A home dialysis machine sitting on a table next to a recliner.

Creating a Dialysis-Friendly Home

Reviewed by: HU Medical Review Board | Last reviewed: January 2023 | Last updated: February 2023

Whether you choose hemodialysis or peritoneal dialysis (PD), doing dialysis at home offers flexibility in managing your end-stage kidney disease. But choosing home dialysis may mean making certain lifestyle changes. Before you begin, you must prepare your home for safe, sanitary dialysis.

Keeping your house clean for home dialysis

Dialysis at home is convenient and comfortable. However, your home likely is less clean and sterile than a dialysis clinic. It is important to think through your home dialysis setup before beginning.

Plan to clean the whole house regularly. Vacuum, dust, and wipe down surfaces. Clean the bathrooms often to prevent bacterial growth.1

Then, choose one room where you will always dialyze. This room will need constant attention. It must be clean and dry. Deep clean any fabric-covered items (curtains, couches, and chairs) in your dialysis room on a regular basis. Limit the clutter allowed in this room, and remove all plants.1,2

Choose a specific dialyzing chair that is comfortable, adjustable, and located in good light. Sanitize the chair regularly. For easy sanitation, leather or vinyl works well.

Before each dialysis session:1-3

  • Remove children and pets from the room.
  • Sanitize the dialysis chair and surfaces holding equipment and supplies.

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Preventing infection

During home dialysis, it is vital to prevent infection. Always dialyze in a clean, dry space. Keep the equipment and catheter clean and sanitized. Follow sanitizing procedures when dialyzing. A member of your healthcare team will teach you and a care partner how to do all of this.1-3

Preparing to safely dialyze takes several minutes. Steps often include the following:1-3

  • Wash your hands with soap and warm water for 20 to 30 seconds.
  • Put on a clean surgical face mask before doing exchanges (connecting or disconnecting).
  • Wear sterile gloves when doing exchanges.
  • Clamp the catheter before removing the cap.
  • Disinfect the cap before removing it.
  • Limit the length of time the cap is off.
  • Disinfect the hub, the sides, and the catheter.

Catheter upkeep

Daily catheter care is also essential. Catheter site infections can create a range of health problems. Ways to reduce your risk for this type of infection include:1-3

  • Clean the catheter area daily with antiseptic. There are several types of antiseptic to choose from, and your doctor will tell you which one to use.
  • Keep the catheter dry. Avoid swimming pools and hot tubs. Your doctor will tell you when it is safe to shower.
  • Follow all other care guidelines from your healthcare team.

What about pets?

Pets are an important part of your family! They can offer comfort and companionship during your treatment. With some planning, you can do your home dialysis with pets in the house. But make sure to do the following.2,4,5

Keep them away from your equipment

Keep your machine and supplies stored in a pet-free area when not in use. Keep pets away when doing exchanges.2,4,5

Dialysis treatments can be long. If you want your furry companions with you during treatment, watch them closely. Do not let them scratch, chew, or play with the equipment.4,5

Keep them healthy

Keep your pets healthy to keep yourself healthy. Take them for regular vet and grooming visits. Keep their nails short to avoid scratches. Scratches on your skin can lead to infections.4,5

Arrange for someone to clean litter boxes, bird cages, or fish tanks for you. The bacteria found in these items can make you sick. Wear a mask and gloves if you must do it yourself. Never keep litter boxes or bird cages in the dialysis room.4,5

Clean up after them

Pet dander gets everywhere, so vacuum and dust frequently. Wipe down surfaces, especially counters that your pet touches. Do not clean pet supplies (food and water bowls, cage, or the pet) in the kitchen sink to avoid cross-contaminating pet germs with your food. Regularly wash your hands after handling pets to reduce the spread of germs.4,5

Talk to your doctor about which type of dialysis is right for you and how to prepare for it. With careful planning and preparation, you may be able perform your dialysis treatments in the comfort of your own home.

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