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. Debra Findley says:

    My husband fills them up with quarters and gives them to the grandchildren to put in the glovebox for emergency fund.

    We also give them to the Missionary wives who visit our church for the laundromat.

  2. Our animal rescue league (ARL), uses clean pill bottles for stool samples. All sizes are needed. They also like the toilet paper cardboard, dogs like to chew on them.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Our church puts many encouraging Scripture, prayers and words of cheer into each bottle with the instructions saying ‘take daily as needed’. It has been very rewarding to those who are confined.

  4. Cindy Ritz says:

    Old pill bottles are great for bead or button storage and jewelry making supplies. My dad used them for small nails, screws, bolts, nuts. Also good for super glue storage to keep the glue standing up.

  5. Susan Coughlin says:

    I use large pill bottles to hold individual bottles of nail polish.

  6. Leslie Tracy says:

    I put used rotary cutter blades in a large prescription bottle. They fit perfectly and it’s safe storage. When ready to throw away, I seal with duct tape to be extra cautious.

  7. What’s in a survival pill bottle?

  8. Check with your local Human Society. Many repurpose the bottles to organize meds for animals in the shelter or in foster.

  9. Anonymous says:

    I mix my acrylic paints in medicine bottles. Nothing worse than creating the perfect hue only to have it dry out on a pallet.

  10. You can use pill bottles to store beads and jewelry findings.
    fishing hooks
    small hardware, screws, washers
    use as a stamper for the clear stamps
    spice jars
    smaller paint and glue containers taken from gallon cans

  11. Anonymous says:

    You can use pill bottles to store beads and jewelry findings.
    fishing hooks
    small hardware, screws, washers
    use as a stamper for the clear stamps

  12. Linda Ottman says:

    Fishing gear: split shots, sinkers, jigs, bobber stoppers, etc

  13. Anonymous says:

    so clever love it can’t wait to do these ideas please post more ideas thanks

  14. I use the larger bottles to store extra light bulbs for my vehicle. It’s a great protective for the glass bulbs that I carry in my toolbox.

  15. We use our pill bottles to hold flash drives, bandaids, spices, toothpicks.

  16. I use large, old pill bottles to group thread and bobbin sets together so that I can find them easier; to keep hair accessories corralled ( hair bands on the outside and Bobby pins or clips on the inside); to hold coins for machines in hotels when traveling; and to keep sync cables, ear phones and charger boxes together when traveling or in my car.

  17. Tina Vera says:

    Attach a brush to the inside of lid. Then I fill with modpodge or I’ve also done acrylic paint. You can even buy those little metal balls to throw in and help mix when you shake. The dark bottles will help anything from oxidizing too. I started this because my mom and I share art supplies but she lives in Illinois and I love in Arizona. The pill bottles are also cheaper to ship. The other thing I like to do is use them as seasoning jars. Lastly I use them for mica/pixie/brusho powders. Poke a few holes in the top and boom! Instant shaker for mixed media projects! Thank you for the list. Happy crafting to all.

  18. Thomas Gibson says:

    For coins I cut a slit in the cap so I can drop coins in without taking off the lid. That also works well for gum wrappers. Fold the wrapper and drop it in the slit in lid.
    For old needles or even toothpicks I drill an 1/8 inch hole in the lid. Drop a needle in the hole for needle bottle. For the toothpicks just shake it a little until a toothpick comes out of the hole a little, then pull it out.
    I have several pill bottles for my pickup. One holds $10 of quarters, another one has $1 bills in it and another one for $5 bills. Good to have when traveling. 5’s are great when you need gas and you don’t want to take your wallet out. 1’s for when you need a snack or something to drink. Quarters? Vending machines, wash your clothes if it is a coin operated machine, wash your vehicle or toll roads.
    I also have a lot of old pill bottles in my work room. Small screws or nails. Small hooks. Pins that I use for some shelves that I build, so I can adjust the shelves the way I need them. Some hold small cup hooks, S-hooks, hooks for hanging pictures, small D-rings that I use when building a shelf for a wall. So many uses for someone who does woodworking projects.
    They can be used to hold a little paint while working on some projects. I have wooden crates I made for groceries. On one of them I painted ( EGGS ) on the side of it. I now know that that particular one will hold the cartons of eggs easily.
    Hope this gives you a few more ideas for uses of old pill bottles.

    1. Also store thread bobbins.

      1. Our school nurse uses them for teeth lost at school. A few stickers and they get home safe to the tooth fairy.