Hesperian Health Guides
Every day 20,000 people visit the HealthWiki for lifesaving health information. A gift of just $5 helps make this possible!
Make a gift to support this essential health information people depend on.
Every time you examine a person’s mouth, fill a cavity, or extract a tooth, you are left with some waste. For example, used cotton or gauze, disposable needles and syringes, plastic gloves, and other materials must be thrown away. But do not put them in the trash. These wastes carry germs and can spread infections to you and to people in the family and community. Wear gloves when you touch wastes, and get rid of them carefully.
How to dispose of sharp wastes
Sharp wastes must be put into a container so they will not injure anyone who finds them. A container made of metal or heavy plastic, with a lid or tape to close it, works well.
When the container is half full, add 5% bleach solution, then seal it closed and bury it deep in the ground.
Other wastes, like plastic gloves, syringe barrels, or cloth soaked in blood, should be sterilized and then buried deep in the ground. You can sterilize them by soaking them in bleach for 20 minutes.
WARNING! Do not burn plastic gloves, syringes, or any other plastics. Burning plastic wastes is dangerous — when plastic burns, it makes smoke and ash that is very poisonous.
Find a place away from where people get their drinking water and away from where children play. Dig a safe waste pit to bury wastes.