Feeding tube maintenance
The Oley Foundation recommends these guidelines for using feeding tubes. For more information, visit www.oley.org.
- Clean your work area before each feeding or cleaning.
- Work at a comfortable pace. You may spread more germs if you rush.
- Wash your hands before you do anything with your feeding tube or feeding supplies.
- Scrub your hands with liquid antibacterial soap for at least 15 seconds. Scrub under your fingernails, too.
- Dry your hands with a clean paper towel. Turn off the water with the back of your wrist or with your elbow, or with a paper towel.
- Anyone who helps you with your feeding tube must wash their hands this way, too.
- Do not touch things that are not clean. Touching these things can spread germs.
- Use only clean supplies when you work with your feeding tube.
- Focus on the task at hand. Don’t switch to other activities or handle unclean objects in the middle of cleaning.
Cleaning your feeding tube
To keep your stoma site clean and healthy, and to help prevent infection, clean your feeding tube once a day or as often as your doctor recommends.
Use these supplies to clean your feeding tube:
- Gauze pads
- Cotton swabs
Follow these steps to clean your feeding tube:
- Use warm water or a mixture of soap and water to clean your feeding tube. Your doctor may recommend a cleaning solution.
- Clean the inside of each port with a moistened cotton swab for at least 15 seconds.
- Scrub the outside of the ports with a moistened gauze pad.
- Twist the gauze pad back and forth at least 10 times, as if you were juicing an orange. Use friction and a twisting motion when you clean the ports. The friction is important to this cleaning method.
Cleaning your stoma site
Clean and disinfect your stoma once a day. Do not routinely use antimicrobial ointments on or around your stoma.
Use these supplies to clean your stoma site:
- A clean cloth
- Cotton swabs
Follow these steps to clean your stoma site:
- Wash your hands very well before and after you gather your cleaning materials.
- Clean the skin around your stoma with a clean cloth, soap, and water. Work in circles outward from your stoma site.
- Clean under the bolster and hubs of your feeding tube with cotton swabs, soap, and water.
- Rinse the area around your stoma with warm water and let it air dry.
- Always check the area for signs of infection. Call your doctor immediately if you see drainage, swelling, or redness, or if you notice unusual tenderness.
For more information about preventing infections and taking care of your feeding tube, visit www.Oley.org.
Flushing your feeding tube regularly with water will help prevent clogs and keep your tube clean for your regular feeding. Regular flushing can also make your feeding tube last longer and may prevent problems.
Refer to the flushing schedule that your doctor gave you when you received your feeding tube.
Use these supplies to flush your feeding tube:
- A catheter-tipped syringe
Follow these steps to flush your feeding tube:
- If your doctor instructed you to, check your stomach for leftover liquid food.
- Attach the catheter-tipped syringe to the feeding port of your feeding tube.
- Gently flush the prescribed amount of water through the feeding tube.
- Remove the syringe when you finish flushing.
Your doctor may place a dressing over your feeding tube. If your feeding tube has a dressing, your doctor will show you how to clean and change the dressing. Change your dressing right away if it becomes wet or soiled. Otherwise, change it every day or as often as your doctor instructed you to.
Storing your liquid food
Check the volume of your feeding tube’s balloon weekly, or follow your doctor’s recommendation. Compare the balloon’s volume to its volume when you first received your feeding tube. If the balloon volume changes, call your doctor.