Is tap water a safe alternative to normal saline for wound irrigation in the community setting?

J Wound Care. 2001 Nov;10(10):407-11. doi: 10.12968/jowc.2001.10.10.26149.


Objective: This double-blind randomised controlled trial compared the effects of tap water and normal saline on the healing and infection rates of acute and chronic wounds.

Method: The trial was conducted in two metropolitan community health centres in New South Wales, Australia. Thirty-five patients with 49 acute or chronic wounds were randomised to receive wound irrigation with either normal saline or tap water.

Results: Statistical analysis demonstrated there was no significant difference between the infection and healing rates in wounds irrigated with normal saline or tap water.

Conclusion: Although the small sample size is a limitation of this study, the researchers conclude that drinkable tap water appears to provide a safe alternative to normal saline for wound cleansing and may be preferred by some patients.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Chronic Disease
  • Community Health Nursing / methods*
  • Community Health Nursing / standards
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • New South Wales / epidemiology
  • Nursing Evaluation Research
  • Prospective Studies
  • Skin Care / adverse effects
  • Skin Care / methods*
  • Skin Care / nursing
  • Sodium Chloride / therapeutic use*
  • Therapeutic Irrigation / adverse effects
  • Therapeutic Irrigation / methods*
  • Therapeutic Irrigation / nursing
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Water* / adverse effects
  • Wound Healing
  • Wound Infection / epidemiology
  • Wound Infection / etiology
  • Wounds and Injuries / nursing*


  • Water
  • Sodium Chloride