This handout explains how to clean your skin before surgery. This treatment plan is to help lower your risk for infection.

Please review each step below. You must be careful to give yourself enough time to follow each step. Your clinic will supply you with chlorhexidine gluconate (CHG) at your visit. You can also buy it at your local drug store. Call your clinic if you have questions.

Supplies Needed

  • CHG soap and two clean washcloths or new body sponge

  • Clean towels, bedsheets, pillowcase and pajamas

3 Days Before Surgery

Do not shave or wax near the area where you will have your surgery.

The Night Before Surgery (After 6:00pm)

  1. Shower or bathe using your normal soap and shampoo. Do not shave.

  2. Turn off or step out of the stream of water.

  3. Wet the clean washcloth and open the CHG soap.

    1. Do not apply soap directly to your face, head or genital area.

    2. Apply CHG soap to a clean washcloth and wash your skin from neck to toe, including your belly button. Cover all skin areas one at a time. Do not rinse. Apply a second layer of soap with a clean washcloth.

    3. You should use about half of the soap in the bottle. The rest should be used the
      morning of your surgery.

  4. Leave CHG soap on skin for 1 minute (sing happy birthday two times slowly), so it can absorb into your skin.

  5. Rinse with warm water. Do not scrub. Slight contact to the genital area during rinsing is fine.

  6. Blot your skin dry with a clean towel.

  7. Do not use lotions, creams, powder, perfume or makeup after the shower or bath.

  8. Dress in clean pajamas and sleep on clean sheets. Please do not have pets sleep in bed with you after the shower.


Supplies Needed

  • CHG soap and a clean washcloth, or new body sponge

  • Clean towels, underwear and clothing

The Morning of Surgery at Home

  1. Repeat steps 1 through 8 on first page.

  2. Avoid anything that could make you sweat before surgery. Your skin needs to be clean and ready for surgery.

The Morning of Surgery at the Hospital or Surgery Center

Staff may apply a sterile medicine in your nose right before your surgery. The medicine will kill nasal germs that could cause an infection at your surgical site after the surgery. This sterile medicine may leave a brown stain inside your nose. This should go away when you blow your nose after surgery.


Do not use if you are allergic to chlorhexidine gluconate or any other ingredient in this soap. Use of antibacterial soap is recommended for patients with an allergy to CHG.

If you notice a rash, redness or itching after using the CHG soap, rinse off. Do not use it again. When you arrive for surgery, tell your health care team about your reaction.

If you have an ostomy, do not use CHG soap on the skin under your pouching system.