A lot of pet owners think that they must return used syringes and unused medications to a medical facility to be disposed of. Actually, medical waste generated in the home by individuals may be disposed of in your trash.  However, medical waste generated by Home Health care Workers must be handled by a hazard waste company.

Needles, or “sharps”, and Syringes

Here is what Fairfax County  recommends for management of household sharps:

Steps for Disposal

  • Rigid Container:  Use a container with a screw-on cap such as an empty laundry detergent bottle, bleach bottle, or 2-liter soda bottle. The bottles must be able to be marked with a warning label using a felt-tipped marking pen. Note that the heavier duty laundry detergent and bleach bottles are preferred to the soda bottle.
  • Label/Warning:  Place a large label with a warning on the container. CAUTION! SYRINGES – NEEDLES. DO NOT RECYCLE!
  • Clip the needle, or recap discarded sharps:  Clip the needle if you wish. You can purchase an inexpensive hand-held needle clipper at a pharmacy. After clipping the needle, carefully place each of the used needles and syringes into the plastic bottle with the screw-on lid. An alternative is to also recap or re-sheathe the needle.
  • Seal:  After the container is full, seal the bottle with the original cap and wrap tape over the cap.
  • Disposal:  Dispose of the sealed, full container with your household trash. DO NOT place the container in the recycling bin.

Unused Medications

Unused medications should never be flushed.  According to Fairfax County’s instructions on safe disposal of medicine:

  • Remove medication from original container and place in a plastic, sealable bag.
  • Mix with something undesirable like kitty litter or coffee grounds and add a little water.
  • Throw in regular trash.