How To Give a Bed Bath Properly

When taking care of someone who is bedridden, one of the responsibilities is to assist them in maintaining their hygiene.

 Whether you are a nurse, a healthcare aide or just someone who is taking care of a loved one, learning to give bed baths is a fundamental skill and will help you keep your charge fresh and clean.

Let’s explore more and if you have tips to add or questions, feel free to get in touch.

how to give a bed bath

Bed baths need to be given to anyone who is on the bed temporarily or permanently. People recovering from major surgeries often require a bed bath to remain clean and to check for sores and rashes. Ailing elderly individuals who cannot support themselves, or who don’t remember how to bathe, also require bed baths.

How to Give A Bed Bath?

The thought of giving a bed bath to someone who relies entirely on you might seem like a daunting task. However, learning the proper technique will make the process much easier and systematic.

With this step-by-step guide to giving a bed bath, you’ll be able to keep your charge’s skin healthy, prevent infections, and help them feel refreshed and happy.


Before you prepare your charge for the bath, make sure to get your supplies ready. If needed, pull a table closer on which you can place all supplies within reach.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 5-10 soft washcloths
  • Numerous towels
  • Soapy water
  • Clean water
  • Baby soap/ gentle body-wash for sensitive skin
  • No-tears shampoo
  • Non-scented lotion and deodorant
  • Waterproof sheets for the bed
  • A lightweight blanket
  • Disposable gloves
  • A jug

Preparing the Surroundings and the Patient

Once you have gathered all of the supplies, you need to prepare the room and the patient for the bath. Here are some important considerations:

  • The temperature of the room needs to be at a comfortable level. If it’s cold outside, turn up the heater. At any other time of the year, ask the patient if they are too cold or too hot and adjust the temperature accordingly.
  • The water should be warm and not hot. The maximum temperature of the water should be 115° F.  Check the water’s temperature with the back of your hand before using it.
  • Maintain the privacy of the patient. Close the blinds and lock the door if needed.
  • Cover the bed entirely with waterproof sheets so then it remains dry.
  • Allow the patient to do as much as they can easily do themselves such as undressing or cleaning their private areas.
  • Keep them covered with a light blanket all of the time and only uncover the areas that you are washing to help them feel more dignified and to keep them warm.
  • When washing the patients, do not scrub too harshly. Be thorough and gentle.
  • Wear gloves, especially if the patient has draining wounds.


Once everything is ready, the bath itself becomes easier for the caretaker and more comfortable for the patient.

Here’s how you can give a bed bath in just a few simple steps.

  1. Start with the face. Take a clean washcloth and wet it with warm water. Wipe the face gently including the eyelids, ears, and neck.
  2. Now wet the same washcloth with soapy water and gently clean the face. Make sure that it doesn’t get too foamy or it might get in the eyes. Follow this with a clean washcloth dipped in clean water.
  3. Once done with the face, you need to wash one side of the body at a time. Begin with the upper body, arms, and neck. Use soapy water to wash these areas thoroughly. And then follow it with a clean washcloth dipped in plain water.
  4. Change the water and the washcloth accordingly if you feel it has gotten dirty.
  5. After the upper body, move to the hips, legs, feet, and between the toes. Pull the blanket back, clean those areas, and then replace the blanket.
  6. Make sure to keep an eye out for rashes, sores, and skin infections.
  7. Once you are done with the front part of the body, roll the patient onto their side and repeat the same process with their back.
  8. Wash the patient’s private areas at the very end.
  9. At this point, you can towel dry the patient and apply lotion for moisturization before moving to their hair.
  10. Stand at the head of the patients’ bed and position them in a way so then the water streams down onto the floor instead of on the bed.
  11. Use a very small amount of shampoo, just enough to wash the hair. Massage gently and rinse it with a jug. Dry the hair, remove waterproof sheets from the bed, remove the damp towels and blankets and help the patient dress. 
  12. Empty the washbasin and wipe the floor if needed. Discard the disposable gloves and wash your hands.

Values and Practices

When giving a bed bath to a patient, you need to keep their personal preferences in mind. Talk to the patient to make the process comfortable for them. Ask them at what time of the day they would like to bathe. Some people prefer morning baths while others like it at the end of the day.

There are also religious beliefs and cultural practices that need to be kept in mind. Hindus, for instance, like to take a bath before prayers. Muslims prefer to be cared for by aides of the same gender. Muslims also have the concept of ghusl, which tells you the order in which they are supposed to be washed.

Bed baths are more than just about maintaining personal hygiene and skin health. Poor health combined with poor hygiene can take a toll on a person’s self-esteem and affect them mentally. Helping them to remain clean, smelling nice, and wearing clean fresh clothes enables them to remain energetic and positive.

Some of you might feel a little awkward, clumsy, and embarrassed when giving your first bed bath. Even professional and trained nurses have experienced this feeling. However, by the time you are giving your third bed bath, you’ll be doing it like a pro and most likely get it done within half an hour.