Shattonbury: Wikimedia Commons

Enemas have been used for centuries to relieve constipation, to detoxify the body and to administer medication. And many people even enjoy the experience of cleansing their bowels. However, the prospect of administering your first enema can be a daunting one if you're unsure of how to proceed. But a DIY enema is a relatively uncomplicated procedure. It may be initially uncomfortable and slow-going at first, but your technique and tolerance will improve with practice.

Purchase a reusable, 2-quart enema bag from a pharmacy. Find one that comes with a clamp, hose and anal insertion nozzle.

Fill the enema bag. Attach the hose, clamp and nozzle to the enema bag according to the manufacturer's instructions. Then fill the enema bag with your fluid of choice. However, for your first enema, I recommend sticking with water.

Turn on the hot tap until the water is as hot as possible, then fill the enema bag. Next, measure the temperature of the water in the bag with your thermometer. You want the water's temperature to be between 98 and 104 degrees Fahrenheit. If it is any colder or hotter, it may cause excessive cramping in your colon. If your tap does not produce water at the appropriate temperature, you may need to boil the water first.

Lubricate the anal insertion nozzle with a generous amount of Vaseline to ease insertion.

Hang the enema bag from your shower curtain bar. You may need to affix a string to your shower curtain bar and then hang your enema bag from there. Ideally, you want the enema bag to be one foot above your anus when you are in the enema position.

Next, slide the clamp down along the tube until it is low enough to be reached from your enema position. Then open the clamp to allow all of the air to escape the tubing. Next, lay a towel in the bathtub.

Lubricate your anus. This will allow the nozzle to be inserted with the greatest amount of comfort. Coat your index finger with a liberal amount of petroleum jelly, up to the second knuckle. Then press the tip of your index finger against your anus with moderate pressure. Your sphincter may resist opening at first, but applying persistent pressure for a few seconds will encourage it to relax and open. Once it does, move your finger in and out of your anus several times to lubricate it well.

Climb into the tub onto your towel and assume a comfortable position that affords you easy access to your anus. On your hands and knees with your buttocks in the air is a popular position. Others prefer to lay on one side with one leg stretched straight, and the other pulled to their chest and bent at the knee.

With your dominant hand, insert the lubricated nozzle three to four inches into your anus. As with your finger, the best method is to press the tip of the nozzle against your anus with consistent, moderate pressure until your anal sphincter relaxes. As you press the nozzle inside, take a few deep, calming breaths to encourage your sphincter to relax. The nozzle should slide right in, but if you experience resistance, gently twist the nozzle back and forth while easing it inside your anus.

Turn on the flow of the enema by opening the clamp slowly. Keep your hand near the clamp in case you need to stop the flow. During your first few enemas, you are likely to experience some degree of cramping as your bowels expand. When this happens, simply stop the flow and allow your bowels a few moments to relax. Similarly, if you feel the need to evacuate your bowels (another common occurrence), simply stop the flow and allow your bowels to relax for a few moments and then start the flow again.

Evacuate your bowels. Slowly remove the nozzle from your anus when the enema bag is empty or you feel you can take no more fluid. Hold the liquid for 5 minutes (or up to 15 if you are attempting to relieve constipation).

Move to the toilet and release the fluid. Keep in mind that an enema will come out in more than one movement. Be sure to stay near the toilet for the next hour.

Mix a ratio of one tablespoon of bleach per quart of water solution. Rinse all parts of the enema bag thoroughly with the solution.

Rinse all parts of the enema bag with plain water until there is no more bleach residue.

Hang the bag and its accompanying parts to dry. Your enema bag will likely take a few days to dry thoroughly and it is important that it is allowed to dry thoroughly or it will acquire mold.


The height of your enema bag determines the speed of the liquid. However, be aware that placing the enema below your anus will result in messy backflow.

Take your time administering your enema. Take as many breaks as you need, and feel free to stop if you cannot take all of the liquid.