Sharps containers.

I take an injectable medication. In the past I’ve always put the used syringes in a 2 liter soda bottle and screwed the cap back on. I was instructed to do this years ago.

I just got my latest refill. I have a new insurance company, and they included a sharps container with the order.

So I closed the lid after using it, and now I can’t open it. It’s apparently a safety measure. So now I’ll have to take the entire top off everytime I need to use it, which risks spilling syringes.

Is there a trick to reopening the lid? They should send instructions with these things, so idiots like me know not to close them until they’re full.

If it’s like the ones we have in the lab, there is no way to reopen. They are designed to be able to safely add sharps without risking being stuck and to be left open with little risk of spillage. You close them to seal in used sharps right before you throw them away.

If I was you, I wouldn’t try to reopen the closed container. Either buy a new one or go back to the soda containers.

I had one that had a lid that snapped on and off, like this. The lid snapped on and off so tight that a few times the whole container popped right out of my hands when I was trying to open it and a few of the syringes came out. They really should make them a bit easier, but, I guess you don’t want kids getting in there.

I like the idea of just putting them in a washing machine detergent bottle. Even if you didn’t put the cap back on, it wouldn’t puncture the sides, it’s not see thorough so no one is going to know what’s in there (unlike a 2 liter bottle) and no one’s going to notice it if, for some odd reason, they go looking through your garbage.

ETA, mine IS designed to be re-opened, it was just a bit stubborn, not impossible, just a PITA.

Never mind. I popped it open with a screwdriver.

It depends on local laws I guess, but sharps shouldn’t really go in the regular trash. It’s been a while since I did this, but I think in CA vets/doctors have to take them for you.

Also, the sharps boxes I used had a mailbox-type door so that sharps would go in but not come out. I mean you could MAKE them come back out if you tried, but it was certainly better than prying a top off with a screwdriver and I never had any come out accidentally.

I didn’t pry the top off. There’s a plastic tab that, if you put it into the slot when you close the lid, locks in place. Apparently, the idea is to not put it into the slot until you’ve filled the container and don’t intend to use it again. If you close the lid without inserting the tab into the slot then it easily opens again (revealing a couple of openings into which you can insert syringes). The flexibility of the plastic allowed me to pop the tab out by inserting a screwdriver behind it. It’ll still lock when I’m ready to lock it.

It seems like a dumb arrangement since the openings are more than big enough that, until I lock the lid again, you could easily dump out the contents by opening the lid and turning the container upside down. Even with the lid locked, you can still pop off the entire top. Honestly, it seems like a soda bottle with the cap screwed on would be less likely to come open in the trash.

I’ve always just tossed the full bottles in the trash. I was never taught otherwise. Decades ago a nurse came to the house and taught me how to inject myself and what to do with the needles afterwards. I hope I haven’t been breaking any laws.

I use a Safe-Clip device to clip the needle from the syringe after I use it, then I put the syringe into the sharps container. The Safe-Clip holds up to 1500 needles and can be disposed of separately when full. In addition, it renders the used syringes safer.

I just did some reading. For my state I can place them in a plastic bottle and tape the cap on, which I’ve been doing; but there’s one thing that I haven’t been doing. It says that I should disinfect the needles with a bleach solution. That sounds doable with a plastic bottle, which is water tight, but it would be a pain with the sharps container because pouring out the bleach solution without dumping out the syringes could be difficult, and not pouring it out would mean bleach solution leaking out in the trash.

The idea is that you don’t close the lid.

Imagine that you work in a hospital. The sharp container is half full with needles which, as far as you know, are contaminated wit HIV or flesh eating bacteria or whatever. You just gave a shot to a patient and, as far as you know, the needle of the syringe that you are holding is full of HIV, flesh eating bacteria, etc.

All that you want to do is to drop your syringe into the container with a single gesture. You don’t want to have to open the lid with your other hand since (a) you would be messing single-handed with a lid behind which a ton of contaminated sharps are waiting for you (and you don’t even see them since the lid is closed) and (b) meanwhile, you are paying less attention to the syringe that you just used.

You probably have some mechanism on the border to the lid that allows you to safely remove the needle from the syringe. This allows you to save some containers.

When the container is 2/3 full, you close the lid and dispose.

The syringes are only mine so I wouldn’t be exposed to anyone else’s. They’re insulin syringes (although I’m not using them for insulin) and the needle is attached to the syringe so it would need to be cut, there’s nothing on the container that will cut a needle.

I should add that the cap is usually back on the syringe when I dispose of it. I often take the medicine away from home (at work, for example) so I really have to recover it until I can dispose of it properly. I know that they say you shouldn’t re-sheath but it’s not like I’m handling someone else’s needles.

I only use one syringe/month so I don’t need a large container. I bought a small sharps box (didn’t think of using anything else) from my pharmacy. Their instructions are to drop the box off at the lab (Kaiser) when it’s full.

I THINK that Walgreen’s or other pharmacy would accept a full sharps box for disposal, although there might be a small fee.

I’d rather it be disposed of properly rather than just dumping it in the trash. Solves the problem of disinfecting, also, that way.


Yes, most pharmacies will take Sharps, as will hospitals and many doctor’s offices. Some charge, some don’t. The bigger they are, the less likely to charge, since their deal with the hazmat handlers is such a large order, yours doesn’t cost them much, if anything. VA hospitals often have huge bins for drop off of Sharps containers, and you needn’t be a patient to use them.

I made the world’s tiniest Sharps container once, to fit in my nursing bag without taking up a whole lot of space. I made out of an empty glucose test strip container. It’s compliant!

I’ve since replaced it with a Sharps Shuttle. While it’s designed for a single syringe and needle, to be locked after one use, it holds a month or two worth of lancets for me, and fits nicely in my bag. I only use one or two actual needles a week, and those twist off with luer locks, so I dispose of the syringe in the trash and the needle goes into my Sharps Shuttle with the lancets. When it gets full, I stick the Shuttle in my pocket and go to the VA with my husband, and empty it into one of their big Sharps containers in the exam room. It’s time for a new one, though…eventually the hinge tears, and then it’s a pain in the butt to use.