Ask the Ostomate

Laura Cox had ileostomy surgery in 2011 after two years of a constant flare and exhausting every medication option available for Ulcerative Colitis. Just prior to her surgery, Ms. Cox founded a popular YouTube channel called Ostomystory, where she documented different aspects of life with an ostomy, as well as promoted emotional and physical well-being. Ms. Cox is the Ostomy Lifestyle Specialist for Shield Health Care ( or 800-765-8775), a company focused on providing medical supplies for care at home, where she blogs, makes videos, speaks and provides advice on living with an ostomy.

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Proper Pouch Disposal

I just had colostomy surgery, but I don’t know what to do with my old pouches. They don’t look like I can flush them down the toilet, but I don’t want them to make my trash can smell like you-know-what. Also, what do I do when I’m outside the house?
You’re correct – normal pouches cannot be flushed down the toilet, but there are a few solutions you can use to throw away old pouches without them smelling up the rest room! The great news is that many people have concerns about the same issue, so there are a couple of product options that have been created for us. All of the options are easiest to use if you are using a two-piece pouching system, which you can connect and disconnect from the wafer via the flange.

The first option is to use ostomy deodorizing drops or lubricating deodorant. This will help keep the odor to a minimum. Before you apply the ostomy pouch, squeeze a couple drops of deodorant inside it, then place your pouch in the correct position. When you pop your ostomy pouch off to dispose of it, the deodorant should have done its job.

Drop the used pouch in the plastic bags provided by the manufacturer, tie it up, toss it in the trash and leave the rest room worry free! You can get deodorant in a small bottle or you can find prepackaged lubricating deodorant that is meant for one use, which is so small it can be slipped into a wallet and carried around at all times. Every major ostomy manufacturer makes an ostomy deodorant. You can order the deodorant from wherever you generally get your ostomy supplies.

Colo-Majic makes disposable ostomy liners that are biodegradable and can be flushed down the toilet. Instead of throwing the whole close-ended pouch away every time you need to empty, you can just remove the liner from your two-piece pouch, flush it down the toilet and line the same pouch with a fresh disposable liner and reapply it to the wafer. This saves money and also eliminates the possibility of leaving an old pouch in the trash. Go to for more information.

The third option, and my personal favorite, is the Ostomy Pouch Disposable Seal by OstoSolutions. These thin, wafer-shaped plastic seals clip to the plastic part of a two-piece pouch in order to provide an odor-proof seal that keeps all contents inside the bag when you throw it away. Online at

The last product-focused option is air freshener. I always like to bring some sort of spray along with me wherever I go. Some brands have convenient, small bottles that are easily put in a wallet or into a backpack. Yankee Candle is my favorite brand.

These solutions can all be used inside or outside of the house. The deodorizing drops, liners and seals are small and easy to slip into a pocket or a purse. It’s important to keep extra supplies close to you (especially if you opt for the deodorant or seal, which does require switching out the pouch each time you need to empty).

Ask your doctor if they believe irrigation is safe for you (people with ileostomies and urostomies do not have this option). Irrigation is essentially an enema through your stoma. This encourages your bowels to eliminate waste. It takes some practice, but this would eliminate emptying your pouch in public and potentially just wearing a small stoma cap during the day. It is best to get directions from an ostomy nurse before attempting to irrigate on your own.
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