Types Of Commode Chair: What You Need To Know

by | Beginners Info, Personal Hygiene

My mom is a big fan of her bedside commode, which has hardly ever been by the bed, but has been used all over the house, as a chair, a bedside commode, a raised toilet seat (pretty much permanently) and also a sponge bath chair. Bedside commodes are very versatile and come in a variety of types, some with more specialist uses than others.

There are four main types of commode chair – (1) portable bedside commodes, (2) drop arm commodes, (3) transfer or rolling commodes, (4) shower chair and transport commodes. Each of the basic types can have variations depending on the weight of the user, whether the commode folds up, and the types of upholstering applied to it.

Commode chairs are also called bedside commodes, or portable commodes.

There are all sorts of commode chairs, some with wheels, some for the shower, some for the bedroom, some which fold up, some with one function only, and others which can be used in multiple situations, and as such the designs can also be quite different, but all resemble some type of chair.

What does a commode chair or bedside commode do ?

Commode chairs, or bedside commodes, are portable toilets which do not have running water, so they do not flush.

People with mobility problems or disabilities use them, in general, because they have difficulty in getting to the bathroom to use the toilet. Hence the name bedside commode, as they are very often used by a bed.

If the user is able to get out of bed by themselves, but not walk very far, the bedside commode still grants them a little independence, and the ability to go to the toilet in private, without too much assistance.

You can either use disposable bags which line the commode bucket and which are quickly, and easily, disposed of without any clean up of the bucket required, or if you prefer you can empty the contents down the toilet, and then wash and disinfect the bucket after.

The 4 main types of bedside commode, or commode chair

The four main types of bedside commodes, or commode chairs are –

  • bedside/portable commodes
  • drop arm bedside commodes
  • transport or rolling bedside commodes
  • combination shower chair, transport chair and bedside commodes

I don’t want to make this too confusing, but you will see the four basic types being mixed up a little i.e. you may get a transport, or rolling commode, with drop arms, or a shower or transport commode with drop arms.

These four main types of commode can all come as –

  • “bariatric” or “heavy duty” commodes for larger individuals
  • “lightweight” commodes for smaller people
  • “folding” commodes for those who like to put them away easily
  • “padded” commodes for individuals who don’t like harder plastic seats
  • “extra wide” commodes are also available in the 4 main types as well

I have an article where I list the weight capacities of all the raised toilet seats and bedside commodes that I have been able to find, which includes over 180 different models, and amongst them a large number of bariatric bedside commodes. You can find that article here. I am constantly adding to the list of raised toilet seats and bedside commodes, to keep it as up to date as possible.

I have listed lots of examples of all the different types of commodes below with my description of each of the four main types, with their model number and their weight capacities.

Bedside commodes – portable

Portable bedside commodes come is several basic types –

  • static folding – folds like a chair
  • static stacking which does not fold at all
  • static shower and bedside commode which may or may not fold
  • static 3 in 1 bedside commode

The portable bedside commode is the most commonly used type of commode, and is a static chair with a lid, a toilet seat, and a commode bucket, potty or pale.

They should come with a splashguard as well, if they can be used over the toilet.

The 3-in-1 bedside commode is the most versatile of these 4 types with 3 intended uses – hence the name 3-in-1 commode – as

  • a bedside commode
  • a raised toilet seat for over the toilet (without the bucket)
  • as a toilet safety frame around a (if your remove the seat, lid and bucket)

The frames usually come in steel, or aluminum, while the seats are either a hard plastic, or padded.

Just because the 3-in-1 bedside commode has three intended uses this does not mean that it cannot be used for more.

For my mom, I had her to sit on it for a partial sponge bath – but keep it dry.

If your commode is made of steel and has any parts which could rust you shouldn’t do this , so it’s best to do this with aluminum alloy commodes which are stated to be waterproof.

The highest seat on a bedside commode is on the TFI Extra Tall bedside commode, made by TFI Healthcare. This commode’s seat height can be adjusted from 19″ – 28″.

So, even the “Convenient Height Extra Tall Toilet” with its rim at 20″ from the floor, coupled with a 6″ raised toilet seat, is 2″ less than the “TFI Extra Tall Bedside Commode.”

I put this in here to save time for those of you who are very tall, as the TFI Extra Tall Bedside Commode is the tallest option.

Bedside or portable commode examples –

220 lb –  Lattice folding bedside commode, Prod. No. Unavailable

260 lb –  Elite Care lightweight folding commode, Prod. No. ECCOM1

280 lb –  SXRL folding bedside commode with padded seat, Prod. No. 707-549

28o lb –  ZXXX folding bedside commode, Prod. No. YS-300

300 lb –  Carex folding bedside commode, Prod. No. B341-00

300 lb –  Carex folding bedside commode, Prod. No. B341-00

300 lb –  Lifestyle Mobility Aids folding 3-in-1 commode with elongated opening, Prod. No. B3500F

300 lb –  MedPro Homecare commode chair, Prod. No. 770-315

300 lb –  Nova folding commode, Prod. No. 8700-S

300 lb –  Probasics 3-in-1 steel commode, Prod. No. BS31C

300 lb –  Platinum Health UltraCommode bedside commode and folding shower chair, Prod. No. Unavailable

340 lb –  Aidapt Essex height adjustable commode, Prod. No. VR161G

350 lb –  Drive Medical 3-in-1 Competitive Edge folding commode, Prod. No. 11148CE-4

350 lb –  Drive Medical steel folding bedside commode, Prod. No. RTL11158KDR

375 lb –  Aidapt Essex height adjustable commode, Prod. No. VR161

400 lb –  Lumex imperial collection 3-in-1 bedside commode, Prod. No. 7446A-2

400 lb – TFI Healthcare wide 3-in-1 commode w/ elongated seat, Prod. No. 3224G

400 lb – TFI Healthcare 3-in-1 commode w/ elongated seat, Prod. No. 3223G

400 lb –  Tuffcare M450 extra wide 3-in-1 commode chair, Prod. No. M450

450 lb –  Probasics heavy duty Wide Commode, Prod. No. BSB31C

500 lb –  Nova heavy duty commode w/ extra wide seat, Prod. No. 8582

500 lb –  Performance Health Briggs heavy-duty commode, Prod. No. 081437862

500 lb –  Performance Health Hip commode, Prod. No. 081512821

545 lb –  Aidapt Sussex bariatric commode, Prod. No. VR221 

650 lb –  Drive Deluxe bariatric commode, Prod. No. 11130-2

650 lb –  Drive folding bariatric commode, Prod. No. 11117N-1

650 lb –  Probasics bariatric commode extra wide seat, Prod. No. BSB24C

650 lb –  TF1 3244 Extra tall, wide commode w/ elongated seat, Prod. No. 3244

700 lb –  Performance Health heavy-duty commode w/ elongated seat, Prod. No. 081261767

700 lb –  TF1 3240 Extra large bedside commode w/ elongated seat, Prod. No. 3240

800 lb –  Big John Commode chair, adjustable legs, Prod. No. BJBC

Drop arm bedside commodes

As the name suggests, these bedside commodes have drop armrests which can be moved out of the way if the user needs to slide out of the side of the chair into a wheelchair, for instance.

Drop arm models may also be referred to as transfer commodes as the user can transfer out of the side to a wheel chair, or a low bed.

The drop arm model can be very practical if the person using the seat needs some help cleaning themselves, as a fixed arm may get in the way.

The drop arm can be dropped away, so the caregiver can stand on the side and give help from there, without being obstructed.

The drop arm bedside commodes can also be used just like the 3-in-1 commode as –

  • a bedside commode
  • a toilet safety frame
  • a raised toilet seat over your toilet

The frames are steel, or aluminum, the seats and lids are either a hard plastic, or a padded seat on some models. 

Drop arm models can be found both as static, or mobile commodes.

Drop arm bedside commode examples –

250 lb –  Medline steel drop arm commode, Prod. No. MDS89668

250 lb –  Nova drop arm 3-in-1 commode, Prod. No. 8900W

300 lb –  Drive Medical deluxe steel drop arm commode, Prod. No. 11125KD-1

300 lb –  Drive Medical drop arm commode, Prod. No. 11125KD-1A

300 lb –  Drive Medical drop arm commode with wheels with padded armrests, Prod. No. 11101W-2

300 lb – Drive Medical drop arm commode with padded seat, Prod. No. 11125PSKD-1

300 lb –  Guardian drop arm bedside commode, Prod. No. 98202

300 lb –  Healthline drop arm bedside commode with padded seat, Prod. No. Unavailable

300 lb –  Lifestyle Mobility Aids steel drop arm commode, Prod. No. B3900

300 lb –  Lumex drop arm 3-in-1 commode, Prod. No. 6433A

300 lb –  Nova drop arm padded commode, Prod. No. 8901W

300 lb –  Performance Health adjustable drop arm commode, Prod. No. 081512839

300 lb –  Probasics drop arm 3-in-1 commode, Prod. No. BSDAC

300 lb –  Guardian padded drop arm commode, Prod. No. 98204

350 lb –  Homecraft drop arm padded commode, Prod. No. 081706399

450 lb –  Tuffcare extra wide drop arm commode chair, Prod. No. M470

470 lb –  Performance Health drop arm commode, Prod. No. 081299338

600 lb –  Lumex 6438A imperial collection 3-in-1 steel drop arm  , Prod. No. 6438A

600 lb –  Performance Health heavy-duty 3-in-1 drop arm commode, Prod. No. 081202704

650 lb –  Probasics heavy duty drop-arm commode, Prod. No. BSBDAC

700 lb –  Performance Health heavy-duty commode w/ elongated seat, Prod. No. 081261767

700 lb –   Performance Health drop arm all-in-one commode, Prod. No. 081110287

1000 lb –  Homecraft deluxe bariatric drop arm commode, Prod. No. 081706381

1000 lb –  Drive Bariatric drop arm commode Prod. No. 11135-1

Transport or rolling bedside commodes

These are bedside commodes on wheels, on which you can push your loved ones around.

The transport or rolling commode can be used as –

  • a transport chair
  • a bedside commode
  • or placed over the toilet as a raised toilet seat

If you are caring for an elderly parent, or a person with disabilities who has problems with their mobility, a transport commode can be extremely helpful.

If your loved one needs to use the commode, and there is time, you can wheel your loved one through to the bathroom toilet, and position the transport commode over the toilet .

This can help reduce odor control problems in a bedroom, and makes commode clean up unnecessary.

If you are hoping to be able to use your transport commode over a toilet, check if you get a fixed-height model, that it has the required height to pass over the rim of your toilet.

The transport commodes with adjustable legs will usually have an extended height range of 3 – 5″. 

Always lock the wheels when using the commode in a static position, either in the bedroom or over the toilet.

Transport or rolling bedside commode examples

250 lb –  Nova drop arm transport commode w/ wheels, Prod. No. 8805

300 lb –  Drive Medical deluxe steel drop arm commode, Prod. No. 11125KD-1

300 lb –  Drive Medical drop arm commode with wheels with padded armrests, Prod. No. 11101W-2

300lb Lumex Versamode drop arm transport chair commode w/5″ wheels, Prod. No. 6810A

300lb TFI Healthcare commode w/ elongated seat, Prod. No. 3217

310 lb –  Mor Medical New Era PVC rolling commode chair, Prod. No. DNE-118-3TWL

Shower chair and bedside transport commodes

These commodes can be wheeled into the shower and have been specifically designed for this.

Of course, if you have a shower with a lip they won’t go in, so that aspect would be totally redundant.

The shower transport commode can be used as –

  • a shower chair
  • a transport chair
  • a commode
  • some can also be used over the toilet as a raised seat, but you do have to check the height of these, as not all are height adjustable

As with transfer commodes, always remember to lock the wheels when using it in a static position.

Shower chair and bedside transport commode examples

250 lb –  Nova rolling commode shower chair, Prod. No. 8800

250 lb –  Nova padded commode shower chair w/wheels, Prod. No. 8801

250 lb –  Tuffcare padded transport commode shower chair w/wheels, Prod. No. S800

250 lb – Everst & Jennings rehab padded commode shower chair 5″ casters, Prod. No. Unavailable

260 lb –  Tuffcare padded transport commode shower chair w/ 6″ casters, Prod. No. S900

260 lb –  Tuffcare padded commode shower chair wheelchair, Prod. No. S970

275 lb –  Drive Medical aluminum rehab commode shower chair w/ 24″ wheels, Prod. No. NRS185006

275 lb –  Drive Medical aluminum rehab commode shower chair w/ 5″ casters, Prod. No. NRS185007

286 lb –  Healthline, Ezee Life commode shower chair w/ 5″ casters, Prod. No. 150

286 lb –  Healthline, Ezee Life commode shower chair w/ 5″ casters, Prod. No. 180

286 lb –  Healthline, Ezee Life commode shower wheelchair, Prod. No. 150-22

286 lb –  Healthline, Ezee Life commode shower wheelchair, Prod. No. 180-24

300 lb –  Drive Medical padded commode shower chair w/wheels, Prod. No.11114-1

300 lb –  Invacare mariner rehab commode shower chair w/ 5″ casters, Prod. No. 6891

300 lb –  Invacare mariner rehab commode shower chair wheelchair, Prod. No. 6795

300 lb –  Invacare mariner rehab commode shower chair wheelchair, Prod. No. 6895

385 lb –  Mor Medical euro deluxe commode shower chair w/ 4″ casters, Prod. No. MD-118-4TL

300 lb –  TFI Healthcare shower chair and commode w/ wheels and long seat, Prod. No. 3235

385 lb –  Mor Medical New Era PVC wide rolling shower commode chair w/ footrest, Prod. No. DNE-122-3TWL -SF

385 lb –  Healthline, Ezee Life heavy duty commode shower chair w/ 5″ casters, Prod. No. 185

385 lb –  Healthline, Ezee Life heavy duty commode shower wheelchair, Prod. No. 185-24

440 lb –  Healthline, Ezee Life heavy duty commode shower wheelchair, Prod. No. 186-24

440 lb –  Healthline, Ezee Life heavy duty commode shower chair w/ 5″ casters, Prod. No. 186

450 lb –  Tuffcare heavy duty rolling shower commode chair, Prod. No. S95o

450 lb –  Tuffcare bariatric commode shower wheelchair w/ 24″ wheels, Prod. No. S99o

500 lb –  Drive Medical bariatric rehab commode chair w/ 5″ casters, Prod. No. NRS185008

600 lb – AcveAid heavy duty rolling commode shower chair, Prod.No. 720

Armchairs with built in commodes

There is another type of commode that I didn’t list in my “types” at the beginning as they are not that common, but some people do prefer them as they look like an armchair, and so don’t draw attention to the fact that there is a toilet in the middle of the room. 

If you don’t lift up the cushion area of an armchair commode to reveal the built in commode area with the pale, or potty, you would not know that it was a commode.

For someone who wants a more discreet commode which sits in a lounge or a bedroom, and which you would not suspect was a commode, then these are the commodes you should be looking at.

The commodes are made in wicker, vinyl, and washable cloths, and most often are supported by a wooden armchair frame.

There are not many models on Amazon in the US, but you can find more on ebay which can be shipped in from the UK.

The “armchair” commodes cost around 2 – 300$. Certainly avoid the outrageously expensive ones, and do look on ebay, as they are available.

Armchair commode examples

264 lb –  Drive DeVilbiss Healthcare (Drive Medical) Wicker Commode, Prod. No. COO8

320 lb –  Aidapt Lancaster Luxury Commode, Prod. No. VR252A

320 lb –  CareCo Exmouth Luxury Commode, Prod. No. BA05034

320 lb –  CareCo Alton Bedroom Commode Chair, Prod. No. BA05035

320 lb –  CareCo Ludlow Bedside Commode, Prod. No. BA05036

320 lb –  Mawcare Commode Chair, Prod. No. Unavailable

320 lb – Kozee Komforts Luxury Wooden Commode, Prod. No. COMM-WOOD-F-B

320 lb –  Strava Bedside Commode, Prod. No. BA05040

320 lb –  Viva Medi Luxury Beech Commode Chair, Prod. No. unavailable

350 lb –  Drive DeVilbiss Healthcare (Drive Medical) Basket Weave Commode, Prod. No. Z6229

350 lb –  Gordon Ellis Derby Basketweave Commode Chair, Prod. No. 5504/OA

350 lb –  Gordon Ellis Devon Commode, Prod. No. 55071/OA

350 lb –  Homecraft Royale Commode Chair, Prod. No. 091318260

350 lb –  Homecraft Bedroom Chair Commode, Prod. No. 091156645

418 lb –  NRS Healthcare Walton Height Adjustable Commode Chair, Prod. No.

418 lb –  Homecraft Deluxe Commode Chair, Prod. No. 091081181

418 lb –  Langham Deluxe Commode, Prod. No. 55100/BR  or 55100/CN

560 lb –  Gordon Ellis Derby Corner Commode, Prod. No. 55085/BR

How to assist a person to use a commode

To help someone who can stand to use a commode you need to get them standing with their back to the commode.

If your loved one is very unsteady it’s good to have a walker that they can hold onto while they back up to the commode.

 

To sit down on a bedside commode –

  • have your loved one back up to the commode holding the walker
  • your loved one should keep holding onto the walker so they don’t lose balance
  • they should back up until they feel the commode frame touching the back of the legs
  • if you helping your loved one, you may want to help them remove or lower any items of clothing before they sit down
  • your loved one must reach back with one hand to find the armrest on the same side
  • your loved one must reach for the armrest on the other side with their other hand
  • now your loved one is holding the armrests they can sit back on the bedside commode seat
  • your loved one needs to not to sit down to quickly, this can jolt the commode and cause it to tip
  • when your loved one is seated, their feet should be as flat to the floor as possible – if their feet are in the air you need to lower the commode

To stand back up from a bedside commode – 

  • make sure that a walker is in front of the commode to hold onto when standing if your loved one is very unstable, or has just had knee or hip replacement surgery
  • have them place both hands on the armrests of commode and push up to stand
  • they should then reach forward with one hand and take hold of the walker and then do the same with the other hand

How to help your loved one if they can’t clean themselves –

  • if your loved one is very unsteady they may not be able to clean themselves
  • it’s best to have all the provisions you need to hand before you start – you don’t want to leave your loved one standing there while you fumble around looking for things
  • so you will need to have toilet paper, wet wipes and gloves
  • before doing anything else, start by putting on the gloves
  • help your loved one to stand and hold the walker
  • help clean, or clean your loved one with the toilet paper or wet wipes
  • if your loved one is a woman, it’s important to clean them from front to back to prevent UTI’s
  • make sure after cleaning that your loved one is gently dried with a soft towel
  • after you have helped them to dry themselves, help your loved one to put any clothes back on
  • assist your loved one back into the bed
  • dispose of  the toilet paper and wet wipes in the outside garbage
  • finally dispose of the gloves you used and wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water

Tips for cleaning a commode 

To clean a frame or commode

Remove the armrests, the seat, the lid and the splashguard – clean each part with a non-abrasive cleaner and then rinse them off thoroughly.

To cut down on skin infections it is important to clean the armrests and seat very thoroughly, as this is where your loved one’s skin has the most contact with the commode. 

With regards to the underside of the seat, the splashguard and the frame immediately next to them, these will be the areas which get covered with urine and feces, so they will also require a thorough cleaning.

The cleaning should remove any marks and deposits with a non-abrasive cleaner.

Now clean the same parts again with disinfectant.

Once you have finished washing with disinfectant, you can rinse and dry the different elements that you have removed.

Repeat the whole process for the frame, and put back the seat and lid on the frame.

Remember to regularly check the plastic of the seat for any cracks and make sure that there is no rust in the joints of the commode frame to avoid any accidents.

If there are plastic joints, have a good look to make sure they are not cracking.

Anything with cracks should be replaced.

Finally, make sure to check the ferrules – the rubber tips of the legs – for splitting, as when they split they will no longer grip the floor as the metal will come through, and will skid on the floor if it is not carpeted.

I can personally attest to this, as the tips on my crutches split and I went flying as the metal of my crutch skidded on the shiny floor I was walking on.

It is going something similar with a commode when someone sits down or stand up, and they could hurt themselves if the commode skids backwards.

The ferrule does have a metal washer at the bottom to stop the metal splitting the ferrule, but as in my case, they sometimes don’t work.

So keep an eye on that. You can easily find and buy “ferrules” online.

How to set up a bedside commode over a toilet

If you wish, you can use a lot of the different commodes as a raised toilet seat. You just need to set them up over you toilet.

To set up a commode over a toilet –

  • take the commode bucket/pale out of it’s holder 
  • depending or whether or not you have a small toilet, you may want to remove the backrest from your commode – you just push the buttons in and pull the section of tubing out
  • put your toilet seat and lid into the upright position, or if you want to, remove them completely, but it’s usually not necessary
  • check that the height the legs is enough for the seat to clear the rim of the toilet
  • you push in the metal buttons on the legs, and pull the legs down, or push them up, to adjust the length of the commode leg
  • the legs should all be of equal length for stability and safety
  • make sure that all the push buttons have properly popped out of the holes when you have set the height, there should be a clicking noise as they pop out of the holes in the leg
  • your loved one’s feet should not be off the floor when they are seated on the commode – this can cause people to fall when they stand back up from the commode up
  • if the legs are at the right height you can place the commode over the toilet
  • if you have a large distance between the toilet bowl rim and the seat of the commode, you can use the splashguard so that everything is contained
  • to fit the splashguard you lift the commode seat and drop the splashguard into place 

I’m Gareth and I’m the 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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Types of commode chair: what you need to know
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There are four main types of commode chair - (1) portable bedside commodes, (2) drop arm commodes, (3) transfer or rolling commodes, (4) shower chair and transport commodes. Each of the basic types can have variations depending on the weight of the user, whether the commode folds up, and the types of upholstering applied to it.
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Lookingaftermomandad.com