Emptying and Cleaning Your Urinary Catheter Bag

You have an indwelling urinary catheter. This drains urine from your bladder into a bag. The bag can be one that is used at your bedside. Or it can be a smaller bag that is strapped to your leg. Follow the steps below to empty and clean a urinary bag.

Step 1. Drain the bag

  • Wash your hands well with soap and water to prevent infecting the urinary catheter and bag.

  • If the short drainage tube is inserted into a pocket on the bag, take the drainage tube out of the pocket.

  • Hold the drainage tube over a toilet or measuring container. Open the valve.

  • Don’t touch the tip of the valve or let it touch the toilet or container.

  • Wash your hands again.

Closeup of hands opening valve on urinary catheter bag, draining urine into measuring cup.

Step 2. Clean the drainage tube

  • When the bag is empty, clean the tip of the drainage valve with an alcohol wipe.

  • Close the valve.

  • Reinsert the drainage tube into the pocket, if there is one.

Closeup of hands cleaning tube of urinary catheter bag.

Step 3. Clean your skin

  • Wash your hands well before and after cleaning your skin.

  • If you have a catheter (such as a Foley) that enters through the urethra, clean the urethral area with soap and water  1 time(s)  daily as you were taught by your healthcare provider. You should also clean after every bowel movement to prevent infection.

    • Don't pull on the tubing when cleaning so you don’t injure the urethra.

    • Don’t apply antibiotic ointment or any other antibacterial product to the urethra.

    • Don’t use lubricant on the urethra.

    • Don’t apply powder to the genital area or to the tubing.

  • If you have a suprapubic catheter, your healthcare provider will tell you how to clean your skin around the catheter. This is a catheter that was surgically placed into the bladder through the lower belly (abdomen).

Step 4. Check and clean the catheter tubing

  • Check the tubing. If there are kinks, cracks, clogs, or you can’t see into the tubing, you’ll need to change to new tubing as you were shown by your healthcare provider.

  • If the current tubing can still be used, wash it with soap and water. Always wash the tubing in the direction away from your body. Don't pull on the tubing.

  • Dry the tubing with a clean washcloth or paper towel.

Closeup of hands cleaning catheter.

Step 5. Clean the drainage bag

  • Have a clean backup bag or other drainage device ready.

  • Follow these steps:

    • Wash your hands well with soap and water.

    • Disconnect the bag from the catheter tubing. Connect the tubing to the backup bag or drainage device.

    • Drain any remaining urine from the bag you just disconnected. Close the drainage valve.

    • Pour some warm (not hot) soapy water into the bag. Swish the soap around, being sure to get the corners of the bag.

    • Open the drainage valve to drain the soap. Close the valve.

    • Use a certain solution to clean the bag if your healthcare provider advises one. Solutions that may be advised include:

      •   2 parts vinegar and  3 parts water.

      • 1 tablespoon of chlorine bleach mixed with a 1/2 cup of water.

    • Ask your healthcare provider how often you should clean your bag. Ask what solution you should use to reduce odor and keep your bag free of germs.

    • Shake the solution a bit and let it remain in the bag for 30 minutes.

    • Drain the solution and rinse the bag with cold tap water.

    • Hang the bag to drain and air-dry.

When to call your healthcare provider

Call your healthcare provider right away if you have any of the following:

  • Little or no urine flowing into the bag

  • Urine leaking where the catheter enters the body

  • Pain, burning, or redness of the area where the catheter enters the body

  • Bloody urine (a trace of blood is normal)

  • Cloudy or foul-smelling urine, or sand-like grains in your urine

  • Pain in your lower back or lower belly (abdomen)

  • Your catheter falls out

  • Fever of  100.4° F ( 38°C ) or higher, or as directed by your healthcare provider

  • Shaking chills

© 2000-2022 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.

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