7 Hair Washing Aids for Dementia – Tried & Tested!

Are you having difficulty washing someone’s hair with dementia? This post looks at hair washing aids for dementia that we’ve tried, succeeded and failed at! Mum has Alzheimer’s and I’ve struggled with washing my mum’s hair over the last few years. If you’re reading this, then you’re probably in the same position I was in and desperate to try something!

The first step is to find out why your loved one is refusing to have their hair washed – is it a mobility issue, the way it feels, is water going on their face, or in their ears etc? You can find some helpful tips here –10 Hair Washing Tips for Dementia Caregivers


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Let’s get to it – Hair Washing Aids for Dementia – Tried & Tested!

#1 – Tilting Commode

  • This is a commode that can be used for showering and is able to be tilted back safely.
  • The seat and the back recline together and the head is supported with a headrest.
  • It supports your loved one’s posture, hips and back and is secured with a safety belt.
  • These are not a cheap option and could be supplied through your government health care system after an assessment with an Occupational Therapist. This was supplied to us to wash mum’s hair with.
  • It is quite scary to use because it does recline between 30-40 degrees depending on the chair, but it is secure.
  • When I used it with mum, she didn’t get scared or concerned about falling. It allowed me to wash her hair without having to support herself or worry about losing balance.


tilting commode
  1. It supports your loved one with mobility or balance issues, prevents falls and you don’t need to lean back
  2. It’s safe and secure
  3. Allows you to wash hair effectively & in comfort with shampoo and water


  1. It’s expensive
  2. You need to wear protective towels to avoid water streaming down your neck when washing the back of your head
  3. Best used for an all-over body and hair wash rather than just the hair

#2 – Inflatable Shampoo Basin

  • This is a simple inflatable shampoo basin with a drainage hole & a stopper in the middle.
  • It’ss our preferred method of washing mum’s hair and it’s done when she’s lying in bed
  • The best way to wash the hair is to use a jug & pour the water over the hair and add a small amount of shampoo/conditoner product, and then rinse, remove the basin and dry the hair


  1. Cheap
  2. Allows access to the back of the head, washing effectively & in comfort with shampoo and water
  3. it’s safe and secure especially if you have mobility issues
  4. It’s very simple to use, easier if there are two people involved in fitting and then removing it.


  1. it’s hard to inflate
  2. It’s difficult to manoeuvre on your own
  3. Risk of spilling if not fully emptied via the drainage hole

#3 – Shampoo Hair Caps

  • These are best used when you can’t use water all.
  • It’s a simple shower cap filled with shampoo product that is placed on your loved ones head, massaged in and then simply toweled off to remove the product and any dirt.
  • It is effective we used these after mum’s spinal surgery and it was impossible to wet her head.
  • They do somehow, make your hair smell and feel clean. despite the fact water isn’t use.
  • One tip is never to use these cold, they are absolutely freezing. Most of them advise to warm the packet in the microwave for 20-30 secs, read the packet instructions to know the specifics for the product you have.
  • Always test and be careful after heating before applying to the head for hot spots to avoid injury.


shampoo caps
  • No need for water, and can be done anywhere
  • Cheap to buy, but can get costly if buying regularly
  • Effective at cleaning hair


  • Not as good as washing with water
  • Product build up if not effectively removed
  • Not Eco-friendly disposing of plastic shower cap

#4 – Towel Off No Rinse Shampoo

  • This is a similar concept to the Shampoo Cap, without the cap!
  • It much easier to use as you apply the liquid directly to the head and work into particular areas.
  • It’s a bit more sustainable as you don’t have plastic shower cap to dispose of
  • You simply add some product with your hands, massage into the hair and scalp and then simply towel off until product is removed, and style as normal.


  • No need for water, and can be done anywhere
  • Cheap to buy
  • You can control the amount of product that’s used.
  • Effective at cleaning hair
  • Sustainable


  • Not as good as washing with water
  • Product build up if not effectively removed

#5 – Weird and wonderful shampoo basins/trays

By now you’ve probably also trawled the internet looking for aids to wash hair, and there are some weird aids, I admit to trying some, so let me tell you about one I tried – Foldable Shampoo Basin (amazon link with video)

  • This goes over the head and straps are used to secure around the body – watch the video link about for how to use it
  • You don’t need to lean back with this
  • Water drains through the spot
Collapsible shampoo basin


  1. Allows you to wash hair effectively & in comfort with shampoo and water
  2. You don’t need to lean back
  3. Easy to intall and remove


  1. It’s expensive
  2. Despite there being a clasp and belt to hold it againt the body. You still need to pull the straps so its tight aorund the neck and no gap for water to seep down, so strength an important factor and willingness to it
  3. Marked as light but it is quite heavy when worn for someone elderly

#6 – Dry Shampoo

  • That old perennial favourite, dry shampoo!
  • When you get to the stage where you loved one won’t even let you wet their hair, then it’s time to try dry shampoo. You can get it in a foam or spray form. Just try and use one that is invisible, you don’t want white chalky roots.
  • Apply it correctly sprayingly to the roots.


  • Quick and easy to use
  • Cheap to buy


  • Not meant for prolonged use only a short term measure
  • Product build up after continued use
  • Some leave chalky /white residue

#7 – Flannel and Water

  • This is a very simple concept, if someone with dementia doesn’t like to get their hair fully wet, then an easy cheap option is to use a flannel and water basin.
  • Here you simply dampen the hair with a wet flannel, apply a small amount of shampoo/conditioner and then wipe off with a wet flannel, rinsing the flannel in water until all the shampoo has been removed.


  • Quick and easy to use
  • Limited water usage and doesn’t wet face/neck etc
  • Can be done anywhere


  • Not useful if any aversion to water

That’s it, those are all the methods we have tried, what about you? Do you have any hair washing aids to share?

Let me know. Thanks and until next time.

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