Dealing With Ostomy Pouch Odors – OSTOMY TIPS (w/ video)

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Bathroom odors can be an embarrassing challenge for anyone, but ostomates have a few advantages when it comes to odor control. In this post, I’ll be going over the most popular (and a few DIY) options of dealing with ostomy pouch odors.

Intro

Before I offer these tips, it’s important to remember that you should only notice odor from your ostomy pouch when emptying it or doing an appliance change; a sealed pouch should NOT smell.  If you notice odors at any other time, it could indicate a leak, defective ostomy appliance, improperly cleaned pouch outlet or a non-functioning filter (if it’s clogged, it may leak out odor). You should talk to your ostomy nurse if you are having any problems like that.

Video Tips

I’ve put together a short video below, but this article does have more info to consider.

Pouch Deodorants (both scented and unscented)

Perfect Choice ostomy deodorant sample bottle
You can often purchase small bottles, large bottles or deodorant sachets.
 This option may be covered by your insurance plan.  This is one of the most popular ways of controlling pouch odor, and it’s one of my preferred methods because it offers several advantages over the other options. In-pouch deodorants are either liquids or gels that are poured into your ostomy pouch with each bag change and/or every time you empty your pouch. Some of these deodorants, like the Coloplast Brava Lubricating Drops are lightly scented, while others like the Perfect Choice pouch deodorant are designed to kill odour-causing bacteria. I’ve tested many and have success with most. They are often convenient to use and nobody around you will be affected by the bombardment of scents that often comes with using the next option: room deodorants.
I’ve reviewed quite a few pouch deodorants HERE.

Room deodorants (both scented and unscented)

This is a popular option that is used in bathrooms, not only those occupied by ostomates. This is my least favorite option for the following reasons:

  • They usually bother me a lot: My eyes get itchy, my nose stings, I often get a headache and I cough when I’m around these products. I don’t think I’m the only person who experiences these “side-effects”, and I certainly don’t want anyone else who might be using the bathroom after me to be affected either.
  • Most don’t work. What’s worse than walking into a room that smells of crap? Walking into a room that smells of crap with a slightly “floral” chemical smell. Products that are designed to mask odors usually don’t mask them well.
  • They are inconvenient to use in public. If it’s an aerosol, people will hear you using it, and if it’s a liquid spray, it’s usually not going to be effective enough and you may find yourself spraying before and after you use the bathroom.
  • I question their safety when using it 5-10 times a day. If you’re exposing yourself to chemical scents, you’re probably not going to do your body any favors.  In fact, there’s evidence to suggest that some may be downright dangerous [SOURCE].

There are some products that aren’t meant to mask doors, but are designed to eliminate them from the air (this could just be a marketing gimmick), but I haven’t used anything like that. The closest I’ve used would be a product I received in the hospital during my ileostomy surgery. It’s called “Hex-On” by Coloplast, and it claims to not only remove odors, but it also leaves a “fresh linen” scent that, in all honesty, nauseated me.

Toilet Deodorants

Just a drop ExtraStrength30ml
Just one of the many brands of toilet deodorants.
 This option may be covered by your insurance plan.  This would include products like Poopourri and several other brands. The idea behind these is to stop odor from coming up from your toilet water. I haven’t tried this solution (yet), but I have a hard time believing that it will effectively handle odors coming from gas or output as you empty your pouch – before it hits the toilet water. Some people do find this option to be both effective and convenient, so there’s no harm in trying it before making it your long-term solution.

DIY Solutions

I frequent several forums and come across a lot of very creative solutions to dealing with pouch odor. While some of these may work, I hesitate to recommend them as I don’t know if their “off-label” use is safe. Remember, our stoma (especially with an ileostomy) has the potential to absorb nutrients, as well as chemicals. It’s also made of delicate tissue that isn’t adapted for exposure to certain chemicals found in these DIY solutions. Here are a few that I’ve come across (use at your own risk!):

  • mouthwash used in pouch.
  • hydrogen peroxide used in pouch.
  • essential oil drops.
  • fabric softener(Please don’t!!!!!)
  • baking soda
  • putting mints like Tic Tac in your pouch

Chlorophyll tablets

 This option may be covered by your insurance plan.  While you can still find these on the market, it was shown in 1984(!) that these don’t offer any benefit over placebo when it comes to pouch smells. SOURCE

Devrom Tablets

Devrom tablets
Photo Credit: www.devrom.com
 This option may be covered by your insurance plan.  I mentioned Devrom in my article about pouch ballooning, and it should help with both gas and odor.  You take it internally in either tablet or capsule form, and it goes to work. This product contains no animal ingredients.

Dietary Change

Onions
While healthy, onions can increase pouch odor.

This option requires some effort, as you’ll have to watch what you eat and eliminate things that might cause your output to come out smelling stronger than usual. Each food affects us differently, and you’ll have to experiment for yourself to determine what the offending foods are for you.

Foods that can cause odor

  • Asparagus
  • Baked Beans
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Cod liver oil
  • Eggs
  • Fish
  • Garlic
  • Onions
  • Peanut butter
  • Some vitamins
  • Strong cheese

SOURCE I don’t eat fish or eggs (obviously), but from what I’ve read on forums, those are the worst offenders. I do eat garlic, onions, broccoli and beans quite often as they are very nutritious foods and I’d rather not eliminate them from my diet, even if they did cause an odor (since you can still deal with odor in other ways).

Foods that might help reduce odor

  • Cranberry juice
  • Orange juice
  • Parsley
  • Tomato juice

SOURCE Many people eating plant-based diets will likely agree that our poop isn’t as offensive as our meat-eating friends. You’ll read a lot of anecdotal evidence supporting this, but I’d love to know if there’s actually been a study done to confirm this (there is at least one study linking meat-eating to “less attractive” body-odor in men [SOURCE]).

Special consideration: Keep in mind that some medication or supplements (like probiotics) we take can also adversely affect how our output smells.  Dietary changes may not reduce odor if this is the case for you.

BONUS: What About Soiled Appliances?

Managing odor from what comes out of your bag is one topic, but we also need to watch out for odors coming from our used appliances as well. Not everyone has the convenience of taking their soiled appliances outside to a trash bin, so here are some things to help contain odors until you can properly dispose of them.

  • Odor-proof bags. These can range from products made specifically for ostomates, like THIS product, or even bags used to pick up dog poop.
  • OstoSolutions seals. These work great when all you’re doing is swapping your two-piece bag.
  • A “Diaper Genie”. I know many ostomates who use these to dispose of their used appliances.
  • Scented “kitchen catcher” bags. These are what I use at home as these medium sized bags are really handy during appliance changes (see how I use them in THIS video).

I’ve experimented with ZipLock bags but find that they don’t contain odors very well.

Conclusion

As you can see, we have a lot of options to choose from, and you can even double-up on a few options at once. I prefer the in-pouch solutions as they don’t require any change to my diet and they are often really convenient to use and effective.

Sources

QUESTION: Which solution do you find works best for your situation?
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Adrian Fulcher
Adrian Fulcher
7 months ago

Hello my names Adrian I have an Ileostomy and I have found something that disguises the smell when emptying my bag ,it is a spray I make up of 20 drops of top quality lavender oil to a egg cup of water and a egg cup of real white vinegar the vinegar must have some sort of chemical reaction with the oder and neutralises the smell and the lavender tops it of with a pleasant after smell. Hope this will help someone.

gladys rios
gladys rios
7 months ago
Reply to  Adrian Fulcher

Thank you. I have been looking for a solution for my ostomy bag smell cuz I ran out of deodorant. I thought vinegar with something else would help hey I haven’t tried it yet but you have confirmed let it may work. Thank you so very much

LISA CURRIER
LISA CURRIER
8 months ago

WANNA KNOW WHAT I DISCOVERED?😊
THOSE GREAT “FEMININE WASHES”…ADD A LITTLE EACH TIME YOU EMPTY! I COULD HARDLY BELIEVE HOW GREAT THAT WORKS!😁

Mike
Mike
2 years ago

I think when I eat EGGS is when I the odor problem is the greatest. I am going to try these home remedies and no more eggs. On weekends before I go out I take a couple of gas relief pills like beano, just for insurance weather I need it or not.

Tony H
2 years ago

I use a few drops of peppermint essential oil and Im minty fresh , i find it works really if you are venting , people get a burst of peppermint instead of output fumes .

Andrea Goolsby
Andrea Goolsby
1 year ago
Reply to  Tony H

So is it safe to use those oils in your colostomy bag

Robert
2 years ago

I use Adapt Lubricating Deodorant  mixed with a little Hydrogen Peroxide and a little Baby Oil . After empting I give just a very small squirt in my bag and that works for me . The amount that I squirt in is only really enough to stay in the bottom of my bag not enough to reach my stoma . I think the Baby oil just helps things empty easier and the Peroxide and the Adapt work on the odor .

Susan
2 years ago

Wow! I can’t wait to try all these ideas. I’ve had a colostomy for 12 years. Just recently I noticed that my stomach is so much more sensitive to more and more foods. I’m “trying” to diet to lose a little weight. (I’d be happy if I was 15 pounds thinner 😊) but I’ve noticed when I eat vegetables, salads and any type of alliums like onions or garlic, I immediately have diarrhea and my pouch fills up and looks like the Hindenburg under my shirt!! Sorry to be so graphic. Then when I change my pouch, the ordor is extremely strong and very embarrassing if I’m in a public place. Living with this problem has prevented me from traveling on vacations with friends or visiting with relatives out of state. I am 55 & widowed and live alone but I don’t know if I could date anyone if I continue to have this issue. ANY suggestions would be greatly appreciated!!! Thanks!

Kathymac
2 years ago
Reply to  VeganOstomy

I am leary of adding anything to my pouch.  I love the smell of fabric sheets you put in the dryer.  Voila!  I use a small safety pin and attach one to the inside of my shirt and smell fresh all day long!!!  

Tonya Moore
Tonya Moore
2 years ago

When dealing with my father’s ostomy, many years ago, we were told by the ostomy department at St. Thomas hospital to use green mouth wash. The hospice nurse who, at the end, came every day was amazed that we never had the “ostomy odor” in our home.

memaw002us
2 years ago
Reply to  Tonya Moore

My Home Health Nurse told me 4 yrs. ago when I got my first visit with her when I got home from the hospital to use the cheapest Green Mouth Wash I could find. I go to Dollar Tree and get it and use 1 cap full and it hasn’t let me and Vickie down yet.

memaw002us
2 years ago
Reply to  VeganOstomy

Yes it does but I don’t have a bottle right now so I’m not sure how much it has.

Becca Holton
Becca Holton
2 years ago

I appreciated that you shared your experience dealing with ostomy odors. That’s something I’ve been wondering about for a while now. I’ve heard that finding the right deodorizer is a trial and error process.

Marcie
2 years ago

Sometimes, I just spray a little bit of perfume ON my pouch. Men can use their own spray of choice. It helps if your pouch is on the older side.. But I use it when I go out in case I get a bit of u know what on my pouch….. For me, is it s safe bet and mind free. This is not really a cover up-but it keeps the dogs away… ha ha..

Marcie
2 years ago
Reply to  VeganOstomy

I said ON the pouch.. Never INSIDE a pouch.. Unless there is a special liquid for INSIDE the pouch-and sometimes, I wonder about them? Would never want to hurt my “Nellie”
She can be rather mean to me if I make any rudeness to her-That is for sure!! Would take weeks to over come that mistake!!! Sort of a one way street with our stomas huh?? Who is training who? Not dealing with a 2 year old child.. Even that is an event of horror sometimes.. Don’t want to go there!!! Be nice to your Nellie and she will be nice to you I always say.. Speaking of??????? Someone wants a new dress AGAIN!! Thought that I could go another day–

tekohiwi
2 years ago

I am in NZ and all supplies within reason are supplied free through our health system so we are able to request what we need. I have been using a product called Nodor by Dansac for odour and while it reduces the odour when emptying my bag it does not eliminate it so also use room freshners, which really don’t work. I read on here someone suggesting vinegar so I gave it a try. Normal malt vinegar – about 2 mls into the bag after emptying and I am amazed how well it is working!!! Next to no odour. Early days yet but will keep you posted.

Bill Jackson
2 years ago
Reply to  tekohiwi

Update for you re vinegar. I have been using it for 5 days now and it works a treat. I have emptied the little squeeze bottle my Nodor came in and refilled with malt vinegar. So now it is easy to squeeze around 15 drops into my bag once I have emptied it. Almost no odour and makes me feel more comfortable about going out and having to use someone else’s bathroom. 👍😃

Lynn
Lynn
2 years ago
Reply to  VeganOstomy

vinegar is used for many household odors so it makes sense.

Susan
2 years ago
Reply to  Lynn

Hi Lynn I use a closed end one piece pouch and replace it about 2x a day. I’m fortunate to not have any skin irritations but I was wondering… Do you think if I put drops of malt vinegar in the pouch it could possibly irritate the stoma??

tekohiwi
2 years ago
Reply to  Susan

Hi Susan Bill uses a drainable 2 piece bag so puts the vinegar drops in each time he empties it. He normally has the bag on for 3 days and has not had any problems with the vinegar. He still thinks vinegar works better than the commercial drops supplied by the hospital.

Connie A
Connie A
2 years ago

I too have had ileostomy for 45 years. Not much problem with odor until 10 years ago. It is so strong at times it gives me headache. It is even strong when not emptying and no leaks. I have used devrom and nullo internally. Sometimes they work and sometimes not. I have used Na Scent, M9, Adapt and others. Home remedies from rinsing with coffee or water with drop of mint. Very frustrating. I’m keeping a food diary and process eliminating food. I am now trying apple cider vinegar mixed with OJ. I think this is helping.

Shannon Kelleher
Shannon Kelleher
3 years ago

I have learned that using altoids helps with the odor! Take a small handful and put it in. It seems to solve the problem. Hope it helps!

Una
Una
5 years ago

Thank God! A site that references peer reviewed science.

Lucille Penner
Lucille Penner
5 years ago

I have had an ileostomy for 45 years and tried many deodorants. I think Devrom is amazing. In my experience it is the only ostomy deodorant that works.

Chuck Parker
Chuck Parker
4 years ago
Reply to  VeganOstomy

I have had a ileostomy for 33 yrs & eat a vegan diet. My insurance company no longer pays for deodorants, so I now mix 50/50. i use Listerine & M9 deodorant.
Does anyone else use A “Home Brew” deodorant ?