Changing an Ostomy Pouch in a Public Restroom

An ostomy doesn’t go away when someone is shopping, working or exercising. It is important for ostomates to be able to change their pouches and utilize their supplies outside the comfort of their own homes.

While changing an ostomy pouch in public may seem like a daunting task, it doesn’t have to be. With proper planning, ostomates may feel more at ease changing their pouches.

Gather Supplies

The first step in changing an ostomy pouch in a public restroom is to have all necessary supplies ready to go. 

According to CHC Solutions’ wound, ostomy and continence nurse, Cheryl Hutton, changing an ostomy pouch in public requires the following supplies:

  • Pouch system
  • Lubricating deodorant
  • Skin prep wipes
  • Barrier rings or seals

Preparedness is key, so consider packing extra supplies.

Pack in Advance

Re-packing supplies every time an ostomate needs to leave the house can be tedious and tiresome. Having a designated, ready-to-go bag is one way to ensure everything is squared away before even stepping out the door.

When it comes to choosing a bag, look for something large and comfortable. Bags with pockets and zippered sections can be helpful to keep supplies organized.

Cheryl advises that ostomates pack these additional items in their bag:

  • Personal bathing wipes
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Trash bag and sealable bags for disposing of supplies

Changing an Ostomy Pouch

When changing an ostomy pouch in a public restroom, more space is preferable. Whenever possible, look for “family” restrooms. These are going to give the most space and privacy.

Once inside the restroom, place the bag with the supplies on a hook or clean surface. If a hook or clean surface isn’t available, loop one of the bag’s straps over the corner of the stall door.

When it’s time to change the ostomy pouch, the type of pouch will affect the changing process. Here’s how to change some of the most popular pouches:

Changing a Drainable Ostomy Pouch:

To change a drainable ostomy pouch, consider leaning over or sitting down on the toilet to drain the pouch – whichever is more comfortable. Once the pouch has finished draining, use toilet paper or wipes to clean around the drainable opening.

Changing a Closed-End Ostomy Pouch:

To change a closed-end ostomy pouch, remove the ostomy pouch from the wafer and discard the entire pouch. If using a lubricating deodorant, place the lubricating deodorant inside the clean pouch before it is connected to the wafer.

Changing a Urostomy Pouch:

Urostomy pouches feature a drainage valve at the bottom of the pouch. After draining the pouch into the toilet, dry off the tip of the valve and turn the valve shut. This will reseal the pouch for further use.

Disposing of the Pouch:

Finally, when looking to discard a used ostomy pouch, there are a few options. Many people use disposable plastic bags, such as one from the grocery store, but they can be noisy and aren’t watertight. To resolve these issues, another popular option is sealable plastic or zip-locked bags.

If you have any additional questions, please contact our wound, ostomy and continence nurse at



*Disclaimer: Any health and wellness content presented is for general informational purposes only. Such content is not intended to replace or serve as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.