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DO's and DON'Ts - Safe Disposal of Needles and Other Sharps Used At Home, At Work, or While Traveling


  • Immediately place used needles and other sharps in a sharps disposal container to reduce the risk of needle-sticks, cuts, or punctures from loose sharps.
  • Use an FDA-cleared sharps disposal container, if possible. If an FDA-cleared container isn’t available, some organizations and community guidelines recommend using a heavy-duty plastic household container (i.e. laundry detergent container) as an alternative.
  • Make sure that if a household disposal container is used, it has the basic features of a good disposal container. (See box at right for more info.)
  • Be prepared - carry a portable sharps disposal container for travel.
  • Follow your community guidelines for getting rid of your sharps disposal container.
  • Call your local trash or public health department (listed in the county and city government section of your phone book) to ind out about sharps disposal programs in your area.
  • Ask your health care provider, veterinarian, local hospital or pharmacist
    • where and how you can obtain an FDA-cleared sharps disposal container,
    • if they can dispose of your used needles and other sharps, or
    • if they know of safe disposal programs near you.
  • Keep all needles and other sharps and sharps disposal containers out of reach of children and pets.
All sharps disposal containers should be:
  • made of a heavy-duty plastic;
  • able to close with a tight-itting, puncture-proof lid, without sharps being able to come out;
  • upright and stable during use;
  • leak-resistant; and
  • properly labeled.


  • Throw needles and other sharps into the trash.
  • Flush needles and other sharps down the toilet.
  • Put needles and other sharps in your recycling bin - they are not recyclable.
  • Try to remove, bend, break, or recap needles used by another person. This can lead to accidental needle sticks, which may cause serious infections.
  • Attempt to remove the needle without a needle clipper device because the needles could fall, fly off, or get lost and injure someone.
Best Way to Get Rid of Used Needles and Other Sharps:

Step 1: Place all needles and other sharps in a sharps disposal container immediately after they have been used.
Step 2: Dispose of used sharps disposal containers according to your community guidelines.

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From the FDA
Undated PDF MedicalDevices/ ProductsandMedicalProcedures/ HomeHealthandConsumer/ ConsumerProducts/ Sharps/ UCM278775.pdf

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This page was last updated at D-is-for-Diabetes on May 16, 2012

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