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How to get rid of sharps (needles and lancets) safely

How to store your sharps at home

You will need to have a special container in which to store your used sharps at home. You can:

  • buy a sharps disposal container from your pharmacy
  • make your own container from an empty laundry detergent bottle with a screw-on lid. To make your own sharps disposal container:
    • use a pen or marker to write "Do not recycle: household sharps" on a piece of masking tape and stick it on the front of the container
    • place your used sharps point-first into the container
    • screw the cap on tightly and do not take the cap off unless you are placing sharps into it
    • return the sharps to your county drop-off site or send them to a mail-back program. (River Falls Area Hospital does accept sharps. Check with your hospital before dropping off your sharps.)

When storing sharps at home, it is important to remember the following.

  • Do not store sharps in glass bottles, aluminum cans or coffee cans.
  • Always keep your sharps storage container in a place where children and pets cannot reach it.
  • Follow any directions from your county drop-off site or mail-back programs. Some may require that you buy a special sharps disposal container.
Sharps Disposal Container

You can buy a sharps disposal container from your pharmacy.

Source: Minnesota Pollution Control Agency

How to destroy your sharps

You need to prepare sharps properly before getting rid of them. You can buy a device that:

  • melts sharps. This device uses heat to melt the sharps into small BB-size balls.
    or
  • clips sharps. This device clips sharps and stores them.

How to get rid of your sharps

Never place sharps containers in the recycling or loose sharps in the trash. Choose one of the following options to get rid of your sharps.

  • Throw melted sharps in the trash (not the recycling).
  • Return clipped and stored sharps to:
    • your county drop-off site
    • a mail-back program. You will have to pay for this.

Allina Health hospitals and clinics in Minnesota do not accept sharps. Please do not bring them to your hospital or clinic.


Empty Laundy Detergent Bottle

You can make your own sharps disposal container from an empty laundry detergent bottle.

Source: Minnesota Pollution Control Agency

Whom to call with questions

Please call your city or county government’s household trash and recycling service with questions. You can find the phone number by visiting:

  • Minnesota:
    pca.state.mn.us
    • Type "household hazardous waste" in the search box.
    • Click on Find your household hazardous waste collection site - Minnesota Pollution Control Agency in the search results.
    • Select your county from the drop down menu and click Go!
  • Wisconsin:
    dnr.wi.gov
    • Type "health care waste" in the search box.
    • Scroll down and click on DNR contacts under Additional resources.
    • Find the phone number listed for your region.

If your county is not listed, you can get information about your city or county government’s household trash and recycling service by calling them at the number listed on their website or in your local phone book.


 

Source: Allina Health's Patient Education Department, Gestational Diabetes: When You Have Diabetes During Pregnancy, third edition, ISBN 1-931876-21-6

First published: 11/27/2006
Last updated: 01/20/2014

Reviewed by: Allina Health's Patient Education Department experts