Activity Purpose and Objectives:

Sensory hand washing is intended for sensory pleasure, cleanliness, appetite enhancement, awakening and stimulation, reminiscence, and to re-create an environment like a luxurious restaurant or first class travel.


  • 2 containers (rubber dishpans or similar, one labeled “clean” one labeled “soiled”)
  • Plastic bags to line the “soiled” container
  • Washcloths
  • A 2-liter plastic beverage container, (like for serving juice or ice tea)
  • Optional zipper-top linen bag to keep sensory washcloths separate in the laundry
  • Elite Hot Towel Warmer: (One source is

Lemon extract, liquid hand soap (Obtain MSDS for Lemon extract, one source is Science

Program in Detail


  • Wash your own hands before program preparation.
  • Assemble materials and equipment.
  • Place a plastic liner (and optional linen bag) into the “soiled container”.
  • Mix in the beverage container, 2 liters of water, 2-4 tsp. of lemon extract and 2 tsp. of liquid soap.

Wet the washcloths

  • Place 20 washcloths flat in the base of the “clean” rubber dishpan.
  • Dampen washcloths pouring over and in between cloths the water with lemon and soap.
  • Fold each washcloth in half then roll each into a cylinder shape. Squeeze each washcloth slightly to squeeze out some of the excess water onto the cloths below.

Warm the washcloths

  • Warm washcloths in the UV towel warmer for at least 2 hours.
  • Refill the washcloths, steps 1-7 at the times of ______, _______ and ________ for the next uses.

Test and use the washcloths

  • Test the center of a washcloth to assure safe, comfortable temperatures.
  • Offer a washcloth to each participant.
  • Invite participants to wipe their hands and face, and take a deep breath in, to enjoy the scent of the lemon.
  • Avoid touching participants hands and cloths while passing out clean cloths.
  • Demonstrate to participants, using exaggerated movements.
  • Ask Participants to put soiled cloths into the “soiled container”.
  • Repeat washing your own hands if the soiled cloths or if you inadvertently touch dirty cloths or participants during program.
  • Direct soiled cloths to laundry services for handling according to laundry procedures.
  • Return equipment and materials to storage areas.
  • Towel warmer must be completely emptied and shut off__________ (after dinner.)

Take cautions with heat sources, citrus or soap allergies, storage of lemon extract and observe all related infection control precautions.

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©2012 RTC Recreation Therapy Consultants,

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