The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends that used needles and other sharps be immediately placed in FDA-cleared sharps disposal containers. These strong, plastic containers are generally available through pharmacies, medical supply companies, and online.
FDA-cleared sharps disposal containers are available in a variety of sizes, including smaller travel sizes to use while away from home. Below are examples of FDA-cleared sharps containers:
Needle clippers are FDA-cleared sharps containers that automatically store cut needles, making an insulin syringe or pen needle unusable. This device can safely hold up to 1,500 clipped needles.
Once a clipper safely removes the needle from a syringe, the syringe can be placed in the regular household trash. When a needle clipper is full, it should be disposed of according to your state or local regulations.
Needle clippers are typically available for purchase at pharmacies, medical supply stores and major retailers. Be sure to check with your prescriber or pharmacist to make sure your needle device is compatible with a needle clipper before purchasing one.
If an FDA-cleared container is not available, place used sharps in a strong, plastic container, like a laundry detergent or bleach bottle. The container should be leak-resistant, remain upright during use, and have a tight-fitting, puncture-resistant lid. When the container is about 3/4 full, follow community guidelines for proper disposal methods.
The safest way to dispose of a used needle is to place it in a sharp disposal container immediately to reduce the risk of injury from loose sharps. If you cannot find a sharp disposal container right away, you may need to recap the needle or use a needle clipper until you have an opportunity to dispose of sharps in an appropriate disposal container. Never throw away loose needles and other sharps in trash cans or recycling bins, and never flush them down the toilet.
If you need to put the cap back on the needle (recap), do not bend or break the needle and never remove a hypodermic needle from the syringe by hand. This may result in accidental needle sticks, cuts, or punctures. Recapping should be performed using a mechanical device or the one-handed technique. Recapped needles should be placed in a disposal container at the next available opportunity.