How To Clean Your Needles
How to Sterilize a Needle
Sterilizing and disinfecting needles are two different things. While they both decontaminate, disinfecting only reduces the number of bacteria and contaminants and doesn’t guarantee safety from infection. Sterilization, on the other hand, completely removes all bacteria and microorganisms. If you need to sterilize a needle, make sure to take extra care to keep the needle uncontaminated until you use it.
Preparing to Sterilize the Needle
Wear gloves.Before you handle any needles, you need to wear gloves. If you don't have gloves, make sure you wash your hands (and wrists) thoroughly.
Gather sterilized equipment.When you are sterilizing needles, you need to make sure that you don't contaminate the needle after you sterilize it.
- Use sterilized tongs or spoons to pick the needle out of whatever device you place it in. Don't touch the newly sterilized needle with your hands or gloves. You could have contaminants on them.
- Place the needle in a sterilized container if you are storing it.
Wash the needle.Before you sterilize the needle, make sure to wash it. This removes any dirt, grime, or blood left on the needle. This is extremely important if you have used the needle before.
- Make sure to clean inside the needle if it is hollow. Use a clean or sterilized syringe to run water and soap through the inside.
Rinse the needles.After washing the needles with soap or disinfectant, you need to rinse them with sterile water. Make sure to use sterile water instead of distilled water. Distilled water can still contain bacteria. You need to rinse the needles to make sure there are no deposits from the washing left behind.
Sterilizing the Needle
Use steam.Steam is one of the most widely used and effective methods for sterilizing needles. No living thing can survive direct exposure to saturated steam at 250 degrees Fahrenheit (120 degrees Celsius) for longer than 15 minutes.
- Use a steaming pot to do this. Put water in the bottom pot. When it starts to boil, place the needle in the pot with the holes over the boiling pot, then cover it with a lid. Let it steam for at least 20 minutes.
- An autoclave is a tool specifically made for sterilizing needles and other tools by steam. If you need to sterilize needles often and precisely, you may want to invest in one.
Bake the needle.Wrap the needle in multiple layers of clean cloth. Bake the needle for 1 hour at 340 degrees Fahrenheit.
- This is one way to completely sterilize the needle by killing all the microorganisms. Make sure you leave it in the oven long enough. This method can be used to sterilize needles used for acupuncture, medical use, and piercings and tattoos.
- Dry heat can cause the needle to become brittle.
Use fire.Use a gas-fueled fire because they leave less residue behind. Place the needle tip in the flame until it glows red.
- Sterilizing a needle in a flame is good for home use, but doesn't get completely sterile because the needle can pick up contaminants in the air afterwards.
- If there are any soot or carbon deposits on the needle, wipe it with a sterile gauze pad.
- This method is effective for removing a splinter, but is not the most sterile. Therefore, it is not recommended for piercing, tattooing, or medical uses.
Boil the needle in water.One way to sterilize a needle is to drop it in boiling water. After you wash and rinse your tools, cover them with water and boil for 20 minutes. Start counting the 20 minutes after the water has reached a boil.
Use chemicals.You can sterilize a needle by using chemicals. Soak in the mixture for at least 20 minutes, unless it's drinking alcohol. If you use drinking alcohol, soak it in that solution for an entire day.You can rinse the needle in the following chemicals:
- Bleach. If it's 5% available chlorine, you can use it undiluted. If it is 10%, use 1 part bleach to 1 part water; for 15%, use 1 part bleach to 2 parts water.
- If you don’t have bleach, use one of the following chemicals: ethanol (medical alcohol) 70%, isopropyl alcohol 70%, or hydrogen peroxide 6%.
QuestionCan I boil my plastic syringes and needles to reuse for cattle?
Registered NurseRegistered NurseExpert AnswerI would not try to boil disposable syringes for reuse.Thanks!
QuestionCan these methods be used on clean a needle for re-administering fluids to a dog?
Registered NurseRegistered NurseExpert AnswerI don’t know if I would use this technique if your syringe and needle are all one piece, as many subcutaneous syringes are. Subcutaneous syringes can be purchased at the pharmacy with a prescription from your veterinarian; they are sold in small bags of 50 or 100 syringes. Disposable syringes are made to be thrown out after one use. Some disposable syringes can be taken apart, boiled or steamed, and reused several times. But we do not recommend this because needles that are not completely sterilized can spread disease.Thanks!
QuestionWhat is rubbing alcohol?Top AnswererRubbing alcohol is the common name for isopropyl alcohol. It can be purchased in the pharmacy section of most grocery stores.Thanks!
QuestionCan these methods be used on piercing needles?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYes, but it's best to only reuse piercing needles on yourself. Any professional will only use a needle one time per customer, per piercing before throwing them away.Thanks!
QuestionDoes blister fluid have a scent?Top AnswererUsually the fluid from a blister is just serum or lymph fluid - basically a salty water with a little bit of your immune system in it to help prevent infection, protect the sensitive skin, and promote healing. The fluid from a blister might have a very faint salt-water smell, but if there is a strong or noxious odor to it, it is likely infected.Thanks!
QuestionCan I use hot water and sea salt?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerDon't use sea salt. Boiling hot water will work, but antibiotic and antiseptic towelettes are recommended instead.Thanks!
QuestionCould I just wash it with soap and water?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerSoap and water will make it clean but not sterilized. Use rubbing alcohol for it to be 100% sterilized.Thanks!
QuestionHow do I lance a blister that is infected?Stephen JuristCommunity AnswerYou shouldn't. Lancing a pimple/blister won't do anything for the infection other than worsen it. It is most likely bacterial, but could also be fungal. For either, you will need medication to get rid of the infection - for bacterial an antibiotic, and for fungal an anti-fungal.Thanks!
QuestionCan you use alcohol to sterilize the needle of a veterianry syrige if using on the same cat for diabetes?Community AnswerIt is best to use disposable needles, as they get dull when they are used and would be painful if reused.Thanks!
Am I able to use this method for needles for stick n poke tattoos to sterilize the needles?
- Don’t pop a blister. The skin keeps the wound sterile and helps it to heal.
- Avoid touching the ends of the needle after sterilizing it.
Sources and Citations
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Video: How to Sterilize a Tattoo Needle | Tattoo Artist
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