Underpads, also called chux or bedpads, are large, rectangular products designed to protect surfaces from incontinence leakage. They have a soft top layer and waterproof backing. The top layer absorbs fluid, and the bottom layer traps it so it doesn’t spread to the protected area.

How Do Incontinence Underpads Work?

Adult incontinence underpads protect whatever is under the body. That means they can be used in a variety of ways, but the primary function is to protect furniture from urinary incontinence.

For example, underpads can be used in the following scenarios:

  • Beds - to protect sheets and bedding at night while sleeping
  • Chairs & Sofas - to protect furniture upholstery from stains and odor as a result of leakage
  • Wheelchairs - to protect wheelchair cushions and absorb leakage while on the go.
They can also be effective when combined with other incontinence products for extra protection, such as adult pull-ups, pads, or tabbed diaper briefs.

Underpads also work well to protect clothing and bedding when changing feeding tubes or ostomy bags. They also can be used as a protective surface when cleaning wounds.

How to Choose the Right Incontinence Underpads

There are a variety of incontinence underpad products available. Here are some things to consider before choosing one:

  • Disposable or reusable - Disposable underpads have a soft paper top layer and a waterproof plastic backing. You use them once and then throw them away, hence the nickname chux. Reusable underpads provide a soft fabric top layer and a quilted inside that absorbs moisture. You toss them in the washing machine and reuse them.
  • Absorbency - Incontinence underpads offer varying degrees of absorbency, including light, moderate, and heavy. Light is suitable for small amounts of urine leakage or infrequent leaks. The moderate absorbency products are for medium or continuous leakage. Heavy is appropriate for heavy leakage of urine and/or feces. There is also a maximum or overnight underpad. Ideally, you shouldn’t have to change the underpads more than two or three times daily. If you do, then you need a higher level of absorbency.
  • Size - Incontinence underpads come in a variety of dimensions measured in inches. A patient with a twin bed could use a smaller chux pad than a patient with a Queen. Other sizes may be appropriate for different uses, too. For example, 18-inch by 18-inch fits a standard wheelchair seat. A popular size is the 30-inch by 36-inch, which is suitable for various applications, including covering furniture and beds.
  • Breathability - Some underpad products have a breathable backing allowing air to circulate. These are better for skin health, particularly for patients with existing skin problems like bedsores. The breathable adult incontinence underpads won’t have the polypropylene backing that can irritate sensitive skin.