15. How to wash hair in bed


Before you get started, make sure you have all the supplies you need.


  • Garbage bags or other waterproof cover and towels to line the bed and keep it dry
  • Washcloth
  • Towels
  • Shampoo
  • Basin of warm water
  • Cup or pitcher for pouring water
  • Bucket, large bowl or pot to drain dirty water
  • Inflatable Hair Wash Basins/Portable Shampoo Tray (if available, see pictures below)

Washing the hair

  • Make sure the area around the bed is clear and the room temperature is warm.
  • Wash your hands and put on gloves.
  • Remove the pillows from under the person’s head.
  • If possible, elevate the head and put something under the head to collect the water. See examples below. Use one of those devices if they have one.
  • Place a plastic sheet or garbage bag under the person’s head and put towels around the person’s shoulders. The edge of the trash bag should drip into the bucket or bowl.
  • Explain what you are going to do.
  • Fold the sheet, blanket and bedspread down to the waist.
  • Cover the upper part of the body with a towel.
  • Put a bucket, large pot or large bowl on the floor to catch the running water and put a sheet or towel underneath.
  • Put the clean water basin next to the bed.
  • Gently lift the person’s head and place a towel underneath the patient’s neck.
  • Fill the basin with warm water. Check the temperature of the water.
  • For short hair, you can rub a wet washcloth over the head until the hair is thoroughly wet. For longer hair, fill a cup or pitcher with water from the basin, carefully wet the person’s hair and make sure the water drains into the bucket/bowl or pot.
  • Put a washcloth over the person’s eyes.
  • Shampoo the person’s hair using a small amount of shampoo.
  • Rinse the hair thoroughly. Start at the top of the head and go down to the bottom of the head.
  • Squeeze excess water from the hair into the bucket/bowl or pot.
  • Gently rub hair dry with a towel. Dry the person’s face.
  • Comb or brush the person’s hair.
  • Change the sheets if they are wet and clothes if they are wet.
  • Pour the water down the sink or tub.
  • Put the supplies away.
  • Remove your gloves.

Examples of Inflatable Hair Wash Basins/Portable Shampoo Trays

For Bed Bound Clients

These may not be available.