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Elderly Assistance: Bedside Commode Cleaning Basics

The senior in your life struggles with limited mobility, which has meant an increased rate of accidents lately. No, not slips and falls, but bathroom accidents.

To preserve their dignity, you’ve invested in a bedside commode. It’s working out well, but the commode has gotten smelly. How do you clean it?

To clean a bedside commode, follow these steps:

  • Empty the contents into your bathroom toilet
  • Use a germ-killing cleaner and scour the commode
  • Rinse using water and thoroughly dry
  • Use germ-killing spray on the commode
  • Return it to its original spot

If you have yet more questions about cleaning a bedside commode, worry not, as we’ve got the answers.

In this guide, we’ll explain in more detail how to clean one of these commodes, how often, and how to get rid of the sometimes-lingering stenches as well.

Let’s begin!

Who Should Use A Bedside Commode?

As we touched on in the intro, seniors and those who struggle with mobility are the best candidates for a bedside commode chair or portable toilet.

Whether it’s age, a medical condition, or even both that have stripped your senior parent or loved one of their mobility, they cannot always get to the bathroom in time anymore.

Each accident they have embarrasses them to no end, and it breaks your heart to see them have to go through that.

A bedside commode can help older people like your parent reach the bathroom as soon as they need to. The toilet is right by their bed, so they needn’t go far at all.

Their rate of accidents will go down, you’ll have fewer humiliating moments between the two of you, and everyone is just that much happier.

How Often Should You Empty The Bedside Commode?

Bringing this type of commode into the house means that you’re on commode duty from this day forward. So the question becomes, how frequently should you dump this bedside toilet?

To control odors and prevent the potential for overflowing (a toilet chair is only so big, you know), ideally, you should empty a dirty commode every time the person uses it.

However, we recognize that may not always be feasible.

You might not live with your family member. Or, maybe you are their primary caretaker as an adult child, but you have plenty of other responsibilities that put the commode on the back burner.

At the very least, you’ll want to empty the whole thing at least once a day, but disposing of the contents on a regular basis throughout the day is better.

How Do You Clean A Commode Bucket? Step By Step Guide

Without further ado, let’s expand on the steps from the intro so you can clean your senior’s bedside commode.

Step 1 – Grab Your Gear

You’ll need your standard disinfectant cleaner, as well as aerosol sprays such as Lysol, disinfectant wipes (Lysol or Clorox), and a bucket.

Be sure to gear up yourself. A pair of disposable gloves or thicker rubber gloves is a must for preventing any potential spread of bacteria and viruses.

You might also want to wear a face mask if you’re worried about breathing in unpleasant odors.

TIP: When dealing with a bad odor, a trick I learned from working in my dental office is to dab a finger full of Listerine on the mask, which will help to cover up a really smelly odor.

Step 2 – Empty The Commode In Your Regular Toilet Bowl

A portable commode uses a removable bucket to make it easy to dispose of the contents. The bucket slides into tracks under the commode seat and you’ll need to take it off in order to empty it.

Before you take the bedside commode pail off the frame, though, make sure its lid is on. Even if the lid doesn’t secure, as long as the lid is closed, that’s fine.

Does the commode pail have a carrying handle? Don’t grab the handle with both hands!

Instead, hold it with one hand and use the other hand to support the bottom of the full commode.

After all, the handle can come off, and then you would spill the commode’s contents all over your senior’s bedroom or wherever you happened to be at the time.

Now, slowly walk the commode bucket over to the nearest bathroom, which is hopefully on the same floor as the bedside toilet.

Once in the bathroom, open the toilet lid of the standard toilet (both seats) and slowly pour the contents of the bedside commode into the existing toilet.

Step 3 – Rinse The Commode

Turn on the tap in the bathroom and fill a bucket with warm water (but not hot water and certainly never scalding water).

Pour that water into the commode to loosen any surface waste. This will save you from having to expend as much manual effort when cleaning, so it’s worth doing.

Step 4 – Clean The Commode With Disinfectant

Using a cleaning agent, such as the disinfectant wipe or spray, clean both the interior and exterior surfaces of the commode pail.

Be thorough as you go, as you want to remove any waste and residue, especially on the interior surfaces.

Step 5 – Rinse Again

Once you feel like you’ve done an adequate job of cleaning the entire commode pail, refill your water bucket with warm water.

This time, take a clean rag, dip it into the water, and wipe over the entire commode pail again with the damp cloth.

If it’s easier to run the commode under a bathroom sink or in the tub, you can do that as well. You will have to disinfect these surfaces when you’re finished, though.

Step 6 – Mist The Commode With Disinfectant Spray

Next, take your disinfectant spray of choice and apply it to the inside of the commode. There’s no need to spray the outer surface.

Now, wipe down the surface of the toilet (the permanent one in your bathroom) so it’s clean for the next use.

Step 7 – Put The Commode Back

To finish, carry the empty commode back to your senior’s bedroom and reattach it to the bedside commode.

Next, be sure to wipe down the surface of the commode seat with an antibacterial wipe.

Step 8 – Throw Away The Mess

Take off the face mask and the gloves and dispose of these, along with the wipes you used to clean the commode.

Throw these items into small trash bags that you can dispose of immediately.

NOTE: If it’s difficult for you to find the time to clean the commode toilet daily, we recommend that you use a disposable commode liner.

Then, when you need to empty the commode, you just pull the strings to close it up, tie them tightly, and put the used liner into another trash bag to be sure there is no leakage from the top.

After that, just toss them into your regular garbage.

What Can I Use To Clean My Bedside Commode?

We only touched on the cleaning products at your disposal in the section prior, so let’s go a little more in-depth on your options now.

Lysol Spray

You needn’t run out and buy special supplies for cleaning your senior’s bedside commode. At the end of the day, it’s a toilet, and like any toilet, the basic cleaners you have at home suffice.

Take, for example, Lysol spray. Promising to kill more than 100 germs that cause illness and 99.9 percent of bacteria and viruses (including the viruses that cause COVID-19), it’s a dependable product.

You don’t start with the Lysol spray when cleaning a bedside commode, as you’ll recall, but you’ll spray the inside of the toilet with the stuff before you bring the commode back into your senior’s room.

If you can’t find Lysol in the stores, then any similar disinfectant spray is fine.

Disinfecting Wipes

One of the most important cleaners in your arsenal are disinfecting wipes.

Disinfecting wipes work the same way as disinfecting spray, except it’s easier to target specific areas of a bedside commode such as tight corners and crevices.

It takes roughly 30 seconds for most disinfectant wipes to kill germs, viruses, and bacteria on the surface so your senior parent or loved one can use the commode with peace of mind.

Lysol is one manufacturer of disinfecting wipes and Clorox is another, but those are far, far from the only brands out there.

If anything, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, it seems like more companies are manufacturing disinfecting wipes than ever before.

You can pretty much use wipes from any brand interchangeably but double-check that the wipes will kill the right germs and bacteria.

Vinegar Or Household Bleach

If you don’t have any of these commercial products handy, then you can always rely on household ingredients to get the job done.

Vinegar is a powerful cleaner, and – as you’re about to see – it’s great for removing lingering odors.

You should use distilled white vinegar and combine it with baking soda. The two products create a chemical reaction that will clean the bedside commode thoroughly.

Be sure to let the ingredients sit for at least 30 minutes before removing any residue.

For the strongest cleaning power around, bleach is a great choice.

However, bleach stains, so if your senior’s bedside commode is any other color besides white, don’t use it.

You’ll also have to be careful about what you’re wearing, because if a little bleach splashes on your clothes, the stains will never come out.

Be sure to work carefully with bleach to avoid staining bathroom surfaces, as well.

How Do You Get The Smell Out Of A Bedside Commode?

You cleaned your senior’s bedside commode well, but the lingering smells will not go away. You’ve tried everything you can think of, but nothing is working.

You don’t want to leave the toilet by your senior’s bed, as they’ll go to sleep at night with that odor still in the air (or try to, at least). How do you remove the unwanted scent?

Here are some tips.

Clean The Room Where The Commode Is Kept

Although the commode seems like the likeliest culprit, it could be that the smells from the commode have permeated the other surfaces around it such as your senior’s bed or bedroom furniture.

Try cleaning these surfaces, as well as the nearby bathroom in addition to the commode. Hopefully, the smells will dissipate.

Reconsider A Plastic Commode

Plastic is the most common bedside commode material, but did you know that plastic is quite good at absorbing odors?

That’s not exactly the news you want to hear, but those are the facts, nevertheless.

If you must use a plastic bedside commode for your senior, either replace it periodically or upgrade to one with a lid. The sealed plastic won’t be able to absorb odors quite as readily.

Use Baking Soda

Once again, it’s baking soda to the rescue. Baking soda is excellent at absorbing odors and comes in handy in a pinch.

Dump a good-sized clump of the stuff at the bottom of the bedside commode and allow it to sit for at least 30 minutes.

Wrapping Up

If your senior has mobility issues and uses a bedside commode, then getting into a regular commode cleaning routine is the best way to prevent odors from building up in their bedroom.

You should ideally empty the commode on a regular schedule every day and clean it daily, too.

It doesn’t take a lot of time to wipe it down thoroughly and you’re not only keeping up with infection control, your nose will thank you for it, as well

But, when lingering odors strike, baking soda should absorb them fast. Good luck!

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