Where to dispose of your used stoma bag is a common question asked by many ostomates. It is important to know that most stoma products and wipes cannot be flushed down the toilet, but they need to be disposed of carefully in your normal domestic/household waste. Read our guidance on how to dispose of your stoma bag so that you are fully prepared and getting it right, wherever you are.
How to dispose of stoma bags at home
Empty the content of your stoma bag first
If you have a urostomy or ileostomy, it is easier to drain the contents of your pouch down the toilet before disposing of the bag itself. This will prevent any spillage of waste products whilst you are disposing of the bag.
If you have a colostomy, the option is to snip the end of the bag with a pair of scissors and empty the contents down the toilets. Or you can simply dispose of the closed bag with its contents, but make sure your pouch is sealed. You can do this by folding the flange area in half, so it becomes secure.
Rinse the stoma bag before disposing of it
If you have a drainable ileostomy bag, rinsing the stoma bag before disposing of it is an option. Some ostomates get warm water and swill the water through the drain end of the stoma bag to clean the pouch from its contents, before disposing of it. Urostomy bags are also available with tap and bung closures, which makes them easy to rinse before disposal.
Use the disposable bags provided by your delivery company
Most stoma delivery companies supply small disposable stoma bags within your regular monthly order of stoma products. These bags are perfect for disposing of your stoma bags. Simply pop your used wipes and pouch into the bag and tie the handles tight to secure the used products. Don’t forget to wash your hands afterwards.
Where do I dispose of used stoma products?
The disposable bag containing your used stoma products can be placed into your bin, whether this be indoor or outside, is personal preference. Some ostomates opt for putting it straight into the outside bin, for fear of odour in the house. Double bagging or wrapping your used pouch in newspaper can also help with any odours. It is fine to dispose of your used stoma bags in the normal domestic waste, along with babies’ nappies and dog poo bags.
Some local authorities may provide you with a yellow clinical waste bag, although they prefer large amounts in the clinical waste than just the odd used stoma pouch. If this is something you are interested in, please contact your local authority to enquire about clinical waste collection. There maybe a small charge for this.
Depending on where you live, rubbish bins are often emptied every fortnight. There is always an option to use your local bin cleaning service which will help keep your bins free from odour.
Disposing of your used stoma products when you are away from home
This can cause a great deal of stress and worry for ostomates. If you are out and about, don’t forget you can order a radar key through your delivery company which will help you access disabled toilets, where there will be a bin available. There are usually bins in the toilets, but they may not be as easily accessible when you need them.
Flying or staying over in hotels or at friends’ houses, can cause added stress. Take your supplies with you and your disposable bags, perhaps double wrap the bags to help with odour. There is also the option of disposable stoma bags which have been designed to improve quality of life for ostomates. The inner lining and flange are usually bio-degradable and can be flushed in domestic toilets, septic tanks and single flush siphonic systems. As the outer bag stays clean it can be disposed of in a standard bin, with any stoma output flushed away safely in the inner lining.
Can stoma bags be re-used?
Stoma bags, such as the closed variety may need changing 1-3 times per day. The complete colostomy bag will need to be removed and a new one applied each time.
For those with a drainable one piece, the whole system is removed every day, alternate days, or every 2-3 days on average. Some will get more wear time than others. Other ostomates simply prefer a fresh pouch each day to feel cleaner. Again, this is down to personal choice.
For those with a two-piece ileostomy, urostomy or colostomy, the flange (backing plate) may remain in situ from 1-3 days. Whereas the pouch can be changed and re-used more often, as it attaches to the seal on top of the flange, rather than directly to your skin.
Once the adhesive/flange area of the stoma bag has been removed from the skin, it is usually not re-usable. This is due to the adhesive on the flange being interrupted and therefore may not re-gain a good seal when being replaced back onto the skin, which could lead to leaks.