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How to collect a clean catch urine sample from children

Patient information A-Z

Clean catch urine sample collection

You have been asked to provide a urine sample from your child for further investigation of the urine. The most common reason is to detect if bacteria are causing an infection. Urine infections in children and babies can be serious and make them very unwell if not treated. If your child is unwell it is therefore an important test for your child to have completed before they go home. It is important to avoid contaminating the urine sample with bacteria which rest on the skin’s surface. This is called a clean catch sample. Before you collect the sample:

  • For boys, ensure that the head of the penis is wiped clean with lukewarm water.
  • For girls, wipe the area (labia/ genitalia) clean with lukewarm water and rinse well.
  • The sample should be collected, if possible, without the bowl or the container touching your child’s skin. You should also take care not to touch the rim of the bottle with your fingers. This will avoid contamination of the sample with bacteria from the skin.

Older children

  • An older child may be able to urinate directly into the thin sterile container. If not then use the sterile bowl and transfer it into the thin sterile container being careful not to contaminate it with fingers.
  • A mid-stream specimen is ideal. The initial urine passed may be contaminated with bacteria from the skin. If possible, avoid the initial urine and obtain a ‘mid-stream’ sample, ie after you child has started urinating and catching a sample when the stream is in full flow.
  • Only a small amount is required.
  • If any urine spills on the side, put the lid on the container and wrap it in a paper towel.

Babies & children who are not toilet trained

Teddy bear
  • It is very easy to miss the urine as young children and babies can take as little as three seconds to pass their urine. You will need to remain vigilant and have the pot ready.
  • Place the rectangular absorbent pad under your child to absorb any urine that does not land in the pot. Then place the sterile bowl under the child’s genital (bottom) area.
  • If the child is potty trained it may be helpful to place the sterile bowl in the potty to collect the urine. You will need to watch and ensure that the stream of urine lands in the sterile bowl.
  • Collecting urine in toddlers can be particularly difficult as they may not want to sit still and may be more comfortable passing urine in their nappy. It is important that the nappy remains off and the pot is kept ready in your hand to catch the urine as soon as the toddler starts to wee.
  • Once you have obtained a sample in the sterile bowl, it can then be transferred into the thin sterile container.

Collecting samples at home

Please try to collect the sample a couple of hours prior to dropping the sample off, unless you have received other instructions. If there is a delay in dropping the urine off, please store it in a fridge at four to eight degrees. Good times to collect the sample include when your child has had a recent drink, when the nappy is being changed or at bath time.

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