The “Dos and Don’ts” for Safe Needle and Sharps Disposal


The US Environmental Protection Agency estimates that more than 3 billion needles and other sharps are used in homes across the United States every year.  Sharps include needles, scalpels, lancets, razor blades, scissors, metal wire, retractors, clamps, pins, staples, cutters and glass items. Essentially, any object that can cut the skin can be considered a “sharp.”

Out of that 3 billion, many used sharps end up in home or public trash cans or flushed down toilets, instead of being disposed of properly.

How to Dispose of Sharps Properly?

Here’s a list of the dos and don’ts for proper sharps disposal:

What to do:

  • Immediately place used sharps in a sharps disposal container 
  • If a sharps disposal container is not available, use a heavy-duty plastic household container
    • The container should be leak-resistant, remain upright during use and have a tight fitting, puncture-resistant lid—like a plastic laundry detergent container.
  • Keep sharps and sharps disposal containers out of reach of children and pets
  • Call your local trash or public health department to find out about sharps disposal programs in your area
  • Follow your community guidelines for getting rid of your sharps disposal container

What to NOT do:

  • Throw loose sharps into the trash
  • Flush sharps down the toilet
  • Put sharps in a recycling bin (they are not recyclable)
  • Try to remove, bend, break or recap sharps used by another person
  • Attempt to remove a needle without a needle clipper device

Why Safe Sharps Disposal is Important

Safe sharps disposal reduces the risk of needle-stick injuries, cuts or punctures from loose sharps. These injuries can transmit infectious diseases, especially blood-borne viruses. The most common viruses include Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) which leads to AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome), Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C.

By following these “dos and don’ts” you’ll lower the risk of needlestick injuries or infection for yourself, family members and sanitation workers.

This blog is meant for educational purposes about medical products, medical devices, and related subjects only. It contains only general information about medical products. It is not meant to be medical or clinical advice and should not be treated as such. The information contained in this blog is provided “as is” without any representations or warranties. Emergency Medical Products, Inc. (“EMP”) makes no representations or warranties regarding the accuracy of information, the products discussed, or advice given in connection with this blog. EMP is not a medical provider and is not engaged in providing medical or clinical advice. This blog may contain external links to EMP’s website where certain medical products and medical devices can be purchased from EMP.