Washable underpads are large, absorbent pads designed to contain bladder leakage and protect bedding.
Click on the purple tabs below for more information.
Washable underpads are also known as washable bed-sheets or bedpads.
Most are designed to cover the mid portion of a single bed although versions for larger beds can usually be made to order.
They are made from very similar materials to washable body-worn pads. Click on Pads for information about how washable pads are made and other aspects of using washable pads.
Washable underpads are available with and without tuck-in wings or anti-friction backing to prevent them moving around in the bed.
Some have a waterproof backing built in and others must have a separate waterproof sheet placed beneath them to prevent leakage through the pad onto bedding.
They may be used in one of two ways:
As a back-up for a body-worn pad – the need for a back-up pad is probably less common than it once was even when bladder leakage is very heavy as body-worn pads can be very good quality. However, using a washable underpad as a back-up can provide reassurance that your mattress won’t get wet although, as a washable product, it is unlikely to reduce your laundry burnden. If you have bowel and bladder leakage you will require a body-worn pad.
As an alternative to a body-worn pad - if you only have bladder leakage and prefer not to wear a body-worn pad, washable underpads can provide a useful alternative. This system may also work for people that suffer from confusion at night and try to remove body-worn pads.
Research evidence has shown that there are significant differences between makes of washable underpad in terms of how well they absorb urine as well as effect on skin 12
However, there have been no studies done on currently available washable underpads which may perform differently from older versions.
In nursing homes, these pads are commonly used by multiple patients (in the same way as sheets) and concerns have been expressed about cross-infection.
The main concern with this type of pad when used as an alternative to a body-worn pad is that the user must be naked from the waist down. This allows urine to be absorbed directly by the pad without wet bed clothes. Some people find this unacceptable.
You have to be willing to wash and dry the products. Although washable pads are straightforward to wash, they can be rather heavy when wet and you may find them difficult to manage.
Those that have a built-in waterproof layer take longer to dry than the others. Tumble drying can therefore be expensive and they are a large, conspicuous product to have air drying in your home.
Washable underpads are laundered in the same way as body-worn washable pads.
When used in a nursing home, it is important that they are washed at higher temperatures which will ensure pathogenic organisms are destroyed and the risk of cross-infection very low 3 The manufacturer’s instructions should be followed for washing these items.
Click on Pads for guidance on laundering washable pads.
Washable underpads are a relatively expensive item. However, like all washable products, they become increasingly cost effective the more often they are used, particularly if they are your sole product.
Their cost will vary depending on where you live.
Click on Worldwide to find out about how to buy washable underpads where you live.
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