Sharps Disposal 101

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Many people in the United States use medical sharps, which are any device that punctures the skin to deliver medication, to manage different health conditions.

Sharps include:

NeedlesLancetsSyringesInfusion systemsInjection pens

Some sharps come as “all-in-one” devices, while others will detach for disposal.

What health conditions require sharps?


Some of the health conditions that require the use of sharps include:

DiabetesMigraine diseaseInfertilityOsteoporosisCancerAllergiesObesity

Healthcare providers may prescribe medications that require sharps to be used outside of a medical setting, like at home, in a restaurant or while you’re on vacation.

Sharps safety in your state


When people use sharps at home, safe sharps disposal is important. Sharps that are not properly disposed of can injure other people.

Each state has its own rules about how to dispose of sharps safely. For example, some states require you to dispose of your sharps in a FDA-cleared sharps disposal container from a pharmacy or medical supply company. Other states allow you to make your own sharps disposal container at home.

Check your own state’s sharps disposal rules with your ZIP code at

How to make your own sharps removal container at home


Making your own sharps removal container is easy:

Use an empty, thick plastic container with a lid, like a laundry detergent bottle.Place your sharps in the container.When the container is 75% full, secure the lid with duct tape, label it as “Do Not Recycle,” and throw away the entire container in your regular trash.

Reminder: This process is only for states that allow disposal of used sharps in the household trash, as long as they are properly contained. Check to see if your state’s rules allow this method first.

Sharps precautions at home

When choosing a container for your sharps disposal at home, pick a container that:

Won’t leakHas a secure lidCan stand uprightIs heavy-duty plasticWon’t allow the sharps to puncture through, even at the lidCan be labeled

You should also:

Place sharps in a sharps container immediately after use to reduce the risk of injury to other household members. Never recycle sharps in regular recycling.Never flush sharps down the toilet.

For more information about safe sharps disposal and rules in your area, email

This educational resource was created with support from