Tap Water Enema 

Document created by tfreiberg Employee on Dec 27, 2016Last modified by mcunningham on Mar 23, 2017
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An enema inserts fluid into the rectum to clean the lower bowel.


Supplies you will need

  • Wall hook, IV pole or another person to hold container of tap water
  • 1000 mL warm tap water (warm to the wrist, but not hot)
  • Chux (waterproof pads)
  • Bedpan or bedside commode, toilet paper
  • Soap, water, washcloth, towel
  • Gloves
  • Disposable enema kit
  • Extra lubricant


What to do

  1. Explain to the patient what you are going to do, even if you are unsure whether they can hear.
  2. Place patient on his/her left side with right leg bent. Lay several waterproof pads under and around lower body to protect bed linen.
  3. Wash hands and wear gloves.
  4. Open enema kit and clamp tubing. Fill container with 1000 mL of warm tap water. (Container is marked.)
  5. Holding end of tubing over the sink, unclamp tubing and allow a small amount of water to flush through, forcing the air out; re-clamp. Hang container or have a second person hold it.
  6. Lubricate tip of tubing. Insert tube 3 to 4 inches into the rectum (for adults.) Do not force tubing; if patient expresses discomfort, do not advance it further.
  7. While keeping the tubing in the rectum, release clamp to allow water to flow.
    • Hang or hold the container about 12-18 inches above the patient’s bottom.
    • If patient expresses immediate discomfort, lower the container to slow the flow. The higher the container, the faster the flow.
  8. Patients vary on how much water they can accommodate. An adult can tolerate between 500-1000 mL.
  9. When the patient states they feel “full” or water begins flushing back out of the rectum, clamp tubing and withdraw the tip.
  10. Instruct patient to try to hold water in as long as possible.
  11. Place patient on bedpan or assist to toilet. Wash rectal area after bowel movement.
  12. Supplies may be washed with soap and water and stored for repeated use.
  13. Remove gloves; wash hands.


Special instructions

Do not add castile soap or any other ingredient to the water in the container.



 Adapted from: The Lippincott Manual of Nursing Practice, Tenth Edition, Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2013.