Microwave: practical cost-effective method for sterilizing urinary catheters in the home

Urology. 1990 Mar;35(3):219-22. doi: 10.1016/0090-4295(90)80035-l.


We used a standard microwave oven to sterilize red rubber catheters used for intermittent self-catheterization. Catheters were incubated for sixty minutes in a suspension of microorganisms isolated from the urine of patients with urinary tract infections. For each trial, 6 catheters were removed from their respective suspensions, placed in separate plastic freezer bags, distributed evenly in a microwave oven (avoiding cold spots), and microwaved simultaneously for twelve minutes. A control catheter was not microwaved. Two strains of each microorganism were tested. The urinary isolates were Escherichia coli, Klebsiella sp., Proteus sp., Enterobacter sp., Pseudomonas sp., Streptococcus sp., Staphylococcus sp., and Candida sp. In each experiment, all 6 catheters were sterilized. Repeat sterilization in the microwave oven did not affect the integrity of the catheters or the plastic bags. A water heat sink of constant volume was employed. A home microwave oven may be used as a method to sterilize red rubber catheters for reuse with a recommended time of twelve minutes at full power. This technique makes aseptic intermittent self-catheterization a practical possibility.

MeSH terms

  • Bacteriuria / prevention & control
  • Cooking and Eating Utensils
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Humans
  • Microwaves*
  • Rubber
  • Self Care
  • Sterilization / methods*
  • Urinary Catheterization / instrumentation*


  • Rubber