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Caregiving: Using a Bedpan or Urinal

Topic Overview

If you are helping a loved one with a bedpan or urinal, try to be relaxed. Helping with a bedpan or urinal can be embarrassing for both of you. This may be especially true if you are caring for someone of the opposite sex. If you are calm and don't seem embarrassed, the person may feel more comfortable.

To help with a bedpan

Be sure to plan ahead before your loved one uses the bedpan.

  • Gather the supplies you need, such as the bedpan, gloves, toilet paper or wet wipes, a basin with warm water, a towel, and washcloths. Have a place to set the bedpan aside while you help with wiping or getting dressed.
  • Wash and dry your hands well.
  • Put on gloves.
  • Have your loved one take down his or her pants and underwear. Help if needed. Cover your loved one with a sheet or blanket for privacy.

To help the person use the bedpan:

  • Sprinkle a small amount of body powder on the rim of the bedpan to help with sliding. You can use a bed pad under the bedpan for spills.
  • Help get the bedpan into position.
    • Have the person sit up or lift up the hips slightly and then slide the bedpan under the person. Or if you have a helper, help your loved one lift his or her hips while the other person slides the bedpan under the buttocks.
    • Or, you can help the person turn to the side. Gently press the bedpan against his or her bottom and then help the person turn back onto the bedpan.
  • If you can leave your loved one alone safely, leave the room to give privacy.

After the person uses the bedpan:

  • Make sure to hold the bedpan in place and help the person roll off of it, away from you. Carefully set the bedpan to the side.
  • Help the person wipe if needed.
  • Wash and dry the area from the side.
  • Empty the bedpan into the toilet.
  • Rinse and wash the bedpan using a disinfectant diluted with water. It may help to use a small sprayer that attaches to the toilet water supply. Dry the bedpan or let it air-dry.
  • Take off your gloves.

To help with a urinal

To prepare before a person uses a urinal in bed:

  • Gather the supplies you'll need, such as the urinal, toilet paper, gloves, and a washcloth or wet wipes.
  • Wash and dry your hands well.
  • Put on gloves.

To help the person use the urinal:

  • Ask the person to put the urinal between his or her legs. If this is not possible, help the person spread his or her legs. Cover your loved one with a sheet or blanket for privacy.
  • Position the urinal and hold it gently while the person urinates. If a male cannot do it himself, put the penis in the opening at the top of the urinal.
  • When the person is done urinating, carefully remove the urinal.

After the person uses the urinal:

  • Gently wipe between the legs with a damp washcloth or wet wipe. For women, be sure to wipe the area from front to back. Put on new gloves if your gloves are soiled.
  • Dry the area between the person's legs.
  • Empty the urinal into the toilet.
  • Rinse and wash the urinal using a disinfectant diluted with water. Dry the urinal or let it air-dry.
  • Take off your gloves.


Current as of: March 17, 2021

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Gayle E. Stauffer, RN - Registered Nurse

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