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Collecting Urine Cultures

Why do doctors need a urine culture?

The care team may need to check your child’s urine for bacteria that can cause infection.

The care team will need a urine sample for this test Sometimes a nurse or nursing care assistant will collect the sample. Other times you might be asked to gather the sample. 

These steps can help you collect urine samples as needed. Older children and teens can usually follow these steps on their own. 

Clean before collecting

Bacteria are always present in the genital area. These bacteria can contaminate a urine sample. This can lead to false test results.

It is very important to clean this area well before collecting a urine sample. 

Supplies you will need

The supplies you need may vary based on your child’s age or your care team’s advice. Follow their instructions exactly. 

This is a list of basic supplies.

  • Computer printed labels that have the patient’s name and hospital ID number 
  • A bottle of hexachlorophene 3% or another recommended sudsing antibacterial skin cleanser
  • Sterile gauze sponges 
  • Sterile water 
  • Sterile collection cup 
  • Collection bag (if needed based on your child’s age)
  • Plastic Ziplock bag 
  • Non-sterile gloves 

Collecting from children and teens

  • Wash your hands with antibacterial soap and dry them well. 
  • Put on the non-sterile gloves. 
  • Lay the infant on her back and spread her legs. Give her as much privacy as needed. 
  • Clean the outside genital area with sterile gauze sponges dipped in the antibacterial skin cleanser. Wash each side of the vulva first. 
  • Then clean the area where the urine comes out. 
  • Clean the anus last. 
  • Wipe from front to back, never the reverse. 
  • Use each sponge for only 1 wipe.
  • Using new gauze sponges and sterile water, wash off the cleanser using the same steps.
  • Dry the area with 1 gauze, wiping front to back. Make sure the skin surface is dry before you begin to apply the collection bag. 
  • Remove the bottom half of the paper covering the sticky patch that will hold the infant collection bag in place. It is easier to leave the top half of the paper on until the bottom part of the patch has been applied to the skin. 
  • Start at the narrow bridge of skin that separates the vagina from the anus. Work outward and up from this point. 
  • Press the sticky patch firmly against the skin. Try to avoid having wrinkles in the skin against the patch. 
  • When the bottom part is in place, remove the paper backing from the top part of the sticky patch. Work upward to finish placing the patch. Secure it around the entire genital area. 
  • Remove the gloves. Wash and dry your hands. 
  • Now, you can put a diaper on your child.
  • Check the infant collection bag every 15 minutes to see if your child has urinated. Give her plenty to drink to help produce a sample. 
  • If your infant has not urinated within 2 hours, discard the bag. Cleanse the area again and apply a new collection bag. 
  • As soon as your child urinates in the bag, put on your non-sterile gloves. Gently remove the bag from your child’s body. Pour the urine into the sterile collection cup. 
  • Do not let the outer part of the bag touch the urine, and do not touch the inside of the sterile cup. 
  • Put the top on the collection cup. Stick the computer label to the cup. Place the cup in the plastic Ziplock bag. 
  • Remove your gloves. Wash and dry your hands. 
  • Give the urine sample to your child’s care team as soon as you can.
  • The sample must be sent to the lab within 30 minutes of being collected, or it will have to be thrown out and a new sample collected.

Collecting from infant boys

  • Wash your hands with antibacterial soap and dry them well. 
  • Put on the non-sterile gloves. 
  • Lay the infant on her back and spread her legs. Give him as much privacy as needed. 
  • Clean the entire genital area using sterile 4x4 gauze sponges dipped in the antibacterial cleanser.
  • Start by cleaning the scrotum (skin pouch that holds the testes). Then pull back your infant’s foreskin if he has one so you can clean the surface of the penis well. 
  • Clean the anus last, wiping away from the scrotum. Clean the entire area at least 4 times using a new sponge each time. 
  • Using new gauze sponges and sterile water, wash off the cleanser.
  • Dry the area with one (1) gauze sponge. Make sure the skin surface is dry before you begin to apply the collection bag. 
  • Remove the bottom half of the paper covering the sticky patch that will hold the infant collection bag in place. It is easier to leave the top half of the paper on until the bottom part of the patch has been applied to the skin. (If you have an active boy, it may be easier to leave all the paper backing in place until you have fit the bag over the genitals. 
  • When applying the sticky patch, be sure to start at the narrow bridge of skin between the anus and the base of the scrotum. Work outward and up from this point. 
  • Press the sticky patch firmly against the skin. Try to avoid having wrinkles in the skin against the patch. 
  • When the bottom part is in place, remove the paper backing from the top part of the sticky patch. Work upward to finish placing the patch.
  • Secure it around the entire genital area. 
  • Remove the gloves. Wash and dry your hands. 
  • Now, you can put a diaper on your child.
  • Remember to check the infant collection bag every 15 minutes to see if your child has urinated. Give him plenty to drink to help produce a sample. 
  • If your infant has not urinated within 2 hours, discard the bag. Cleanse the area again and apply a new collection bag. 
  • As soon as your child urinates in the bag, put on your non-sterile gloves. Gently remove the bag from your child’s body. Pour the urine into the sterile collection cup. 
  • Do not let the outer part of the bag touch the urine, and do not touch the inside of the sterile cup. 
  • Put the top on the collection cup. Stick the computer label to the cup. Place the cup in the plastic Ziplock bag. 
  • Remove your gloves. Wash and dry your hands. 
  • Give the urine sample to your child’s nurse or nursing care assistant as soon as you can. 
  • The sample must be sent to the lab within 30 minutes of being collected, or it will have to be thrown out and a new sample collected.

Collecting from children and teens

Depending on your child’s age, they may be more comfortable collecting their own sample. These are the steps that you should follow.

  • Wash your hands with antibacterial soap and dry them well. 
  • Put on the non-sterile gloves. 
  • Have your child lie back and spread their legs. Give them as much privacy as they need.
  • You or they can follow the same steps for cleaning the genital area by sex that are outlined for infants.
  • Now let your child sit or stand over the toilet or collection container (hat) to urinate. Let a little of the urine go into the toilet (or hat). Then, catch the rest of the urine in the sterile collection cup. This is called a midstream specimen. (Do not touch the inside of the cup.) 
  • Put the top on the collection cup. Stick the computer label to the cup. Place the cup in the plastic Ziplock bag. 
  • Remove the gloves. Wash and dry your hands. 
  • Give the urine sample to your child’s nurse or nursing care assistant as soon as you can. The sample must be sent to the lab within 30 minutes of being collected, or it will have to be thrown out and a new sample collected.

Key Points

  • Your child’s care team may need to collect a urine sample to check for bacteria that can cause infection.
  • If they do, it is important that the genital area be clean so as not to contaminate the sample.
  • If you need to collect the sample yourself, follow instructions from your child’s care team.


Reviewed: September 2022