Self Cleaning Bedside Commode


Dealing with dirty commode buckets is nobody’s idea of a good time, but it doesn’t have to be a nightmare, and you get used to it all pretty quickly. If there was a self-cleaning commode, it would definitely make a lot of people very happy !

Self-cleaning bedside commodes do not exist. But you can use disposable commode liners, certain bedside commodes can be used over toilets, and there are ways to control the odors from the commode as well. All of which greatly reduces the cleaning to a bare minimum, and makes using a bedside commode no problem at all.

Bedside commode liners are like a large plastic bag which you can very easily place over a commode bucket and then push it down inside so that the inside of the bucket is completely covered. 

This way you will not have to wash the bucket after it has been used, just dispose of the bag and the contents.

So let’s have a look at the two ways in which you can use commode liners and dispose of them.

Using a disposable commode liner with absorbent pad, gelling agent or powder


Commode liners can come with or without absorbent pads, powders or gelling agents.

If you use a liner with the pads, powders or gelling agents, they absorb the liquids and solidify them, so you can then throw them directly into the trash without any mess.


To use commode liners –


  • place the liner in the commode bucket and pull the open edges of the bag over the top of the bucket, so that the liner is inside the bucket and covers the rim and goes down the outside a little
  • place the absorbent pad into the bottom of the liner
  • or if it is a powder or gelling agent and not a pad, that is already in the bag
  • lift the seat of the commode and place the bucket in the bucket platform, and then lower the seat into position
  • once the commode liner has been used, remove it straightaway
  • draw the ties at the top of the liner and tie them in a knot
  • make another knot in the neck of the top of the liner (they are very big), so you will have lots of excess liner to put a second knot in – or if you are using a liner with a sticky seal use that as per liner instructions
  • place the bag in the outside trash straight away to limit any odors
  • now take another commode liner and place it in the bucket with another absorbent pad


Give the seat and the frame of the commode a very quick wipe down, and you are done – use a bit of disinfectant and then a cloth which is just damp with water to wipe off the disinfectant.

It’s done !


Using a disposable commode liner without absorbent pad, gelling agent or powder


This is more messy, and doesn’t fit with the idea of self-cleaning, but some people don’t like putting poop in landfill trash, which isn’t so crazy.

If you are going to use this method, it is advised. To have overalls that you wear just for this, as you may get bacteria etc. on them, and you don’t want it to be spread everywhere.


You will also need disposable gloves when you do this –


  • prepare the liner in the bucket without any pad or gelling agent
  • after the liner has been used, remove the bucket from the commode
  • take the bucket with the lid on to the toilet
  • put the contents of the commode liner and bucket down the toilet – do it slowly to avoid spillage and the commode liner turning itself inside out
  • rinse the commode liner with water two or three times into the toilet
  • carefully remove the commode liner from the commode bucket
  • pull the draw ties of the liner and tie them up
  • make a knot with the liner
  • put the empty liner, any wipes, and other trash into the outside trash destined for landfill
  • don’t forget to give the commode the quick wipe down I outlined above
  • now put a fresh liner over the commode bucket
  • throw away the disposable gloves


NEVER USE THE COMMODE LINERS TWICE, I know a lot of people do, but they will be riddled with bacteria and can give people serious infections.

Popular brands of disposable commode liners with absorbent pads, powder or gelling agent


This is a short list of some popular brand available –


Bearals Commode Liners 

CareBag Commode Liners

Carex Commode Liners

Cleanwaste Sani-Bag+

Medaccs Commode Liners 

Medline Commode Liners

Nurture Commode Liners

TidyCare Commode Liners

Vive Commode Liners


You can buy commode liners with, or without the gel, or absorbent pads, and you can buy them in larger quantities – when you start looking at the prices, you will see why this is interesting.

I have an article all about commode liners, where to get them in bulk, if they are really truly biodegradable, how to buy pads on their own and more. If you want to learn more you can find that article here.


Homemade commode liners


If you, like a lot of other people, cannot afford the cost, and they aren’t cheap, of using multiple disposable commode liners a day, you may want to make your own homemade commode liners from household plastic bags and kitty litter.

I have not tried this method myself.


The method that is suggested is –


  • place a couple of plastic bags over the commode bucket, as you would a liner
  • put several scoops of kitty litter into the bottom of the bags in the bucket
  • put the bucket with the bags in it and the kitty litter into its place on the bucket platform and put the commode seat back down
  • after the commode bucket has been used, you need to place another scoop or two of kitty litter on top
  • when the liquids are absorbed, tie the bags
  • immediately dispose of it in the outside landfill trash


The kitty litter is supposed to both absorb liquids and to suppress the unpleasant smells.

What I don’t like here is that these are not biodegradable or environmentally friendly. 

How to make homemade liners more environmentally friendly


Use a disposable commode liners without the pads which you buy in bulk, and stop using shopping bags which will take around 700 years to break down naturally.

For example –

SaniCare Commode Liners – Universal Size – 150 Liners -$28.00, which works out to 18.6 cents a liner

And then use an organic kitty litter, and not the clay kitty litters which are made with by strip mining !

There are many types of biodegradable kitty litter made from re-cycled paper, corn fiber, grass, pine and other products which don’t harm the environment.

While you are looking for bedside commodes, there is lots more that you can do to make your bathroom a safer place for seniors, or anyone else with mobility issues.

To find out all the different things you can do, to have an instant impact on bathroom safety, take a look here, 54 Bathroom Safety Tips For Seniors – A Helpful Guide”.

Bedside commode odor control


If you are not using commode liners, one of the best things you can do is to put 3 inches of water in the commode bucket before it is used.

Along with this water, you can add an essential oil which is scented, or a product like Poo Pourri.

You are doing this because the water will trap some odors from feces and urine, to some degree, and the oils and Poo Pourri will both leave a film on the surface of the water, which makes it even harder for odors to escape, and they have a scent which will also mask the less pleasant smells.

The water will also make the bucket much easier to empty and clean after it has been used.


Plastic commode buckets will also absorb the odors of their contents, so if you aren’t using liners it is a good idea to soak the buckets in disinfectant for several hours after cleaning, as this will kill a lot of the bacteria which are absorbed, and remove the odors.

You could always try to find an enamel bucket for your commode because it won’t absorb odors at all.


In addition to this short section on cleaning bedside commodes, if you wish to learn more, I have a series of articles on best practices for the cleaning and hygiene of bedside commodes –

“Best way to clean a bedside commode”

“What Is The Best Bedside Commode Cleaner ?”

“Bedside Commode Odor Control: How To Keep It Smelling Sweet ?”

“How Often Should A Bedside Commode Be Cleaned ?”

Cleaning around the commode


The following applies whether you are using commode liners.

You need to be cleaning and disinfecting the areas around the commode regularly.

This will reduce both the odors around the commode and reduce the risk of infection from bacteria.

You should have a waterproof mat of some kind under the bedside commode, and it will help with the inevitable spillages.

For nasty spillages on carpets, you may want to use enzymatic cleaners which are designed to clean up after cats and dogs, such Nature’s Miracle, or  Anti-Icky-Poo.

There is a lot more you can do to get rid of the smells and odors associated with a bedside commode, especially from fabrics, curtains and mattresses which are in the same room as the commode. You can use an extractor fan in the wall, different kinds of disinfectant sprays on the curtains and more. I have an article in which I outline the numerous ways of tackling these problems, you can read it here.

Over the toilet commode – using a 3-in-1 commode over a toilet


You can also set up certain types of bedside commodes over a toilet, and this will mean that there is no cleaning to b e done, except for cleaning the splash guard once every few days and a very quick wipe down of the frame, but the bucket is not used, as everything goes into the toilet.

The commode is working as a raised toilet seat rather than as a commode.


All you need to do is to –


  • remove the commode bucket from the commode
  • check the height of the toilet bowl rim from the floor
  • adjust the length of the commode legs accordingly so that the commode seat is above the level of toilet bowl rim
  • check that the legs are the same length, so the commode doesn’t wobble
  • put your toilet seat and lid are in the upright position
  • set the commode frame over the toilet and to check it is at a good height for the user
  • the user’s feet should touch the floor when they are seated on the commode – you don’t want elderly loved one’s falling because their feet are not firmly planted on the floor when they try to stand
  • lift the seat of the commode and drop the splash guard into the bucket platform – where the bucket goes when you are using it
  • put the commode seat back down in place over the splash guard and your commode is ready to use over the toilet


I also have an article which covers all aspects of the different types of bedside commodes –

  • the types
  • set up
  • who needs one
  • using over a toilet
  • liners emptying
  • cleaning
  • odor control
  • where to buy
  • top brands
  • bedside commodes for larger people
  • using over the toilet
  • maintenance
  • features
  • sizes
  • and more

You can find all of that in this article, What is a bedside commode ?”.

3 in 1 bedside commode installed over a toilet

I’m Gareth, the author and owner of Looking After Mom and Dad.com

I have been a caregiver for over 10 yrs and share all my tips here.

Gareth Williams

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