What to do with Old X-Ray Films

During our recent 20 Days to Organise and Clean your Home Challenge a reader asked “How do we dispose of old x-ray films safely?” My mum used to use them as templates with her quilting… I’m not entirely sure how she did this, but I thought it was a clever repurposing idea.  I loved this question because I have actually been collecting mine for years and they could do with a good declutter. I know a lot of people will be in the same boat as me and not know what to do with them, so here are some ideas for what to do with old x-ray films.

During our recent 20 Days to Organise and Clean your Home Challenge a reader asked "How do we dispose of old x-ray films safely?" I know a lot of people will be in the same boat as me and not know what to do with them, so here are some ideas for what to do with old x-ray films.

CHECK WITH YOUR DOCTOR

It’s important to check with your doctor which x-ray films are worth keeping. It may be mandatory to keep some because of importance to a medical condition or for legal reasons. Your doctor may offer to take and recycle them for you.

If your doctor says your x-rays are worth keeping. Keep them in a filing cabinet or somewhere safe. It’s best to keep them in the envelope they came in or ask your doctor for another one if you have lost it.

RECYCLE

X-ray films contain silver in the form of halides. X-ray films can be processed in a refinery where they are heated in temperatures over 1,000 degrees celsius. The silver is extracted and converted into a pure silver form. The extracted silver is used to make jewellery, electrical components and parts in utensils.

RecyclingNearYou.com.au is a site hosted by Planet Ark that contains information about the various recycling options and services offered by your council and local drop-off alternatives. Simply enter your state and suburb and select ‘X-Ray Films’ in the product drop-down menu and this will display the various services available for you to recycle and get rid of your X-Rays.

Some radiology clinics will accept your old x-rays and have them destroyed accordingly for you.

DONATE

You may be able to donate old x-rays to people who would get better use out of them. Make sure the x-rays you donate are not ones that are vital to keep. Remove all your personal information from the x-ray and donate to a pre-school or daycare for science displays.

Some universities and tertiary educational institutions may like x-rays for their art and science students.

CRAFT IDEAS WITH OLD XRAYS

Get creative with them! You could make a lot of craft items with the monochrome and holographic film strips. Here are some ideas I found from Fun In The Making. These could make for some fun Halloween crafts!

NIGHT LIGHT – Cover a night-light with a portion of an x-ray. Fun in the making used a creepy head x-ray because of the eyeballs at the bottom. Find idea here.

CANDLE VOTIVE – These x-rays are creepy looking and therefore provide great mood lighting for a Halloween party! Find idea here.

During our recent 20 Days to Organise and Clean your Home Challenge a reader asked "How do we dispose of old x-ray films safely?" I know a lot of people will be in the same boat as me and not know what to do with them, so here are some ideas for what to do with old x-ray films.

LAMP SHADE – I’m not sure I could sleep at night with this lamp shade, but it certainly ticks the crafty idea box! Find idea here.

During our recent 20 Days to Organise and Clean your Home Challenge a reader asked "How do we dispose of old x-ray films safely?" I know a lot of people will be in the same boat as me and not know what to do with them, so here are some ideas for what to do with old x-ray films.

FRAME IT – Cut out a section of the x-ray and put it into a picture frame. It may sound creepy but once it’s hung up, it looks super cool! A fun accessory in a kid’s bedroom, especially if they are interested in becoming a doctor one day!

STENCILS – Cut out part of the x-rays and use it as stencils for arts and crafts.

The Facebook community commented on a reader’s thread and offered their advice. Here are a few of their ideas:

  • Cut off all personal info and donate to a pre/school or daycare for their science displays. – Kelly 
  • Ask your local council. – Patricia
  • Let the kids draw on them in crayon. Fun!! 🙂  – Tarz
  • Mum used to keep them and turn them into stencils for us. – Emma
  • Radiology places will accept them & destroy them securely. – Marcia
  • Before you dispose of them take into consideration what kind of X-rays they are as it’s good to keep an early record of certain things. I do know of people who have put their X-rays up on a window or similar and taken photos of them and stored them digitally (with the information associated with it). – Katie
  • As an injury and insurance lawyer my recommendation would be to keep them – they are golden evidence if anything ever arises later on down the track – obviously we all hope that never happens but it can honestly mean the difference in how claims (be it injury, tpd insurance etc) are managed and paid. – Andrea
  • They are often used for art and craft, my friend who volunteers at a hospice makes beautiful cut out butterflies from them. – Kris
  • I used our X-rays as a quirky art mural but it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. – Barb
  • Im at Port Macquarie, and a local charity company collect/accept them – I think they can send them to recyclers & get paid minor $$. Contact your local X-ray place & ask them how/where to dispose. – Kylie

What do you do with your old X-rays?

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14 comments

Melanie May 9, 2017 - 9:14 AM

I bought the children play doctor kits and we used the x-ray’s as part of the ‘doctor’ game. We’d hold them up to the window and chat about the bones. The kids found it really interesting to see the bones inside the body and we used picture books to show the bones in reference to their bodies.

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Katrina - The Organised Housewife May 9, 2017 - 2:55 PM

that’s a lovely idea on how to use the Melanie and educating the kids at the same time, thank you for sharing 🙂

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Ramprakash September 13, 2017 - 2:03 AM

Lovely ideas

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Glennis Ongley March 20, 2018 - 12:17 PM

How do you clean the ink of the xrays

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Katrina - The Organised Housewife March 20, 2018 - 1:26 PM

Glennis, you could try my all purpose cleaner but I highly recommend you try a test area first. Please let me know how you go. https://theorganisedhousewife.com.au/cleaning-2/homemade-all-purpose-cleaner/

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vivienne spaltman February 11, 2019 - 9:56 AM

What a great idea for quilting templates. Because the xrays are a heavier material when cutting out templates they will last longer than say using cardboard. Also love the idea of framing a few of them….

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Katrina - The Organised Housewife February 12, 2019 - 2:10 PM

some interesting ideas isnt there! 🙂

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Anthony Luciano January 6, 2021 - 2:31 PM

I want to bind what I have into a book. I have a varnished wood cover that I made 15×18. My question is can I stack the X-rays on one another? Will they eventually stick together in the book? Storage will be in my antique room. Alway cool and dry. I live in Arizona, a very dry part of the country so humidity isn’t a factor. I just have unusual pictures in the anatomy. I think it would make a nice keep sake to put on display
Thank for your help.

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Katrina - The Organised Housewife January 8, 2021 - 3:35 PM

I’m not actually sure Anthony. I imagine they might be okay stored in a cool dry room, I have old xrays that were in the same envelope for quite a long time and they were fine. If you were concerned about the possibility of them degrading perhaps you could photograph each one on top of some white cardboard so you also have a photo copy as well. Please let us know if you do make your x-ray book!

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Shirley La April 2, 2021 - 7:35 PM

Thanks a lot for all these ideas!

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Katrina - The Organised Housewife April 8, 2021 - 3:36 PM

So glad you found them helpful!

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Joan July 18, 2021 - 11:19 AM

If you want to use the films for templates or want them clear for some reason, you can soak them in bleach. Just be careful where you dispose of the waste. It could be toxic.

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Phoenix One September 4, 2021 - 2:04 AM

SOMETHING ALMOST NO ONE KNOWS ABOUT ONE OF THE BEST APPLICATIONS OF USED X-RAY FILM
IS THAT THEY MAKE THE BEST BONGO SKINS FOR PLAYING! EVEN BETTER THAN ANIMAL SKIN, X-RAY
FILM ONCE STRETCHED, IT PRODUCES THE SWEETEST BEAT PITCH UNLIKE ANY OTHER MATERIALS.

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Amiry Enterprises November 9, 2021 - 4:14 PM

Valuable information,Thanks lots for sharing them with us.

Reply

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