Rinsing ileostomy bag: necessary or not?

Jan 14, 2018 11:49 pm

I've been given mixed information as far as rinsing out my ileostomy bag between changes. Yay or nay?

I had a lot of issues with leaking barriers early on, and one of the suggestions was to not rinse inside the bag. But it seems like if the barrier holds up with liquid output, water should be fine?

Jan 15, 2018 6:44 am

I agree with your theory that the bag should hold out with rinsing. However, I suppose if the output is coming from the stoma into the bag, it may not be getting between the skin and the barrier quite as much as if you are rinsing the bag out.   I suppose that would depend on the technique used for rinsing. 

Just a thought!

Best wishes


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Jan 15, 2018 1:36 pm

This is a good topic as I rinse my pouch out with water only when the output gets very pasty and it is hard to drain. I have a squeeze bottle that works very well and I try not to get too much water around the stoma when rinsing. As long as you have a good seal and a snug fit with the wafer, you shouldn't have any issues with rinsing. Stay well. Penguins7

Jan 15, 2018 3:35 pm

I rinse my bag almost every time I empty. It helps lessen odors and it gets the stuff out. That being said, I do not rinse the stoma area because I do not want to compromise the integrity of my seal. If you do, no big deal, just be prepared that your wear time may lessen. You will see the erosion of the wafer speed up. Take care. LH

Jan 15, 2018 8:38 pm

Everyone agrees it starts with a good seal.  I use the moldable Convatec stuff which would probably seal OK but, being just slightly paranoid, I start with wiping on 3M Cavilon Barrier Film, then an Eaken Seal or a Hollister Adapt® Flat Barrier Ring SoftFlex®.  I reshape that seal so it's way thinner than when it comes out of the package. Then the wafer which I warm a little with a hair dryer.  I rinse the bag each time I empty it by pouring warm water into the bottom opening then swishing it around until it's pretty clean.  

Mine is a colostomy so the output can be pretty thick at times.  This process works for me and I would be so happy to answer any questions about reshaping, heating, rinsing and even my paranoia.



Words of Encouragement from Ostomy Advocates I Hollister
Jan 16, 2018 8:29 am

It's only recently I've ever even heard about rinsing out my stoma bag. I have never had it mentioned to me by my stoma nurse, etc., and have always just emptied and wiped just inside with a bit of tissue.

Just worry I'd end up making more of a mess and adds time to an empty. Have no issues with odors, etc., but keen to hear if there are other benefits I'm just not aware of. Thanks

Jan 16, 2018 2:43 pm

I rinse my bag out when it needs it and have no problems at all. I use one of those water bottles that hockey players use with the long spout. I also have a hose which attaches to the tap and the other end goes in my bag while I am over the toilet. In the beginning, I had a few mishaps and needed 3 hands, but it is fine now.

Jan 16, 2018 5:28 pm

Hi James.  When I think about it I wonder if it's really necessary.  I consider the pouch to be an outside rectum.  I never rinsed out my inside rectum after pooping but I couldn't see what was left in it.  


Jan 16, 2018 5:35 pm

Hey Beshlie, There's no limit to what we might be able to do if we had that third hand.  I worry a little about my dexterity diminishing as I age and how the whole ostomy thing might be affected.  

Some folks might ask, "when does the bag NEED to be rinsed out?" 

Thanks for your input.


Jan 17, 2018 6:59 pm

For me, it seems like sometimes the output is so thick and gooey that it's hard to empty. In these instances, I'm tempted to just change the bag only (I wear a 2-piece system). But I don't want to waste bags as I only get 20 a month.

I suppose it doesn't need to be rinsed out, I just feel like the bag would be lighter and cleaner if I were able to completely empty it. Plus, it helps with my self-esteem for the bag to be as clean and empty as possible.

Jan 17, 2018 8:25 pm

Hi Julian.  Here we are sharing our thoughts about cleaning out bags of poop and self esteem in the same compositions.  The two are connected, they're connected and we need to address both.  Folks might feel differently about these things and I respect all perspectives.  I probably feel like you relative to the cleanliness of the bag.  Lots of folks couldn't care less.  Addressing it from OUR perspective I suggest trying very warm water.  After cleaning I also use a little Hollister lubricating deodorant (50788500) in addition to the M9 drops.  

Good luck,


Jan 17, 2018 9:41 pm

Thanks, Mike! I couldn't agree more. :)

Jan 17, 2018 9:53 pm

Holy crap!  I forgot to mention, since the stoma has no feeling on its surface, we need to be careful with the water temperature. I'm sure hyou knew that.


Jan 18, 2018 2:52 pm

Hi everyone, I posted an answer to this question already but I wanted to add another thought.... Rinsing the pouch with water does reduce the weight of the pouch. I feel the profile against my body is more streamlined and overall I feel fresher. Another post asked if rinsing is more messy and causes more trouble in the long run. In my opinion, it does not. I actually feel that rinsing the pouch cleans the tail of the pouch thoroughly and my time in the bathroom is reduced. There are days when I am not able to rinse out my pouch when emptying, and the pouch feels full and looks messy to me. I also use cold tap water, not warm water. I figured cold water will never hurt me or my skin. Good luck!

Jan 19, 2018 7:09 pm

Hi all,

Everyone has very good answers. I have had my ileostomy for over 50 years, and back years ago, when the pouches were reusable rubber, I rinsed them out all the time. But since the disposables (I get a week of wear), I think as Mike does. I never rinsed out my rectum, and the pouch is the "holding place", so I don't rinse it out as a regular thing. I have a friend who has had her ileostomy for as long as I have, and she always carries a cup with her and rinses it out all the time. I think it's a purely personal issue. If I eat something "stinky" like fish, I may opt to rinse or change the pouch altogether. Otherwise, I don't even think about it. I hope this helps... Best regards,

Jan 22, 2018 2:22 am

Hi Juliantheory: You are right. I have been rinsing my pouch for two years. Many times our output is very liquidy, so water should not hurt it. To me, if you do not rinse, things will build up around the stoma, and could make changing the flange not only messy, but painful. Mostly I use cold water, but on occasion, I will use warm water. I even will use a light spray of household deodorizer to keep it from smelling. As mentioned earlier in a post, I also use a paste, and don't have a problem even at night. Keep it up, and stay in touch. As a rule, I will get 6-8 days with my flange. Something worth mentioning also, is that I purchased a bidet, and what a difference it has made in cleaning out my pouch.

Best regards,


Feb 16, 2018 1:39 am

I am Jan, 77 years old, and a new member. I noticed that you also use Convatec. Have you had any problems getting them? I'm only about 5 months post-surgery for cancer, and I never had a problem until about 2-3 weeks ago when I tried placing an order and was told they were back-ordered due to a flood. They had no idea when they would get them in. When I googled it, apparently Convatec moved from the US to the Caribbean and was hit by a hurricane in October. They did send me a Convatec bag, which I suspect to be an old model, to use in the meantime. The good part about this bag is that it has a wider funnel end, making it easier to clean out the bag. However, there is more leakage at the closure. Unfortunately, they have no idea when they might get supplies in. I was using the wafers and transparent bags, which were cleanable, rather than the throw-away bags that I have tried and dislike at this point. I have never tried any other brand. I use Edgepark to order my supplies.

Just wondered if there are others of you having problems ordering and getting your Convatec bags.

Feb 17, 2018 4:54 pm

I too rinse out my bag several times a day with hot tap water with no problems and change the bag about every 4 - 5 days. My stoma nurse told me if odor was a problem to put several drops of Cepacol mouthwash in the bag. I was told to only rinse up to 1/3 the length of the bag. However, I now rinse and clean everything out up to the bottom of the flange with no problems. At first, I couldn't attach the bag onto the already attached wafer, so I attached everything together first and then attached the wafer and bag to the skin. My stoma nurse suggested I try foaming soap and put a little inside the recessed area in the flange, and it then allowed me to easily attach the bag while the wafer was already attached to the stomach. Thus, I line the recess with the foam, put the wafer on, and can hear the clicks when I press on all sides of the wafer so I know it is well attached. I just put some foam on my finger and put it through the entire recessed area. Made it much easier. I am currently using Dial foaming soap, but I would imagine any foaming soap would work well.

Feb 19, 2018 9:42 pm

I have, on rare occasions, rinsed out my stoma bag. I have done it only if the stomahesive wafer is somewhat new. If it is more than two days old, I just change both.


Feb 20, 2018 12:32 am

Since I am limited to only 20 bags and wafers per month, I try to stretch out the amount of time I wear my wafer and bag. However, I have never had a problem with the wafer or stoma. I rinse my bag out regularly because I am too fussy and fastidious to be sitting to eat with a bag of crap on my lap. I also rinse before bedtime for the same reason, just don't want to be lying and crushing any stool in the bag. I have also been lucky to eat about anything I want with no problems yet. I just wish Medicare and BC-BS would allow a bag every day if needed.

Mar 06, 2018 3:08 pm


I am confused. Are you talking about emptying or rinsing? It seems that you mean the former.


Mar 06, 2018 4:55 pm

Sorry for the confusing post. I have never had a problem with the wafer. They stick well for me. I rinse and drain the bag 2 - 4 times a day. I change wafer and bag around day 4 or 5. Only problem I found with the replacement Convatec bag is that there is more drainage of liquid from the sides of the closed tightly closure. No feces, just liquid which stains clothing. It doesn't seem as good as the original transparent post-surgery bag with the Invisiclose tight closure.

Mar 06, 2018 10:28 pm

To clarify further, to me rinsing and emptying are synonymous. I cannot empty a bag without rinsing on a two-part system. Therefore, I use a peribottle of water and squirt it into the bag several times, which helps liquefy any solid to semi-solid stool and allows one to empty the bag. If I am wrong on using these terms, please do let me know.

Mar 14, 2018 11:22 pm

Hey Mamatembo, I think you're right and using the correct terms.  I am concerned about the leakage you alude to.  I'm not sure why that is.  Stained clothing and/or odor should not be accepted.  You could call Convatec for help.  They want to know stuff like this.

Please keep us posted.



Mar 15, 2018 12:26 am

Hi Mike:

Thank you for your reply. Glad I got the terms correctly. I have let Edge Park know about this, but they are in a difficult place with not being able to get some of the Convatec bags due to the factory moving from NC to Puerto Rico and being hit by the hurricane. They have no idea when they will be able to get the backordered bags. Will try to see if I can contact Convatec directly about the issue as you suggest. I see the stoma nurse next month and will ask them to suggest a bag just like the Convatec transparent 2-piece bag where I can request samples.

Thank you again for your reply.


Mar 15, 2018 8:06 pm

Hi Jan.  Please let us know how you make out.  Lots of us could be affected.

Appreciate your help,


Mar 15, 2018 8:28 pm

Hi, I am like you. I have an ostomy also. I just got my colostomy reconnected 2 years ago, and now I have an ileostomy. But I have leaks just like you. I have a two-piece. No matter what you put, it leaks. Not a lot, but enough. I buy from Byram Health, and they give you 4 boxes of bags, 2 of curved plastic things on top of it, and then I tape the thing, and it still leaks. I do clean the bag with water after every time it gets filled because you don't want it dirty. Boy, does this suck. And when you're trying to date, people are very judgmental, so it's hard. And not only that, there are only certain things you can eat. Oh well, I guess we are all in the same place. Talk soon.

Mar 15, 2018 8:50 pm

Will do, Mike. Thanks again.

Mar 15, 2018 9:08 pm

Hi Rhdjailer:

Yes, the leakage from the sides of the exit point (funnel) is annoying. Luckily, I've had no problems with the wafer as others have. But I really don't mind the colostomy itself or rinsing out the bag when needed. What bothers me is that occasionally I have pancaking on the stoma, usually just after a change of wafer and bag. I suspect that even though I blow into the new bag and put Adapt in it, perhaps the upper part of the bag isn't resilient enough and sits on the stoma. It doesn't happen all the time, but I have to gently push the feces off the stoma and down into the bag before it could damage the stoma. So glad I don't have your problem of dating. I can see where it might be problematic. Luckily, I haven't had any food problems and can eat just about anything I want, for which I am thankful.

Thank you for your reply.

Mar 16, 2018 8:08 pm

Hi Mike:

Update: I called Convatec today, 3-16-18, and spoke with a nurse there. She explained that their branch that had been "down" was their Dominican Republic plant. They were not flooded out but did have some issues that have now been rectified. She told me Convatec here in the US was due to receive an order this week from the plant and they would most likely be received by their suppliers next week.

I told her I had had no problems with the 2-piece transparent 413312 bag, but had a lot of seepage from the substitute bag, 416418. She asked me for the lot number and said she would report it.

Thus, hopefully, it appears that Convatec is on their way to being up and running successfully again. Will keep fingers crossed that it is so.