Dos and Don'ts When Storing Medication

Storing medication properly is a must to keep it in optimal conditions of safety and effectiveness until its expiration date. Here are some things to keep in mind.
Dos and Don'ts When Storing Medication
María Vijande

Reviewed and approved by the pharmacist María Vijande.

Written by María Vijande

Last update: 07 July, 2022

Storing medication is essential in order for it to maintain its effectiveness, and so you can’t just keep it anywhere. In fact, the most suitable place for it is a cool and dry one.

As you can see, you must follow certain storage rules for the drugs to retain their conditions of safety and efficiency until the day they expire.

Factors for storing medication

Various factors can affect the stability of a drug, among them:


This is one of the things that most affects the shelf life of a drug. This is why it’s important to store them in cool, dry places. Make sure that the temperature of these places is stable and there are no sudden changes.

A handful of pills.
It’s important to maintain a stable temperature for the proper storage of the medication.

Pharmaceutical form

You must also take into account the dosage form when storing pharmaceuticals. Liquid forms are generally more unstable than tablets or capsules. Also, their properties alter more easily than those that are solid.

Multi-dose drugs

These are the ones you must open every time you need to take them — syrups, eye drops, etc. The act of opening them several times can alter their stability and pose health risks.

Thus, keep in mind that the efficacy of multi-dose medications isn’t determined by the expiration date, but by the moment you first open them. Their shelf life after opening is usually on the package insert and is often shorter than the expiration date.

Write down the date you opened it on the package in order to know how long it’ll last and thus avoid possible mistakes. Of course, you can avoid problems by simply discarding any leftovers as soon as you complete your treatment.

Tips for storing medication

You can usually store most medication at room temperature, although there are some that require special storage conditions. Some recommendations for their conservation are:

  • Keep them in a cool, dry place – one in which there are no sudden changes in temperature
  • Don’t place them near electrical appliances
  • Keep the original package
  • Use smaller pill dispensers
  • Don’t store them in the bathroom or kitchen as there’s usually more humidity and temperature changes in these places
  • Keep them out of reach of children
A woman reading a package insert.
Storing medication in a cool, dry place is essential to properly preserve it. In addition, you must take into account the expiration date and shelf life after opening.

Other recommendations for storing medication

Now you know that you have to choose the most suitable place to store medication. In addition, look for a way to maintain the optimal conditions of cold storage medicines when you travel.

Furthermore, the expiration date is an important factor to guarantee its efficacy. This is why you must always read the package insert before you start using any medication. Don’t confuse the expiration date with the shelf life after opening though – the latter begins as soon as you open the package.

Keep the packaging and package insert

As we said above, read the packaging and the package insert of every medication you use, in order to find out the best way to store it. Again, note the expiration date and whether you need to take any special measures to administer it. You may not know this, but you can always bring any expired or no longer needed medication to the collection point of your local pharmacy.

Change of appearance

Don’t take any medication beyond the period indicated on its packaging or if you notice any changes in its quality. This is because turbidity, as well as a change of color, indicate that it’s no longer stable.


Finally, the appearance of medications will change if you don’t store them properly. If in doubt, don’t use it.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • De La Rubia, A. (2006). Conservación de medicamentos termolábiles. Farmacia Hospitalaria.
  • Bucaramanga, U. A. de. (2009). Recepcion y almacenamiento de medicamentos y dispositivos medicos. Modulo Administracion de Servicios Farmaceuticos.
  • Allegra, J. R., Brennan, J., Lanier, V., Lavery, R., & MacKenzie, B. (1999). Storage temperatures of out-of-hospital medications. Academic Emergency Medicine, 6(11), 1098–1103.
  • Ebrahim AJ, Teni FS, Yimenu DK. Unused and Expired Medications: Are They a Threat? A Facility-Based Cross-Sectional Study. J Prim Care Community Health. 2019;10:2150132719847857. doi:10.1177/2150132719847857
  • Makki M, Hassali MA, Awaisu A, Hashmi F. The Prevalence of Unused Medications in Homes. Pharmacy (Basel). 2019;7(2):61. Published 2019 Jun 13. doi:10.3390/pharmacy7020061

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.