Washing and Bathing

Washing and bathing are the most important ways of maintain good health and protecting ourselves from infections, illnesses and ailments.

Maintaining cleanliness is also important for our self-confidence, physical and emotional well-being. The main purpose of washing is to remove dirt and odours.

The frequency of bathing or showering is very individual and may be dependent on culture; food and water will always take priority over personal hygiene. Skin care and healthcare professionals recommend that the face, underarms and genitals are cleansed once a day and not more often, as this can take essential natural oils away from the skin leading to irritation. Hand-washing should be carried out frequently throughout the day, as they come into contact with many potentially harmful bacteria.

Bathing or Showering?

The choice of whether to use a bath or a shower is very individual and each has its own benefits. Bathing can be an excellent way of relaxing and enjoying some quiet time. Special substances and oils may be added to help relaxation or to improve the quality of our skin. Bathing is a good way for parents to spend some quality time with their children and can be a way of ensuring there is some one-to-one interaction.

The steam created from a bath can help open the pores and loosen the dirt from the tiny glands of the skin, aiding in their removal.

If your body is heavily soiled for example after playing outdoors sports, it may be beneficial to have a shower instead of or before a bath so that residual dirt is not left on the skin.

Showering can be invigorating and increase energy levels. Dirt is washed away immediately and it is generally thought that a shower uses less water than a bath.


  • Try to use products with a neutral pH to avoid the skin becoming too dry.
  • Moisturise after washing to ensure skin remains hydrated.
  • Rinse the bath after use, especially if an oil has been added so as to reduce risks of slipping for the next user.
  • The use of a massaging device can help increase circulation to the surface of the skin, improving the overall health of our external appearance.


All persons should have their own towel that is washed after each use. Bacteria can multiply on a moist towel and infections can be spread easily.

Skin should be patted dry, not rubbed so as to lessen irritation and so there is some water retention on the skin, decreasing the risk of dry skin occurring.

Health and Safety

Those who are physically or mentally disabled will need assistance with their hygiene needs. Carers should maintain their privacy and dignity at all times and ensure that there are no obvious drafts.

Babies should be bathed as per the techniques taught by the midwife or health-visitor. Always check the temperature of the water before using so as to avoid burns or shock from overly cold water.

Use non-slip mats to avoid accidents especially with young children and the elderly. Wash genitals from front to back, to avoid rectal germs spreading into the vagina.

It is advisable to bath or shower prior to admission to hospital for a surgical procedure to remove potentially harmful bacteria from the skin that may infect a wound.

Avoid dry skin by having warm, not hot water, as this can dehydrate the skin.

Washing with sponges and flannels may be best avoided as these items can transfer bacteria to and from different and unfamiliar areas, causing infection risks to be higher. Sufficient cleansing can be achieved using just the hands. If flannels etc are used, every individual should have their own and these should be replaced regularly.

Washing and bathing is a very individual issue. Daily attention to our body is the best way of avoiding odours, germs and infections. The choice of whether to wash at a sink, use a bath or a shower is down to individual preference.

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