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How To Wash Bedridden Person’s Hair?

Some of the hair washers have pumped up into a rare situation, which is washing hair for a bedridden and be puzzled right away.

Or you have to know the basics when it comes to caring for elderly family members at home.

There are several procedures you have to follow in order to avoid any potential injury.

Washing hair in bed equipment

These hair washing trays are available in a number of styles and can usually be despatched within one working day.

They are easily accessible on the internet and pretty handy for such circumstances.

Standard hair wash procedure in nursing or hospital

General principles of hair washing

  • Keep the patient warm at all times
  • Position a linen skip near the patient and ensure you dispose of used linen immediately to minimize the dispersal of microorganisms and dead skin cells into the environment (Dougherty and Lister, 2015)
  • Check the scalp and surrounding skin for pressure damage and underlying skin conditions
  • Avoid contaminating dressings and drains with water
  • Gently pat the hair and surrounding skin dry to reduce the risk of friction damage and discomfort for the patient
  • Use the correct manual handling procedures and equipment to avoid injury to yourself and the patient
  • If the patient is unconscious, remember to talk them through what you are doing – and avoid talking to colleagues over the patient

Things you’ll need

  • Apron
  • Towels
  • Laundry skip
  • Disposable washcloths
  • Plastic sheet
  • Preferred shampoo and conditioner (you can use the products for sensitive skin)
  • Comb or brush
  • Clean clothes and bed linen
  • Shampoo tray
  • Disposable jug and basin


  1. Review the patient’s care plan for hygiene needs and check there are no contraindications to positioning the patient flat in bed.
  2. Ensure someone will be available to help position the patient during the procedure if required.
  3. Decontaminate your hands in line.
  4. Discuss the procedure with the patient, ask about their usual hair routine, and gain their informed consent for the procedure.
  5. Check whether the patient has any pain. Administer analgesia if necessary and ensure it has taken effect before starting the procedure, to help relieve any pain associated with moving the patient.
  6. Ensure the patient’s privacy and check that the environment is warm and free of draughts.
  7. Check whether the patient needs to empty their bowel/bladder before the procedure.
  8. Assemble your equipment and ensure everything is to hand to minimize the amount of time the patient is lying flat.
  9. Ensure the bed is at the correct working height.
  10. Decontaminate your hands and put on an apron to reduce the risk of infection.
  11. Remove the patient’s clothes from their upper body and cover them with a sheet to maintain dignity.
  12. Remove the pillows from behind the patient’s head, so they are lying flat. This allows water to drain away from the eyes and ears during the procedure. Ask the patient to let you know if they feel uncomfortable in this position at any time.
  13. Remove the head of the bed so you can access the patient’s hair easily
  14. Place a plastic sheet under the patient’s head and shoulders, and wrap a towel around their shoulders.
  15. Position the patient’s head on the shampoo tray, ensuring you follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully. A towel can be placed under the neck for support.
  16. Following manufacturer’s instructions, ensure the receptacle that will collect the water from the shampoo tray is positioned under the drainage spout.
  17. Fill a disposable washbowl with warm water and allow the patient to check the temperature.
  18. If required, cover the patient’s eyes with a disposable washcloth to protect them from water and shampoo.
  19. Using a disposable jug, take water from the disposable bowl and wet the patient’s hair. Start at the front hairline and allow the water to drain down and away from the face, avoiding the eyes and ears
  20. Apply the shampoo and massage it into the hair.
  21. Using the jug, rinse the patient’s hair with water.
  22. Apply conditioner, if required by the patient, and rinse the hair again.
  23. Check regularly the patient is comfortable and can maintain their position.
  24. Pat the hair with a towel to remove the excess water – avoid pulling on the hair as this can be uncomfortable.
  25. Remove the shampoo tray and wrap a towel around the patient’s head to dry the hair and ensure they do not feel cold.
  26. Dry the surrounding skin, paying particular attention to skin folds in the neck.
  27. Change any wet bed linen. Dispose of soiled bed linen directly into the linen skip.
  28. Replace the bedhead and reposition the patient so they are comfortable.
  29. Help the patient get dressed.
  30. Style the patient’s hair according to their preferences. If possible, try to make this a social situation – offer them a drink and a mirror so they can advise you about the style and participate in their care.
  31. Finish making the bed and ensure the patient is warm and comfortable with a call bell, a drink (if allowed), and their belongings within reach.
  32. Dispose of equipment according to local policy. Decontaminate the shampoo tray and drainage receptacle according to local policy.
  33. Remove and dispose of your apron and decontaminate your hands.
  34. Record care that has been given, record, and report any abnormal findings and update the patient’s care plan if required.

How to wash a bedridden patient or elderly hair at home?

If you must wash bedridden patient’s hair all on your own, please follow the instructions below to ensure safety as well as comfort for them.

Things you’ll need

  • Shampoo basin for washing hair in bed
  • Garbage bags and/or a few towels to line the bed and keep it dry
  • Washcloths
  • Towels
  • Mild shampoo
  • Bucket of warm water
  • Cup for scooping water
  • Empty bucket to drain dirty water


  1. Lay out all your supplies so you know you have everything you’ll need
  2. Line the bed to keep it from getting wet
  3. Fill one bucket with warm water
  4. Gently place your senior’s head into the inflatable basin
  5. Make sure the basin is set up to drain into the empty bucket
  6. Scoop warm water from the full bucket to wet their hair
  7. Use a small amount of shampoo to wash their hair – using too much will make it difficult to rinse out
  8. Scoop warm water to rinse hair completely
  9. If the hair is very dirty, shampoo and rinse again
  10. When hair is clean, gently remove your senior’s head from the basin
  11. Wrap their head in a dry towel to keep them warm and comfortable
  12. Make sure the basin is fully drained – you might need to tip it over into the bathtub

How to wash hair of someone in a wheelchair?

They remain seated in their wheelchair, facing the shampoo bowl and bending forward, with a towel to protect their face.

If the wheelchair is the correct height in relation to the shampoo bowl, shampoo as normal while the client remains in the wheelchair.

Tips for choosing a shampoo for bedridden patients

You can use normal shampoo if you can undertake proper hair-washing. Apart from that, dry shampoo or no-rinse shampoo might be a short-term solution.

How about in-bed hair washing system?

If that patient is sick and in bed for an extremely extended period of time, you should consider an in-bed washing system in order to save your time and effort.

It is easily installed, safe, and smart to keep the patient’s hair remain clean.


We hope that you can figure out the safe method to shampoo someone’s hair when they are in such a condition.

Remember to follow the instructions strictly to avoid any potential injury and maybe give them a little more comfort.

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I’m Aida and this is my blog where I write mostly about beauty & make up related stuff, but I like to spice it up a bit with lifestyle and photography posts. Or with whatever that comes to my mind. Hope you will enjoy the reading enough that we will ‘see’ each other more often!

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