When A Loved One Is Bedridden: Three Ways To Shampoo Her Hair

Posted on: 2 March 2015

When someone you love suddenly becomes bedridden due to illness or an accident, you may find yourself struggling to provide for her personal needs. While a sponge bath is easy enough to accomplish shampooing the hair may pose a challenge. There are three basic methods for getting the job done. Which method you use depends partly on the expected length of the illness and how soon your loved one will  be up and about.

Method One: Dry or No Rinse Shampoo

Dry and no rinse shampoo work well for a few days and are ideal for those who are too sick or get in the shower, but well-enough to be concerned about their appearance. They can also be used between shampoos to keep the hair looking clean and attractive.  

Dry Shampoo comes as either a powder or as a foam spray that dries quickly once it is applied to the hair.

  1. Apply dry shampoo to oily or straight hair, beginning at the scalp and working your way downward.
  2. Allow the it to dry to a powder. This typically takes 5 to 10 minutes.
  3. Brush the dried powder from the hair with a stiff-bristled brush

No Rinse Shampoo is a liquid-based foam that is worked into the hair, much like regular shampoo. 

  1. Apply no rinse shampoo to curly or fly-away hair and work it into the hair.
  2. Allow the hair to dry completely.
  3. Style as usual.

Method Two: Spray Bottle

The spray bottle method works well if your loved one is not expected to remain bedridden for a long period, but has been in bed for several days.  It doesn't require any special equipment, other than an ordinary spray bottle, and is relatively mess free.

  1. Fill a quart spray bottle with water and add two teaspoons of shampoo. Shake the bottle to mix the shampoo solution.
  2. Fill a second spray bottle with plain water.
  3. Place a folded towel around the neck of the sick person. 
  4. Place a plastic cape over the towel and secure it snugly around the neck
  5. Comb or brush the hair to remove all knots and tangles.
  6. Section the hair with clips so you work with a 2 to 4 inch section at a time.
  7. Saturate the section of hair with the shampoo and water solution. Work it into a lather with your hands.
  8. Use a towel to remove excess suds.
  9. Rinse the soapy shampoo from the hair with the bottle of plain water.
  10. Pat the section dry with a soft towel.
  11. Continue until you have shampooed all sections of the hair.
  12. Dry and style as usual.

Method Three: Portable Shampoo Bowl

Investing a portable shampoo bowl from a company like Wholesale Salon Equipment is advised if your loved one is expected to remain bedridden for an extended period, as it allows you to do the most thorough job of shampooing her hair. These come in blow-up models that can be placed under the person's head while she is in bed. This method does require more skill to accomplish. 

  • Move your loved one to the edge of the bed. While some models fit the side of the bed, some require access from the head of the bed.
  • Place a towel and/or cape over the shoulders to prevent water from wetting clothing or linens.
  • Position the portable shampoo bowl under the person's head following the instructions for your particular model. The bowl is typically the same height as a traditional pillow and does not cause neck strain or discomfort.
  • Wet the hair with the attached hose, or with a pitcher of warm water.
  • Apply shampoo and work it into a lather.
  • Rinse away the soapy suds with warm water.
  • Empty the shampoo bowl with the attached drain and remove it from the bed.
  • Towel dry the hair and style as usual.

Home health aids and other home care workers are trained in shampooing the hair of bedridden patients. If you are uncomfortable using a portable shampoo bowl, try giving your loved one a dry or no rinse shampoo and leave the more thorough shampoo to the professionals. If your loved one receives visiting health care services, talk to the workers about her hair care needs.