25 New Ways to Reuse Your Old Pill Bottles

published Apr 3, 2019
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(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

There’s a special kind of satisfaction that comes from finding solutions to problems that use things you already have on hand. I’m still very proud of myself for MacGyver-ing a broken pop-up shade canopy with a hair tie and a plastic bag—it’s silly, but it made me feel like I might just have made it in the pioneer days.

Taking things you already have and making them more useful isn’t just self-congratulatory, it’s also frugal and earth-friendly.

It’s particularly convenient when you can find a way to re-purpose something that you have in steady supply—like empty pill bottles. Many curbside recycling programs won’t accept them, so if you find yourself with a small stockpile of amber vials, don’t throw them out! Just peel off the labels, clean the bottles, and turn them into something else.

Here are some ways to put empty pill bottles to use:

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

Around the house…

  • Store makeup brushes or makeup tubes like mascara or lip gloss in them. Kick it up a notch by adding a magnet or suction cup to the back or glueing a few together to form a cluster.
  • Friends don’t let friends store bobby pins on the cardboard they came on. Try putting them in an old pill bottle instead.
  • Store cotton swabs in them.
  • Label them and store everyone’s toothbrush in their own bottle—or glue a few together to make your own toothbrush holder for the bathroom counter.
  • Put a bell inside and give it to the cat for a toy.
  • Store extra seeds from the packet or seeds you’ve harvested from your plant in them.
  • Fill them with soil and use them as seed starters
  • Or fill them with water and use them as bud vases.
  • Make a pretty pencil cup or desk organizer by gluing a few into a cluster and decorating it.
  • Store pins, safety pins, and push pins in empty pill bottles.
  • Spare button storage.
  • Birthday candles kept in pill bottles won’t get broken or crushed.
  • Glue a rock on the lid and make an inconspicuous hole in the ground for a DIY hide-a-key.
  • Poke holes in one and collect silica gel packs inside it. Put this where you need to to dehumidify, such as a gym bag, or your giant container of OxiClean that hardens with humidity before you can use it.
  • Store extra button batteries in empty pill bottles with childproof lids.
(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

On the go…

  • Stuff with cotton balls and add acetone for a fancy nail polish remover “kit” without the hefty price tag.
  • Store actual pills like pain relievers or allergy medicine in them and toss it in your purse.
  • Decant pieces of gum from a larger container into a pill bottle for a more compact way to carry gum.
  • Stash your toothpicks in an empty pill bottle rather than a flimsy cardboard box.
  • Put a few bandages in a pill bottle for a mini first-aid kit for your car, purse, or backpack.
  • Store coins in them, like the quarters your kids beg you for for the candy machine at music lessons.
(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

When you travel…

  • They’re the perfect size and shape for storing toiletries while you travel.
  • Keep matches dry and contained by putting them in a pill bottle when you go on your next camping trip. Tape the scratching surface to the outside of the bottle.
  • Stash ear buds or power cords in a pill bottle to keep them from getting lost, damaged, or tangled.
  • Bring one along when you travel to store jewelry that you take off at night.