HealthSheets™


Discharge Instructions: Flushing Your Feeding Tube

You are going home with a feeding tube in place. One of the things you must do is flush your tube to keep it from becoming clogged. You will flush your tube with warm water after each feeding, and before and after giving yourself any medicines. You were shown how to flush and care for your tube in the hospital. This sheet helps you remember the steps when you are at home.

Gather your supplies

Wash your hands thoroughly with mild soap and warm water.  

Here are the supplies you will need:

  • 50 mL (cc) syringe or larger

  • Bowl of warm water

  • Medical tape

Flushing a tube for continuous feeding

Flush the feeding tube with warm water and a clean syringe before the first daily feeding, after the last daily feeding, and at other times as instructed. Follow these steps:

  • Put the tip of the syringe in the water.

  • Draw up the recommended amount of water.

  • Turn off the pump.

  • Close the clamp on the feeding bag tubing.

  • Remove the tubing from the port.

  • Put the tip of the syringe in the feeding port.

  • Push the plunger down slowly. Use an even, gentle push.

  • Let the water run through the feeding tube.

  • Start your feeding or close the cap on the feeding port.

  • Tape the tube to your skin with medical tape.

Flushing a tube for single or special (bolus) feedings

Flush the feeding tube before and after each feeding or just after feedings, depending on your healthcare provider's instructions. Use a clean syringe and warm water. Follow these steps:

  • Fill a clean bowl with warm water.

  • Put the tip of the syringe in the water.

  • Draw up 50 mL (cc) of water.

  • Open the cap on the feeding port.

  • Put the tip of the syringe in the feeding port.

  • Push down on the plunger slowly. Use an even, gentle push. Let the water run through the tube.

  • Close the cap.

  • Tape the tube to your skin with medical tape.

When to call your healthcare provider

Call your healthcare provider right away if you have any of the following:

  • Choking (call 911)

  • Trouble breathing during feeding, flushing, or giving medicine

  • Tube that can’t be unclogged

  • Tube that falls out or difficulty telling whether the tube is in your stomach

  • Tube that is cracked or breaking down 

  • Diarrhea that lasts for more than 3 loose stools

  • Constipation that lasts more than 48 hours

  • Nausea or vomiting

  • Bloody or coffee-colored drainage through the tube

  • Redness, warmth, or tenderness in the skin around the tube

  • Sudden weight loss or gain (more than 2 pounds in 24 hours)

  • Bloated or tight belly

  • Fever of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher, or as directed by your healthcare provider

  • Chills

© 2000-2017 The StayWell Company, LLC. 800 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
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