Medication Storage, Where, How, Temperatures, Types, and Guidelines

Posted October 21, 2019 by Michael Chamberlain - See Editorial Guidelines

Do you ever wonder what the best way to store that vital medication you need is? In this blog we are going to offer some crucial guidelines to follow in order to ensure proper medication storage. Prescription drugs come in many forms with different guidelines. We’ll go over what you need to do to store them effectively.

medication storage

What is proper medication storage? Every medication has its own recommended storage condition from room temperature, to refrigerating, to freezing. The majority of medications are recommended to be stored at room temperature, between 59 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit. As a common rule, medications should be stored away from heat, air, light, and moisture. 

Apart from the storage place, climatic conditions should also be considered when storing. This is because the potency and the overall effectiveness of your medications depend on appropriate storage. Inappropriate storage can turn medications harmful if ingested. Now with that being said, let’s take a look at a guide on storing medications.

Medication Storing Temperatures

The main information you need for storing medication is the recommended storing temperature. 

This is the first thing that will help you store your medication in an accurate place. Read the medication cover for storing temperatures or check with your pharmacist about it.

Usually, the packages will specify the storage as to be stored at room temperature, cool temperature, refrigeration or freezing. If your medication has already frozen and shouldn’t be, then check our guide on medication that has frozen.

Room temperature specifies the temperature range between 59 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit, cool temperature between 46 to 59 degrees Fahrenheit, refrigeration temperature between 35.6 to 46 degrees Fahrenheit, and freezing temperature means -13 to 14 degrees Fahrenheit. The table below is a good quick reference guide.

Medication Package Storing GuidelinesDegrees Fahrenheit
Room Temperature59 to 77
Cool Temperature46 to 59
Refrigeration35.6 to 46
Freezing-13 to 14

Medication Storage Places

Depending on the temperature recommended you can use an appropriate place that fits the temperature range. Like I said the majority of the medications are recommended to be stored at room temperature. Such medications can be stored in a dresser drawer, a storage box, a closet, or even a shelf.

Obviously, to chill the temperature you’ll need it to be kept in a cool place, whereas refrigerating and freezing clearly require a refrigerator.

As a general rule, most of the liquid medications are recommended to be stored in the fridge. Liquid formulations such as syrups and suspensions can support the growth of micro-organisms. So, the growth of these micro-organisms is inhibited by refrigerating. 

Especially liquid medications without preservatives – they should be refrigerated at all times. But when refrigerating make sure that meds are stored in an area within the fridge that can maintain a consistent temperature.

When the meds include preservatives, it’s not recommended to store them in the fridge. This is because the effectiveness of the preservatives increases with the temperature. So, when refrigerating these medications, the effectiveness is cut down.

So, unless specified by the manufacturer or the pharmacists, never refrigerate medications that contain preservatives. One good example is Cetirizine oral solution that contains parabens as preservatives.

Children’s liquid medications significantly vary in the recommended storage conditions. Some liquids should be refrigerated like Cephalexin, while some should be stored at room temperature like Azithromycin and some others may have different expiration dates depending on which option is chosen – like Amoxicillin.

So, it’s very important to double-check the storage requirements with your pharmacist if you’re not clear on the packaging guidelines.

Apart from the recommendations discussed above, it’s a good rule, in general, to always read the label and packaging thoroughly when you need to figure out the best storage for your medication.

Storing Medications While Traveling

medication storage

Traveling is a part of life, but it’s important to make sure your medications travel safely with you.  

It’s not just about packing medications along with your clothes. Make sure you’re carrying your medications in the appropriate storage conditions including the temperature wherever possible. 

Store any medications in the original package or label to avoid confusion. Also, be sure to carry a copy of the prescription, so it’s easy for identification in case of an emergency.

Combining Medications

Never try to save luggage space by combining several medications in one container. Make sure your medications are stored in carry-on luggage so it’s easy to take during emergencies. If you’re planning for an extended trip around a humid/hot environment, consider placing silica packs in medications.

When it comes to meds such as insulin and liquid antibiotic, you’ll need special storage. This is because insulin is stable at room temperature only for 28-30 days. So, if your insulin has to extend beyond this minimum period then it has to be kept under refrigeration even while traveling.

So, to meet this storage when traveling, you can make use of a thermos or a cooler. When you’ve reached the destination after traveling, you can then store it in the refrigerator.

Although it all sounds like a hassle, being diligent about storing your medication safely and appropriately is essential to get the most out of your medications.

While that’s the basic storage guide, the following are some basic storage principles that have to be followed in any form of storage. 

Storing Medication in Humid Areas

While it’s a common belief that a bathroom cabinet is an ideal place for storing medication, in reality, it’s not. This is because of the heat and humidity that a bathroom can generate. The bathroom door is likely to be closed most of the time, and the steam released from the shower may not keep your medication dry and cool – or at least – not at room temperature. This will contribute to your meds losing their efficiency. 

Storing Medication in Hot Areas 

The same effect as the bathroom conditions apply here. When medications are stored above the stove top or top of the fridge, the heat and light from these places can affect them. This means your medication will not stay as cool and dry as it’s supposed to be most of the time. Again, reducing the overall effectiveness you should get from them.  

Out of Reach for Children and Pets 

Sounds obvious, but it’s a must. You need to make sure any medications you store are not within reach of children or family pets. The best thing you can do here is to child lock your medication cabinet if there’s any chance that young children or pets are likely to be around your home. Young curious minds can easily take something they can get to when it’s easily accessible, even if they shouldn’t.

Categorize Your Medications 

medication storage

You should be extremely careful in what you are storing the medications in. Rather than throwing all your medications in one random basket, categorize your medications. It’s best to have separate or divided boxes for each of your meds.

They should be carefully labeled or easily identifiable from one another. This will prevent you from mismanaging your medications, taking the wrong ones, and helps you in keeping an easy track of expiration dates.  Check out our tips to organize and remember your medications.

Review Medication Expiration Dates

Checking your medication expiration dates is a crucial task in storing medications. You have to make sure you read, remove, and return medications appropriately.

This means you check and remove unwanted medications that have reached expiration and return the medications to the local pharmacy for safe disposal. It might also be good to emphasize here, never flush your medications down the toilet, or release down a drain – it may seriously affect the water supply.

You should make sure you review the expiration dates of your meds at least once a week. For this, again you have to make sure the medications are categorized properly so it’s easy to review medication expiration dates. Check out our guide on checking medication expiration dates.

Reviewing the Conditions of Stored Medication 

When reviewing medications make sure to check on the appearance of the medication. Medications that have changed color, consistency, or odor should never be used, regardless of the expiration date.

At the same time, pills that tend to stick together and have an unusual texture, or if they look cracked or chipped, should also not be used. 

We hope this guide to storing your medications has been useful. If in doubt as to the effectiveness of any stored medication, or for professional medical guidance on med storage, consult your pharmacy or local healthcare providers office. They’ll be more than willing to offer assistance.

And Finally…

If you have any questions about how Prescription Hope can help you save money on any of the 1,500 medications that we offer, then visit our website here. If you’re having trouble affording any of the medications you’ve been prescribed, contact us, or visit the enrollment page to create an account and fill out an application to start saving.



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