The benefits of cleaning your works far outweigh the time and energy it takes to clean them. A needle or other works may look clean, but very small amounts of blood can still be there and that blood may carry things like HIV and Hepatitis C. The cost of not cleaning your works may be a lifetime of medication, doctors appointments, or worse.
We have staff that can show you how to clean your works. You can get a free bleach kit (to clean your needles) from us by coming in or calling (757) 640-0929. See office locations and HIV/STD testing hours
Pre-cleaning safety tips
- Never add water to the bleach because it makes the bleach less effective at killing HIV.
- Never re-use the bleach or dirty water.
- Clean your needle before the blood inside has a chance to dry; dried blood is harder to clean out of the needle.
- Never put a needle into the clean water bottle; fill throw away cups with dirty water and do not reuse the dirty water.
- Other cleaning methods are not as effective at killing HIV.
5 ways cleaning your works is helpful
- Cleaning with bleach means killing germs and viruses like HIV, Hepatitis C (also known as Hep C), and others.
- Cleaning with bleach means that you (and only you) can reuse your needle.
- You’re taking control of your health.
- You have the opportunity to chat with our staff or a peer anytime you come in – they can talk to you about how to get health insurance and see if you qualify for any of our programs like permanent housing, housing assistance, and transportation to medical appointments. You can also get free condoms, free lube, information on PrEP (a daily pill that can prevent HIV), and a free HIV/STD test.
- You can learn safety tips like changing where you inject to keep your veins healthy.
How to clean a needle
See video for visual instructions.
- Take water bottle (from free bleach kit) and pour water into one of the caps.
- Take bleach bottle and pour bleach into another cap.
- Take two pieces of clean cotton, put one in the water, and another in the bleach.
- Place syringe on cotton in the water cap, slowly pull the syringe up. For cleaning, it is okay to have air bubbles in the syringe (air bubbles are NOT okay when injecting). When cleaning, pull the syringe up higher than you did when using it with a drug.
- Place cap back on the syringe (if you have it), and shake it to help clean it out, then push the dirty water out into the 3rd cap (do not use this cap for anything other than putting dirty water/dirty bleach in it. You may also choose to use a sink to get rid of your dirty water and bleach).
- Repeat Steps 2–5 using new water and shake/tap for another 30 seconds. You’ll repeat this process with the water for a total of 3 times.
- After cleaning with water 3 times, it’s time to use bleach to kill what is left behind. Place your syringe into the cotton of the cap with bleach in it. Slowly pull it back like you did in step 4 with the water.
- Shake it with the bleach for 30 seconds. Repeat this process with the bleach for a total of 3 times.
- You’ve now cleaned your needle(s).