Home Health & Wellness Disposable vs Reusable Colostomy Pouches

Disposable vs Reusable Colostomy Pouches

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When it comes to waste elimination in individuals with an ostomy, colostomy pouches play a crucial role. These pouches collect and contain the stool, which exits through a stoma on an individual’s abdomen. Two main types of colostomy pouches exist: disposable and reusable.

The correct choice between these two types can make a difference in these individuals’ everyday lives. Finally, the choice of the right pouch will depend on the specific needs and requirements of the individual, as each type has its advantages and disadvantages. Keep reading to learn more about these two types of pouches and possibly make the right selection based on the existing situation.

Disposable colostomy pouches

Definition and functionality

Disposable colostomy pouches are one-time-use pouches designed for ease and convenience. They are entirely sealed, meaning they do not have an opening for emptying. Once the pouch fills, it’s simply removed and discarded. Disposable pouches come in various sizes and capacities to accommodate different output levels.

These pouches are typically made of durable, odor-blocking material with an adhesive wafer that secures them to the skin around the stoma. The wafer features a leakproof seal to prevent accidents and maintain discretion.

Disposable pouches are perfect for situations where you want an easy solution requiring the least effort and time. Disposable pouches can be especially useful when you are:

  • Travelling since disposable pouches help you forget about the faecal output disposal and cleaning requirements in challenging situations where you cannot immediately empty your pouch, but have to wait for another hour and drive a few miles.
  • Sleeping. With these pouches, you will not wake up in the middle of the night to find out that the bag is full and that leakage possibilities are high.
  • Having some social entertainment. In this situation, the fewer things you have to think about, the more you will be able to enjoy your time.


  • Leakproof and waterproof design. Disposable pouches prioritise safety with secure leak-proof seals and waterproof materials, thus diminishing the chances of accidents.
  • Odour-free disposal. With adequate odour control, these pouches provide the necessary discretion for day-long wear.
  • Suitability for special occasions. Such pouches offer a simple and convenient solution for situations where pouch emptying may be difficult to perform.
  • Easy nighttime changes. By replacing pouches in the evening, patients avoid the necessity of getting up at night for emptying, which enhances the quality of sleep.


  • Frequent bag changes. Disposable pouches require more frequent changes than reusable ones, leading to a higher cost over time.
  • Cost considerations. Using disposable pouches regularly can be more expensive than using a reusable option in the long run.

Reusable (drainable) colostomy pouches

Reusable colostomy pouches, also known as drainable pouches, are designed for extended wear. Unlike disposables, they have a drainable opening at the bottom that allows you to empty the pouch throughout the day. This opening typically features a secure closure system to prevent leaks and odors after emptying.

Reusable pouches are generally made of a durable, yet comfortable material that can be cleaned and reused multiple times. They often come with additional features like filters to further minimize odor.


  • Extended wear time. Reusable pouches offer longer wear times compared to disposables, reducing the frequency of pouch changes.
  • Environmentally friendly. By opting for a reusable pouch, you contribute to a smaller environmental footprint than discarding disposable pouches regularly.
  • Cost-effectiveness. Although the initial cost of a reusable pouch might be higher than a disposable one, it’s a more economical option in the long run.
  • There is no need for complete bag changes. With drainable pouches, you only need to empty the contents when they are full, eliminating the need for complete pouch changes throughout the day.


  • Odor during emptying. Emptying a reusable pouch can release odors if not done properly. Techniques like using a deodorizing spray can help manage this.
  • Less suitable for certain lifestyles. Reusable pouches might be less convenient for situations where access to emptying facilities is limited. These pouches are thus not as good a method as moldable rings.
  • Learning curve for new users. A newbie or a beginner on this method may take some time to learn how to properly empty and maintain the pouch.

Choosing the right option

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer when choosing between disposable and reusable colostomy pouches. The best option for you depends on several factors:


  • Stoma type and output consistency. The type of stoma you have (ileostomy, colostomy, or urostomy) and the consistency of your output can influence your choice. For instance, individuals with high-volume or liquid output might benefit more from a drainable pouch.
  • Lifestyle preferences. Consider your daily activities and routines. If you lead an active lifestyle or travel frequently, disposable pouches might offer more convenience. Conversely, reusable pouches might be a better fit if you prioritize cost-effectiveness and environmental responsibility.
  • Medical conditions. Certain medical conditions or medications can affect your output consistency. Discuss your specific situation with your healthcare professional to determine the most suitable pouch type.
  • Personal comfort. Ultimately, the pouch type that ensures maximum comfort and confidence is the best choice. Don’t hesitate to experiment with both options to see which feels more comfortable and manageable.

Tips for maintenance

  • Proper hygiene practices. Proper hygiene is necessary for either disposable or reusable pouches. Clean the skin around your stoma regularly with warm water and mild soap, following your healthcare professional’s instructions.
  • Frequency of changes. The frequency of changing your pouch will depend on its type and your output level. Disposable pouches typically require more frequent changes, while reusable pouches can be emptied and reused multiple times before needing replacement.


The choice between disposable and reusable colostomy pouches is a personal one. This article has hopefully provided a comprehensive overview of both options, allowing you to make an informed decision based on your individual needs and lifestyle. Remember, the most important factor is finding a pouch that ensures comfort, security, and a sense of confidence in managing your ostomy.

By understanding the pros and cons of each option and consulting with your healthcare professional, you can confidently choose the colostomy pouch that empowers you to live a full and active life.

David Radar, a psychology graduate from the University of Hertfordshire, has a keen interest in the fields of mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.

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