Virginia Household Sharps Disposal

At the state level, sharps disposal guidance is as follows:

For the safety of our employees, the State of Virginia and the Chesapeake Waste Management Office recommends that home-generated sharps (needles and syringes) be placed in a Clorox or a detergent bottle and labeled "do not recycle."

However, more detailed guidance is given at the county and city levels. Specific guidelines for the City of Salem, Fairfax County and Prince William County is shown below.

City of Salem

  • Household sharps must be placed in an opaque plastic bottle with a high degree of puncture resistance.
  • The container must be securely sealed with a screw on type cap.
  • The cap must be taped with a waterproof tape around the circumference.

Frequency of Collection

  • Plastic bottles containing household sharps will be collected on Wednesday of each week between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m.
  • It is the responsibility of the homeowner to arrange for collection by calling the City's Solid Waste Disposal and Transfer Station Department (375-3052) at least 24 hours before collection.
  • The homeowner may also deliver the container to the City's Solid Waste Transfer Station at 1271 Indiana Street, Monday through Friday, between 7:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.
  • No Sharps are to be placed in Collection Totes or Dumpsters. Any dumpster or collection tote found to contain sharps will not be emptied or collected by City Personnel.

Properly packaged sharps delivered to the City's Solid Waste Transfer Station will immediately be placed on a transportation vehicle for transport to a sanitary landfill for final disposal.

Fairfax County

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.

What about medical waste generated by medical care workers in your home? 

Medical waste produced by health care workers (physicians, nurses, home health aides, etc.) as a result of providing medical care in the home is not home generated medical waste. It is Regulated Medical Waste (RMW) and must be disposed of by a licensed RMW disposal company. The responsibility for the proper and safe disposal of regulated medical waste rests with the health care provider providing services in the home.

Prince William County

1. You should place:

  • Needles
  • Syringes
  • Lancets, and
  • Other sharp objects

In a hard-plastic or metal container with a screw-on or tightly secured lid.
A coffee can will do if the plastic lid is reinforced and sealed with heavy duty tape.


2. Place the container where you will be using your syringes and sharps to minimize handling. Make sure your storage location is child and animal proof.

3. Place the sharps in the container immediately after use.

DO NOT try to RECAP, REMOVE, BEND or BREAK the needles.
This is where most injuries occur.

4. When the container is nearly full add a sanitizing solution, made by adding one teaspoon of household bleach (5.25%) to one pint of water, then seal the container.

5. With a permanent marker, print “NOT RECYCLABLE TREATED SHARPS” on the outside of the container with a contrasting color. Place the sharps container in a plastic bag and seal it with tape in case leakage occurs.

6. Discard with the rest of your garbage.




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