Partial Bed Bath

Written by Hollie Finders, RN
Hollie Finders is a registered nurse with years of experience working in the health care field. She has degrees in both biochemistry and nursing. After working with patients of all ages, Hollie now specializes in pediatric intensive care nursing. Hollie’s LinkedIn

Partial Bed Bath Procedure

Equipment needed: gloves, washbasin, soap, lotion, 4 washcloths, 2 bath towels, clean clothes/gown, bath blanket, and a soiled laundry bag.

  1. Perform hand hygiene and put on gloves.
  2. Explain the procedure to the patient and ask for their assistance in following directions. Provide privacy.
  3. Fill a bath basin with warm water. Check the temperature on your wrist to ensure a comfortable temperature or use a thermometer if available. Then, have the patient test the water temperature on his/her wrist. Adjust the temperature if necessary.
  4. Set the basin on a bedside table. Raise the patient’s bed to a comfortable working height.
  5. Cover the patient with a bath blanket and remove the patient’s gown and top bed linens from underneath the bath blanket.
  6. Always keep the patient covered, uncovering only the area being washed. Place a dry towel underneath the area being washed to keep the bed linens dry.
  7. With the patient’s eyes closed, use a wet washcloth to wash the eye furthest from you. Use a gentle stroke to clean from the inner canthus to the outer canthus. Do not use soap. Change to a clean section of the washcloth before washing the eye closest to you.
  8. Continue washing the rest of the face, beginning in the center and working out towards the ears. Pat dry.
  9. Using soapy water, wash the patient’s arms. Begin at the shoulders and proceed down to the hands. Do not forget the axilla area. Rinse the arms and pat dry.
  10. Continue on to the neck, chest, and abdomen. Cleanse the area with soap and water, rinse, and pat dry. For female patients, be sure to completely dry the area underneath the breasts and check for any irritation.
  11. Assist the patient onto his or her side to expose the back. With soap and water, begin washing at the neck and work down to the buttocks. Rinse the area and pat dry. If desired, apply lotion to the patient’s back and provide a simple back rub.
  12. Assist the patient back into a supine position.
  13. For perineal care, obtain clean bath water and a clean washcloth. If the patient is able to perform this task independently, provide them with the supplies and give them privacy. If unable, change your gloves and complete the task. Remove soiled gloves.
  14. Assist the patient in putting on a fresh gown. Remove the bath blanket without exposing the patient. Check the patient’s sheets and change them if wet or soiled.
  15. Help the patient into a comfortable position and lower the bed.
  16. Place all used washcloths, towels, and linens into a soiled laundry bag.
  17. Dispose of the bath water and clean the washbasin.
  18. Remove gloves and perform hand hygiene.
  19. Document the procedure in the patient’s chart and report any changes in the patient’s condition to the nurse.

Important Information

Bathing is an important part of a patient’s health routine. A partial bed bath focuses on bathing sensitive areas that cause discomfort if not cleansed frequently, such as the face, hands, axillae, back, and perineum. Though patients receiving a bed bath are typically confined to the bed, some are able to wash themselves and should be encouraged to do so to promote independence. As a reminder, leaving soap and water on the skin contributes to skin irritation and breakdown [1]. For this reason, always dry the patient completely and change the sheets if they are wet.

By: Hollie Finders RN



More Resources

Caring for a Patient’s Dentures

For patients with dentures, care of the dentures is just as important as brushing natural teeth. Good denture hygiene and fit helps prevent oral irritation and infection.

Handwashing for CNAs

Handwashing is considered the single most important practice to prevent the spread of infection. Even when hands look clean, they could potentially be crawling with dangerous microorganisms and pathogens. Using soap and friction during handwashing helps loosen the oils on the skin, allowing dirt and pathogens to be rinsed away.

Axillary Temperature with Electronic Thermometer

Compared to other temperature measurement methods, the axillary measurement is considered the least reliable. An axillary temperature measurement typically reads 0.5 to 1 degree Fahrenheit lower than an oral temperature reading [1]. For this reason, it is recommended to use this method only when other methods are contraindicated or when taking an axillary temperature is the safest method for the patient.

Assisting the Resident to Sit on the Side of the Bed

Having the resident sit on the side of the bed is otherwise referred to as dangling. When a resident quickly changes position, especially from lying to sitting or standing, there can be a rapid drop in the resident’s blood pressure. This drop in blood pressure may cause dizziness or lightheadedness.

Putting on Personal Protective Equipment

Personal protective equipment is worn to protect the mouth, nose, eyes, clothing, and skin from unwanted pathogens. In the health care setting, a patient’s condition often prompts the use of personal protective equipment; however, a health care worker is able to wear personal protective equipment whenever he or she deems it is necessary (e.g., during procedures with the potential for excessive contact with bodily fluids).

Assisting the Resident to Transfer from the Bed to a Chair or Wheelchair

It is important to remember on which side to place the chair when assisting a patient in transferring. Putting the chair on the resident’s unaffected side allows the resident to lead with his or her strong extremity. This eases the procedure for the resident and reduces the risk of falling.