How To Give A Bed Bath For Bedridden People

This article is evidence-based, verified by Dr. Ahmed Zayed

A bed bath is something that becomes a critical part of caring for a loved one who is bedridden. Even though the process can be somewhat uncomfortable for both you and the person you need to give a bed bath, ensuring your loved one remains clean can help make them feel better and benefit their well-being.  

Why Giving Bedridden Patients A Bed Bath Is So Important 

Bedridden patients do not only face the consequences of the condition that caused them to lose their mobility but are also at risk of developing complications from the still position they remain in. The extended periods of laying in a bed can cause bedsores to develop, which is often considered one of the most important complications among bedridden patients.  

Common areas where bedsores develop generally include regions of the body where skin covers bony parts. This may be the tailbone, hips, ankles, and heels. When the patient is affected by a condition like diabetes, it can cause complications to develop with these bedsores, too – delaying the healing time and increasing the risk of infection and other problems.  

Other problems that bedridden patients may develop include depression, a recurring urinary tract infection, stiffness, deformities, and contracture – which causes muscles to become hard and shorter than they should be.  

When a bedridden patient is given a bath regularly, it can help them feel refreshed and cleaner and reduce the risk of many complications associated with the prolonged periods that the patient spends on the bed.

This can help reduce the risk of skin infections and severe bedsores effectively and allow the patient to reduce stiffness in their muscles.  

Step-By-Step Process To Give A Bedridden Patient A Bath 

Giving a patient a bed bath, sometimes rather referred to as a sponge bath, may seem like a messy task. With the right tools in hand and knowing what you should do, however, you can wash a patient on their hospital bed without causing the bedding to become wet.  

Step 1: Gather The Accessories And Bathing Items 

Make sure you have the right accessories for the operation before you get started. This will make the task much easier and ensure you do not have to go to a different room to get certain items in the middle of the process.  

The accessories and items you need to give a bedridden patient a bed bath generally include: 

  • Sponges or washcloths – both of these work effectively. Make sure you have at least four nearby. 
  • Get at least three towels to use during the bathing process. 
  • You need soap – this can be any soap, but make sure the patient’s skin will comply with the soap ingredients. Do not use a harsh soap on a patient with sensitive skin, for example. 
  • Two basins – one will be used for the soapy water, while the other one will help rinse the patient off.  
  • You should get a waterproof cloth if you were washing the patient directly on the bed, as this will prevent the bedding from getting wet.  
  • Get a no-rinse or baby shampoo. It would be preferable to look for a “no-tears” shampoo. 
  • It would be best if you also considered getting body lotion that can be applied to the patient after being washed and dried. This can help their skin retain moisture and could potentially reduce the risk of certain skin-related complications.  

Step 2: Get The Patient To Feel Comfortable 

Before you start washing the patient, it is important to ensure they are comfortable. Remember that the process you are about to initiate may be very sensitive to the patient. Ensuring they feel comfortable first can make the entire experience more pleasant for you and the patient.  

First, ask the patient if they are comfortable with the room’s temperature. Also, consider the height of the bed. If the patient is on a hospital bed, adjust the height to a comfortable level for you – this reduces the risk of back injuries in yourself.  

Ensure the patient has adequate privacy – make sure to close doors and drapes in the room. If there are blinds, close them before you start the washing process.  

Step 3: Start Washing The Patient 

Now that you have prepared all the necessary accessories, bathing items, and equipment, the next step is to give the patient the bath that they need.  

Start by filling both of the basins that you have collected with water. The water should be warm, but not too hot. The first basin will be used to wash the patient, while the second one will be used to rinse the patient.  

Make sure your own hands are washed and clean before you start the process. 

The bed should be fitted with a waterproof cloth. Ask the patient to undress – they might need your help with this.  

Use the soap to wash the patient’s body. Make sure to cover all areas, especially those parts of the body that are prone to developing rashes and bedsores.  

Make sure to use the shampoo to wash the patient’s hair as well.  

Once these steps have been completed, rinse the patient off and then pat them dry with the towels. Make sure the patient is completely dry before you help them put on clean clothes.  


Bathing a bedridden patient may seem like a tedious task, but this can help to prevent infections and give them a better sense of well-being. With appropriate time and the right accessories, you can make the process of giving a patient who is bedridden a bath much easier – and even makes the process less uncomfortable for both of you.  

Dr. Ahmed Zayed

Dr. Ahmed Zayed, MD holds a baccalaureate of Medicine and Surgery. An avid contributor to the Huffington Post and Chicago Tribune, Dr. Zayed believes in providing accurate and accessible information to general readers. With years of writing and editing content in the medical niche, Dr. Zayed likes to think of himself as a man with a mission, keeping the internet free of false medical information.


Team SafeSleep

Hi! We're a team of scientists, doctors, teachers, and coaches experienced in helping people with special needs. We hope you like our research and share it with others who might find it helpful too :)

Recent Posts