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Foley Catheter Care Instructions

A catheter is a soft tube that is held in place in your bladder with a small balloon. A Foley catheter allows urine to drain out of your bladder. It allows the urine to drain into a collection bag. It is important that you empty the collection bag regularly, clean around the catheter insertion site, and keep it secured so there is no tugging. Keep the drainage bag in proper position below the bladder so that it drains well.

After initial insertion, you might notice some irritation or urine passing around the catheter (“bladder spasm”) while urine passes through the Foley catheter. These symptoms often improve as you adjust to having it in place.

Hygiene: It is important to maintain good hygiene when a catheter is in place. Before cleaning the catheter site, wash your hands with soap and water. This decreases the risk of getting bacteria into the bladder. Use soap and water to clean the insertion site. Always wipe away from the insertion site. If there is any dry or crusty material noted, you can wipe this away with soap and water. You may shower while a Foley catheter is in place. Be sure to keep the drainage bag below the bladder for proper drainage.

Drainage bags: The drainage bag is a reservoir that collects the urine from your Foley catheter. A “leg bag” is a small bag that attaches to your leg. A large bag can be used to drain the catheter overnight. It is important that you keep the bag below the level of the bladder for proper drainage. Empty your catheter bag at least every 4-6 hours or when it is one-half to twothirds full.

Positioning: The catheter must always be secured to your leg to make sure it does not pull. Attach your catheter to a leg strap or secure with tape. Always keep some slack on the catheter tubing to avoid tugging or pulling.

Preventing infection: It is important that you drink plenty of fluids throughout the day to promote good urine flow. Drink eight 8 oz glasses per day.


  • Constipation can make it difficult for the catheter to drain properly. If you feel you are constipated (hard stools, incomplete bowel movements, or difficult to push out stools), then consider increasing fiber and fluids. Try an over the counter stool softener such as Colace, Dulcolax, or Miralax.
  • Do not pull on the catheter tubing or remove the catheter yourself.
  • Do not disconnect the catheter from the tubing, unless changing from the leg bag to an overnight bag. If the catheter becomes disconnected from the tubing, be sure to clean both the catheter tubing and the bag tubing with an alcohol wipe and reconnect right away. This prevents bacteria from entering into the system. NEVER insert any substance into the tubing.


  • Catheter not draining properly
  • Swelling at the catheter insertion site
  • Fevers > 101 degrees Fahrenheit, back pain, severe abdominal pain
  • If the catheter comes out

Newman, D.K., Rovner, E.S., & Wein, A.J. (2018). Clinical Application of Urologic Catheter, Devices and
Products. Cham, Switzerland: Springer.
If a catheter is needed long term, catheter leg bag medical underwear are available.

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