How To Dispose of Needles, Lancets and Blood Strips Properly

By ADW|2023-11-06T19:23:43-05:00Updated: July 10th, 2012|Diabetes Management|6 Comments
  • Syringe and Pen Needle Disposal

Some people with diabetes use supplies such as needles, lancets and blood strips which become medical waste. Learn the importance of disposing of them safely and properly. Find out the right type of containers to use for getting rid of sharps. Discover ways to dispose of medical waste in accordance with the law.

Never Share

Never share or reuse lancets, pen needles or syringes. Cleaning needles or lancets with alcohol will remove the protective coating that helps them slide into your skin and allows them to be so thin. After the first stick this coating is removed and they will become dull. A dull stick is more painful and offers less blood. You may then waste expensive strips.

Insulin Needle Disposal

Dispose of insulin needles when they are bent, dull or unsanitary. Do not bother to clip the needle. It could fly off, hurt you, someone or get lost. The entire syringe should be placed in an sealed container (no need to recap) that will not allow the needle to break through.

Lancet Disposal

Lancets used to collect small blood samples also need to be disposed of in a sanitary manner. Suitable containers for disposing of needles and lancets include a heavy plastic bottle with a screw cap or a metal or plastic box that closes securely. Never use glass or clear plastic. Puncture-proof containers should be sealed with heavy duty tape and labeled, “USED SHARPS. DO NOT RECYCLE” and put in the regular trash. There are also store bought containers that can be purchased and returned to the original company with the dirty needles. Look on diabetic product web sites for these specific containers.

Test Strip Disposal

Typically people with diabetes dispose of their blood strips in the same waste container as their sharps. Some keep them in a sealed bag and then place them in the sharps container. Brands such as Contour tests strips have instructions inside the package about proper disposal.

Check State Disposal Rules

Each state and region may have its own rules for disposing of syringes, pen needles, lancets and blood strips. Check with your refuse company or the local waste authority to find out their medical waste regulations. For additional information about safe needle disposal in your neighborhood, visit the CDC. Never dispose of medical waste directly in the trash or streets. Even when you travel, use proper containers to collect the waste.

Check Your Community

Your community may have dedicated collection sites for filled sharp containers. Locations that might collect them include police stations, fire departments, doctors’ offices, health clinics, health departments, pharmacies and hospitals. You may also be able to take filled sharps containers to a local municipal household hazardous waste collection site.

Certain communities have trained handlers that pick up filled sharps containers. Find out if you need to call for pickup or if there are designed pickup times. In areas without medical waste handling, you may need to mail your sharps container to special collection sites. Follow postal service rules for handling medical waste. In some neighborhoods, there are programs where you can turn in old needles for new ones.

Used diabetes supplies such as pen needles, syringes, lancets and blood strips are medical waste. Keep everyone safe by following state or county regulations regarding the proper disposal of medical waste.

About the Author: ADW

ADW Diabetes is a diabetic supply mail order company that is dedicated to keeping diabetes management affordable. ADW takes a leading role in offering free diabetic education through Destination Diabetes, an informational component of the ADW website featuring tips and advice from diabetes and nutrition experts, diabetic recipes and more.


  1. arlene gurwich May 23, 2024 at 10:37 am - Reply

    where do i dispose opf the box wth my used needles, lancets, blood samples , used cotton, etc in Coral Springs

  2. Leeann August 21, 2020 at 2:26 pm - Reply

    I have unused lancets still in box with seal that are expired and infusion sets, can I just throw them in a plastic container and put in trash with a label or does someone take these?

  3. Jackie Elizabeth Ward May 23, 2019 at 7:00 pm - Reply

    How & where do I obtain a sharps container FREE for lancets & test strips.

  4. Udo December 19, 2017 at 10:50 pm - Reply

    near my gas station there is a poster offering to purchase used glucose test strips. I have some 1000 of those test strips and did not know what to do with. I called the tel number several times und left a message – no reply. Is there some value to used glucose test strips?

    • Roberta Kleinman December 22, 2017 at 10:26 am - Reply

      Hi Udo,
      I wanted to reply to your comment. As a CDE/RN, we recommend that you only purchase diabetes tests strips from a reputable company whether it be on line or in a pharmacy. Once a bottle is opened ,test strips need to be discarded within 3 months. If the bottle of strips is not opened and in its original package , then the strips are good until the expiration date on the outside box. Reselling strips is never a good idea. You may be able to donate the unopened strips to a needy organization, if they are in date. We hope this information helps.
      Nurse Robbie

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