In the tattoo industry, needles are crucial tools. At the same time, they often have extremely short lifespans since they are not recommended to reuse several times. If so, what should you do with the used tattoo needles and other tattoo waste accumulated during the day?
As a caring tattoo master, you have to know how to dispose of tattoo needles and other medical waste properly.
How to dispose of tattoo needles?
Tattoo waste disposal is a more serious question than you may think. Any contact with your client’s skin is always a risk, as you have to deal with human’s blood and other bodily fluids.
It may sound quite weird, but tattoo waste refers to the same category as medical waste in doctor’s offices. However, if you look closer, the answer is evident: tattoo artists and doctors deal with sharp tools and bodily fluids that finally make hazardous waste.
So, the main rule of thumb is to never place any biohazardous waste in the regular trash! No matter if you are a tattoo parlor worker or perform the tattooing process at home, the proper disposal of waste and the whole organization of the process is always crucial.
Since tattoo needles and other tools come in contact with bodily fluids such as blood and sweat, they all are considered medical waste. Such waste disposal tips are different from regular trash, so you need to know them for sure.
Any hazardous waste must be disposed of correctly. The second crucial point is to place hazardous waste into a secure container and seal it properly. The best idea is to get special containers that are designed for use in hospitals for medical waste.
One more essential point is to double-check the waste laws in your state or country. Since these laws can differ in some points, it is essential to comply with your local laws. Be sure that you do everything legally.
What is tattoo waste?
Tattoo waste is an unavoidable part of tattoo parlors. Since most of the tools and items are used only once in the tattooing process, they require proper disposal.
However, the improper disposal of hazardous waste is often related to misunderstanding. Each tattoo artist must know well what types of waste they deal with and how they should be disposed of after use.
As for tattoo waste, there are two main types of it: sharps waste and other medical waste.
Sharps are a type of tattoo waste that is used for puncturing and cutting skin. Sharps include the tattoo needles and some other sharp objects that can be used in the tattooing process.
Here is a list of sharps waste in the tattoo industry:
- Disposable razors and razor blades
- Tattoo needles
Any sharps waste must be correctly disposed of in suitable containers with a secure lid. For the best effect, you can use a heavy-duty tape over the screwed lid to prevent it from any accidental openings.
Medical waste includes other parts of tattoo equipment that can come in contact with human blood and other bodily fluids. Because of a potential risk related to bloodborne pathogens and other infections, these are defined as biohazardous waste.
Here is a list of medical waste that can be used in the tattooing process:
- Bed covers
- Cotton swabs
- Face masks
- Ink cups
- Leftover ink
- Leftover ointment
- Paper towels
- Protective gloves
- Tattoo machine tubs
The safety tips suggest you place all this medical waste into a plastic bag and tie it securely or seal it if possible.
Sharps waste disposal tips
Sharps include all sharp items that a tattoo artist can use in the tattooing process. Because of their dangerous properties, they need special care tips for safe disposal.
#1. Use a sharps container
The best pro tip is to use the approved sharps disposal container. It is created specifically to contain the used sharp objects without any harm to the tattoo masters and the environment. The sturdy material and secure lids are designed to prevent any accidental injuries.
In most cases, you can recognize the sharps box by its bright red lid and a symbol of biohazard. These containers are sold for use in hospitals but are suitable for tattoo parlors as well.
Placing sharps waste in such containers, you can be sure that they won’t damage its inner surface and come out of the container.
Once you have disposed of your sharps waste, you will need to take it to a sharps disposal facility where it will be safely disposed of.
#2. Make use of other suitable containers
If you don’t have a pro unit such as a designated sharps box or sharps bin, you can use another suitable container that is made of hard plastic and has a screw-on lid. For example, you can use a plastic bottle as a medical waste disposal container.
The crucial point is to make sure that the material of the chosen container is hard enough to prevent puncturing from inside.
Just place the used needles inside the bottle, and screw the lid securely so as not to leave any space for the needles to be lost.
#3. Protect your hands
To be on the safe side, a good rule of thumb is to use protective gloves. It prevents you from coming in contact with any biohazardous waste when disposing of it.
Even if you think that all the medical waste is properly disposed of, don’t deal with it with your bare hands! There is always some risk of getting in contact accidentally with something that contains bloodborne pathogens.
The results can be hazardous as the bodily fluids may contain a wide range of pathogens including Hepatitis B virus, HIV, MRSA, and many others.
#4. Regular partnership with a medical waste disposal company
To be sure that your medical waste is properly disposed of, make a partnership with a trustworthy company regularly. Thus, your tattoo parlor will get regular help for the safest medical waste disposal.
You don’t need to contact different companies each time you need to dispose of the hazardous waste. Your partners will provide you with full-service waste disposal whenever you need it.
Medical waste disposal tips
Along with needles, you have lots of other waste to dispose of after a tattooing session. These include paper towels, ink cups with leftover liquid, protective covers, face masks, cotton swabs, and many other stuff that come in contact with human blood and other potentially hazardous substances.
So, the correct way of medical waste disposal also includes placing them into secure containers or plastic bags. No way this equipment can be thrown into common trash, as they carry a potential biohazard.
As for the ink cups, snap them on securely before disposing. Any contaminants inside them mustn’t spread freely after disposal.
Besides, the correct way to get rid of the used medical equipment includes contacting special centers. Consult with your local government’s waste management department to find out more about their program for medical equipment disposal.
How needles are disposed of?
Like any other biohazardous waste, both medical and tattoo needles should be disposed of safely.
To get rid of needles, use a special sharps box or any other container with a tightly covering lid. You can take a plastic bottle and place used needles inside it. Then, cover the lid securely.
As soon as you need to dispose of the accumulated waste, contact your medical waste provider. They take your used equipment to a waste treatment facility. All the needles, syringes and other hazardous waste should be treated by the autoclave technology before going to the landfill. Besides, some of these items can be safely recycled.
What do tattoo artists do with needles?
Like any sharp and hazardous objects, needles must be sanitized and changed regularly. All tattooing sessions are performed with the help of new needles for each person.
The used tattoo needles must be sanitized or disposed of immediately after the tattooing session. Unless your tattoo master doesn’t change or sanitize needles, tell them to do so as you have a huge risk of getting infected seriously.
As a rule, well-equipped tattoo places have special containers for sharps disposal. All the used equipment is sterilized in the autoclave or placed in special containers.
How do you dispose of tattoo needles in Texas?
In Texas, free needle disposal is forbidden. However, you can easily dispose of them in a separate container that is made of hard plastic.
Mark the container so as not to forget what you keep inside it. Attach the label “Tattoo needles” onto the container’s surface, and use it for tattoo waste disposal regularly. As soon as your container is full, seal its lid securely with the help of heavy-duty tape. Then, you can dispose of that container in the regular trash.
Is it okay to reuse tattoo needles?
If treated properly, tattoo needles can be reused. Since they are made of metal, you can place them in the autoclave and sterilize them properly. After that, tattoo needles are mostly safe to use again.
This safety tip is also true for any other metal tools that are okay to sterilize in an autoclave. Generally, you can sterilize needle bars, piercing needles, tapers, and tattoo machine tubs.
If you have any doubts, it is better to use new tattoo equipment than take such a risk.
For a good tattoo place, following all the required safety tips is crucial. Along with hygiene tips, while tattooing, the tattoo parlors must provide a specific way to dispose of used medical equipment. Take care of yourself and make sure that your chosen tattoo place meets all these requirements!