How to clean Leg bag and Night Bag

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Why are there so many different opinions from Doctors/Nurses on cleaning the bags...Just got a message from my Urologist telling me NOT to clean the inside of the bag at all...just the outside with alcohol...then another nurse says..clean  the inside with just water....then another person says clean with white wine vinegar and water...who the heck am i supposed to believe? The last nurse i just asked this morning said...well, you should follow what your Urologist says.....but she seemed to disagree with my Urologist but said....just do what he says...WOW!

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8 Replies

  • Posted

    I think the point of vinegar is to avoid any bad smell. From memory I always rinsed the night bag and probably leg bag with water when I removed them, more the night bag than leg bag. Occasionally I would ad some vinegar and rinse them with water and vinegar to make sure they didn't smell.

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  • Posted

    Hi, Jack,

    This is a great opportunity to get on Google and research, but here's some info I found from a urology clinic:

    How do I clean my drainage bag?

    If you are using a leg bag during the day, the drainage bag should be cleaned in the morning when changing to the leg bag, and the leg bag should be cleaned at night when changing back to the drainage bag.

    Bleach solution method (preferred):

    1. Wash your hands before and after cleaning the bag.

    2. Disconnect the drainage bag from the catheter. Use a soft, plastic squirt bottle to rinse the drainage bag tubing and bag with tap water and drain.

    3. Mix a solution of 1 part bleach to 10 parts tap water. This would be 1 tablespoon of bleach to 5 ounces of water (a little over 1/2 a cup). Pour the bleach solution into the drainage bag tubing and bag. Agitate for 30 seconds and

    drain the solution out of the bag. Allow to air dry.

    Alternate vinegar solution method if bleach solution cannot safely be handled:

    1. Wash your hands before and after cleaning the bag.

    2. Disconnect the drainage bag from the catheter. Use a soft, plastic squirt bottle to rinse the drainage bag tubing and bag with tap water and drain.

    3. Mix a solution of 1 part vinegar to 3 parts tap water. This would be 1/2 cup of vinegar to 1 & 1/2 cups of tap water. 4. Pour the vinegar solution into the drainage bag tubing and bag. Agitate for 30 seconds and drain the solution out of the bag. Allow to air dry.


    I had an indwelling Foley catheter in for 3 months, and I used the vinegar solution to clean my day bag and night bag each day. I'd clean the day bag when after I changed over to the night bag--and then clean the night bag when changing over to the day bag. I used a small measuring cup to pour the vinegar solution in. Pretty easy to do.

    Some urologists and nurses are pretty lax about cleanliness. The purpose of cleaning the bag is to reduce the chance of a urinary tract infection (UTI). I don't like UTIs and don't like taking antibiotics so I stay on top of keeping things clean.

    Now I self cath or do clean intermittent catherization (CIC) as I wait to see if there's a BPH treatment I'd like. It takes some time to learn CIC, but it's well worth it. You'll have much more freedom than you have with a Foley. In my experience, many urologists and their nurses are not well-trained in CIC. I learned a lot about it on this forum. And I changed urologists. My current uro's staff is well-trained in catheterization. 

    Hope some of this helps.


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    • Posted

      I do the Vinegar and water thing..that seems to work the best...but will challenge my Urologist on Monday and ask him why he thinks the bags do not need to be cleaned at all...that seems to go against what most people do!
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  • Posted

    Hi Jack:

    There are so many different opinions because the people telling you how to do it have never had the unfortunate circumstance of having to wear one for a period of time therefore they don't really know what the best practice is even though they think they do.



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  • Posted

    My husband has had a permanent catheter for about 15 years so I reckon I know a thing or two about leg bags! 

    Are you all from the US?  I'm in the UK and we get all the catheters and bags we need free on prescription.  We attach a Flip Flo valve to the catheter (so he can allow the urine to fill his bladder), then the leg bag is attached to other end of the valve to receive the urine when he turns the tap on.  Valves don't suit some people while others find they can do away with the leg bag altogether and just dump the urine direct into the toilet - it's worth having one with a permanent catheter to keep the bladder tone healthy.

    So, at night time, the night bag just attaches to the leg bag - no need to take it off - plus it all adds up to extra length and comfort in the bed. Also, we keep the leg bag in a bowl, not on the stand, as we have had one or two spring a leak!

    The night bags are non-reusable, so when I take it off I empty and dump it.  We did have reusable ones supplied to start with but our nurses said they're not a great idea so we've always had disposable ones since then.  The leg bags I change about every 4 days as they build up some kind of whitish crud in the tube - I have no idea what this is!  I also do a bladder wash-out at this time (only for permanent catheters - it makes sure they 'eyes' at the tip don't get blocked).

    Finally, I trained to change the catheter myself  - it's urethral but apparently I could train to change supra-pubic as well. My husband has needed this for so many years because he has MS.  I have to say I couldn't be doing with washing out bags every day for 15 years!

    I do appreciate if you have to buy these things then washable ones make financial sense and the above advice is probably all good.  Perhaps supplying them for free is why our NHS is in such a lot of trouble at the moment!

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  • Posted

    Hi Jack

    Just had Turp op for BPH and all was  good but before that had a day /night bag and flip flop valve to use for 9 weeks.Had to use  it  for so long because I couldn't expel most of my urine from my bladder which ultimately led to kidney problems. 

    Anyway I was never really told how to clean the bags or valve but during all that time I didn't have one infection and was not on antibiotics until after the op.

    I used to firstly detach the bag /valve then fill it up with tap water and give it a good shake then empty it .Next I would use a plastic squeeze bottle filled with 1/3 disinfectant rest tap water  and squirt about 30mls into bag and give that a good shake around and then empty .Next another rinse through with tap water and job was done .

    Use to do it once a day for all  my day ,night and flip flo valves.

    Worked for me and bags had no smell either. 


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