Reusable syringe care and maintenance

By Nate Jackman

Both disposable and reusable syringes work well for use with vaccines and injectable antibiotics. Though not a concern with sterile, disposable syringes that are used only once, syringes that are reused can contribute to injection site infections. This is because they provide an opportunity for bacterial contamination.

Here are some useful needle and syringe care tips for your operation:

  • Carefully remove needles and dispose of in a sharps container or, at a minimum, a plastic jug (such as an empty laundry detergent container). Your veterinarian can make recommendations for disposal options for sharps in your area. MWI offers sharps containers in various sizes; go to
Disposable syringes
  • Use disposable syringes only once. Remove needle before disposing of syringe.
Reusable syringes
  • For reusable syringes, perform maintenance in a clean, sanitary work area free from blowing dust and contaminants.
  • Wash and rinse your hands prior to cleaning syringes. Antibacterial soap and hand sanitizer residue can transfer to syringes and inactivate vaccines.
  • Clean all external debris (dust and manure) off syringes with hot tap water and a brush.
  • Disassemble the syringes and wash the internal parts with clean, hot tap water.
    • For syringes used for modified live vaccines, do not use soap or disinfectant. Modified live vaccines contain altered virus that can be killed by disinfectants; therefore, it is typically not recommended to use soap or disinfectants on syringes.
    • When you disassemble the syringes to clean, check the rubber O-rings. They tend to break down over time. This is an area where unwanted growth of bacteria or residue can also collect. Make sure you change the O-rings periodically, especially if they are starting to wear out.
    • If the plunger rubbers start to stick, for best results, lubricate after you clean the syringe. They won’t be stuck and tight the next time the syringe is used. Mineral oil is often used for this purpose, but glycerin or vegetable oil may work better.
  • Boil syringe parts in distilled water for 5 minutes.
  • Use a small amount of clean vegetable oil or syringe lubricant for rubber components.
  • Reassemble syringes once everything is dry.
  • Store the syringes in a clean, dry location.

About the Author

Nate Jackman

Regional Account Manager
MWI Animal Health
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