Understanding Your Colostomy Bag

Before delving into cleaning procedures, it's important to understand the types of colostomy bags and how they function. A colostomy bag is attached to a stoma, an opening in the abdomen that allows waste to exit the body. These bags can be either closed or drainable. Closed bags are generally used for more solid waste and are disposable, while drainable bags are suited for looser, more frequent output and can be emptied and cleaned.

Step-by-Step Cleaning Process

1. Gather Your Supplies: Ensure you have all necessary items before you begin:

  • Disposable gloves
  • Warm water
  • Mild soap (unscented and non-irritating)
  • Soft cloth or paper towels
  • Disinfectant wipes (optional)
  • A new colostomy bag (if replacing)

2. Emptying the Bag: If you have a drainable bag, it’s best to clean it when it’s one-third to one-half full to prevent leaks. Carefully open the bottom of the bag over the toilet and empty the contents. Some people find using a small jug or container can help manage this process cleanly and efficiently.

3. Cleaning the Bag: After emptying, use warm water to rinse the inside of the bag. You can do this by holding the open end under the tap or using a squeeze bottle to squirt water into the bag. Move the bag around to ensure the water reaches all parts inside. Drain the water into the toilet.

4. Washing with Soap: Apply a small amount of mild soap to a soft cloth or directly into the bag. Gently clean the interior by agitating the soapy water inside the bag, then rinse thoroughly until all soap residue is gone. It's vital to avoid strongly scented or antibacterial soaps as they can irritate the stoma.

5. Drying the Bag: After rinsing, pat the outside dry with a soft cloth or paper towel. If time allows, let the inside air dry for a few minutes before reattaching or replacing the bag.

6. Inspecting and Replacing: Check the stoma and skin around it for any signs of irritation or infection. If the bag is reusable, ensure no residue or damage. Replace the bag or attach a clean one as needed.

Tips for Maintaining Your Colostomy Bag

  • Regular Schedule: Establish a routine for cleaning your bag, ideally when you are at home and have access to your supplies.
  • Skin Care: Use skin barriers and check the skin around the stoma for irritation. Proper cleaning helps prevent infections.
  • Odor Control: Consider using products designed to minimize odor within the colostomy bag.
  • Professional Advice: Regularly consult with your healthcare provider to ensure your cleaning technique and supplies are appropriate for your specific needs.


Cleaning your colostomy bag might seem challenging at first, but with the right tools and techniques, it becomes a manageable part of your daily routine. Remember, the key to effective colostomy care is consistency and attention to detail. By following these steps, you can maintain your colostomy bag with confidence and comfort, ensuring you lead a healthy and active life.

Feel free to reach out to your healthcare provider with any questions, or join support groups where you can connect with other ostomates who can share their tips and experiences.