Care for Reusable Intermittent Catheterization (IC) Equipment

Your healthcare provider says that you require intermittent catheterization (IC). IC involves temporarily placing a tube (catheter) into the urethra. The urethra is the tube that carries urine out of the body. The catheter drains urine from the bladder. Once the bladder is empty, the catheter is removed. Learning how to properly care for your catheters helps keep them clean for you to use, which helps prevent infection.

Types of catheters

Catheters are made of soft, flexible plastic, rubber, or silicone. They come in all shapes and sizes. Some are disposable and are used once and thrown away. Others can be used multiple times if cleaned properly. Ask your healthcare provider how often the catheter you use should be replaced. Follow your healthcare provider’s instructions carefully.

Catheter care

Hand holding bladder catheter in sink, rinsing it with water.
Wash reusable catheters with soap and warm water after each use.

If you use a disposable catheter, use a new one each time you empty your bladder. Throw the catheter away when you’re done. If your catheters are reusable, do the following after each use:

  • Wash your hands with soap and warm water.

  • Clean the catheter with soap and warm water.

  • Rinse the catheter, making sure there is no soap left inside or on it.

  • Dry the outside of the catheter.

  • Store the catheter in a clean, dry container, such as a resealable plastic bag.

  • Throw away a catheter if the plastic looks cloudy.

  • Wash your hands again.

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