Washing elderly hair at home

Washing elderly hair at home

Hair is a huge part of how our seniors present themselves to the world out there and she will always want to look her best, whatever the occasion.

However, traveling to a professional hair salon is often out of the question for most of them and we, as caregivers, have to find ways to keep their greying hair well maintained.

And for the most part, it all starts with helping her wash her hair at home.

This article will teach you the best approach to take when washing elderly hair at home and the do’s and don’ts to pay attention to when tackling this essential task.

Let’s dive in:

Washing elderly hair at home – step by step

Keep in mind that if your aged buddy is living with mobility limitations, a little creativity could be necessary in order to help him/her wash her hair smoothly while in a bed/wheelchair.

For example, if you’ll be washing her hair while wheelchair bound, a big-enough portable shampoo bowl could be extremely useful.

Likewise, you might need to take measures such as lining the bed with a couple of towels to keep wetness away if washing her in bed.

Here are the typical steps to follow to make sure all goes well:

Preliminaries- Gather the Required supplies

Before you begin, you’ll want to assemble all the vital accessories and aids.

For this job, you’ll need these basic materials:

  • Towels
  • Shampoo (mild)
  • Warm water – one bucket

Available options:

You may need to wash your aging friend’s hair in either of these positions:

  1. In bed.
  2. In a sink (while sitting in a chair).

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How to wash elderly hair in bed- procedures

  1. Line her bed as mentioned earlier and have a bucketful of warm water ready.
  2. Mount a washing basin (preferably inflatable) close to the bed in a way that it will drain into an empty bucket.
  3. Position your mommy’s head into the basin (she should lie flat).
  4. Scoop warm water – you can use a cup/something similar- from the bucket and wet the hair.
  5. Wash their hair (shampoo it lightly). You may comb through the senior’s hair gently to untangle any knots before washing.
  6. Scoop more warm water and rinse the hair thoroughly.
  7. Shampoo again and re-rinse until satisfied.
  8. Move her head from the washing basin.
  9. Help them towel-off.

How to wash elderly hair in sink (while sitting in a chair)

A hair-washing tray is necessary here.


  • Get the person to sit in a chair, facing away from the applicable sink.
  • Put a towel over their shoulders (and upper body) to keep water away from their shirt.
  • Bring the hair washing tray over the shoulders; the U shape opening placed against the neck and the alternate end in the sink.
  • Scoop warm water and wet their hair.
  • Apply shampoo lightly and wash the elderly person’s hair.
  • Pour some more water on the hair and rinse meticulously until you’re pleased with the results.
  • Dry her head with a towel.

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Washing elderly hair at home – do’s and donts

These do’s and don’ts will help you make the whole experience more comfortable, quicker, and enjoyable for both you and the person you’re assisting:


  • Slow down- Work slowly and be on the lookout for signs of discomfort such as facial gestures. That way, he/she will feel that you care and will not mind you stepping in again in the future.
  • Fix a routine – A pre-determined schedule makes our lives more predictable and it helps to have a set hair care timetable for our aged parents. Without one, he/she will feel like they’re being ambushed and they may reject your help.
  • Wear gloves- Because you don’t want to injure her scalp by applying excessive pressure, we recommend that you put on a pair of disposable gloves throughout the task.


  • Avoid being harsh- Always keep your calm even when facing one of those frustrating days. Be patient, communicative, and understanding to win their confidence.
  • Don’t beat yourself- Don’t hit the panic button if you’re unhappy with the way it has gone at the beginning. It may take you a few repeats to master the process.

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Washing elderly hair at home – helpful tips

Here now are some tips to help you when washing the hair of an older adult at home- the skin on his/her scalp is likely to be more fragile.

·         Can you take her with you?

If your mommy is not bedridden, why not take her out with you, and have her hair washed at the salon during your next visit?

The change of scenery will do her a world of good- from breathing fresh air, seeing some people, to having some fun.

·         Look for support

We have our own limits and it’s important to acknowledge this when performing the task.

You see, unless you’re a specialist, you may have trouble recreating the complex hairstyle she saw on YouTube- your parent may have seen an agemate showing off a style that really flatters her.

If this is your dilemma, search for and invite a professional at-home hairstylist to do her hair.

·         Stick to the right products

Stay away from products/accessories that could hurt the hair structure, causing breakage and/or hair loss (or keep their use to a bare minimum).

These include gels, mousses, and hair sprays and assistive devices such as standard hairdryers, tongs, and even heated brushes.

Washing elderly hair at home- frequently asked questions (FAQs)

How often should elderly wash hair?

Now, it’s widely accepted that washing the hair of an elderly person once per week is frequent enough to keep their hair clean and scalp in good shape.

That said, you may try to convince him/her to let you wash her head more regularly if you notice that her hair is getting increasingly dirty.

The other option is to apply dry shampoo between washes- it helps absorb oils and hide dirt pending the next scheduled wet washing.

Final words

Caring for our elderly loved ones often involves keeping them clean and well-groomed – it can make a massive difference to your aged relative’s dignity and self-esteem.

And while not all of our elderly loved ones will be comfortable with the sophisticated hairstyles of their youth, it’s important to wash the hair of your dear one frequently.

Following these tips will make the task a joy and something to look forward to for you both.

Be sure to consult with an elderly care provider if you’re still facing problems when you attempt to wash your aging dear one’s hair.

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