How to Dispose of Tattoo Needles?

How to Dispose of Tattoo Needles?

When you are working as a tattoo artist, your clients are entrusting their skin and health to you and your equipment. For that reason, it’s important to make sure that you take care of your new ink by disposing of the needles properly. In this comprehensive guide, we will answer all of your questions about how to dispose of tattoo needles safely and effectively. We’ll provide tips on what to do if you don’t have a sharps disposal container, and offer advice on how to keep yourself safe during the disposal process. Let’s get started!

Why You Always Need to Dispose Used Tattoo Needles

Tattoo needles are one of the sharpest objects that you will come into contact with on a regular basis. They are also covered in blood and other bodily fluids which can contain harmful bacteria and infections. It is therefore essential that you take proper precautions when disposing of used tattoo needles.

Why You Always Need to Dispose Used Tattoo Needles

The tattoo industry is heavily regulated and there are strict laws in place regarding the disposal of used needles. These laws vary from country to country, so it is important to check with your local authority to find out what the regulations are in your area. [1], [2], [3], [4], [5]

Definition of a Medical Waste

Medical waste is defined as any solid waste that is generated in the diagnosis, treatment, or immunization of human beings or animals. This includes items such as needles, syringes, gauze pads, and blood-soaked bandages. It also encompasses laboratory wastes such as culture dishes and slides, as well as microbiologicals and tissue specimens. In addition, medical waste can include pharmaceuticals and other chemicals.

Medical waste categories vary from country to country but for this article we will outline sharps and biohazard waste.

Sharps waste: This is defined as any sharp object that can puncture or cut skin. This includes needles, lancets, and scalpels.

Biohazardous waste: This is any waste that contains infectious materials or bodily fluids. This includes items such as blood-soaked bandages and used needles.

As you can see, these two might be interchanged in some countries as the definition for medical waste. But you should take their disposal seriously.

There are many ways registered services dispose of medical waste, but the most common method is incineration. Incineration is the process of burning medical waste at high temperatures so that it is destroyed and turned into ash. Other methods of disposal include autoclaving, chemical disinfection, and landfilling.

From all this we can conclude that tattoo needles are considered medical and/or hazardous waste because the tattooing process is very invasive and the needles are in contact with human blood. [6], [7]

Why Is It Important to Dispose Them in a Specific Way

You might be wondering why you can’t just throw used tattoo needles in the trash. After all, they’re just sharp objects, right? Wrong. As we mentioned before, used tattoo needles are considered medical waste, which means they need to be disposed of in a specific way.

Why Is It Important to Dispose Them in a Specific Way

There are two main reasons for this:

Used tattoo needles can transmit diseases – When a needle is used on someone’s skin, it comes into contact with their blood. If that needle is then reused on another person without being sterilized first, it can transmit diseases like HIV and hepatitis.

Used tattoo needles can cause injuries – If a used tattoo needle is thrown in the trash, there’s a chance that someone could come into contact with it and get poked or cut. This is especially dangerous if the needle is contaminated with blood or other bodily fluids.

So, in order to protect the public and the environment, it is important to dispose of medical waste properly. Improper disposal of medical waste can lead to the spread of disease, contamination of water supplies, and pollution of landfills. [1], [2], [3], [4], [5]

What Other Tattoo Waste Do You Need to Dispose?

In addition to needles, there are a few other types of tattoo waste that need to be disposed of in a specific way.

Paper wipes

Tattooists use paper towels when they’re setting up their workstation and during the tattooing process. If paper towels come into contact with any bodily fluids, they need to be placed in a biohazardous waste bag before being sent to the specialized disposal services. It’s always better to be safe than sorry. Same process applies to alcohol wipes and cotton swabs.

Bed covers

Bed covers should be changed between every client. This helps to prevent the spread of infection and cross contamination. You should have a few different types of bed covers on hand when you’re tattooing. A few examples are Saran wrap, barrier film, and medical grade adhesive film.

Bed covers

However, all of these films need to be disposed of as medical waste. This is because they come into contact with the client’s skin, which could contain blood and other bodily fluids.

Besides bed covers, tattoo machine wraps and tips also need to be disposed of as medical waste. Tattoo machine wraps are used to cover the tattoo machine and, as you may already guess, prevent cross contamination. They too should be changed after each appointment.

Face masks

It is recommended for tattoo artists to wear face masks when they’re tattooing. This is to protect them from any airborne particles that might be present in the air.

The CDC recommends that you dispose of your face mask after each use. You can do this by placing it in a plastic bag and then bringing them to the office of medical waste disposal services.


Tattooists are also required to wear gloves while they work. Gloves protect you from exposure to blood and other bodily fluids. You should always dispose of your gloves after each tattoo session, regardless of whether they’re latex or nitrile. Gloves should go into their special biohazard bag and you should never reuse them.

Many local governments have special programs for disposing of gloves, as they can’t be thrown away with regular trash. You can usually find out about these programs by contacting your city or county government’s waste management department.

If there isn’t a special program in your area, you can check with a local hospital or doctor’s office to see if they have a way to dispose of latex gloves.

Ink cups

After a tattoo session, you’ll also need to dispose of ink cups. Ink cups are small containers that hold the ink that is used during a tattoo. They are made of plastic or paper, and they usually have a lid that snaps on and off.

As with all the accessories above, these are considered a medical waste, so you’ll need to find a proper way to get rid of them. You should contact your local government’s waste management department to see if they have a special program for disposing of ink cups. [1], [8]

Proper Disposal of Tattoo Sharps

Now, with tattoo sharps things get a little more complicated. This is because, as the name suggests, tattoo needles are sharp. They can cause injury if they’re not handled properly.

That’s why it’s important to follow the proper procedures for disposing of them. Here are all the necessary tips.

Proper Disposal of Tattoo Sharps

Dispose them directly after use

This might seem like common sense, but it’s important to dispose of your tattoo needles as soon as you’re done with them. Not only does this minimize the risk of injury, but it also helps to keep your work area clean.

Use a designated sharps box for needles

A designated sharps box is a special container that is used to dispose of sharp objects. These boxes are made of sturdy plastic and they have a lid that locks in place. This helps to prevent accidental injuries. You can usually find these boxes at your local tattoo supply store or online.

Be sure to use a designated puncture-resistant container. This will help to keep them from harming anyone who comes into contact with them. The sharps box must also have a sign of FDA approval.

Container should be placed in a place that you can access during the tattooing session to dispose of the sharps immediately.

Keep an eye on how full the container is and make sure not to overfill it. Once it’s 2/3 full, seal it up and dispose of it properly. This will ensure the needles won’t acci-dentally fall out and hurt someone. Once the container is full, you’ll need to seal it shut and label it accordingly.

If you don’t have access to one of these containers and are in a pinch, you can also use a plastic bottle with a screw-on lid. Just make sure the lid is on tight so the needles can’t fall out. In either case, be sure to label the container as “biohazard” or “sharps” so that everyone would know to handle it with care. But we strongly suggest that you would avoid doing that if you can as it’s not the most safe way to dispose of them.

Tattoo needles aren’t the only thing that can be disposed of in a sharps container. Anything that is sharp and could potentially puncture skin should be placed in one. This includes, but is not limited to: razors, lancets, and scalpels.

Do not handle needles with your bare hands

As we mentioned before, tattoo needles are dangerous. This means that you should never handle them with your bare hands, use forceps to pick them up instead.

Also always use sturdy gloves when you’re handling them, and be sure to dispose of the gloves after use.

It’s also important to avoid touching the needle tip. If you do accidentally touch it, be sure to wash your hands immediately and maybe even consider seeking medical attention.

In short, always handle tattoo needles with care. They may seem small, but they can cause a lot of harm if they’re not handled properly.

Contact a licensed company to handle the disposal further

Once you have your tattoo needles in a puncture-resistant container, you’ll need to find a licensed company to handle the disposal further. This is because regular trash pickups will not take them.

Tattoo needles should never be thrown away in the trash. Again, this is because they can end up injuring somebody who comes into contact with them. They also pose a risk to sanitation workers who might come into contact with them while handling your garbage.

Instead, you should always take them to a designated drop-off location for sharps. These are usually located at hospitals or clinics. You can also check with your local tattoo shop to see if they offer a needle disposal service. [1], [2], [3], [4], [5], [8]


Is it okay to use an expired needle?

No, you should not use an expired needle. If a needle is expired, it means that the manufacturer can no longer guarantee its sterility. This puts you at risk of infection and other complications.

If you have an expired needle, the best thing to do is to dispose of it properly. You should dispose of it yourself according to your local regulations.

Most importantly, never reuse a tattoo needle! This is extremely dangerous and can lead to serious health problems.

How do you dispose of tattoo needles in the UK?

The UK has strict regulations when it comes to disposing of tattoo needles. The most common way is to put them in a sharps bin, which can be found at most pharmacies. Then, the bin must be taken to a medical waste facility for proper disposal. After that, special services will dispose of the needles by incinerating them.

Do you throw away sticks and poke needles?

Sticks and poke needles are classified as medical waste and must be disposed of accordingly. Store them in a special sharps bin until they can be properly disposed of. Never try to dispose of needles by throwing them away in the trash. This is extremely dangerous and illegal in many states.

The best way to dispose of them is to contact your local waste management company and ask about their medical waste disposal policies.

Most companies will have a special service for disposing of medical waste, which will likely include tattoo needles. If your local waste management company does not offer this service, you can look into private medical waste disposal companies.

Useful Video: this is how i dispose my used tattoo needles


Proper disposal of tattoo needles is crucial not just for the safety of those who work in and around trash, but also because it’s punishable by law. Make sure you take some measures to dispose of them properly so everyone stays safe and out of trouble.

Fortunately, it’s not difficult to take care of this task; all you need is a sharps box that has a seal of FDA approval. Make sure to dispose of needles after each client and get in touch with special medical waste disposal services if necessary. In a pinch, you could also contact your local hospitals and pharmacies. By following these simple steps, you can help keep everyone safe and healthy.