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For more information on household healthcare waste, contact:

Household healthcare waste

Healthcare waste is a byproduct of healthcare that includes sharps, non-sharps, blood, body parts, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, mercury thermometers, medical devices and radioactive materials. Devices containing mercury and medical sharps (such as needles, syringes and lancets) from homes must be managed separately from regular trash. Other healthcare wastes generated at home may go to a landfill.

Non-sharp infectious waste

Non-sharp infectious wastes from homes include items like used bandages and bloody clothing, bed linens, furniture and carpet. Blood splattered bandages and other items can be discarded as is. Consider laundering clothing with stain removers so you can reuse the items.

Blood-soaked items should be bagged in plastic and put in the general trash. However, if a third party (such as a trauma scene clean-up service or licensed infectious waste hauler) removes the items, the waste becomes subject to business requirements.

Safe handling and disposal of mercury thermometers

mercury thermometer

If you have a household mercury thermometer, contact your local solid waste or streets department to ask when and where your next local household hazardous waste collection program will be held. In the meantime, store your thermometer in a rigid plastic container or a plastic bag, out of reach of children.

The DNR encourages local governments and businesses to collect mercury thermometers from the public and from schools. This will help minimize public health risks from broken thermometers and keep mercury out of the environment.

Manage chemotherapy waste carefully

Chemotherapy drugs may affect others living in your home while your body is getting rid of the drugs. Disposable items (such as gloves, adult diapers and sanitary pads) should be sealed in two plastic bags and put in the regular trash. Reusable items (such as clothes and linens that have body fluids on them) may be laundered in a washing machine but should be laundered separately from other clothes. Before washing, store these items in a plastic bag.

The American Cancer Society offers practical precautions for people who recovering at home after receiving chemotherapy treatments. Scroll down to “How can I protect myself and those I live with while I’m getting chemo?”


Last Revised: Friday December 14 2018