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HealthWiki > Where There Is No Dentist > Chapter 7: Treating Some Common Problems > Needles

Many people get sick with serious illnesses like hepatitis or HIV/AIDS from using unsterilized needles.

Reusable syringes and disposable syringes

Reusable syringes can be used again and again. Reusable syringes make less waste and can save money, but they must be washed very carefully and sterilized after every use.

Use each disposable needle only one time and then throw it away in a disposal box. If you must reuse a needle, replace the cap very carefully and put the needle in a safe place (such as a pan full of bleach solution) until you are ready to clean and sterilize it.

How to wash and sterilize a syringe and needle for reuse:
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  1. Put on a pair of heavy gloves to protect your hands from germs and from sticking yourself with the needle.
  2. Draw 5% bleach solution up through the needle into the syringe barrel.
  3. Squirt out the bleach solution.
  4. Repeat several times. Rinse everything several times with clean water.
  5. Take the syringe and needle apart and boil or steam them.

Never reuse a needle or syringe without cleaning and sterilizing it first.

This page was updated:19 Feb 2018