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Acetic acid (irrigant)

Generic name: acetic acid (irrigant) [ a-SEET-ik-AS-id- ]
Dosage form: irrigation solution (0.25%)
Drug class: Topical anti-infectives

Medically reviewed by on Aug 3, 2022. Written by Cerner Multum.

What is acetic acid irrigant?

Acetic acid is a natural acidic substance that is normally found in vinegar.

Acetic acid irrigant is used to cleanse (irrigate) the inside of the bladder in people who use a catheter in the urethra (the tube for passing urine out of your bladder) for a long period of time. Acetic acid helps prevent infection and calcium buildup within the catheter and bladder.

Acetic acid irrigant may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.


Follow all directions on your medicine label and package. Tell each of your healthcare providers about all your medical conditions, allergies, and all medicines you use.

Before taking this medicine

You should not use acetic acid if you are allergic to acetic acid or vinegar.

Tell your doctor if you have ever had:

  • a lesion inside your bladder; or

  • an injury to your bladder.

It is not known whether this medicine will harm an unborn baby. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant.

It may not be safe to breast-feed while using this medicine. Ask your doctor about any risk.

Acetic acid irrigant is not approved for use by anyone younger than 18 years old.

How should I use acetic acid irrigant?

Acetic acid is injected directly into the bladder through the catheter inserted into your urethra. You will most likely receive this medicine in a clinic or hospital setting.

If you use this medicine at home, read and carefully follow any Instructions for Use provided with your medicine. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you do not understand these instructions.

Do not take by mouth. Acetic acid irrigant is for use only in the bladder.

Prepare acetic acid only when you are ready to irrigate the catheter. To make the irrigation more comfortable, you may warm the medicine, but do not warm the medicine above 150 degrees Fahrenheit (66 degrees Celsius).

You may need frequent pH tests of your urine to help your doctor determine how long to treat you with acetic acid irrigant.

Store at room temperature away from moisture and heat. Do not freeze.

Each bottle of acetic acid irrigant is for one use only. Throw it away after one use, even if there is still medicine left inside.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Since acetic acid irrigant is used when needed, and is sometimes used continuously while your catheter is in place, acetic acid does not have a daily dosing schedule.

What happens if I overdose?

An overdose is unlikely to occur when this medicine is used as directed.

What should I avoid while using acetic acid irrigant?

Follow your doctor's instructions about any restrictions on food, beverages, or activity.

Acetic acid irrigant side effects

Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficult breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Acetic acid irrigant may cause serious side effects. Stop using acetic acid irrigant and call your doctor at once if you have:

  • severe pain or burning after using the medicine;

  • blood in the catheter tube or urine collection bag;

  • shortness of breath; or

  • unusual tiredness or drowsiness.

Common side effects of acetic acid may include:

  • mild burning or cold feeling in the urethra or bladder.

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

What other drugs will affect acetic acid irrigant?

Acetic acid used as a bladder irrigant is not likely to be affected by other drugs you use. But many drugs can interact with each other. Tell each of your health care providers about all medicines you use, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products.

Further information

Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.