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Cleaning the trach tube


You can clean your child’s tracheostomy (trach) tube if she has a Bivona® tube.The adult type of Bivona trach tubes can be cleaned and used again up to10 times. The type for children and newborns can be cleaned and used up to 5 times. Only use them again for the same patient.

If your child has a Shiley® trach tube, you may not clean it and use it again. Shiley tubes are made to be used one (1) time and thrown away.

After you take out your child’s trach tube, put it in a sealed plastic bag or container until you are ready to clean it. This will keep mucus on it from drying out and hardening. Label the bag or container clearly with your child’s name and medical record number. Before you clean the tube, look to make sure it is not blocked.

Trach tube cleaning supplies

How to clean a Bivona® trach

Gather these supplies. The numbers in the picture match the numbers on the list below.

  1. Used trach (that you just took out)
  2. Obturator
  3. Trach cleaning kit
  4. Sterile water
  5. Clean plastic bag
  6. Non-sterile gloves
  7. Non-colored and non-scented mild detergent (not shown)

Wash your hands with soap and water. Dry them well. See “Do You Know . . . Clean Hands.” Put on your non-sterile gloves if you would like.

  • Using the tracheostomy cleaning kit, soak the tracheostomy tube and obturator in a solution of warm water and non-colored,non-scented mild soap. For example, you can use Ultra Palmolive Pure + Clear® Dishwashing Liquid or Palmolive Baby Ultra Concentrated Dish Wash Liquid.



  • Remove all mucus and other body fluids from the trach tube and obturator by washing them gently by hand. Use the brush and pipe cleaners in the trach cleaning kit. Avoid excessive scrubbing, scraping, and stretching. This will damage the tube.
Wash obturator


  • Rinse thoroughly with sterile water.
  • Look at the tube and obturator for any leftover material. If you see any, repeat the washing steps above.
Rinse obturator
  • Put the trach tube and the obturator on a clean paper towel and let them dry completely.
  • Take off your gloves. Wash your hands with soap and water, and dry them well.
  • Once dry, put the obturator in the shaft of the trach.
  • Place clean trach and obturator in a clean container or bag until it can be sterilized or sanitized.

Any time you change a trach tube, you can send the tube you removed to St. Jude to be sterilized. The information below tells you about having it sterilized in the hospital and sanitized at home.

Having the trach sterilized in the hospital

  • If the trach tube is cuffed, deflate the cuff so that it will not expand when it is sterilized.
  • Send the trach and obturator to the St. Jude Sterile Processing department in a plastic bag. Mark the bag with the patient’s name, medical record number, and room number if your child is staying in the hospital.
  • If your child is staying in the hospital, you can give the bag to a nurse to send to Sterile Processing. If your child is not staying in the hospital, you can give the bag to the clinic staff.
  • Sterile Processing will sterilize the tube and parts with a steam autoclave.
Placethe obturator and trach in a clean sealed plastic bag

Sanitizing the trach at home

  • Remove the tube and the obturator from the bag or container you put them in after cleaning. Put them both in a pan of rapidly boiling clean water.
  • Cover the pan and take it off the burner. Let the water cool enough that you can touch it with your hand. Then, use the tweezers from your trach care kit to take out the obturator and trach.
  • Let the obturator and trach dry on the sterile sheet from your trach care kit. Fold the sterile sheet over the top to keep the obturator and trach from being open to the air.
  • After the trach tube is completely dry, wrap it in sterile gauze from the trach care kit. Touch the obturator by the handle and the trach by the flange.
  • Place the obturator and trach in a clean sealed plastic bag or container. Mark the container with today’s date and how many times the obturator and trach have been used.


If you have questions or concerns about cleaning the trach tube, talk to your child’s clinical nurse specialist. A nursing coordinator is always here to answer your questions and address your concerns. Call 901-595-3300 and ask for the nursing coordinator. If you are outside the Memphis area, dial toll-free 1-866-2STJUDE (1-866-278-5833), and press 0 when the call connects.


This document is not intended to take the place of the care and attention of your personal physician or other professional medical services. Our aim is to promote active participation in your care and treatment by providing information and education. Questions about individual health concerns or specific treatment options should be discussed with your physician.

St. Jude complies with health care-related federal civil rights laws and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, or sex.

ATTENTION: If you speak another language, assistance services, free of charge, are available to you. Call 1-866-278-5833 (TTY: 1-901-595-1040).

ATENCIÓN: si habla español, tiene a su disposición servicios gratuitos de asistencia lingüística. Llame al 1-866-278-5833 (TTY: 1-901-595-1040).

تنبيه: إذا كنت تتحدث باللغة العربية فيمكنك الاستعانة بخدمات المساعدة اللغوية المتوفرة لك مجانا. .يرجى الاتصال بالرقم. 5833-278-866-1  (الهاتف النصي: 1040-595-901-1).