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Clever Ways to Reuse Old Medicine Bottles

Prescription medicine bottles typically can’t be recycled in the US (I’m not sure about other countries). And disposing of old medicine can be a pain. So what if you could find some ways to reuse old medicine bottles before tossing them?

Old medicine bottle with coins and dollars inside

Ways to reuse old medicine bottles

Be sure to sterilize medicine bottles before reusing them. This is especially important if you’re going to reuse them for small things kids or pets could put into their mouths.  Give these bottles a good, thorough dunk in boiling water before reusing them. Once they’ve been sterilized, medicine bottles can be great for storing and carrying small items.

  1. Store craft supplies. Little beads and fixtures can be stored in these bottles. It’s easier to travel with several little bottles of the beads you’re working with at the moment than a big case with divided sections. And the caps on prescription bottles ensure they’ll never spill.
  2. Make a mini-sewing kit. Put a few buttons, some thread, some needles, etc. in a bottle and keep it with you for “wardrobe malfunctions.” From ThriftyFun.
  3. Store coins and dollar bills. These make a handy, low-profile way to store some cash and change. Great for keeping laundromat quarters, parking coins, or just a cash stash.
  4. Make a mini-first aid kit. Put cotton balls, band-aids, alcohol pads, etc., in a prescription bottle and keep it with you. You could make one for your home, one for a car, one for a purse, one for the office… From Instructables.
  5. Store seeds. If you’re tired of those little envelopes seeds come in, prescription bottles make a good alternative for storing them so they’re airtight. If you still have the envelope, wrap it around the bottle with a rubber band, and you’ve got a label.
  6. Store hardware. Nails, screws and other small bits of hardware fit into these and, as with the crafts, you never have to worry about them spilling again. This can be helpful in the garage or around a workshop. Or in a tool kit.
  7. Store Barbie shoes and similar tiny toy items. By now you’re getting the idea: you can store any collection of tiny things in these. This is a great way to round up Barbie shoes and other small toys so they’re all in one place (and not your vacuum cleaner).
  8. Glue them together to make a custom drawer or desktop organizer. Get the bottles arranged in the drawer the way you want them. Pick them up and put them on another surface, carefully mimicking the arrangement you had in the drawer as you glue them together.
  9. Store dried herbs. If you grow your own herbs, you can dry them out and put them in these little bottles for safekeeping. As you run out of spices, you can just add from the bottles into your spice jars.
  10. Pen holders, paperclip holders, etc. Don’t buy little dishes for your paperclips and thumbtacks. Start using prescription bottles. You can cover the bottles with recycled magazine pages or junk mail. This makes them look pretty and disguises what they were.
  11. Store mixed acrylic paints. Use these bottles to mix acrylic paints. If you don’t use a batch all in one project, stuff a layer of Saran wrap down in the bottle, against the paint, to close out as much air as possible. The paint may need to be thinned slightly next time, But thanks to having been nicely sealed up in the prescription bottle it’s still usable.

Got more bottles?

So after you’ve reused your medicine bottles every way you can, maybe you still have more. There are some places that will take those off your hands.

  • Vets. Some local vets will take old prescription bottles off your hands to dispense medication for pets. Call around to find out which local vets are interested in your bottles.
  • Charitable organizations. Some charities will reuse old prescription bottles to dispense medications in third world countries. Unfortunately, there’s no list of charities that do this, so you have to do some research. Call local medical charities and see if anyone’s interested.
  • Free clinics and homeless shelters. These organizations may also take and reuse these containers. Rules governing whether they can use these to dispense medication are local, so your area may not allow it. But if it does, call around the clinics and shelters in your area to see. Try your local Union Rescue Mission for starters.