Disposal of Medical Waste

Document created by ssnider Employee on Jan 7, 2017Last modified by alawson on Mar 27, 2017
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If there are syringes, needles or wound dressings used in your home, special precautions are needed when discarding these items to prevent the spread of germs and to help in maintaining a healthy environment.  Gloves should always be worn when handling contaminated medical waste.  You can make a sharps container by using an empty coffee can or bleach bottle, then dispose of it with your household trash. 



  • Rigid, puncture-proof, leak-proof, sealable containers such as liquid laundry soap bottles
  • 1-inch tape
  • Marking pen
  • Heavy-grade plastic bags with ties
  • Gloves



A.  Needles, syringes, attached tubing:

  • Locate appropriate container of a suitable size and put on gloves.
  • Label container, such as a coffee can or bleach bottle, using tape and marking pen with the words INFECTIOUS WASTE in large, bold print.
  • Drop needle directly into open container; do not recap, bend or break the needle.
  • Keep container upright throughout use.
  • Close container between uses and store out of reach of children and pets.
  • When the container is full or will not be used again, seal the cap on with tape.  DO NOT overfill the container.
  • Do not put a recyclable container that was used for the disposal of sharp objects in with recyclable trash. 

B.  Contaminated dressings

  • Place soiled tissues, dressings, band-aids and gloves in a plastic bag and close tightly.
  • Place bag inside a second bag; tie the second bag securely. 
  • Discharge double-bagged waste in a regular household trash bag.
  • Use this procedure for any disposable materials that become contaminated with bloody wound drainage.
  • Place used IV materials, gloves, and supplies in container. 


Cleaning Up Spills

  • If blood or other body fluids soil a surface, a mixture of one part bleach to nine parts water (1/2 cup of bleach in 1 quart of water) may be used to clean the area.
  • This mixture should be mixed fresh every day.
  • Low-level disinfection can be accomplished by using one of the following:
    • isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol
    • 1:500 dilution household bleach (1 TBSP bleach to 1/2 gallon water)
    • phenolic germicidal detergent solution (e.g. Lysol) diluted per product label
    • ammonia solution diluted per product label


Controlling Odors

Patients and caregivers feel better when the room smells clean and fresh.  Sometimes simply cleaning and airing isn't enough.   Commercial air fresheners may help.  Here are some other ideas from our patients that may help.

  • Place crushed charcoal in a tray or shoebox in the room.  Keep this away from pets.
  • Light a scented candle, but pay very close attention to fire precautions.
  • Vanilla is especially good at neutralizing odors.  Put several drops of vanilla extract on a cotton ball in an open dish. 
  • Potpourri can absorb odors if the fragrance is agreeable to those in the room.
  • Fans help minimize odors and make breathing feel easier.