Indwelling Urinary Catheter Care

You have been given a flexible tube (catheter) used to drain the bladder. Catheters are often used when a person has difficulty urinating due to blockage, bleeding, infection, or inability to control bladder or bowel movements (incontinence). A catheter requires daily care to prevent infection and blockage.


Do the following to reduce the risk of infection. Antibiotic medicines cannot prevent infections.

Limit the number of bacteria entering your bladder

  • Wash your hands for 2 minutes with soapy water before and after handling the catheter.

  • Wash your bottom and the entire catheter twice daily, as well as after each bowel movement. Wash the tip of the penis or just above the vaginal opening with soap and warm water, rinse, and then wash the rectal area. Always wash from front to back.

  • When changing from the leg bag to overnight bag or from the overnight bag to leg bag, thoroughly clean the end of the catheter where it connects to the tubing with an alcohol wipe.

  • Clean the leg bag and overnight bag daily after use. Replace your drainage bags weekly.

  • Always keep the tubing and bag below the level of your bladder. This allows your urine to drain properly. Lifting the bag or tubing above the level of your bladder will cause dirty urine to flow back into your bladder. If you must briefly lift the bag higher than your bladder, pinch the catheter or tubing to prevent backflow.

  • Drink enough water and fluids to keep your urine clear or pale yellow, or as directed by your caregiver. This will flush bacteria out of the bladder.

Protect tissues from injury

  • Attach the catheter to your leg so there is no tension on the catheter. Use adhesive tape or a leg strap. If you are using adhesive tape, remove any sticky residue left behind by the previous tape you used.

  • Place your leg bag on your lower leg. Fasten the straps securely and comfortably.

  • Do not remove the catheter yourself unless you have been instructed how to do so.

Keep the urinary pathway open

  • Check throughout the day to be sure your catheter is working and urine is draining freely. Make sure the tubing does not become kinked.

  • Do not let the drainage bag overfill.


  • The catheter becomes blocked. Urine is not draining.

  • Urine is leaking.

  • You have any pain.

  • You have a fever.