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How to collect a 24 hour urine sample

Patient information A-Z

This leaflet is intended for all patients who have been asked to collect a 24 hour urine sample at home by their clinician (doctor or nurse).

Please read the instructions carefully, make sure you are prepared, and follow each of the steps to ensure proper collection.

Materials supplied

  • A labelled five litre container
  • Plastic funnel (on request)
  • Green plastic carrier bag
  • Collection information pamphlet

Before you start your collection

If you expect to produce more than five litres of urine in the 24 hours, please ask for a second container. Other containers, for example, fruit juice bottles, will not be suitable.

For some tests, there are dietary and drug restrictions. If in doubt, check with your clinician before beginning the specimen collection. Before you stop taking any medications you must check with your clinician! You may drink as much fluid as you normally would during the 24 hour collection period. Your clinician should be able to answer any other questions related to the collection process.

If you have internet access, more information about laboratory tests can be found at, which is a non-profit UK website about pathology tests, written for a general audience.

Plan your collection for a day off or a weekend, but if you plan to go out, do take your collection bottle with you!

Important decisions regarding your treatment may depend entirely upon proper test results. It is most important that you make sure that your collections are complete. An incomplete collection can give misleading results.


Some urine collections require collecting into a preservative. In this case, there will be a small volume of liquid already in the container. Please do not discard or rinse out. Note any warnings or instructions, which may be printed on the outside of the urine container.

The preservative is toxic and corrosive. If any bodily contact occurs, immediately wash with plenty of freely flowing water. If splashed in eyes, wash with water for at least 10 minutes and seek urgent medical advice.

Always store the container safely out of reach of children.

  • It is essential that this procedure is followed very carefully.
  • Test results are based on the total amount of tested substance excreted by your body over a 24 hour period.
  • You should aim to collect every drop of your urine during the specified 24 hour period.
  • It does not matter what the volume of the urine is, as long as it represents every drop that you pass.
  • If you have a bowel movement, you must collect the urine separately.
  • If unable to do so you should abandon the collection and start again on another day, using a fresh container.

Please do not pass urine directly into the container. Collect the urine firstly into a clean, dry, non-metallic container (such as a plastic/ glass bowl or jug) and then pour into the container carefully.

Since the information your clinician gets from these samples is only as accurate as your collection procedure, it is very important that you collect the urine as follows:

  1. Begin at the usual time that you wake.
  2. At that time, pass your urine, flush it down the toilet and note the exact time. You will now have an empty bladder and an empty bottle. The collection of urine will start from this time. Please note both the date and time on the collection bottle label, where it says ‘start date and time’.
  3. Collect every drop you pass during the day and night, for 24 hours, and finish the collection by passing urine at exactly the same time the next morning. You should add this final specimen to the bottle to complete the collection.
  4. Keep the sample container cool; closed and protected from light between each time you pass urine.
  5. The time you pass the last urine specimen should not vary by more than five or ten minutes from the time of starting the collection the previous day. This is the end of the collection. Please note both the date and time on the collection bottle label, where it says ‘finish date and time’.
  6. Check that the bottle label contains your full name, date of birth, clinic or GP surgery that requested the collection and the date and time of starting and finishing collection.
  7. Please check that the cap is firmly screwed onto the container. Then put the bottle in the green bag provided. Unfortunately if the urine leaks in transit, the collection will be invalidated and the analysis will not be carried out.
  8. If more than one 24 hour collection has been asked for, a second collection, into another container, can be started with the next voiding. Follow the same instructions.

After completing your collection

Should you have to, you can store the bottle at a cool room temperature for a day or two. Ideally you should hand the sample into the clinical biochemistry laboratory at Addenbrooke’s or your doctor’s surgery, in the bag provided, as soon as possible after completion.

If there is a delay in handing in the collection after completion, the bottle should be kept cool or refrigerated (not frozen).

Please return any unused collection containers with your completed collection.

Most urine tests will be carried out within a few days, though some can take longer. As soon as we have the results they will be forwarded to your clinician.

Finally, many people get their collection wrong despite the best of intentions. It is better to admit this and discard an improperly collected sample rather than hand in a partial sample which would yield an inaccurate result. This would affect important decisions with regard to your treatment.

Finding blood sciences

  1. Starting from the hospital main entrance reception desk (which is through the revolving doors past outpatients and the emergency department).
  2. Take the corridor to the left.
  3. At the end of the corridor you will find signs to Pathology Reception.
  4. Take the stairs or lift to level four.
  5. Samples can be left at pathology reception/ NHS department of clinical biochemistry.

We welcome any comments relating to the information you have received and may be contacted through the pathology helpdesk by telephone on 0333 103 2220 or email

We are smoke-free

Smoking is not allowed anywhere on the hospital campus. For advice and support in quitting, contact your GP or the free NHS stop smoking helpline on 0800 169 0 169.

Other formats

Help accessing this information in other formats is available. To find out more about the services we provide, please visit our patient information help page (see link below) or telephone 01223 256998.

Contact us

Cambridge University Hospitals
NHS Foundation Trust
Hills Road, Cambridge

Telephone +44 (0)1223 245151