What Are the Best Tips for Cleaning a Wound?

In some cases, it may be necessary to have a doctor clean and dress a wound.
Applying proper bandaging will help keep wounds clean.
Plastic bandages can offer protection from water and dirt.
Cool tap water can be used to clean out a minor wound.
A wound is an opening of the skin from an impact, tear, cut or other trauma.
For cleaning minor wounds, tap water may be used to flush out pathogens from the surface of the wound.
Sterile gauze should be used to cover the wound to prevent further infection before receiving professional medical assistance.
Applying antibiotic ointment to a clean wound helps prevent infection.
Wounds should be covered with sterile dressing, such as gauze.
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  • Written By: Rebecca Mecomber
  • Edited By: Kaci Lane Hindman
  • Last Modified Date: 22 September 2014
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A wound is an opening of the skin from an impact, tear, cut or other trauma. When the skin is wounded, proper cleaning of the wound is important, because this helps protect the body from infections and diseases. The best tips for cleaning a wound include evaluating the wound, cleaning out and sanitizing the wound, preventing excessive bleeding, applying proper bandaging, and knowing when to seek help from a medical professional. A wound should always be cleaned before it is dressed, or covered with a sterile wrapping and bandage.

For most minor wounds, cool tap water flushes out most of the pathogens from the surface of the wound. Saline solution is gentler than tap water for cleaning a wound that is sensitive or tender. If the wound contains debris, such as wood splinters, gravel or other material, these objects must be removed with sterilized tweezers or a clean washcloth before cleaning a wound and dressing the injury with a bandage.

Cleaning a wound with water and removing debris may further instigate bleeding. This is the body's normal and natural response to an open wound and helps to further clean the wound. Minor bleeding is harmless and usually ceases in several minutes. Though if the bleeding does not stop or becomes very heavy, the wound must be covered with sterile dressing, such as gauze, and direct pressure must be applied to the wound. The patient should consult a medical professional as soon as possible.


Once the wound has been rinsed, it can be washed with an antiseptic solution, such as iodine, antibiotic rinse or antibiotic ointment. These solutions destroy certain residual pathogens left behind from rinsing with tap water. Antibiotic ointment is helpful because it also moistens the wound, encouraging new skin cells to adhere to one another. Besides promoting healing, antibiotic ointment reduces the likelihood of an unsightly scar.

Sometimes a wound may require stitches or a suture glue-like adhesive. A deep cut that exposes the yellow-colored fatty tissue of the skin needs stitches. Long cuts that do not close easily needs stitches, as do areas of the skin that stretch with movement. Wound care for injuries requiring stitches is the same as for other wounds. In such a case, keep the area clean and sanitized, stop the blood flow, and dress the wound until it can be closed by a medical professional.

Clean wounds should be covered with sterile dressing, such as gauze or an occlusive or semi-occlusive adhesive strip. The dressing protects the wound from further contaminants and seals in moisture, which promotes healing. Wound dressings must be changed daily or even more frequently, depending on the severity of the wound and if the dressing becomes wet or soiled.


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