home a new vial, cartridge, or pen of insulin, store it in the fridge until you need it. Although it is safe, injecting cold insulin may be painful; once you begin using a new package of insulin, you may store it at room temperature. The first time you use an insulin pen/cartridge or poke the insulin vial, use a permanent marker to write the date directly onto the package. Before using your insulin, check the expiration date as well as how long it has been since you started using that package. 

Always speak to your pharmacist before using a new insulin product. Ask your pharmacist about how to store your specific insulin products and when they should be discarded. If your insulin ever looks different, doesn’t seem to work as well, or has been stored improperly, contact your pharmacist for help. 

Resources to Learn More

Interested in learning more? Explore the resources included here!

Safe Kids Worldwide

What to Know About Storing Medicine


Storing Insulin and Prefilling Syringes