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Proper Disposal of Incontinence Pads: A Helpful Guide

Man taking out green garbage bin

Vivian Bastos |

If you’re one of the 33 million people learning to manage urinary incontinence, daily management of bladder leaks doesn’t have to be so difficult. The stigma around disposing of incontinence products can be discouraging, but with these tips and tricks of easy, discreet disposal, you’ll be able to dispose of your products with confidence.

As far as public etiquette goes, there are a few general rules to keep in mind when disposing of your incontinence products. There are also a few tips and tricks to help make proper disposal easy, no matter where you are. Whether you’re traveling, at the office, shopping, or at a restaurant, with these tools and tips, you’ll be able to dispose of incontinence products easily and discreetly.

A toilet being flushed.

Tips for Proper Disposal of Incontinence Pads

If you’re disposing of urinary incontinence products such as protective underwear, a protective pad, or another leak-proof garment in a public place, there are a few rules of etiquette to keep in mind that will make the disposal process easy.

1. Never Flush Incontinence Products in the Toilet.

The first rule of disposing of incontinence products is to never flush absorbent pads or underwear down the toilet. As harmless as it may seem, absorbent pads and underwear contain super-absorbent material that expands upon contact with water. This expansion creates large masses that will result in clogged toilets and create unwanted plumbing issues.

When it comes to flushable wipes, not all incontinence wipes are safe to flush down the toilet. As Jennifer Spinelli, Founder & CEO of Watson Buys, notes, “Use disposable wipes only as directed on the packaging, and never flush them down the toilet unless the packaging specifically says it is safe to do so. Otherwise you could end up with a big (and expensive) mess on your hands.”

If you’re not sure, an eco-friendly alternative to wet wipes is no-rinse cleansing spray that can be applied directly to toilet paper, which is always flushable.

Because Market biodegradable scented bags: discreeting dispse of incontinence products with opaque, scented bags that mask any odors. Displayed next to an image of the product.

2. Always use a Bag

Instead of flushing your products away, disposable bags are a simple solution to dispose of incontinence products in a discreet manner. Whether you’re at work, traveling, or visiting a friend or family member, disposable bags are solid in color for extra discretion, and include two handles so you can tie the bag completely closed. They’re biodegradable and contain a fresh lavender scent to help mask any unwanted odors. For soiled products that tend to expand in size, disposable bags are large enough to accommodate even the largest size of disposable underwear.

A graphic showing Because Market Odor Removing Spray and it's benefits.

3. Invest in Hygiene Products to Control Odors

Helping to control unwanted odors can also be an important part of disposal. To help manage odors, it’s important to take care of your skin. This might mean finding an easy to use product like wet wipes that are a convenient way to gently cleanse your skin between changes.

To help keep skin protected, consider using a skin barrier cream to help lock in moisture and prevent redness and irritation. Look for zinc-oxide based creams that create a skin barrier for extra protection from diaper rash.

4. Wear Incontinence Products that are Easy to Change

The best tip for proper, easy disposal of incontinence products is to find products that are easy to change. Look for protective underwear that can be torn from the sides as well as slipped on and off. This will make it easier to dispose of if you’re in a public restroom or smaller than normal restroom.

If you’re looking for underwear that slips on and off or tears at the sides, try Maximum Absorbency Underwear. Made to move up to four cups of liquid away from your body while locking in odor and preventing leaks, these are designed for easy, seamless disposal no matter where you are.

If you have stress incontinence or overflow incontinence, you may tend to have smaller leaks, and you may not need as many cups of liquid protection, try Bladder Control Pads. With up to two cups of liquid protection, these disposable pads are easily removed and replaced for convenience, discretion, and ease.

5. Consider a Diaper Waste Collection System for Your Home

When it comes to disposing of incontinence products inside your home, a diaper waste collection system can be an inexpensive and effective solution. Adult incontinence disposal systems are containers that look like regular trash bins, but consist of an airtight design that locks away any unwanted odors. Lined with odor neutralizing, waterproof liners, these specialized disposal bins are often designed with an extra set of airtight closures that keep waste products contained. They are discreet and can hold up to 35 adult-sized diapers. This can be particularly useful for those who experience bowel incontinence to help provide extra odor control.

A person packs incontinence products into a purse before leaving the house.

6. Always Bring Spare Incontinence Products and Clothing when You’re On the Go

Even when you’re out and about, it’s important to bring a spare kit that can be used in case of bladder leaks or accidents. Packing an extra change of clothing along with a few extra pads or disposable underwear can be helpful in an urgent situation. In addition to your absorbent products, be sure to bring a travel pack of flushable wipes to keep skin fresh, and a few extra disposable bags to help contain soiled clothing or used incontinence products. Keeping this back up supply in your purse or car for example, can help alleviate stressful situations when they arise.

7. Look for an Outside Bin when You’re in Someone Else’s Home

Disposing of incontinence products when you’re away from home can be challenging. If you’re visiting a friend or family member, look for an outdoor trash bin that you can use to dispose of your products. An outdoor bin can help protect your privacy and discretion if you prefer to keep your used incontinence products out of your host’s bathroom trash bin. Always remember to use a disposable bag to securely contain soiled items before throwing them into an outdoor bin.

How to Dispose of Adult Diapers at Work

Disposing of used incontinence products at work can add an extra layer of complexity if your goal is to keep your products discreet. Always remember to bring an opaque disposable bag that ties completely closed. Depending on the situation, you may decide to double bag your used products with another plastic bag that can be tied closed. For women, rather than using the menstrual waste disposal bin contained in many bathroom stalls, consider using the central garbage bin in the restroom, as that is more likely to be taken out more frequently.

Are Incontinence Products Clinical Waste?

While standards for clinical waste vary around the world, in most cases, incontinence pads and underwear are generally not considered clinical or medical waste. Used incontinence products can be disposed of in your household garbage, unlike medical waste that is handled by hospitals and medical facilities. That said, it is still important to dispose of soiled incontinence products in a safe and sanitary manner.

With the right tools and information, disposing of soiled incontinence products can be easy and manageable. There are many options available on the market today that make incontinence disposal discreet and sanitary.

Do you or a loved one experience symptoms of urinary incontinence? Take our bladder protection quiz and get a starter pack to try.

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Stress incontinence - Symptoms and causes | Mayo Clinic

Urinary Incontinence - Causes, Types, Symptoms, Treatments | NAFC

Caring For Your Skin When You Have Incontinence | NAFC

Urinary incontinence - symptoms and causes | Mayo Clinic