Cleaning A Steel Bed Pan

Cleaning a bedpan can be messy, but it is also simple, particularly when you have your prep-work and materials already squared away.

To properly clean a steel bedpan, you will need a supply of bleach solution and some soapy water. Ideally, you should have two containers of bleach solution: a more concentrated one and a very dilute one. Essentially, a bleach solution is simply water and bleach.

The more concentrated solution should be a ratio of about 1-to-10 (bleach-to-water). Making this solution is easy if you use a container that can easily be divided into tenths (such a container holds 10 cups worth of liquid).Make two marks inside the container. The first mark is for the nine parts of water. Then, add a line just a little above that for the tenth part: the bleach. Fill up the container most of the way (to the nine-parts mark) with water. Add bleach until you reach the line above that.

For the dilute solution, which should be a 1-to-100 ratio, you use a similar process. Use a container of the same size, and mark it off the same way. Fill with nine parts of water. This time, though, instead of adding pure bleach as the tenth part, use the 1-to-10 bleach solution instead to finish filling the container.

Mark the containers so that you know which is which. You might be able to tell easily by smell, but marking the containers is better and safer than sniffing at them. If either of the bleach disinfecting solutions becomes cloudy or bloody, make a new batch. Discard bleach solutions at the end of the day regardless. Another good rule of thumb: If you cannot smell the bleach, the solution is probably no longer strong enough to disinfect a bed pan.

For the soapy water, you can use cake soap or powdered laundry detergent for the soap portion. If you are using cake soap, a cube-shaped piece of soap, approximately 1 inch on each side, mixed with one gallon of water is about the right amount. Make sure the soap is mixed in well and that there are suds. If you use a powdered soap, follow instructions on the container for mixing the appropriate amount.

Mixing the cleaning supplies could be the most complicated part of the process. When it comes time to clean the bedpan, simply:

- Cover the contents of the bedpan with the concentrated (1-to-10 ratio) disinfecting bleach solution.

- Empty the bedpan into a toilet, or use other suitable means of disposal.

- Clean out the inside of the bedpan with the soapy water. Make sure to dislodge any solid waste that might be present.

- Rinse the bedpan in the very dilute (1-to-100) bleach solution.

- Return the bedpan to the bed of the person using it, or stow it away if you've given the person a new bedpan.

Remember to wear protective clothing such as gloves when handling the soiled bedpan. Disinfect the gloves (if reusable), or discard them to prevent urine or fecal matter from coming into contact with your eyes or other mucous membranes. This will also prevent contamination of other surfaces. Eyewear may also be useful, and possibly smocks or other over-clothing attire. In addition to preventing infections, use of protective clothing can prevent damage to your clothing or sensitive body parts from the bleach solution.

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