Cleansing your skin for surgery

Before surgery, you have an important role in reducing your risk of infection at the surgery site. You can reduce the number of germs on your skin by gently cleansing your skin with the Sage® 2% Chlorhexidine Gluconate Cloths. Do not use these cloths if you have an allergy to chlorhexidine gluconate.

Important: Do not shave your body below your neck seven days before your surgery.

The night before surgery, take a bath or shower. Wait one to two hours. Wipe your skin well with the Sage cloths. They have a special antiseptic solution. Use both of the cloths in each of the three packages.

Please DO NOT follow the instructions on the Sage packages when cleansing your skin. Follow the instructions below.

Chlorhexidine wipes warning

Do not use chlorhexidine wipes or liquid if you:

  • are sensitive to surgery skin preps
  • know you have an allergy to chlorhexidine

If you notice your skin is irritated while using the chlorhexidine wipes or liquid, remove it gently with a wet washcloth. Tell your pre-surgery nurse you had a reaction so he or she can make a note of your allergy history and tell others on your health care team.

There are rare cases of this product causing a serious allergic reaction. This can occur within minutes of use. Call 911 if you have any of these:

  • wheezing or difficulty breathing
  • swelling of the face
  • hives
  • severe rash
  • shock

Night before surgery

(at least one to two hours after taking a bath or shower)

  • Gather your supplies: three packages of Sage 2% Chlorhexidine Gluconate Cloths, scissors, and clean clothes or sleepwear.
  • Open all three packages. Remove the cellophane wrappers and throw them away. Use scissors to cut open the packages. Cut straight across the top of each package.
  • Reach into one of the three open packages. Take out two cloths at one time with the foam holder and put them on a clean surface. Repeat for the second and third packages.
  • After you start using the cloths, do not touch your eyes, ears or mouth.
  • Follow the skin cleansing steps in the diagram below.
    • Gently cleanse your skin using a back-and-forth motion.
    • Be sure to completely cover each area. You may need help wiping some areas of your body.

After you gently cleanse each area, let your skin air dry for one to three minutes. It is normal for your skin to feel tacky or sticky for several minutes after you apply the solution.

  • Do not rinse or rub off the solution.
  • Do not apply deodorant, perfume, lotions, moisturizers, gels, powders or make-up after cleansing your skin.
  • Throw away the used cloths. Do not flush them down the toilet.
  • Wash your hands with warm water and soap.
  • Put on clean clothes or sleepwear.
  • Put clean sheets on your bed. Make sure pets stay off of your bed to keep it clean.

Skin cleansing steps

  1. Using the first cloth, wipe your neck and chest.
  2. Using the second cloth, wipe both arms. Start at your shoulder and end at the fingertips. Be sure to wipe well under each arm and in the armpit areas.
  3. Using the third cloth, wipe your right and left hip, then your groin. Be sure to wipe any folds in the stomach and groin areas.
  4. Using the fourth cloth, wipe both legs. Start at the thigh and end at the toes. Be sure to wipe the front and back of each leg.
  5. Using the fifth cloth, wipe your back. Start at the base of your neck and end at the buttocks.
  6. Using the sixth (last) cloth, rewipe the surgery area.

If you cannot wash the surgery area yourself, have a member of your care circle help you.

Cleanse your skin gently with the cloths.

Areas to wash before hip replacement surgery

The numbered areas in the illustration show where to cleanse your body using each of the cleansing cloths. The numbers in the text above give you more details on how to cleanse your body.

Related resources

Source: Allina Health's Patient Education Department, Hip Replacement, eighth edition, ortho-ah-90139
First Published: 10/01/2000
Last Reviewed: 10/01/2020