How to cleanse a wound
Intended for healthcare professionals
how to series    

How to cleanse a wound

Matthew Wynn Lecturer adult nursing, School of Health and Society, University of Salford, Salford, England

Why you should read this article:
  • To recognise when it may be appropriate to undertake wound cleansing

  • To be aware of the different wound cleansing techniques and products that can be used

  • To enhance your knowledge of the procedure for cleansing a wound

Wound cleansing is a routine element of wound care. However, unnecessary cleansing, inappropriate techniques and inappropriate use of cleansing solutions can negatively affect patient outcomes. Therefore, it is essential that nurses understand when and how to cleanse a wound, and are able to select the most appropriate solution to use based on a holistic wound assessment. Nurses undertaking wound cleansing must have the knowledge and skills required to do so safely and must work within their level of competence.

• Wound cleansing is the active removal of devitalised tissues, wound debris and contaminants from a wound bed.

• Careful assessment of the need to cleanse a wound is required to avoid unnecessary disruption or harm to a healing wound bed.

• An aseptic or clean technique can be used in wound cleansing, depending on the wound type, clinical setting and other patient-specific factors.

Reflective activity

‘How to’ articles can help to update your practice and ensure it remains evidence based. Apply this article to your practice. Reflect on and write a short account of:

• How this article might improve your practice when cleansing a wound.

• How you could use this information to educate nursing students or colleagues about indications and appropriate methods for cleansing a wound.

Nursing Standard. doi: 10.7748/ns.2022.e11956

Peer review

This article has been subject to external double-blind peer review and checked for plagiarism using automated software



Conflict of interest

None declared

Wynn M (2022) How to cleanse a wound. Nursing Standard. doi: 10.7748/ns.2022.e11956


Please note that information provided by Nursing Standard is not sufficient to make the reader competent to perform the task. All clinical skills should be formally assessed according to policy and procedures. It is the nurse’s responsibility to ensure their practice remains up to date and reflects the latest evidence

Published online: 05 September 2022

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