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Safety when you’re taking a potential or reproductive hazard medicine

Cleaning up spills

​​​​​​​​​​What is a spill?

A spill could be:

  • a liquid medicine
  • the powder from a cut tablet or a broken capsule

Tablets or capsules that are not cut or broken but are dropped are not considered a spill. Caregivers should wear disposable gloves to pick them up, and they should be put into a separate container and returned to the pharmacy. (See Throwing out medicine.)

What supplies do I need to clean up a spill?

You will need the following supplies to clean up a spill:

  • disposable gloves
  • disposable rags, paper towels, or toilet paper
  • 2 garbage bags

How do I clean up a spill?

Before you clean the spill:

  • Keep other people and pets out of the spill area.
  • If the medicine has contact with a person's eyes, skin, or clothes (including bedding), take care of the person first (See Contact with eyes or skin for first aid care.)
  • Don't step in the spill or touch it with your bare hands.
  • Try not to breathe in any spilled medicine.

Follow these steps carefully to clean the spill:

  1. Wash your hands with soap and water.
  2. Put on disposable gloves.
  3. Only touch the spill area—nowhere else.
  4. Start at the area with the smallest amount of spill and move to the area with the most spill.
  5. Soak up the spill with the disposable rags, paper towels, or toilet paper. If the spill was a powder, put a little water on the rag or paper towels to help wipe up the powder.
  6. Put everything used to soak up or wipe up the spill directly into the first garbage bag. Try not to touch the opening of the bag.
  7. Use dish soap and warm water to wash the area using new disposable rags or paper towels.
  8. Wipe the area dry with new disposable rags or paper towels.
  9. Put everything used to wash the spill area into the first garbage bag.
  10. Take off your disposable gloves and put them into the first garbage bag.
  11. Close up the first garbage bag and put it inside the second garbage bag.
  12. Close up the second bag tightly and throw it out with your regular garbage (see Throwing out medicine, used supplies, and garbage).
  13. Wash your hands with soap and water.

After cleaning the spill, call your healthcare provider if you need a refill of your medicine.​


Current as of: June 24, 2022

Author: Provincial Hazardous Medication Committee, Alberta Health Services