An indwelling catheter is a flexible tube that’s put into your bladder to drain urine. It’s held in place by a small, water-filled balloon inside your bladder. The catheter (often called a Foley) is connected to a tube that leads to a drainage bag. Urine from the catheter drains through the tube into the drainage bag.
There are 2 types of drainage bags:
Always wash your hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based cleaner before and after doing catheter care. Use soap and water if your hands look dirty,
not an alcohol-based cleaner. If you need help, it’s important that you ask someone who knows how to do catheter care.
Before you clean your catheter:
Change to a new drainage bag:
You can check that the valve is working by turning the bag upside down and making sure that urine doesn’t flow back into the tubing. Keep the cap on your drainage bags between changes.
Don’t let your drainage bag get too full. Empty the drainage bag:
You may need to empty the smaller drainage bag more often, if you use one during the day.
Always wash your hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based cleaner before and after you empty the drainage bag.
If you need to measure and record the amount of urine in the bag:
If you don’t need to measure your urine, drain it into the toilet after you take off the stopper or clamp. Also follow the rest of the instructions above.
Always wash your hands with soap and water or use an alcohol-based cleaner before you remove or attach the tubing and drainage bag to your catheter.
To remove the tubing and drainage bag from your catheter:
Only remove the drainage bag from the catheter when you need to. Instead of removing a smaller bag from your catheter, you can attach a larger drainage bag to the drainage spout of the smaller bag so there’s more space for urine to drain during the night.
If you switch from a smaller drainage bag to a larger bag at night, only remove the catheter from the tubing and bag when you change bags.
Clean and disinfect the sink and counter or other area where you will clean your bag. Always wash your hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based cleaner before you clean your bag.
Get the following before you begin cleaning your bag:
To clean the bag:
Other things to know
Throw out the syringe or squeeze bottle if it:
If you switch to a smaller bag during the day, clean the larger bag after you remove it.
If the leg strap for the smaller bag gets dirty, wash it with soap and water and let it air dry.
If there isn’t any or much urine in the drainage bag:
If you still don’t see any urine collecting in the drainage bag, call your healthcare provider.
Call your healthcare provider if you have any of the following:
If you have home care or other type of nursing care in your home, ask your case manager if you need any catheter supplies at home in case your catheter needs to be changed.
Drink enough fluids to prevent constipation (when you have hard stool and trouble passing it). Constipation can cause the catheter to leak.
Drinking enough fluids can also help prevent the catheter from getting plugged. If you’re drinking enough fluids, your urine should be pale yellow.
If you notice anything unusual with your catheter, make a note and let your healthcare provider know.
If you have questions about intimacy and sex, talk to your healthcare team. Your doctor and healthcare team is there to support you.
For 24/7 nurse advice and general health information, call Health Link at
Evidence-Based Guidelines for Best Practice in Urological Health Care: Urethral and Suprapubic, European Association of Urology Nurses, 2012.
Current as of: September 25, 2020
Author: Home Care, Alberta Health Services
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