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Cleaning Bedpans and Urinals

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By Paul Martin, BSN, R.N.

Maintaining a clean and sanitary healthcare facility is essential for patient care and infection prevention. Among the various tasks involved in healthcare-associated hygiene protocols, the cleaning of bedpans and urinals holds a significant importance.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about one in 31 hospital patients has at least one healthcare-associated infection (HAI). However, meticulous cleaning practices, particularly regarding reusable medical equipment like bedpans and urinals, play a pivotal role in reducing the risk of HAIs.

What is the correct way to handle and clean bedpans and urinals? Learn the process here.

Table of Contents


The following equipment and supplies will be necessary when performing this procedure:

  • Personal protective equipment (e.g., gowns, disposable gloves, masks, eye protection)
  • Tray with bedpan brush, bedpan swab
  • Disinfectant cleaner (hospital-grade)
  • Disposable towels or cloths
  • Paper towels
  • Waste disposal bags

Procedure for Manual Cleaning of Bedpans and Urinals

The manual cleaning of bedpans and urinals involves thorough washing, disinfecting, and drying to ensure they are safe for reuse. Effective management of this equipment requires a standardized approach, which can be outlined in the following steps:

1. Put on disposable gloves, a protective apron, and eye protection.
Washing bedpans manually carries the risk of spreading infection through the caregiver, the surroundings, and the bedpan that may still be contaminated. Personal protective equipment (PPE) minimizes exposure to infectious agents and chemicals.

2. Empty the contents of the bedpan or urinal into the appropriate toilet or disposal system.
Proper disposal prevents contamination of the cleaning area.

3. Use warm water to rinse the bedpan or urinal, removing any remaining waste.
Initial rinsing helps remove bulk waste and prepares the item for thorough cleaning.

4. Apply disinfectant. Spray or pour the hospital-grade disinfectant cleaner into and on all surfaces of the bedpan or urinal.
Disinfectants kill harmful bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens that can cause infections.

5. Use a cleaning brush or sponge to scrub all surfaces of the bedpan or urinal, focusing on corners and crevices.
Scrubbing physically removes biofilm and stubborn residues that harbor pathogens.

6. Thoroughly rinse the bedpan or urinal with warm water to remove any remaining disinfectant and loosened debris.
Ensures that all cleaning agents and waste are completely washed away, preventing chemical residues that can irritate skin or mucous membranes.

7. Use disposable towels or cloths to dry the bedpan or urinal completely.
Proper drying is important to prevent microorganism growth, as any residual fluid can serve as a reservoir. When manually drying after decontamination, use disposable cloths to avoid contamination.

8. Check the bedpan or urinal for any remaining stains or residues. Reclean if necessary.
After cleaning, the item should be inspected. If it remains soiled, the cleaning process should be repeated until the equipment meets acceptable cleanliness standards.

9. Disposal of Waste and PPE.
Proper disposal prevents the spread of contaminants and maintains a clean environment.

10. Wash hands thoroughly with liquid soap, and warm water, dry with a paper towel, and dispose of.
Hand hygiene is an important step in preventing the spread of infection.

Alternatives to Manual Washing of Bedpans and Urinals

Manual washing of bedpans and urinals is labor-intensive and time-consuming, leading to staff fatigue, reduced productivity, and increased risk of inconsistent cleaning and cross-contamination. Fortunately, several alternatives to manual washing are available:

1. Bedpan Washers and Disinfectors. Bedpan washers and disinfectors are automated machines designed specifically to clean and disinfect bedpans, urinals, and similar equipment. It offers a viable solution for reducing the cleaning workload of staff while providing a reliable and monitored approach to cleaning soiled bedpans, ensuring their safe reuse.

2. Disposable Bedpans and Urinals. Single-use disposable bedpans and urinals are designed for one-time use, eliminating the need for cleaning and disinfection. Disposable options offer the highest level of infection control by eliminating the cleaning process entirely, yet they pose environmental and cost considerations.

References and Sources

Paul Martin R.N. brings his wealth of experience from five years as a medical-surgical nurse to his role as a nursing instructor and writer for Nurseslabs, where he shares his expertise in nursing management, emergency care, critical care, infection control, and public health to help students and nurses become the best version of themselves and elevate the nursing profession.

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