Nursing: how to give a bed bath

Written by mike andrews
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Nursing: how to give a bed bath
Supplies for giving a bed bath. (red towels and soap image by robert lerich from Fotolia.com)

When patients are so ill or seriously injured that they are confined to bed, they will need to have a bed bath to maintain proper hygiene. You can give a bed bath in a hospital, nursing home or home setting. You do not have to be a nurse to give a bed bath. Nursing assistants and family members also give bed baths to patients.

Skill level:
Easy

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Things you need

  • Basin
  • 2 washcloths
  • 2 towels
  • Sheet
  • Mild soap
  • Disposable gloves

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Fill the basin three-quarters full of warm water. Place the basin on a study table at the patient’s bedside. Make sure the room is warm and that you have adequate privacy for the task. Put on disposable gloves.

  2. 2

    Wet one washcloth in the warm water and wrap it around your hand like a mitt. Soap the washcloth and wash the patient’s face. Wet the second washcloth and wrap it around your hand like a mitt. Rinse the patient’s face. Dry the patient’s face with one of the towels.

  3. 3

    Remove the patient’s shirt or hospital gown. Place the second towel under the patient's arm to protect the bed from water. Cover the patient with the sheet. Use the soapy wash cloth to wash one arm. Rinse and dry that arm. Place the towel under the other arm and wash, rinse and dry the arm.

  4. 4

    Wash, rinse and dry the patient’s chest and abdomen.

  5. 5

    Remove the patient’s trousers if the patient is wearing trousers. Arrange the sheet so the patient is covered with just one leg exposed. Place a towel under that leg to protect the bed from water. Wash, rinse and dry that leg.

  6. 6

    Arrange the sheet so it covers the leg you just washed and place the towel under the other leg. Wash, rinse and dry that leg.

  7. 7

    Roll the patient onto his side. Drape the sheet over him. Position a towel alongside his back to protect the bed from water. Wash, rinse and dry his back.

  8. 8

    Wash, rinse and dry the patient’s buttocks. Roll him back onto his back. Keep the sheet draped over him.

  9. 9

    Wash, rinse and dry the patient’s genitals.

  10. 10

    Dress the patient.

Tips and warnings

  • Bath time is a good time to change bed linens if they need to be changed. It’s also a good time to wash the patient’s hair, assist with oral hygiene and attend to any other grooming tasks.
  • Some patients are able to assist with bathing themselves. If the patient is able, allow him to wash his own face, genitals and any other areas he can easily reach. Provide assistance as needed.
  • Empty and refill the basin with clean water as needed while giving a bed bath.

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