I have heard that if you are in the wilderness and need a sterile fluid to rinse a wound, urine is an acceptable choice.

Sometime ago this topic came up while discussing emergency treatment. It was suggested that as urine is a sterile fluid it would be a good choice for rinsing an open wound.

Where good means less likely for an infection to set in as if it would if the wound was not rinsed OR if the wound was rinsed with ground or another non-sterile water source.

Does using urine helps in this regad?

  • Maybe carry emergency medical supplies? Like a first aid kit, at least. Apr 1, 2015 at 11:18
  • Urine is definitely not sterile fluid . . It always has pathogens /bacteria in it . . By the way urinary tract is very very commonest site of bacterial infection Apr 1, 2015 at 16:26
  • 3
    Urine is as long as you don't have an infection always sterile. It must be. However one normally cannot access this pure urine without contaminating it. As soon as you pee you normally get some of the bacteria in your genital area inside the first few millilitres of your urine. There's however a practise, where you clean your external meatus of your urethra (e.g. the end of the penis) thoroughly and pee for a short time off and then without stoping the process hold a bottle or something (sterile) underneath it. Urine captured this way is generally considered as as sterile as you can get it. Apr 2, 2015 at 10:05
  • The alternative would of course be to make a punction with a long needle directly into your bladder, however not really an option if your in the wild. Apr 2, 2015 at 10:06
  • 3
    I used to hold similar beliefs, but current research suggests though that urine is not sterile, even in the bladder Apr 2, 2015 at 11:19

1 Answer 1


It depends

Extended contact of urine on skin will cause skin irritation and eventual breakdown. On the other hand, that water may contain flesh eating bacteria.

This is a situation of a lesser of two evils. Each wound is different and the causes numerous. The only reason you would need to "clean" a wound is if there is something in the wound that presents a hazard. Is that hazard greater then the damage urine will cause it?

Bleeding does not necessarily require cleaning. Bleeding in it's very nature is bleeding out and not in, decreasing the odds of infection.

Urine is designed to remove waste materials and isn't designed for bacteria. A UTI (Urinary Tract Infection) is normally introduced externally rather then interiorly.

As far as sterility goes, completely sterile water is uncommon. I would trust water from my water bottle more then urine, even if it does contain bacteria from my mouth.

  • 6
    This looks like a pretty good answer but it could be improved with some references. Apr 1, 2015 at 18:56
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    I agree with @JamesJenkins here--it seems like the 'I would trust water from my water bottle more then urine, even if it does contain bacteria from my mouth.' is the crucial question (although I will say that this answer is valuable just by the fact that it points out that bleeding is generally pushing out material, and that with many wounds there would not necessarily be a good reason to irrigate, period).
    – msouth
    Apr 8, 2015 at 16:50

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