How to Wash a Bed-Ridden Patient

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Wash a Bed-Ridden Patient
Wash a Bed-Ridden Patient (Image: morguefile.com)

Bed-ridden patients need to be bathed on a regular basis because their skin continues to produce oils and sweat, even though they are inactive. Keep your patient clean and comfortable by washing one part at a time and covering the rest of his body with a warm blanket or towel. Here are a few tips to help you give a good sponge-bath.

Things You'll Need

  • Basin of warm water
  • Clean washcloths
  • Extra bedding
  • Warm blankets
  • Warm towels
  • Microfiber or terry cloth towel for hair
  • Soap
  • Shampoo

Remove the patient's clothing, one limb at a time, and cover any exposed skin with a blanket or towel.

Starting with the fingers and working your way to the armpit, wash and rinse one arm, dry it with a warm towel, and cover it with a blanket. Repeat this process with the other arm.

Remove bedclothes down to the patient's waist. Wash and dry the chest and abdomen. Cover the patient with a warm towel or blanket as soon as his chest is clean.

Wash each leg separately, starting with the toes and working up to the hip. Cover the leg with a warm blanket or towel as soon as it is dry.

Turn the patient on her side and wash her back with a warm, soapy washcloth. Be careful not to roll her too far forward. Rinse her back with a clean cloth, dry, and cover her with a blanket.

Wash the patient's face in clean, warm water, using a bowl by the bed. Rinse and dry.

Place the bowl under the patient's head and use a cup of warm water to rinse his hair as you wash. Dry hair as completely as possible with a microfiber or terry cloth towel. Place a warm, dry towel underneath his head to keep the pillow dry.

Tips & Warnings

  • Place towels or a blanket underneath your patient before bathing to keep the bedding dry, or strip the sheets after bathing and replace them with clean bedding.
  • Never leave a patient exposed to a chill. Be sure to keep any parts that are not being bathed covered with a warm towel or blanket.

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