Why Is It Called A 3 in 1 Commode


Several years ago, with my mom’s hip replacement surgery looming on the horizon, she and I tested out a few raised toilet seats, and we were really not happy with them. Mom was going to need something a lot more solid and easier to sit down on, and that is when we got our 3-in-1 bedside commode. And mom has not looked back since. It is still used by my mom each day, and she loves it. She even prefers it to sitting on our actual toilet, even though she has no problem doing that.

A 3-in-1 commode is so-called, as it has been designed to be used in three specific ways –

(1) as a bedside commode
(2) as a raised toilet seat and frame over a toilet
(3) as a toilet safety rail

3 in 1 bedside commode

The most basic folding static bedside commode is not to be confused with a 3-in-1 bedside commode, as it cannot be used over a toilet as a raised toilet, or as a toilet safety frame like the 3-in-1 commode.


The 3-in-1 bedside commode can come with a variety of features which don’t affect it’s 3 basic functions  –


  • the standard 3-in-1 commodes typically have a maximum weight capacity of between 300 and 350 lb
  • there are many 3-in-1 bariatric, or heavy-duty bedside commodes for larger individuals with far greater weight capacities – the bariatric models start at around 350 – 400 lb and go up to over 1000 lb in some cases
  • 3-in-1 commodes come in varying widths, the wider models are usually labelled extra wide frame or extra wide
  • some extra wide models also have slightly wider seats as well, and it will typically be stipulated in the name if they do
  • especially tall models for taller individuals
  • some models will have elongated seats, and these may feature open or closed fronts – the elongated seat and the open front is to facilitate the ease of the user cleaning themselves on the commode
  • there are models of 3-in-1 which have drop arms – these are intended for individuals who require side access to transfer to the commode from a bed or a wheelchair, but can be very useful if you have to help someone clean themselves as you can just move the arm out of the way
  • some come with padded seats and back rests for extra comfort
  • usually these commodes have adjustable height legs, but the amount they adjust by can vary a little, so if you are intending to use one as a raised toilet seat or a toilet safety frame, you will want to check the height of your toilet bowl rim – the legs tend to adjust anywhere in the range of 17″- 23″
  • the last feature that a 3-in-1 bedside commode will have is a splash guard, which is for use when the commode is used as a raised toilet seat – only commodes which can be used in this way need a splash guard


The frames of the 3-in1 commodes are generally made from aluminum, or steel, for the standard frames, and the bariatric models tend to be made from steel and use multiple layers of tubing in their construction for the really strong models

If you want specific weight capacities for specific models you can just go to my article “Bedside Commode Weight Capacity: A Guide With Over 140 Examples And Illustrations” – I have listed all the model names, numbers and weight capacities, to make it easy to find them online. The article is also updated all the time as I find new models of each type on the list. You can check all of that here.

I also have an article about the different types of bariatric commodes for larger individuals, and which includes transport commodes and shower commodes, listing over 60 different commodes, with their model numbers and their weight limits. You can read that here.

How to set up a 3-in-1 commode over a toilet ?


One thing which makes a 3-in-1 commode so great is the way it can be used over a toilet by an elderly person, and just how easy it is for them to sit on. I can’t really relate to you how relieved my mom was to find this out, but if you are looking for something which raises a toilet seat, which is solid, easy to get a hold of and requires no extra grab bars, a 3-in-1 commode really is the ticket.


How to set up a 3-in-1 commode over a toilet as a raised toilet seat –


  • take out the commode bucket from the bucket platform
  • measure how high the toilet bowl rim is from the floor
  • set the length of the commode legs so that the commode seat is higher than the toilet bowl
  • to adjust the length of the legs, push in the spring-loaded buttons on the tubing and then pull or push the leg in – when they are in position give them a good jiggle to make sure the push buttons have popped back out properly
  • check that all the legs are the same length so the commode is stable
  • put your bathroom toilet seat and lid in the upright position
  • place the commode frame over the toilet and check that it is at the height which suits the user
  • the user’s feet must be on the floor as they are seated on the commode – not just the toes, if not this can cause frailer individuals to fall when trying to get up from the toilet
  • lift the seat of the commode and place the splash guard in the bucket platform where the bucket is normally placed
  • put the commode seat back down and your commode is ready to use over a toilet


3 in 1 bedside commode installed over a toilet

How to set up a 3-in-1 bedside commode as a toilet safety frame


The set-up of a 3-in 1 commode as a toilet safety frame is exactly the same as for a raised toilet seat you don’t raise the commode seat any higher than the lowest possible height to clear your toilet bowl rim – there should be virtually no space between the rim of the toilet bowl and the commode seat.

You won’t need the splash guard the commode seat is only at most about an inch above your toilet bowl rim.


Well known brands of 3-in-1 bedside commodes


The following is a list of well known brands who make 3-in-1 commodes and who can be relied upon for their quality of build –


  • Carex
  • Drive
  • Guardian
  • Homecraft
  • Invacare
  • Medline
  • Nova
  • Performance Health
  • Probasics
  • TFI Healthcare
  • Tuffcare
  • Guardian
  • Vive

The best commode is really the which best suits your particular needs, supports the correct weight for the user and has the features required. But all the above have very good reputations.

Where you can buy them ?


All the different types of commodes can be found at major retailers in real stores or online.


  • CVS
  • American Discount Medical Equipment – home-med-equip.com – this company has a big range of commodes, and especially in the rolling commode category, as compared to most other retailers. There is a lot of information on each commode with all the specifications. It is my go-to website when I need information.
  • Lowes
  • Target
  • Walgreens
  • Walmart
  • Amazon – you have to be careful here if you are not buying the big brand names, as there are a lot of commodes that suddenly disappear and aren’t made anymore. The number of commodes that I have had on my lists in articles that were no longer available on Amazon after just a month, or so, is a bit worrying. But the more well known, and reputable brands, are all there too.


Where can I get a cheap or free bedside commode near to me ?


If you are struggling to find the funds to pay for your bedside commode, and if you are looking after an elderly parent, you may want to consider getting a refurbished bedside commode, or finding a group which supports individuals who are in financial difficulty.

I have an article about where to donate a bedside commode, and these are the same places where you can get one for a reduced price, or even be given one.

In general, this will be a commode which was “gently used”, and then refurbished.

This may be to a thrift store, or to a state wide program such as a “State Assistive Technology Project”, along with websites for these larger programs, where you can buy, sell, donate and receive equipment for free – these are usually called “equipment exchanges”. Any state resident can join their state website, and participate in the equipment exchange (if there is one) – you can even post saying you are looking for a particular piece of equipment for free.

You can find the article which lists all the state technology programs with links to their exchanges, and lots of other charity organizations here.


Does Medicare cover bedside commodes ?


Before you rush out to buy a bedside commode, if you, or your elderly loved one have Medicare Part B, or a Medicare Advantage plan, you may well be covered for 80% of the cost of a bedside commode.

For this to be the case, you would have to qualify under the Medicare guidelines, have it prescribed by a Medicare-enrolled physician, and finally, to purchase through a Medicare-approved Medical Equipment supplier who accepts assignment.

With this being the case, you will have to pay your yearly deductible, unless that has already been met, and a 20% coinsurance payment, which would be 20% of the Medicare-approved price of the bedside commode that you have been prescribed.

If you would like to know more, I have an article covering the circumstances in which Medicare will cover 80% of the cost of a bedside commode, the qualifying medical guidelines, what you need from your primary care physician, how to find a Medicare-approved supplier, and how to get it all done.

The article also covers other programs such as Medicaid, Assistive Technology Projects and Non-Medicaid State Financial Funding for the Elderly, all of which will under certain conditions help pay for a bedside commode, and other durable medical equipment.

You can find the article “Does Medicare Cover Bedside Commodes” here.

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”.

The other main types of bedside commodes


Other than a 3-in-1 bedside commode the main types of bedside commodes are –


Static folding bedside commode

The simple folding commode – the most basic and lightweight portable commode.

It is very easy to fold, and can easily pop into a cupboard, or slipped under a bed, if you don’t want it standing out in plain view.

These commodes have the lowest weight capacity of all the bedside commodes – around 250 – 275 lb.


Static shower bedside commode

The static shower commode  – this is a waterproof commode, and can be used as both a shower chair and as a bedside commode.

Often people think you can use a 3-in-1 commode in the shower, but unless they say so, they are not made to be waterproof, and there are plenty of steel parts which can corrode and brake.

So, using a 3-in-1 in the shower is not a good idea, and if you want to know more about what you can do about this, I have an article – “Can A 3-in-1 Commode Be Used As A Shower Chair”.


Static stacking bedside commode


The stacking bedside commode – this is named a “stacking” commode, simply because it doesn’t fold ! Very imaginative.

Some models do have adjustable height legs which allow them to be used over a toilet, and they are pretty strong as they don’t have to fold up.

But they are not very easy to fit in a small cupboard, and under a bed is probably not going to happen.

Static drop arm bedside commode

A drop arm commode – this is a commode which has armrests which are not fixed in position, allowing for side transfer onto the commode, usually from a wheelchair or a bed.

As I noted earlier, there are plenty of models of 3-in-1 commodes which come with drop arms on either one, or both sides.


Attendant transport bedside commode

A transport commode – This a type of commode with wheels which can also be used to transport your loved one from A to B, if they have mobility issues.

This model with small casters is an attendant transport commode and requires that a caregiver pushes the commode.


Self-propelling transport commode

Self-propelling transport commode – this is a transport commode for those individuals who are able to propel themselves.

Just like the attendant transport commode, these can be used as a transport chair, a commode and very often over a toilet.

Some models are fixed height, and are not tall enough to be able to be used over a toilet bowl, and some have horizontal bars which are too low for going over a toilet.

Attendant shower transport bedside commode with four small wheels


The attendant shower transport commode chair – this is a commode, a shower chair and a transport chair rolled into one, and in many cases can also be used as a raised toilet seat.

Attendant shower transport bedside commode with medium sized rear wheels


Attendant shower transport bedside commode with medium-sized rear wheels – this is designed to make it easier to push the chair into a shower if there is any kind of step or lip to the shower bottom.


Self-propelling shower transport bedside commode


The self-propelling shower transport bedside commode – this is the model for the individual who can propel themselves.

The commode can be used as a shower chair, as a commode, as a transport chair, and very often over a toilet, as a raised toilet seat.

Transfer bench bedside commode

Transfer bench commodes – This type of commode is both a commode and a bench for transfer into the bath or shower.

Armchair style commodes – Something which you don’t see too many examples of are bedside commodes. These are a little more stylish, and are designed to be like an armchair and not recognizable as a commode – for someone who is looking for a discreet commode, this is the answer.

A lot of the armchair commodes have a wicker chair look to them, and when the seat is place over the commode bucket area, there is no way of knowing that it hides a bedside commode.

The example below is a very particular, and unique, design – an armchair style bedside commode which has been specifically designed to fit into a corner, so that it cannot tip over when the user sits down – it’s called a Derby Corner Commode.

If you want to know more about armchair commodes, I have an article about the different types and I have listed all the models that I could find, as there are not that many. You can find that article here.


Derby Corner Commode

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
  • 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 ?”.


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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