How to Dispose of Needles/Syringes? The Right Way!

Whether you’re working with a healthcare facility or providing care for someone that involves the use of needles or syringes, it’s pertinent that you learn how to dispose of them.

Like other medical waste, improper disposal can put other people at risk of infection or disease transmission.

In this blog, we will share a detailed guide on how to dispose of needles and used syringes in a safe manner.

A Step-By-Step Method to Dispose of Needles

According to the FDA, you have to dispose of needles and syringes using a two-step method.

When using needles, syringes, or sharps at home, follow the steps below to dispose of needles and syringes safely.

Step # 1

As soon as you use a needle or syringe, make sure you discard it in a disposal container right afterward.

If you do not use a proper disposal container for this purpose, you may get hurt or injured. Needle sticks and cuts are common when needles or sharps are exposed outside of containers.

In addition to this, you need to ensure that your disposal container is kept in a safe place that is not easily reachable by kids or pets at home.

Step # 2

Once you have secured the needles and sharps in a disposal container, the next step is to dispose of this container.

Keep in mind that each country or state has its safety guidelines for disposing of these containers. You need to check with your local authority and follow the guidelines stated by the law.

Some states offer free sharps collection spots in the local area, while others have pick-up services responsible for getting rid of disposal containers safely and securely.

Risks of not Disposing of Needles Properly

If you do not dispose of needles, lancets, and sharps safely, you may get injured and hurt yourself. Some of the common nail disposal accidents include:

  • Needle-sticks
  • Cuts
  • Punctures

Apart from this, used needles can increase the risk of various other blood-borne viruses and diseases. These include:

  • HIV 
  • hepatitis B
  • hepatitis C

Therefore, whenever you use needles in syringes, it is essential to dispose of them safely or cause a severe health risk.

Needles Disposal Containers

You can never dispose of needles and sharps in a regular trash can or recycle bin.

A needle disposal container is a special box used for the sole purpose of disposing of all used needles, sharps, and syringes.

The box comes with a lid to secure everything inside. You can buy a needle disposal container only through a prescription from your doctor or pharmacist.

Here is a list of items you can safely discard in a disposal container:

  • needles
  • syringes
  • lancets that come with finger-pricking devices
  • clippers

When using a disposal container, always be careful about how much waste you add to the container. Keep in mind that you do not exceed the storage capacity of the container.

It is recommended that once your disposal container is three-quarters full, it has reached its maximum capacity.

If you add more used needles or syringes to the container once it is three-quarters full, it could be dangerous and lead to needle-stick accidents.

Another safety precaution you should take when working with a needle disposal container is to ensure it is used just once. Reusing disposal containers could be risky and cause cross-contamination.

Once your disposal container is full, you should immediately discard it as per your community guidelines.

If you are traveling or on the go, keep a small travel size disposal container with you for emergency purposes.

You can refer to the Transportation Security Administration guidelines to see how to carry a disposal container and sharps with you safely.

In case you do not have a disposal container, you can use any other thick plastic bottle to discard any used syringes or needles.

An empty laundry detergent bottle works great for this purpose if there are no alternatives available.

Make sure that whatever bottle or container you use comes with a lid for safety purposes.

Moreover, you cannot keep used syringes inside a glass bottle or metal cases as it could be dangerous and increase the risk of infections.

How to Discard Disposal Containers Properly?

There are several ways to get rid of a needle or sharps disposal container.

Keep in mind that how you dispose of a disposal container is primarily dependent on where you live.

Each state follows different guidelines when it comes to getting rid of disposal containers.

Let’s take a look at the different available options:

Option 1 – Hospital Collection Sites

One of the simplest ways to get rid of a needle disposal container is to give it out to a hospital collection site.

You can check with your local pharmacists or hospitals if they have a disposal container collection point or not.

If your local hospital or clinic has a collection site, you can contact them for detailed instruction on storing and disposing of needles and sharps.

Please always make sure that you contact your local clinic or hospitals before dropping off a disposal container there.

Do not take used needles and sharps to any hospital where they cannot accept or discard them.

Option 2 – Mail-back Disposal Programs

As the name suggests, Mail-back disposal programs allow people to mail used syringes and needles to licensed disposal centers.

This facility is available in various US states. However, note that the mail-back disposal service is not for free.

Most companies will charge you a small fee for their service.

You can search for mail-back disposal programs online or ask your local pharmacists to suggest someone.

In addition to this, you need to follow specific guidelines on labeling and storing your disposal container.

Some mail-back programs are very particular about sharps disposal containers, and you need to ensure that you fulfill all their requirements if you wish to get your container accepted at their center.

Option 3 – Residential Sharps Pick-Up Services

Various states in the USA offer sharps collection services where they collect disposal containers right from your home.

These are trained professionals who know how to handle delicate waste items like needles and used syringes and dispose of them properly.

Most residential sharps pick-up services will charge you a standard fee, but they will get the job done.

You can check with your local authorities if this service is available in your region and manage disposal accordingly.

Option 4 – Drop Boxes or Supervised Collection Sites

Apart from hospitals and local clinics, there are various other drop boxes and supervised collection centers where you can dispose of your sharps, needles, and used syringes.

Various health facilities, medical waste facilities, police stations, and fire stations. Note that some dropbox collection sites may charge a standard fee.

Option 5 – Household Hazardous Waste Collection Sites

When safely disposing of needles and sharps, dropping them off at your local household hazardous waste collection site is an excellent choice.

These sites are known for collecting other hazardous stuff like cleaning equipment, paints, and oil.

Option 6 – Garbage Disposal

In some US states, it is legal to dispose of needles in sealed laundry bottles. This way, you can dispose of these bottles in the trash can.

Make sure that you seal the bottle’s cap with duct tape and label it before disposing of it off.

Other Methods of Disposing of Needles

Let’s also look at some other methods of disposing of needles and syringes.

Using a Detergent Bottle

The best way to dispose of needles is by throwing used needles in a disposal container and safely discard the container.

If you do not have a needle or sharps disposal container at home, you can use a detergent bottle instead.

Make sure to wear gloves when disposing of used syringes and needles.

Use a bottle with a tight cap, so it is safe to dispose of the bottle in the garbage or to your local disposal collection center.

Note that this method is not the best for the environment as it could place garbage haulers and garbage facility laborers at serious risk.

Using a Sharps Needle Incinerator

If you have a sharps needle incinerator, you can quickly destroy used syringes and needles at home.

A sharps needle incinerator is a unique device that can break or melt needles, lancets, and sharps quickly and help you get rid of them.

A sharps needle incinerator, also known as a needle destruction device, is small and handy in size.

You can use these special devices to destroy all used sharps, lancets, and needles in just a few seconds.

The device melts away all the objects so they can be easily discarded off later.

This device has been widely popular in medical institutions, and now there is a smaller version available for home-usage.

Once your needles are melted, you can dispose of the remnants in the trash can and call it a day. Keep in mind that you discard the residue in a trash can only, not a recycling bin.

The Bottom Line

We hope that this guide on how to dispose of needles was helpful.

The next time you have to use a syringe at home or throw away an old, rusted needle, please refer to this guide to ensure the safe disposal of these items. Good luck!

Other articles you may also like: