A clean-catch urine sample or specimen is one of the least invasive procedures for a urine culture or urinalysis. The clean-catch method was developed to prevent bacteria from the skin of the penis or vagina from contaminating the urine specimen. It is important to follow the “clean-catch” protocol in order to have accurate results from an uncontaminated sample.
Symptoms of an infection include pain or burning and a constant urge to urinate from a urinary tract irritation. Even if you have no overt symptoms, your doctor may request a urine culture as part of a complete physical.
The most common reason to get a clean-catch urine sample is to test for a urinary tract infection (UTI). However, urine cultures are also performed to check for the following:
Some clinics provide a clean-catch kit consisting of a plastic container with a lid, a label for you to write your name on, and an individually wrapped moist towelette. Others ask that you perform similar actions with soapy water.
Instructions similar to those below are usually either listed on a sheet of paper provided by someone in the clinic or on a laminated instruction sheet posted in the clinic bathroom.
1. Wash your hands.
2. Remove sterile container from packaging and write your name on the label, if provided.
3. Females use a packaged moist towelette to clean the vulva and perianal areas starting from front to back. Repeat with a second towelette.
Males retract the foreskin from the penis if necessary and use the packaged towelette to clean the penis from the tip to the base. Repeat with second towelette.
4. Females spread their labia with one hand and start urinating into the toilet, then put the urine container under the genital area with the other hand to catch the stream of urine without touching any skin.
Males retract the foreskin if necessary with one hand and start urinating into the toilet. Then, position the urine container with the other hand to catch the stream without touching any skin.
5. Do not fill urine to the top. No more than half a container is needed.
6. Place the lid on the container and set it on the sink or someplace stable while you finish urinating into the toilet.
7. Screw the lid securely on the container and wipe it off. Wash your hands and drop off the container to the lab as instructed.
It will take 24 to 48 hours for the sample to be cultured. Ask your doctor how you will be notified of the results.
Note: If the urine sample is being taken from an infant, the clean-catch kit consists of a plastic bag with a sticky strip on one end that fits over the baby’s genital area, as well as a sterile container. Use the same cleaning methods and the plastic bags for collecting the urine. Pour the urine into the sterile container.
Cultures with greater than 100,000 colony forming units (CFU) of a single bacteria are considered positive. This usually indicates an infection that will be treated with an antibiotic.
No growth, or a negative result, indicates there is no infection present.
The growth of several different types of bacteria likely indicates the urine sample was contaminated during the collection process. The clean-catch protocol reduces the chance of contamination.
Keep in mind that your doctor may ask for a urine sample at any visit. Before your appointment, ask if you’ll need to provide a clean-catch sample. If you can’t urinate at the clinic or doctor’s office, ask for a clean-catch kit to take home and drop off the sample as soon as possible. You’ll need to refrigerate the sample if it will be more than 30 minutes until you can drop it off.