Instructions for How to Use a Leg Bag

Updated April 17, 2017

A leg bag is a small drainage bag for a urinary catheter. It has straps to secure it to your leg and can fit under your clothing. If you need to use a catheter outside of the hospital, a leg bag will help allow you to remain mobile and continue your normal daily activities, unlike a larger collection bag. You must take care, however, to keep the catheter and leg bag sterile and to empty the leg bag when necessary.

Wash your hands with soap and water before handling your leg bag or catheter. A good rule of thumb for cleaning your hands thoroughly is to rub the lather over your hands for about as long as it takes to sing "Happy Birthday" twice, advises the Centers for Disease Control.

Place a towel on your leg underneath the catheter tubing in order to catch drips.

Clean the connection between the catheter tubing and drainage tube leading to the collection bag using alcohol pads or cotton balls dipped in rubbing alcohol.

Pinch the catheter tubing to prevent leaks. Pull the drainage tube out of the catheter tube by gently twisting it. In its place, connect the drainage tube leading to the leg bag.

Make sure the drainage tube for the leg bag is the correct length. It should be long enough to reach your calf when your leg is bent.

Secure the leg bag to your calf with the leg straps. Use another leg strap to secure the drainage tube to your thigh.

Open the spigot at the bottom of the leg bag to empty it when it becomes one-third to one-half full. Either empty it into the toilet or into a sterile container, if your doctor wants you to measure your urine volume. Clean the spigot with rubbing alcohol and a cotton ball or an alcohol pad.

Clean the leg bag every other day with a solution of one part vinegar to two parts water and switch to a new bag about every two weeks, or more frequently if the bag appears contaminated.


Always keep the leg bag below the level of your hips to ensure proper drainage. Wash your hands again after handling the bag.


Don't let the leg bag spigot touch the toilet or container when you're emptying it, or you could introduce bacteria to the system.

Things You'll Need

  • Soap and water
  • Towel
  • Alcohol wipes or rubbing alcohol and cotton balls
  • Leg bag
  • Leg straps
  • Vinegar
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About the Author

Mara Shannon is a writer whose work appears on various websites. Shannon also blogs about gaming and literature. Shannon holds a Bachelor of Arts in music with a focus on performance.