Upcycle Pill Bottles with These 22 Fun & Creative Ideas

Upcycling pill bottles for craft projects is a great way to recycle and reuse them. Find inspiration to get those creative juices flowing.

A compilation of upcycled pill bottle projects.

I try very hard to use herbal remedies in our home, but plastic pill bottles of medications still squeak in from time to time.  I HATE tossing things, and I consider myself rather skilled at discovering new uses for old things.  There is a chance I’ve morphed into an upcycling addict.  Oh well, there are worse things.

So with a huge stash of pill bottles needing a new purpose, I hopped on Pinterest to get some ideas. If you’re not following me on Pinterest, you really should.

Gather your imagination and repurpose these containers into functional organizers, charming decor pieces, or even personalized gifts. With a dash of ingenuity, we can breathe new life into these overlooked items, crafting not only beautiful creations but also contributing to a sustainable and eco-conscious lifestyle. So, let’s roll up our sleeves, get our craft on, and turn those pill bottles into something truly amazing!

#1 Fire Starters

You can create fire starters with them.  They label this as a fun project to do with your kids. I’m not sure I’d get my kids involved (we have some “rambunctious spirits”), but maybe this would be a fun bonding experience for parents of responsible kids.

A picture of pill bottle firestarters.

#2 Hide-A-Key

You can easily make a hide-a-key for your spare key with some hot glue on the lid. I saw a similar one that used a pine cone. I’m not sure how long it would hold up, but given how cheap and easy it is, does it really matter if you need to keep replacing it?

A pill bottle hide-a-key.

#3 Travel Bottles

You can use pill bottles to store shampoo, conditioner, and lotion when traveling.  I believe that these are the proper size for airline security to approve. Obviously, you’ll want to investigate before you get to the airport.

A pill bottle filled with lotion.

#4 Portable Sewing Kits

You can make a travel sewing kit that holds a needle and thread with an attached pin cushion. This is a great thing to keep in the car or purse in case you’re out in the world and discover you’ve lost a crucial button or something.

A pill bottle covered in rose fabric and ribbon with a pin cushion on top.

#5 Survival Kit

You can make your own pill bottle survival kit. My boyfriend is an outdoor enthusiast who has made about twenty of these and has them everywhere he spends his time. I won’t lie; they’ve come in handy a time or two, and I’m glad to have one in my hiking backpack.

#6 Crafting Storage

You can store small craft and hobby items, such as cake piping tips, small beads, and needles. I have several stashed around the house with safety pins and paper clips, and I used pill bottles to keep the gems from my diamond painting kits.

Painted pill bottles covered with stickers and the numbers 0-3 on top.

#7 Halloween Decor

You can make cute Halloween potion bottles out of over-the-counter pill bottles. I really like these. I made some last year to put on the mantle, and I got a lot of compliments. They took my gourd “autumn” decor to a new spooky level.

Medicine bottles decorated with paint and hot glue to look like a series of potion bottles.

#8 Snowman Ornament

Maybe Halloween isn’t your thing and you’d prefer a winter snowman made from medicine bottles? My youngest made an entire community of pill-bottle snowmen a few years ago. They didn’t really “go” with my vintage Christmas village, but how could I deprive him?

A little snowman with a green scarf made from a pill bottle.

#9 Rainbow Crayons

You can make fun rainbow crayons using standard-sized prescription pill bottles as molds. You get two “upcycle points” if you are upcycling broken crayons (another thing I refuse to throw away).

Crayon wax melted in pill bottles in a variety of colors.

#10 Unique Vase

You can make a faux bamboo vase. When the bottles are nested into each other it creates a vacuum seal, so they are watertight without glue. Some cool science for you.

Pill bottles nested to look like bamboo with a bamboo cutting inside.

#11 Nail Polish Remover

You can make one of those nail polish remover tubs in minutes with some acetone and cotton balls. These are much less messy to use than acetone right out of the bottle on your nails. I feel like there’s less waste this way as well.

Pouring nail polish remover into a pill bottle filled with cotton balls.

#12 Ammo Storage

You can store ammo in them. Dry ammo is happy ammo. My super thrifty boyfriend keeps the ammo organized in empty prescription bottles and then he stores those in an old Christmas tin. If you open the gun cabinet, it looks like we’re hoarding those yummy danish cookies. Alas, we are not.

A painted and unpainted pill bottle holding ammo.

#13 Yarn Baller

Okay, knitters and crocheters will love this one. Make your yarn balls center-pull using old prescription bottles. No more chasing balls of yarn everywhere. My very sweet friend, Janet of Timber Creek Farm, gifted me an official yarn ball winder, but I used this trick for the years prior.

A multicolored ball of yarn wrapped around a white medicine bottle.

#14 Ink Dauber

You can make your own ink daubers with empty prescription pill bottles. I’m not sure what one would do with an ink dauber – BINGO maybe? – but it looked like a cute idea. Okay, upon further research I discovered they use daubers for scrapbooking as well.

#15 Coin Storage

If you’re having trouble finding a place to store all your quarters (I’ve never had that problem… my children always seem to be pilfering my coins), you can use a pill bottle as a coin holder. It would be handy to have them in the glove box of your car in case you need to swing by the car wash for a quick clean or vacuum.

Painted red and blue pill bottles with disney stickers.

#16 Party Lights

You can make some cool amber-colored party lights. I’m not sure what occasion these would be appropriate for. Maybe for a doctor’s graduation party? I’m sure you could add elements to make them more appropriate for other occasions.

A string of lights hung on a mirror with pill bottles secured over the bulbs.

#17 First Aid Kit

You can create a travel first aid kit.  We use these all the time! Again, I have rambunctious children (okay, ONE rambunctious child, but I’m not naming names… smallest dude). Often the smallest dude has used up all the bandaids in the bathroom closet, so my mini first-aid kit is my salvation.

A pill bottle with tweezers, bandaids, and ointment spread around it.

#18 Tooth Storage

You can help out the Tooth Fairy by giving her something a bit bigger than a tooth to look for in the mess of bed sheets. You have no idea how many panicked nights “she” has experienced trying to locate a teeny tiny tooth lost between stuffed animal friends.

A pill bottle painted purple and blue with a purple ribbon and a tooth sticker on the front.

#19 Hair Supply Container

You can store tiny hair doodads in them. I am not a girl who puts a lot of effort into hairdos, but I seem to be always searching for the bobby pins I bought 15 years ago because they are little and get lost. I refuse to purchase more because I’ll only use them once a year. Hair elastics (including those tiny clear ones) can be wrapped around the outside of the bottles.

A pill bottle filled with bobby pins and a purple hair clip.

#20 Q-Tip Holder

You can lock up your cotton swabs so your children don’t attempt to clean each other’s ears – yes, it’s happened. 

Two views of a pill bottle filled with cotton swabs.

#21 Seed Storage

If my DIY Printable Seed Packets weren’t for you, you could store seeds in them. The childproof cap means you won’t have an incident that requires you to spend hours organizing your seeds after collecting them off the floor.

A bunch of pill bottles on their sides with the names of seeds written on their lids.

#22 Battery Organizer

Last, but not least, you can use pill bottles to organize batteries. Because most old prescription bottles are watertight, the batteries won’t likely become corroded.

Pill bottles filled with batteries fastened to a piece of wood by their lids.

Frequently Asked Questions

Soaking the pill bottles in warm, soapy water often helps loosen the labels. For stubborn residue, rubbing alcohol or oil (like olive oil) can be effective. Gently scrub with a sponge or cloth to remove any remaining adhesive.

Disposing of expired medications responsibly is crucial to prevent environmental contamination and ensure public safety. Here are some guidelines:

  • Take-Back Programs: Many pharmacies and local law enforcement agencies organize medication take-back programs. Check with your local pharmacy or police station to inquire about upcoming events or permanent collection sites.
  • Pharmacy Drop-Off: Some pharmacies have dedicated drop-off bins for safe medication disposal. Ask your pharmacist if they provide this service.
  • Community Disposal Programs: Check with your local health department or community organizations for information on disposal programs. Some communities host periodic events for safe medication disposal.
  • DO NOT Flush Medications: Avoid flushing medications down the toilet or throwing them in the trash, as these methods can contribute to water pollution.
  • Remove Personal Information: Before disposal, remove any personal information from medication packaging to protect your privacy.
  • Mix with Undesirable Substances: To discourage accidental or intentional misuse, mix the expired medication with an undesirable substance like coffee grounds or cat litter before disposing of it in the trash.
  • Follow FDA Guidelines: The FDA provides guidelines for disposing of specific medications, especially those with a high potential for abuse. Follow any specific instructions on the medication guide or packaging.

Always check with your local regulations, as disposal methods may vary by location. If you are unsure, consult your pharmacist or healthcare provider for guidance on the most appropriate disposal method for your specific medications.

Yes, many organizations accept donations of empty pill bottles for various purposes. One notable option is the organization Matthew 25: Ministries. They have a program that collects clean, empty pill bottles and repurposes them to distribute medicine to those in need. Another option is reaching out to local animal shelters, as they often use empty pill bottles for dispensing medication for pets. Additionally, some pharmacies or medical supply stores may have specific programs for recycling or repurposing empty pill bottles, so it’s worth inquiring with them directly. Always ensure that the bottles are thoroughly cleaned before donating.

And remember, health doesn’t come from plastic bottles, but if it does, make something cute with the bottle afterward!

Also, be sure to check out 12+ Fun Ways to Upcycle Holiday Cards After the SeasonMason Jar Crafts You’ll Love to DIY, and 12 Uses for an Old Milk Jug.

If you’ve found value in this blog post and enjoyed reading it, why not share it with your Pinterest community? Pin the image below and spread the love!

A collage image of upcycle pill bottle craft ideas for pinning.

Repurposing old pill bottles opens a world of possibilities for both practical organization and creative DIY projects. From clever storage solutions to crafting unique items for everyday use, these innovative ideas breathe new life into what would otherwise be discarded. Embracing the art of upcycling not only contributes to a more sustainable lifestyle but also showcases the potential for creativity and resourcefulness in transforming the mundane into something truly extraordinary.

What great uses have you come up with for old pill bottles? Share in the comments below.

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  1. I make a “Get Well Basket” which includes some containers filled with different candies, goodies, etc and give to the sick person.

    1. Candy for a sick person will only keep them sick. Just saying.

      1. Dont be silly, a little candy wont hurt anyone other than a diabetic, and if their sugar is under good control, a little won’t hurt the

      2. If you are not diabetic or severely overweight, Candy will lift the spirits and provide a little energy. Everything in moderation. Just a nurse’s

  2. After you make an EDC/survival/fishing/sewing kit out of a pill bottle, wrap several feet of duct tape around the outside. I can’t leave my house without duct tape!

  3. I like to use mine to put my daily meds in after I have taken them out of either the original bottle or the daily containers. I have little ones that sidetrack me easily. This way they never get left anywhere unsafe or forgotten cause I couldn’t take them at the exact moment I pulled them out. I have sensitive skin so holding my pills hurts my hands and this fixes it.
    Also we use them for myy husband to keep extra pills in at work. If he misses a dose it causes some big problems so this helps a ton.

  4. Anonymous says:

    I like to use mine to put my daily meds in after I have taken them out of either the original bottle or the daily containers. I have little ones that sidetrack me easily. This way they never get left anywhere unsafe or forgotten cause I couldn’t take them at the exact moment I pulled them out. I have sensitive skin so holding my pills hurts my hands and this fixes it.
    Also we use them for my husband to keep extra pills in at work. If he misses a dose it causes some big problems so this helps a ton.

  5. WARNING: Nail polish remover will eat through a pill bottle!

    1. Gabrielle says:

      May wanna try non-acetone.

  6. Dianne Anderson says:

    Sewing machine needles are different sizes & tips for different fabrics. I store them by size & type, & label the pill bottles accordingly. When I change needles for my machine the bottle caps are reversed to show which needle size is in use. No more guessing or searching for a magnifier to read the tiny imprint on each needle. BIG time saver!

  7. If you take jewelry off when you go to sleep or do the dishes, you can use a pill bottle. I never lose my rings down the drain 🙂

  8. Rose Marie Wilson says:

    I use a nice tall Rx bottle to store the long sharp pins for lacing a turkey closed. It prevents getting stabbed by the pins, which used to happen when I stored them on the original card in a plastic bag. I use a shorter wide bottle to store
    corn cob holders, which keeps them clean and prevents getting stabbed when hunting for them in a drawer.

  9. My sister, a talented sewist, stores spools of thread with their matching bobbins in empty prescription bottles. No more time wasted “matching” or looking for one or the other because both are housed together. A label on the bottle or cover indicates the thread color inside. Works for me!
    Thanks for all the great hints.

    1. You could put a hole in the cap and a wedge cut in the cap to see the color before opening.

      1. You can also use one with a hole in the cap to put thread in & pull the thread through . If you drop it the thread doesn’t come off the spool if it rolls across the floor .

      2. You could also tape a bit of thread (maybe even the end of the spool) to the top.

  10. I use them for “female discretion” ….. They are the perfect size for keeping OB tampons clean in your purse .

  11. Hi, I absolutely love your ideas. I mentioned you in my blog at lupuscrazy.com. I wish I was as clever and creative as you.

    1. Jessica Lane says:

      Thanks Stacey! I really appreciate it.

  12. Went to the hospital recently and brought a bottle for each morning I would be there, filled with lemon juice and a few drops of stevia. Added to warm water, it was an easy way to keep up with my morning lemon water habit without the hospital kitchen being confused by such a request!
    Also, I keep my lip balm tube in one in the car so, even if it gets hot and melts, the mess is contained.
    Several other uses that have already been mentioned here (earrings when traveling, buttons in my sewing kit, etc.). I’m interested to try the idea of earbuds in one, in my to-go bag when I go to sell my plasma (which takes an hour.) Thanks for the inspirations!

  13. Rose Barnes says:

    We use old pill bottles for weights and hooks for fishing.

  14. The battery-storage idea really caught my attention because it’s so important to avoid letting the ends of one battery touch and drain another new battery!
    FYI – nearly all the caps have a liner which can be popped out and used solo, thereby making the bottles easier to open and reducing space needed for putting a bunch of bottles together.

  15. I use old pill bottles to keep earrings or other jewelry in when travelling.

  16. I’ve wound skeins of embroidery floss around them after untangling them.

  17. All of them are great ideas, but storing your ammo is not a good idea unless you transfer the lot number from the manufactures box to the inside of the bottle. This number is very important to keep up with the recall of ammo if that happens.

  18. I use a pill bottle for salad dressing in my lunch bag.

  19. ladya1953 says:

    I buy herbs in bulk and store in pill bottles. Also handy for spices and herbs to take camping.

  20. Connie Walt says:

    I use them for storing push pins, safety pins and sewing needles and other small sewing notions.

  21. Lessie Bullard-Whaley says:

    I have saved pin bottles for years. Gave them away and keep collecting. Would u like some . I would be glad sending them to u. I live in North Carolina. thanks for reading. Lessie

    1. Xiomalis Curet says:

      Hello, Lessie:
      My name is Xiomalis and I live in Miami, FL.
      I would love to receive some of those pill bottles that you are offering. Can you PM me? I am in Messenger. Thank you! ☺?

      1. Carol Behling says:

        My name is Carol Behling. I love all of the ideas!! I have loads of pill bottles also if you are interested. I am also on fb messenger just under my name.

  22. I use mine to put flower seeds in. I’m always getting seeds here and there from friends

  23. Sally-Ann In Ireland says:

    I use empty pill bottles and vitamin containers of various sizes around the house and garden. In my office for stationery items: paper clips, push pins, split pins. In the shed for saved seeds. In my sewing room for pins, needles, hooks and eyes, safety pins, snap fasteners, buttons (especially sets, or grouping different kinds together). In my art room/studio for paint, bits and pieces for collage, pva glue when the large bottle gets nearly empty (much easier to get the last out). In the laundry room for odd buttons that come off in the wash. My husband uses them in his workroom for any small bit that need to be kept together: same size nails, screws, nuts and bolts, and rawl plugs for fitting into plaster walls. Plus many of the above ideas for travel kits for first aid, sewing, and even for the original purpose, medicTion to be taken on a specific day when I am away from home.

    1. Elena Skudenkova says:

      I do almost the same))) But thanks for some new ideas)))

  24. Since I use them to store change in my car I also use one for wrappers from gum candy and snack bars. They were always in my cup holder and ending up on the floor. Now I fold them up small to store in the pill container until full. Then empty and reuse.