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How to Reduce the Smell of an Ostomy Bag

Managing an ostomy can come with various challenges, one of which is dealing with odor. The smell from an ostomy bag can be a source of embarrassment and discomfort, but there are effective ways to reduce and manage it. This article will provide tips and techniques to help you control odor, ensuring you feel confident and comfortable. We'll cover the use of deodorizers, proper cleaning, and other methods to minimize odor from your ostomy bag.

Understanding the Causes of Odor

Odor from an ostomy bag is primarily caused by the breakdown of waste material by bacteria. This can be influenced by the type of ostomy (ileostomy, colostomy), the foods you eat, and the way you manage your stoma. Knowing the causes can help you take the right steps to reduce the smell.

Dietary Considerations

Certain foods are known to cause more odor than others. Foods like eggs, fish, onions, garlic, and certain vegetables can increase the smell of the output. Conversely, foods like parsley, yogurt, and buttermilk can help reduce odor. Keeping a food diary to track what you eat and how it affects odor can be very helpful.

Using Deodorizers

Deodorizers are a popular and effective way to control odor. These can be added directly to the ostomy bag to neutralize smells before they escape. There are various types of deodorizers available, including drops, tablets, and sprays. Experimenting with different products can help you find the one that works best for you.

Proper Cleaning and Maintenance

Keeping your stoma and ostomy equipment clean is essential for odor control. Here are some tips:

  • Regular Bag Changes: Change your ostomy bag regularly to prevent odor buildup. A full bag is more likely to emit smells.
  • Thorough Cleaning: Clean the stoma and the surrounding skin thoroughly each time you change the bag. Use a mild, non-oily soap and warm water.
  • Use of Flanges and Powders: Ensure the flange is properly sealed to prevent leaks. Skin barrier powders can help secure the seal and protect your skin.

Additional Tips and Tricks

Here are some additional strategies to help reduce odor:

  • Charcoal Filters: Some ostomy bags come with charcoal filters that help neutralize odors. Ensure the filter is working correctly and replace it as needed.
  • Room Deodorizers: Use room deodorizers in the bathroom to help manage smells during bag changes.
  • Hydration: Staying well-hydrated can dilute the concentration of waste, reducing odor.
  • Proper Bag Disposal: Dispose of used ostomy bags in sealed plastic bags to contain odors until they can be thrown away.

Consulting with a Healthcare Professional

If you continue to experience problems with odor despite trying these methods, it may be helpful to consult with a healthcare professional. An ostomy nurse can provide personalized advice and recommend products that might be particularly effective for your situation.


Managing odor from an ostomy bag is an important aspect of living comfortably with an ostomy. By paying attention to your diet, using deodorizers, maintaining proper hygiene, and following the tips outlined above, you can significantly reduce or eliminate unpleasant smells. With the right approach, you can feel more confident and comfortable in your daily life.

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