If anyone is hesitant about getting a bedside commode for an elderly loved one, or for anyone who has problems with mobility, I would encourage them to go ahead get one. My mom, who is 91 years old, has had one for the last two years. It has been incredibly practical, especially at night when she gets up, very stiff and in a bit of a daze, multiple times, to use the toilet. It has made going to the toilet a lot safer and easier for her.
It’s time to get a bedside commode when you are having difficulties using your normal toilet, due to any issues with mobility, balance, sitting and standing, frailty, or are bedridden, and if a bedside commode would be easier and safer for you to use.
Content Overview &Quicklinks
The principal reasons for needing a bedside commode would be firstly safety, and secondly an individual’s comfort.
If an elderly loved one is unable to go to the bathroom on their own, and is having to ask for assistance, it may be that with a bedside commode they are perfectly able to go to the toilet by themselves, in private, regaining a little of their independence while also restoring some of their sense of dignity as well.
Of course, when a person is either, no longer safe from injury using the toilet on their own, or is in a lot of discomfort when they have to sit, or stand at the toilet, it is time to consider a bedside commode.
For those who individuals may be bedridden, or a wheelchair user, a bedside commode is always going to be a very good option for them to improve their experience of using a toilet – and I will be looking at what the options are for such those individuals in a moment.
If you want to read more about the reasons for using a bedside commode, you will find a full development of these points in my article on “Reasons for using a bedside commode”.
Here’s a list of some situations where a person would benefit from having a bedside commode at their disposal in the home –
- if a person is bedridden
- if a person is a wheelchair user
- if a person cannot walk to the toilet on their own
- if it takes a person too long to get to the toilet in time
- if a person requires a safety frame to be able to use the toilet due to frailty, mobility, balance issues, confidence etc
- if a person needs a raised toilet seat to help them sit and stand on the toilet
- if a person makes frequent trips at night to the toilet but is becoming unsafe to do so
- if a person has had a hip or knee replacement, or any other surgery which makes sitting and standing difficult and risks injury
- if a person is not asking for help at night when they need the toilet and waiting until morning
What is a bedside commode ?
A bedside commode is a portable chair toilet which does not use running water, that can be placed wherever it is needed.
The commode a chair frame with a container, under a toilet seat, which may be removed and emptied after use.
Static (no wheels) portable bedside commodes come in different types –
- bedside commodes
- commode chairs
- drop arm commodes
- stacking commode
- 3-in-1 commodes
- all-in-one commodes
- folding commodes
- bariatric commodes
There are also bedside commodes which have wheels, and which like some static portable commodes have multiple functions.
Rolling bedside commodes –
- transport commodes
- shower chair transport commodes
If an individual is to stand from a bed, or they are a wheelchair user, there are static commodes called transfer commodes, which allows transfer from the side, rather than the front, allowing the user to move onto it by sliding over from the bed or wheelchair.
Another type of bedside commode which allows side access, but without the width of a transfer commode, is a “drop arm commode”.
The drop arm commode does not have fixed armrests, allowing them to be raised, lowered, or in some cases removed, giving the commode user side access, as well as front access.
Most types of bedside commode will actually have models which have drop arms as an extra feature.
The most versatile of the static bedside commodes is the 3-in-1, or All-in-One, which is designed to be used in three ways –
- as a bedside commode
- as raised toilet seat (over a toilet)
- as a toilet safety frame (over a toilet)
3-in-1 commodes very often come with drop arms.
If you are looking for a post which covers all aspects of the different types of bedside commodes –
- the types
- set up
- who needs one
- using over a toilet
- liners emptying
- odor control
- where to buy
- top brands
- bedside commodes for larger people
- using over the toilet
- and more
What is the purpose of a bedside commode ?
A bedside commode’s purpose is to –
- make it possible to go to the toilet where there is no running water
- to make it possible to have a toilet anywhere for individuals who are not mobile and who have trouble getting to and, or, using a toilet, because of physical issues
bedside commodes are typically used by individuals who are disabled, or have limited movement due to a medical condition, surgery, an injury and the elderly.
Most models of bedside commode can be adjusted in height, so that users who face problems with sitting and standing can reduce the distance that they need to bend, making it far easier to do so.
Bedside commodes, with the exception of some shower bedside commodes and the very largest bariatric commodes, are generally lightweight and easily portable.
What are the benefits of a bedside commode ?
The Benefits of bedside commodes are –
- greater independence, freedom and control
- privacy and sense of dignity
- easy and quick access
- wheelchair users may find them easier to use than a toilet
- a more comfortable option for bedridden individuals than a bed pan
- user confidence can be improved as they can take control
- most models are height adjustable
- models come in lost of different sizes
- low-cost option
- no need to plumb in an extra toilet
- you can put them in any room
- extremely portable
- some models have wheels
- some models can go in the shower as well
- some models have multiple uses
- can be used over the toilet
- a safe option after hip or knee replacement surgery
- less stress for caregivers than a conventional toilet
If you want to find out more about the benefits of bedside commodes, you can take a look at my article, “19 Benefits Of Bedside Commodes: Making Life Easier For Seniors”.
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”.
How much weight can a bedside commode hold ?
Bedside commode weight limits range from 220 lb to 1500 lb.
A standard bedside commode has a weight limit between 300 and 350 lb, but you must check the specifications of the model you are buying.
You can get bedside commodes of all types with a wide range of weight capacities between the two weights listed above.
You can check the weight capacity of most models in my article “Bedside Commode Weight Capacity: A Guide With Over 140 Examples and illustrations”.
What is a bariatric or heavy duty bedside commode ?
The bariatric or heavy duty commode, is simply a type of bedside commode for larger individuals.
The standard bedside commode can support up to 350 lb.
Bariatric commodes start at around the 400 lb weight capacity, and there are brands which make models with weight capacities of 1000 lb and 1500 lb.
Most types of commode will have bariatric versions of their bedside commode models, which don’t look much different, except they take more weight.
But there are also bigger, wider bedside commodes which have seats which are far larger, and use a much stronger steel tubing for the frame. These look nothing like your standard bedside commode and will support in some cases 1500 lb.
Static bariatric commodes built for the highest weight capacities will usually have a seat which is not oval around the outside, but is rectangular with an oval opening, as you can see in the illustration below.
Bariatric static beside commode with rectangular seat
Bedside commode features
Bedside commodes have a number of different features which models may have –
- drop arms
- elongated seats – these are deeper from front to back than a standard seat to facilitate the user with cleaning themselves
- open front seats – these open at the front of the seat to facilitate the user with cleaning themselves
- extra wide seats – for individuals with larger thighs and hips, some models have wider seats for comfort
- extra wide frames – for individuals with larger thighs and hips, some models have also increased the width of the frame as well as the seat for added comfort
- padding – for those who do not enjoy sitting on hard plastic seat some commodes have nice soft padded seats
Types of bedside commodes
Bedside commodes – portable
Static folding bedside commode
static stacking bedside commodes
3 in 1 bedside commode
Drop arm bedside commodes
Drop arm bedside commodes
Transport or rolling bedside commodes
Attendant Transport Commode Chair - with 4 equally sized wheels
Self-propelled Transport Commode Chair
Shower chair and bedside transport commodes
Attendant shower chair transport bedside commodes
Self-propelled shower chair transport bedside commodes
If you are looking for a full description and uses for all the different types of bedside commodes with specific examples of each type and which one best suits your needs, how to stop them from tipping, how to help a person sit in one correctly, and tips for cleaning, then you can find out about that here – “Bedside Commodes: How To Make The Right Choice ?”.
How to use a bedside commode ?
If you have to assemble the portable commode yourself, you will find that the commode bucket platform is generally folded down against the back side of the commode when it arrives, and the front legs are folded in against the pale holder.
So to set it up correctly –
- position two free legs in the front on the right and the left, so the back and front legs are upright and standing, with the front legs at 90 degrees to the backside of the commode
- pull up the bucket platform front bar into position and lock the two loose ends of the bar in place – one in each of the front legs – the bar has a spring-loaded push button at each end, which will pop out of the holes in the small joint coming off the inside edge of each of the two front legs, as they are pushed into place
- when you have put that together, you will have put the bucket platform in place and joined all the legs together
- if the back bar of the commode, which the lid and seat rest against when they are upright, is not assembled, pop that in place across the top of the two back legs, and as always, make sure the push buttons pop out of the holes properly when they click into position
- if you are using disposable liners, place them in the commode bucket
- put the absorbent pad in the disposable liner if you are using one
- drop the commode bucket into position in the bucket platform
- put the lid on the bucket if you wish
- attach the toilet seat onto back bar of the bucket platform
- attach the seat lid to the same bar, and you can put the seat and lid down over the commode bucket
- adjust the height of the seat using the spring-loaded push buttons on the legs
- make sure the legs are all set to the same height, and that they are locked in position – the buttons make a clicking sound when they snap out of the holes correctly
- place the bedside commode where it will be used
- if you don’t use disposable liners, you should put about 3 inches of water into the commode bucket to help keep down the odors and to make cleaning easier after use
If the commode comes with, the frame is assembled –
- if you are using disposable commode liners, place one in the bucket
- put an absorbent pad in the commode liner if you are using one
- place the bucket in the bucket platform
- clip the seat and lid onto the seat back bar of the bucket platform
- set the height of the legs using the spring-loaded push buttons
- check that the legs are all the same height
- set the bedside commode where you wish to use it
How to clean a bedside commode ?
Emptying and cleaning a commode bucket, or pail
Start out by making sure that you are wearing protective gloves and suitable clothing, or at least an apron which is only used for cleaning the commode.
The commode should be emptied after each use, both for the odors in the room, but also to make sure that the bacteria do not have time to get airborne.
If you are using disposable liners, you can just tie them up and put them in the landfill trash.
If you are not using disposable liners –
- carefully remove the bucket from its holder
- do not rely on the handle of the bucket to take the weight – I have had a number of handles come off, just when I was carrying empty commode buckets – thank goodness !!!!!
- immediately get the lid on the bucket
- with one hand underneath, take it to the toilet
- tip the contents slowly into the toilet, otherwise it may splash out all over the place
- rinse the bucket with water
- soak the bucket in hot water for several minutes
- clean the bucket with a bathroom cleaning product
- rinse the bucket
- disinfect the bucket with bathroom detergent to kill any bacteria
- rinse and dry the bucket
Cleaning the seat and frame of a bedside commode
To clean a seat and frame
- as with the bucket, you clean first, and then you disinfect
- remove the different parts, and clean one by one with a non-abrasive household cleaner
- next disinfect each with a household disinfectant
- the armrests and seat are where the skin has the most contact
- the underside of the seat will be exposed to the most urine and feces, so needs a lot of attention
- next rinse thoroughly and then wipe everything dry
- do the same for the frame
- check that the plastic of the seat is not cracking anywhere
If you are looking for a more detailed article on cleaning a bedside commode, I have a complete article “The Best Way to Clean A Bedside Commode “, in which I have sections on how to –
- what items you will need
- how to set it all out and keep yourself clean
- prepare the bucket or pail for use
- with, or without, commode liners
- how to dispose of commode liners
- how to empty the bucket if you are not using liners
- how to clean the bucket
- how to clean the seat and lid
- how to clean the frame
- the cleaning products
- the different types and brands of commode liners
- bedside commode odor control
Bedside commode liners ?
For those who have not used them, bedside commode liners are essentially plastic bags that you can slip over the inside of the bedside commode bucket, thereby collecting the waste in a bag, which you can then dispose of in your landfill trash – if you use with an absorbent pad, gel or powder.
With disposable commode liners, you have two options –
- you can use them with an absorbent pad, gel or powder – this is then just dumped in the outside landfill trash after use because the liquids are all absorbed by the absorbent products
- you can use them without the absorbent pad, gel or powder – but because you are not using absorbent products in the liner, the waste must be emptied into the toilet, and the bag after rinsing with water a few times, is carefully removed and thrown into the trash
NEVER USE A DISPOSABLE COMMODE LINER TWICE
The bacteria from urine and feces can spread, and with the elderly, who have thin and often torn skin, which is easily infected by bacteria.
Brands of commode liners sold with absorbent pads or gel –
CareBag Commode Liners
Carex Commode Liners
Medaccs Commode Liners
Medustry Commode Liners
TidyCare Commode Liners
If you want to know more about commode liners, where to buy them in bulk, and even how to make your own, I have an article “How To Dispose Of Commode Liners ?”.
The article is about all aspects of commode liners, not just throwing them away.
Bedside commode odor control
This is a big topic, and an important one, as you don’t want a person to be spending lots of time in a room which is full of unpleasant odors.
Odor control has a number of angles from which it can be tackled –
- different types of ventilation
- air filters
- frequency of cleaning
- using, or not using, disposable commode liners
- soaking the bucket for hours in disinfectant
- cleaning the areas around the commode
- the washing of soft fabrics near the commode
- sealing any wooden surfaces next to the commode
- and more…
If you want to find out more about this, I have an article which covers all the above and more, “Bedside Commode Odor Control: How to Keep It Smelling Sweet ?”.
Can a bedside commode be used over a toilet ?
Certain portable bedside commode chairs can be used over an actual toilet as a raised toilet seat, or as a toilet safety frame –
- 3-in-1 bedside commodes
- stacking bedside commodes with adjustable height legs
- bariatric commodes
To set up a commode over a toilet, you will –
- remove the bedside commode bucket from the bucket platform
- put your existing lid and toilet seat into the upright position
- adjust the height of the bedside commode legs, so they are high enough for the seat level of the bedside commode to be higher than the rim of the toilet bowl
- to adjust the length of a bedside commode leg, you depress the spring-loaded button on the leg, and then you either pull the legs to lengthen, or push the leg up to shorten
- the bedside commode legs must all be the same length for safety
- check that all the spring-loaded buttons have properly come out of the holes – check for the clicking sound as they lock into position
- if you set the bedside commode seat too high your loved one’s feet may not touch the floor when they are seated, this can lead to accidents so make sure their feet are on the floor
- once the seat height is good, put the bedside commode over the toilet bowl
- if you have the bedside commode seat 3 – 6 inches above the toilet bowl rim, you will want to close off the space with the splash guard which came with your commode
- the splash guard fits into the bucket platform when you are using the bedside commode over a toilet
If you want to know more about using bedside commodes over toilets, I have an article in which I have listed almost 100 bedside commodes that you use as a raised toilet seats, along with their respective seat heights, to help you make a choice. The list includes all types of bedside commodes – 3 in 1 commodes, drop arm commodes, transport commodes, shower transport commodes and transfer commodes. You can find that article here – “Can a bedside commode be used over a toilet ?”
3 in 1 bedside commode installed over a toilet
How much do bedside commodes cost ?
The price of bedside commodes varies greatly depending on type, ranging from $37.99 to a staggering $3303.88.
You can get a standard bedside commode from $37 – $100.
The average price, by type, is –
Static bedside fixed arm commode – $220.00 (38 models $37.99 to $815.00)
Static drop arm bedside commode – $309.82 (33 models $72.98 to $1363.74)
Static shower chair bedside commode – $169.31 (3 models $119.95 to $199.00)
Transport bedside commode – $286.71 (11 models $192.00 to $449.00)
Shower Transport bedside commode – $917.05 (70 models $119.00 to $3303.88)
Transfer bench bedside commode – $404.99 (11 models $117.00 to $1845.00)
I have an article all about the costs of bedside commodes, and an enormous list of over 140 bedside commodes, model numbers and prices – How Much Does A Bedside Commode Cost ?
Where to buy a bedside commode ?
You can buy bedside commodes at Walmart, Amazon, Walgreens, Home Depot, Target, Lowes, and at specialist medical suppliers like Rehabmart.com and American Discount Home Medical Equipment.
If you want to buy a refurbished bedside commode, you have medical equipment refurbishment outlets all across the US run by non-profits and AT programs.
I have an article all about where you can buy bedside commodes, which also discusses –
- where to find them
- online stores
- getting them with Medicare
- getting them with Medicaid
- how veterans can get them
- refurbished bedside commodes
- Assistive Technology programs
- and more
The article is “Where To Buy A Bedside Commode ?”.
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.