Urine Drainage Leg Bag Care (2023)

The Foley catheter is a tube that helps drain urine from the bladder. It is used by some patients who have had urological or gynecological surgery, or who have a condition that makes urination difficult.

Urine Drainage Leg Bag Care (1)

The urinary (Foley) catheter is placed into the bladder through the urethra, the opening through which urine passes. The catheter is held in place in the bladder by a small, water-filled balloon. In order to collect the urine that drains through the catheter, the catheter is connected to a bag. It is either a regular (large bag) drainage bag or a small leg bag.

(Video) How to care for your urinary drainage bag

If you have a urinary (Foley) catheter, you will use the larger drainage bag at night while you are sleeping. You can use the leg bag during the day.

Attaching or removing a leg bag

The leg bag is attached to your leg and allows you to move around more easily. Because the bag is hidden under your clothes, it may also make you feel more comfortable about the catheter.

Urine Drainage Leg Bag Care (2)

(Video) Caregiver Training Series : How to change and maintain a urine bag

To attach or remove a leg bag, you will need the following materials:

  • Clean leg bag(s).
  • Leg straps or tape.
  • Cotton balls and alcohol pads.
  • White vinegar.
  • Water and a towel.
  • Regular (large) drainage bag.

To attach or remove the leg bag:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water for 15 seconds.
  • Empty the large drainage bag. The different types of drainage bags open in different ways: a drain spout that you remove from its sleeve, a clamp that you open to the side, or an opening that you twist. Whichever method you use, be sure to not touch the tip when you let the urine flow out of the large drainage bag into the container or toilet.
  • Place a towel under the connection between the catheter and the bag.
  • Pinch off the soft rubber tube (the catheter tube) so that urine doesn't leak out.
  • Disconnect the urinary (Foley) catheter tube from the current large drainage bag with a twisting motion. Keep pinching the soft rubber tube (the catheter tube) so that urine does not leak out.
  • Be careful not to pull on the catheter. Place the old large drainage bag on the towel.
  • Prepare to place the leg bag in the catheter tube from which you just disconnected the large drainage bag. Remove the protective coating from the tip of the leg bag drainage tube. (Save this tip to use later when you change back). Clean the tip with an alcohol pad, wiping away from the opening to avoid getting the tube dirty. Insert the tip in the catheter tube.
  • Fasten the straps of the leg bag to your thigh. Secure the catheter itself to your leg with tape. Be sure to leave some slack in the catheter so that you don't put too much pressure on the bladder, urethra, and other parts of the body. Don't fasten the straps on the leg bag too tightly to your leg, as that may interfere with your circulation. If the leg strap gets dirty, wash it with soap and water.

Emptying the leg bag

Please note that because a leg bag is smaller than a regular drainage bag, it will have to be emptied more frequently.

(Video) Foley Catheter and Drainage Bag Care, Male - Patient Eduction, #cna

  • Empty the leg bag when it is half-full, or at least twice a day.
  • Place a large plastic or metal container on the floor next to you. You may also empty the urine into the toilet. The nurse may give you a container to use at home.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water.
  • The different types of drainage bags open in different ways: a drain spout that you remove from its sleeve, a clamp that you open to the side, or an opening that you twist. Whichever method you use, be sure to not touch the tip when you let the urine flow out of the urine bag into the container or toilet.
  • When the bag is empty, close the clamp or twist on the cap on the leg bag.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water.
  • Write down how much urine was in your bag, if your caregivers have asked you to keep a record.

It is a good idea to occasionally change your leg bag from one leg to the other. The best time to do this is right after you shower.

Cleaning the bag

  • When you are ready to go to sleep, change out the leg bag and put on the drainage bag. Rinse out the leg bag with 1 part vinegar and 3 parts water. Soak the bag for 20 minutes. Rinse the bag out with warm water and hang it up to dry.
  • In the morning, take off the drainage bag, put on the leg bag, and clean out the drainage bag the same way.
  • Clean your leg bag every day and replace it whenever your doctor tells you to. This is usually once a month.

Other care tips

  • Drink plenty of liquids. You should drink at least 8 cups of healthy liquids a day, if your health care provider approves.
  • Do not pull or tug on the tubing. This can cause bleeding and hurt the area in which the water-filled balloon is located.
  • Do not step on the tubing when you are walking. Hold the tubing curled in your hand, with the urine bag below your bladder when you are walking. You may also want to clip or pin the tubing to your clothing.
  • Arrange the catheter tubing so that it does not twist or loop. When you are getting into bed, hang the urine bag beside the bed. You can sleep in any position as long as the bedside bag is below your bladder. Do not place the urine bag on the floor.
  • Always keep your urine bag below your bladder, which is at the level of your waist. This will prevent urine from flowing back into your bladder from the tubing and urine bag, which could cause an infection. Also, do not go to bed or take a long nap while wearing the leg bag.
  • When you take a shower, you can keep the larger drainage bag in place and hang it on the rail in the shower area. You can also use a plug that is inserted in the place where the catheter connects to the drainage bag. Lay the drainage bag aside with a cover over the connection piece while you shower, and reconnect when you are done. It is important to put a cap on the end of the drainage bag tubing so it does not become contaminated.
  • If you dislodge the catheter, it will stop draining or it will leak. Call your doctor if this happens. Leakage can happen from many things: dislodgement, bladder spasms, or blockage. In all cases, notify your doctor.
  • Check the catheter and drainage tube on a regular basis to make sure the tube isn't squeezed or tangled.

When should you contact your healthcare provider about your urine drainage bag?

Contact your healthcare provider if you have:

(Video) How to Change from Foley Catheter Leg Bag to Nighttime Bag | Chronic urinary retention

  • Cloudy, foul-smelling urine.
  • Red or pink urine, mean that there is blood in the urine.
  • A fever greater than 101 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Pain or burning in your urethra, bladder or lower back.
  • Swelling, draining, or redness in your urethra (the area where the Foley catheter leaves the body).

You should also contact your healthcare provider if no urine has drained from your catheter in six to eight hours or if your catheter is leaking.

Symptoms of a urinary tract infection may include:

  • A need to urinate often.
  • A painful, burning feeling in the area of the bladder or urethra while you are urinating.
  • Nausea or vomiting.

You may also feel bad all over — tired, shaky, washed out —and feel pain even when you are not urinating. The urine itself may look milky or cloudy or even reddish if blood is present.


How do you clean urine bags on your legs? ›

Rinse out the leg bag with 1 part vinegar and 3 parts water. Soak the bag for 20 minutes. Rinse the bag out with warm water and hang it up to dry. In the morning, take off the drainage bag, put on the leg bag, and clean out the drainage bag the same way.

How often should you clean a urinary drainage bag? ›

The night bag or bottle is reusable and therefore needs to be cleaned after each use. To remove your overnight drainage bag or bottle: Wash and dry your hands thoroughly. Close the drainage tap of your leg bag or catheter valve.

How do you take care of a drainage bag catheter? ›

Clean your leg bag each night before changing to the bedside bag.
  • Wash your hands well.
  • Disconnect the tube from the bag. ...
  • Clean the used bag by filling it with a solution of 2 parts white vinegar and 3 parts water. ...
  • Close the bag with the cleaning liquid in it. ...
  • Let the bag soak in this solution for 20 minutes.

Can a urinary drainage bag be cleaned with soap and water? ›

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.

Why does my leg bag smell? ›

Bacteria can colonize in the tubing and bag and end up producing a nasty smell. Urological companies offer cleaning solutions specifically aimed at getting rid of the bacteria — and smell.

Can you reuse a urine leg bag? ›

Leg bags that are labeled by the manufacturer as reusable may be reused for a single resident in the LTC setting for convenience, cost savings and decreased environmental waste. Following the manufacturer's instructions for use is imperative.

How do you shower with a urine bag? ›

Leave your bag or valve attached to the catheter while showering. If you have a leg bag, it must be kept below the level of your bladder at all times. Sometimes you may get urine leaking down the urethra. This is nothing to worry about but contact your doctor or nurse to get further advice.

Can you sleep with catheter leg bag? ›

Can I Sleep With a Catheter Bag? Yes you can! There are larger capacity catheter bags that are designed for overnight drainage. Their larger capacity means you won't have to worry about getting up in the night to drain them.

How do you clean a urostomy night bag? ›

Cleaning the system

Pour 1/4 cup vinegar through the tubing into the night drainage container. Pour 2 cups cool water through the tubing into the container. Let the tubing and container sit for at least 1 hour. Then empty the contents into the toilet.

Why not to shower with a leg bag catheter? ›

Don't take a bath until your catheter is removed. This is because taking a bath while you have your catheter puts you at risk for infections. Make sure you always shower with your night bag.

How often should a drainage bag be changed? ›

You should empty the bag before it's completely full (around half to three-quarters full). Valves should be used to drain urine at regular intervals throughout the day to prevent urine building up in the bladder. Leg bags and valves should be changed every 7 days.

How much urine can a drainage bag hold? ›

Most leg bags hold between 19 and 32 ounces. Overnight drainage bags hold between 2000 ml and 4000 ml. What this means is, by switching to an overnight drainage bag you will be able to sleep through the night without you or your caregiver having to get up to empty a leg bag.

How often should urinary catheter care be performed using soap and water? ›

Cleaning the Catheter

Follow these steps two times a day to keep your catheter clean and free of germs that can cause infection: Wash your hands well with soap and water.

Can you drive with a catheter leg bag? ›

The leg bag is designed to fit beneath your clothing to be discrete. If you are feeling well, you can do normal daily activities. Driving is not permitted with a urinary catheter.

Why does a leg bag turn purple? ›

Purple bag syndrome occurs when bacteria within the urine produce red and blue pigments. This adheres to the lining of the catheter bag, turning it a vibrant purple, even though the urine itself isn't discoloured.

How often do you clean the overnight catheter bag? ›

Clean the drainage bag every day while it's disconnected from your catheter. Wash the leg strap with soap and water and air dry if it's dirty.

How long can you use a Foley leg bag for? ›

Urinary drainage bags must be discarded every seven (7) days from first use when: • switching from a leg bag to a large drainage bag; disconnecting the drainage bag from the catheter; and • the bag is leaking, damaged, discolored, stiff and brittle or a strong odor persists after cleaning.

How do you sleep with a drainage bag? ›

It is important to remember to place the drainage bag on a night stand at a level that is below your bed and bladder; urine cannot flow upwards so you need to ensure that there are no restrictions or issues with drainage.

How do you wear pants with a catheter bag? ›

We recommend trying jeans or pants that are one size up from your normal size to ensure that the pants don't pull on your catheter tubing. Skirts, dresses, leggings, slacks, and tights are also great options for concealing drainage bags whether on the leg or the belly.

How often to change a night bag with urostomy? ›

Most urostomy pouches need to be changed 1 to 2 times a week. It is important to follow a schedule for changing your pouch. Do not wait until it leaks because urine leaks can harm your skin.

Why does my urostomy bag leak at night? ›

Leakages can happen when the skin surrounding the stoma opening isn't completely even. This is usually caused by scarring or skin folds and means that a baseplate can't sit flush against the skin. Output can leak into these tiny gaps and cause skin soreness.

How do I keep my urostomy bag from twisting at night? ›

Use a leg strap to keep the tubing next to your thigh. This will help keep the tubing or pouch from twisting.

Why am I peeing around my catheter? ›

Leakage around the catheter is another problem associated with indwelling catheters. This is called by-passing and can occur as a result of bladder spasms or when you open your bowels. Leakage can be a sign that the catheter is blocked, so it's essential to check that the catheter is draining.

Can you drink coffee with a catheter? ›

Avoid caffeine drinks such as carbonated drinks, coffee or tea as this may irritate your bladder. Avoid constipation as this can prevent the catheter draining properly or cause leakage of urine around the catheter. Ensure you have plenty of fibre in your diet, i.e. brown bread, fruit and vegetables.

How long does it take for bladder to return to normal after catheter removal? ›

For 2 days after your catheter is removed, your bladder and urethra will be weak. Don't push or put effort into urinating. Let your urine pass on its own. Don't strain to have a bowel movement.

Where should a drainage bag always be kept? ›

Always keep the drainage bag below the level of your bladder. This will help keep urine from flowing back into your bladder. Check often to see that urine is flowing through the catheter into the drainage bag. Empty the drainage bag when it is half full.

Where do you put a catheter bag at night? ›

This bag should be used during the night. Be sure to hang the bag over the side of the bed below the level of your bladder so that urine will flow easily.

Is drainage bag the same as urine bag? ›

An indwelling catheter, such as a Foley catheter, is used to collect urine. It can be attached to a urine collection bag or to a catheter valve that can be opened and closed. Free drainage means that urine drains out from the catheter all the time into a drainage bag.

Why must a drainage bag be positioned lower than the bladder? ›

Keep the drainage bag lower than your bladder so that urine does not flow back up into your bladder. Empty the drainage device when it is about one half full and at bedtime. Always wash your hands with soap and water before emptying the bag.

What is the nurses responsibility of catheter care? ›

Monitoring Waveforms for Proper Catheter Placement:

The nurse must be vigilant in assessing the patient for proper catheter placement. If the PA waveform suddenly looks like the RV or PCWP waveform, the catheter may have become misplaced. The nurse must implement the proper procedures for correcting the situation.

What is the best practice for catheter care? ›

Do perform peri-care using only soap and water or a similarly gentle cleaning agent. Do keep the catheter and tubing from kinking and becoming obstructed. Do keep the catheter system closed when using the urine collection or leg bags. Do replace catheters and urine collection bags that become disconnected.

Should you irrigate a catheter daily? ›

Irrigate through the catheter every four hours during the day using Normal Saline (do not use tap water). It is important to irrigate more frequently if the urine output has diminished or if the Blake drain or Penrose drain seem to have a significant increase in the amount of output.

What is the disadvantage of a leg bag? ›

The Leg Bag Has Caused Skin Damage

If you notice skin damage, you may have attached the leg bag straps too tight or too loosely. When the leg bag straps are tightly attached, they can restrict lymphatic flow, which increases the risk of vein and skin problems.

What foods should you avoid with a catheter? ›

Avoid strong coffee and tea, fizzy drinks and excessive alcohol. Cranberry juice has been shown to be effective in reducing the risk of urinary tract infection (cystitis). However, cranberry may cause you problems if you take certain tablets or medications.

Should a catheter leg bag be on the thigh or calf? ›

If you are using a long tube leg bag then we always advise to wear it on the inside of the calf. This allows a clear direction for the urine to drain into the bag. Alternatively, there are catheter bags with a direct inlet or short tube. These can be positioned on the thigh.

How do you remove urine from skin? ›

Cleaning and drying the area right away after urinating or having a bowel movement. Cleaning the skin with mild, dilute soap and water then rinsing well and gently patting dry.

Can you use vinegar to clean a catheter bag? ›

Mix 1 ¼ cups of white vinegar with 2 quarts of water. Rinse the bag well with this solution to help reduce urine odor. (Do not rinse the bag with water after using the vinegar solution.)

How do you clean urine soak? ›

Before washing your urine-stained clothing item with a laundry detergent, you can try soaking it in a sink or tub with a mixture of baking soda and warm water—although, in most cases just washing it with a high-quality detergent like Tide will suffice.

What happens when urine sits on skin? ›

Prolonged contact of the skin with urine or faeces leads to a specific form of moisture-associated skin damage, known as incontinence-associated dermatitis (IAD). While this is a common condition encountered in all areas of nursing practice, gaps remain in our understanding of the many contributing factors.

What should I use to clean myself after peeing? ›

There are two main methods of keeping your vulva healthy after urinating. The first is with soft tissue paper, and the second with warm water. Be gentle with both to avoid skin sensitivity and irritation.

What do nursing homes use to get rid of urine smell? ›

The Best Way to Remove Odors in Nursing Homes

Odoff Odor Neutralizer is designed to BANISH odors at the source. Odoff treats: Urine & Fecal odors. Ammonia-based odors.

Can I use baby wipes to clean a catheter? ›

Clean the catheter area 2 to 3 times a day and as needed. You can use a baby wet wipe to clean the area instead of soap and water, if it's easier. (You can buy baby wipes at any drug store or supermarket.)

Can I use rubbing alcohol to clean my catheter? ›

Alcohol is the best way to sterilize catheters. Bleach and betadine solutions may be just as safe, but there has not been research done on these solutions.

Does Dawn dish soap clean urine? ›

Dish Soap: Some people have also had success with regular dish soap and water to remove pet odors. Apply with a sponge, and allow the area to completely dry to get rid of the urine odor in the carpet.

Does hydrogen peroxide neutralize urine? ›

Hydrogen Peroxide Based Products

Products containing hydrogen peroxide can be effective on urine odors and stains. The hydrogen peroxide helps destroy the odor causing bacteria and can also help safely bleach out discolorations on hard and soft surfaces.

Does urine wash away bacteria? ›

Fiction. If drinking urine was your survivalist backup plan, we've got some bad news. The rumor that your pee is sterile is, well, a rumor. Scientists have found that urine in healthy individuals naturally contains bacteria, so urine isn't quite as “clean” as myths have led us to believe.

How often should you change your night urine bag? ›

Empty your urine bag into the toilet at least every 8 hours. Replace your leg bag once a week.


1. All About Urine Catheter Care (English Subtitles)
(Singapore General Hospital)
2. Skill 10 Emptying a Urinary Drainage bag
(The Healthcare Institute)
3. HCA Hospice [Medi Minder Training Series] Changing the Urine Bag
(HCA Hospice)
4. Cleaning a Leg Bag Used for Urinary Incontinence
5. How to Care for Your Catheter (Male) at Home
(UHN Patient Education)
6. How To Maintain A Catheter


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