Collection and Preservation of 24-Hour Urine Specimens

The 24-hour collection container may contain chemicals (as a preservative) that are hazardous. DO NOT urinate directly into the container. Collect urine in a clean, dry vessel and carefully pour the urine into the 24-hour collection container.
  1. Follow your physician’s advice regarding any food, drink or drugs before and during collection.

  2. Empty your bladder completely upon awakening and discard this urine. This is your start date and time.  Write it on your paperwork and/or the collection container.

  3. Collect all urine for the next 24 hours.  The last urine collected should be that voided upon awakening the second day, at the same time as the start time.

  4. Recap the collection container carefully and completely.

  5. Return the collection container to where you were instructed to return it as soon as possible.
NOTE:  Some urine tests require that the 24-hour urine collection be refrigerated during collection.   Follow your physician’s instructions for all collection procedures.

If it is necessary to measure the total amount of soluble substances excreted in a 24-hour period, a strictly timed 24-hour specimen is required, because many soluble substances exhibit diurnal variations.
  1. Collect the specimen in one or more disposable, wide-mouthed, clean plastic container(s) with a plastic lid large enough to hold about 3 L.  Amber-colored containers may be required for light-sensitive analytes.

  2. Determine if the collection will require a preservative, ensuring the collection container has the appropriate preservative, at the correct concentration, along with a warning label indicating the preservative in use.

  3. Label the collection container including the patient identification (name and hospital number), test(s) required, and preservative used. 

  4. The start date and time plus the finish date and time should be recorded on the container and requisition at the beginning and end of the collection period.

  5. The 24-hour collection should begin by having the patient empty his or her bladder or catheter bag at a fixed time and discard the specimen.  Record this start date and time on the collection container and on the laboratory requisition.

  6. If a preservative is required, the patient must be advised to collect the urine in a separate clean container and then carefully transfer the urine to the collection container that will be transported to the laboratory.  Comment:  Assume that all preservatives are hazardous (most are).

  7. Instruct the patient (or nurse) to collect all voided urine during the 24-hour collection period and add it to the collection container.

  8. The collection should end exactly 24 hours after it began, by having the patient empty his or her bladder, or catheter bag, and adding this specimen to the collection container.

  9. Record the ending date and time on the collection container and on the laboratory requisition.

  10. Carefully seal the cap tightly so as to avoid leakage.
Consult the following on-line resources:
Department of Nursing Services and Patient Care policies:
Pathology Laboratory Services Handbook: