Accidentally Put Insulin In The Washing Machine

In our latest question and answer, the pharmacist discusses whether or not insulin that has been put through the washer is still safe to use.

Mar 21, 2018

vfarmer asked

I washed a bottle of Novolog insulin (punctured by needle only once) in the cold water cycle by accident because it was in my pocket. Is it still ok to use? I do not see any discoloration or cloudiness to the insulin


There is no way to know if the Novolog is safe and effective to still use without actual testing of that particular vial or cartridge.  For this reason, the Novolog needs to be discarded and a new vial or cartridge used.  

If it is not time for a refill of your Novolog under insurance, there are a couple of things that you can do that may help with the cost of a replacement medication. 

  • Contact your prescription drug insurance to see if your plan has a refill too soon override.  Many plans build into their plan design an override for the pharmacy in cases where patients are going on vacation or the medication has been lost or stolen.  Often, there is a limit to how many times this override can be requested of available. Patients will still be responsible for their copay.
  • If you do not have drug insurance or no override is available to you, contact your doctor's office to see if they have any samples of Novolog or a coupon.  Many drug manufacturers offer coupons for their products that can help cover the cost of the medication.
  • Check to see if you qualify for Novolog's Cornerstones4Care program.  This program offers patient education and cost savings to qualified patients.

Since there is no way to verify the safety of the Novolog bottle that went through the washing machine, it is best to dispose of the medication.  

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