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How to Sterilize a Needle

By Larry Parr ; Updated July 27, 2017

People often use a needle to help remove a splinter or even to help pop a zit. If a needle is going to be used to puncture the skin, even a shallow puncture, it is necessary to serilize the needle first. Needles can be sterilized in basically two different ways-- by the application of heat or through chemical means, such as soaking it in rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide. The method you choose will depend on what you are going to use the needle for, how much time you have and which method is the most convenient at the time. Just remember that it is important to choose one method or the other any time you are going to pierce the skin with a needle.

Wash the needle first in the palm of your hand with a few drops of dish washing detergent and water. Rub your thumb over the needle and rub it around in the soap until any dirt, grease or oils have been removed. Rinse and allow to dry on a clean paper towel.

Fold a paper towel twice and then get it damp and set it aside. Grasp the non-pointed end of the needle firmly with pliers, tweezers or an oven mitt and plunge the pointed end of the needle into a flame. The flame can the the burner on a gas stove or it could be a candle flame. Do not hold the needle above the flame (where soot may accumulate) but rather plunger the needle into the side of the flame and hold it in the fire until the needle is very hot.

Set the needle on the damp paper towel that you prepared earlier and allow it to cool.

Wash your hands with rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide and then pick the needle up by the non-pointed end. Try not to touch the pointed end of the needle as you work.

Fill a tea cup with half an inch of rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide if you do not wish to sterilize with heat. Drop the needle into the cup and allow it to sit in the liquid for twenty seconds.

Wash your hands with rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide and then carefully remove the needle from the tea cup, grabbing it by the non-pointed end.

Tip

A needle can also be soaked for 20 seconds in pure bleach. Wear gloves when retrieving a needle out of bleach.

Warnings

Do not hold a needle that has just been taken out of a flame in your bare fingers.

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