Cleaning your Skin Before your Surgery

Our skin has many types of germs or bacteria on it. Washing with soap and water helps remove them. Before surgery, it is important that you take an extra step to help get rid of germs. This lowers the risk of infection at the site of your surgery.
Please follow these steps to make sure your skin is as germ-free as possible.

Step 1: What You Need To Do

  • You will need to shower with a special soap called Hibiclens® 4%, also called chlorhexidine gluconate (CHG).
  • We will give you a bottle of Hibiclens® 4%, or you can buy it at most large drugstores, such as CVS®, Rite Aid® and Walgreens®. Please call your drugstore to make sure they have it in stock.

Step 2: Facts and Warnings about Hibiclens®

  • Read the “Drug Facts” on the bottle, but follow the skin cleaning directions on this sheet.
  • Do not use Hibiclens® if you are allergic to chlorhexidine gluconate or any other ingredients in it.
  • If you are allergic, or cannot wash with it for any other reason, use an anti-bacterial soap like Dial® instead.
  • Do not take a bath with Hibiclens®.
  • Do not use Hibiclens® on the head or face. Keep it out of your eyes, ears and mouth.
  • Do not use Hibiclens® in the genital area.
  • Do not swallow Hibiclens®.

Step 3: Before Using Hibiclens®

If there is time, start washing with Hibiclens® three days before your surgery. Wash in the shower each night using these instructions:

  • You may take a shower with regular soap before using Hibiclens®.
  • Wash your hair with your normal shampoo, and rinse it well. Rinse any leftover shampoo from your skin.
  • Wash your face and genital (private) areas with regular soap and water only.
  • Rinse your body very well with warm water.
  • Turn off the water so you won’t rinse the Hibiclens® off too soon.

Step 4: How to Use Hibiclens®

Remember: Follow these washing instructions each day for three days (if there is time) before your surgery.

  • Use one teaspoon (one capful) of Hibiclens® for each part of your body listed below:
  • Neck and chest
  • Legs and feet
  • Hands and arms
  • Back and rear
  • Stomach
  • Put Hibiclens® on your skin and rub it in gently for five minutes with a washcloth.
  • Turn the water back on and rinse very well with warm water.
  • Do not use your regular soap after using and rinsing Hibiclens®.
  • Pat yourself dry with a clean towel.
  • Do not use lotion, powders or perfumes on the areas cleaned with Hibiclens®.
  • Put on clean clothes.

If you have questions about washing with Hibiclens® before your surgery, call:

  • Pre-Admission Testing: 215-728-2566
    Monday–Friday, 7am–5pm
  • Main Operator: 215-728-6900
    Ask to speak with the Nursing Supervisor.
    After hours, weekends and holidays