Pre-operative bathing using cloths with chlorhexidine gluconate (CHG) soap

How to stop infections

This hospital is working to prevent infections. We will:

  • Give you CHG soap with cloths at the visit before your surgery. Use it to clean your skin the evening before and morning of surgery. CHG soap will help to make sure your skin is free of germs.
  • Give you antibiotics (medicines that prevent infections) as needed.
  • Closely watch things like your temperature, and sometimes your blood sugar.

Follow these instructions the evening before and morning of surgery:

  1. Do not shave the day before or day of surgery.
  2. Remove all jewelry until after surgery. Take off rings and take out all body-piercing jewelry.
  3. Wash your face and hair with your normal soap and shampoo before you use the CHG soap.
  4. Use the CHG soap with cloths just as you would use a wash cloth to clean your skin.
    • Do not use the CHG soap on your face, eyes, ears, or head.
    • Do not scrub your skin too hard.
    • Be sure to clean the area well where surgery will be done.
    • Do not wash with your normal soap after the CHG soap.
  5. Use a total of 6 cloths with CHG soap following this guide:Illustration showing the order for bathing body parts with CHG soap
    1. Neck, shoulders, and chest
    2. Armpits, arms, and hands
    3. Abdomen, groin, and perineum
    4. Right leg and foot
    5. Left leg and foot
    6. Back and buttocks
  6. Extra cloths should be used to wipe extra CHG soap from your body.
  7. Throw away the cloths in the trash can. Do not flush them in the toilet.
  8. Put on clean clothing.
  9. Do not put on any deodorants, lotions, or oils after bathing. These might block how the CHG soap works.

Side effects are:

  • Dryness
  • Hives
  • Itching
  • Redness
  • Sensitivity

These side effects should go away quickly. Rinse the CHG soap off your skin if you have any skin irritation (redness, itching, or burning).

Tell your doctor or nurse if you:

  • Are allergic to CHG
  • Have had a reaction to CHG in the past

What else should I know?

  • Use anti-bacterial Dial®  soap if you are allergic to the CHG soap.
  • Do not shave the skin around your surgery site for 7 days before your surgery.
  • If you are washing at a sink, make sure your sink is clean before washing yourself.
Please ask your doctor or nurse if you have any questions.
Last reviewed: 
October 2021

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