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How to Give A Bed Bath

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Oct 3, 2022.

What is a bed bath?

A bed bath is done to help wash someone who cannot get out of bed. You may need to give the entire bath or just help wash certain areas.

What supplies are needed for a bed bath?

Keep the following within easy reach:

  • Separate water basins and washcloths to wash and rinse
  • Bath towels
  • Soap, lotion, and deodorant
  • Lightweight blanket
  • Clean clothes

How should I prepare to give a bed bath?

  • Close the windows or turn up the heat to keep the room warm.
  • Fill the water basin with warm water. Check the water temperature to make sure it is not warmer than 115° F (46° C). If you do not have a bath thermometer, it should be comfortably warm to your elbow.
  • Place towels under the person to keep the bed dry. Cover the person with a blanket or towel and help him undress. Keep the blanket or towel over the person during the bath to keep him warm.

How do I give a bed bath?

  • Always make sure the person cannot fall out of bed if you need to walk away.
  • Wet the washcloth without soap. Gently wipe one eyelid by wiping from the inner corner of the eye to the outer corner. Pat the eyelid dry and repeat on the other eyelid.
  • With soap and water, wash and dry the person's face, neck, and ears.
  • Wash 1 side of the body from head to toe and then repeat on the other side. Pull the blanket or towel back while you wash, and cover when you are done. Start by washing the shoulder, upper body, arm, and hand. Move to the hip, legs, and feet. Rinse each area free from soap and pat dry before moving to the next. Check for redness and sores during the bed bath.
  • Change the bath water before you wash the genital area.
  • The genital area is the last area to be washed. You may need to bend the person's knees to help reach the area better. For women, wash the genital area from front to back. For men, make sure you wash around the testicles. To clean between the buttocks, you may need to help the person roll onto his side.

What should be done after the bed bath?

  • Rub lotion onto the person's arms, legs, feet, or other dry skin areas.
  • Remove all wet towels and help the person dress.
  • Dump the dirty water and clean the water basins.

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Further information

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