How to Give a Bed Bath to a Patient

Updated February 21, 2017

A bedridden patient or someone who can't get up out of bed requires a bed bath to preserve an acceptable level of hygiene. Skin conditions can be exacerbated if cleanliness is not maintained. Before giving someone a bed bath, you should know how to properly clean the parts of the body to avoid cross contamination.

Gather the needed supplies, including a dish pan or basin filled with warm water (about 46.1 degrees Celsius), mild bathing soap, wash cloths and bath towels.

Place the container of water by the person's bed and help the person get undressed. Place a towel over her chest.

Dip one of the wash cloths in the warm water. Squeeze out the excess liquid and wipe each of the person's eyes, starting by the nose and wiping out toward her ears. Use a different part of the wash cloth for each eye.

Dip the wash cloth back into the basin of water, lather it with mild bathing soap and wash his face and neck. Rinse the cloth and squeeze out some of the water to prevent dripping. Rinse his face and neck and gently pat the areas dry with a clean towel.

Wash each hand and arm separately. Lather the cloth, apply soap to the hand and arm farthest from you and rinse. Towel dry the arm and hand and repeat with the other arm and hand.

Wash and rinse her chest and abdomen. Lift the towel to wash, put it back down, wash out the cloth, lift the towel and rinse. Lift the towel and dry the chest and abdomen with a separate towel. Lower the towel.

Lather the cloth with soap, wash each leg and foot separately, rinse the cloth and dry with a towel.

Wet and lather a clean wash cloth for the genital area. Ensure that a towel is under the person's buttocks to prevent water from getting on the bed sheets. Ask the person to bend his legs at the knees and spread them so that you can thoroughly wash the genital area. Gently wash the entire genital area and rinse completely with a wet wash cloth to remove all traces of soap. Work from front to back to avoid cross contamination. Gently pat the area dry.

Help the person lean up or turn on her side so that you can wash her back. Lather the first cloth you used and wash the back. Rinse out the cloth and wipe away the soap on her back. Gently dry the back. Apply a mild moisturising lotion to all areas of her skin, except the genital area, to help prevent moisture loss.


Place a folded towel under the area of the person's body that you are washing. This will help keep moisture from wetting the bed sheets. Change out the water if it becomes too soapy, dirty or cold. Cover the person up with a towel while you get fresh water.


Offer the person a bedpan or urinal before beginning the bath. Warm water can stimulate urination or defecation. Put on surgical gloves if the person has open or weeping sores or if you are concerned about bodily fluid contamination.

Things You'll Need

  • Dish pan or basin filled with warm water
  • Mild bathing soap
  • 2 washcloths
  • 3 or more bath towels
  • Unscented moisturising body lotion
Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article

About the Author

Based in Texas, Cynthia Measom has been writing various parenting, business and finance and education articles since 2011. Her articles have appeared on websites such as The Bump and Motley Fool. Measom received a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Texas at Austin.