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Managing clothing when using the toilet

Managing clothing when using the toilet

The rearrangment of clothing in is an important part of independence in toileting (Clark, and Rugg, 2005). So considering what clothing you wear is essential. Clothes which are loose or have some stretch to them are often easier to manage, for example track suits (Independent Living Centre, 2008).

Clothing specifically designed to aid access

Adapted nightwear and underwear are available for people who have particular difficulty managing their clothing when toileting. You may find you are looking to:
  • manage clothes with one hand
  • want an alternative way of reaching to pull up trousers
  • manage wearing a skirt when using a sideways transfer from a wheelchair
  • easier access for emptying a legbag.


The following adapted clothing is available:

  • side fastening trousers with longer length zips and pull tags, some have a zip opening from the bottom trouser leg hem up to the waist for easier access to a catheter bag
  • trousers and jeans designed specifically to address needs of wheelchair users, for example they may have a longer leg and higher cut at the back for more comfort when sitting and transferring, and/or a longer zip for easier catherisation, larger zip for easier hand manipulation, or no poppers or pockets at the back to reduce the risk of skin breakdown
  • larger sizes, larger arm and leg openings, for example, if you have reduced hip or shoulder mobility or require more space for incontinence pads
  • wrap around skirt. This style can be useful for a wheelchair user
  • elasticated or support waist bands at the back and side of trousers to provide easier access and keep the trousers in position when toileting
  • opened back nightwear
  • underwear with side, crotch or back fastening - many of them have velcro style fastening or poppers which allows access for example to catheters and urinals, and facilitate changing an incontinence pad. Many of these styles eliminate the need to pull pants down and so may make toileting easier for if you are a wheelchair and/or hoist user.

Many of these clothes use poppers or velcro style fastenings to make them easier to manage either independently or with assistance from a carer. Using dots of velcro tends to be easier than two strips of velcro, particularly for fly openings on trousers or waistbands of womens skirts (Pain, McLellan, and Gore, 2003).

Bespoke, made to measure, adaptation services are available from some suppliers (Pain, McLellan, and Gore, 2003).

Adapting clothing

You could use a local dressmaker to adapt your clothes, or a tailor or local supplier maybe able to supply clothing, for example trousers with a longer fly opening which can allow easier access for urinals or catheters.

Using equipment to assist with dressing

Some individuals find it helpful to use a clothes peg to peg clothing such as a shirt together out of the way when using the toilet. A skirt could be tucked into an elasticated waistband to keep material out of the way. Alternatively you may find a pair of trouser clips useful.

If you are using a catheter you may find it useful to use a inspection mirror.

Further information

AskSARA's clothing and dressing section has further information on equipment available to assist you in dressing.

You could ask for an assessment with an Occupational therapist to see how your own clothing might be adapted to better suit your needs.

You can check the Disabled Living Foundation's webpage on Equipment Demonstration Centres in the UK to find your nearest Equipment Demonstration Centre and ask if you can visit to see a range of adapted clothing samples. Before you visit it's advisable to check what range/s they have available.

Advice last checked: 09 May 2017 Next check due: 09 May 2020

All advice is either supported by references (cited in the text) or is based upon peer reviewed professional opinion. Our advice is impartial and not influenced by sponsors or product suppliers listed on the site.
Conflict of interest statement

References

  1. Clark, J. and Rugg, S. 2005  The importance of Independence in Toileting: the views of stroke survivors and their Occupational Therapists
    British Journal Of Occupational Therapy   Vol.68(4)   p165-171 Evidence type: 2
  2. Independent Living Centre Devon 2008  Choosing clothes for easy dressing and undressing
    View reference   Last visited:  13/12/2013 Evidence type: 2
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