Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario

Catheter Site Care

  • Skin cleansing and antisepsis of the insertion site is considered one of the most important measures for preventing infections associated with vascular access devices.
  • Nurses must be knowledgeable about the type of device (central or peripheral) in order to make appropriate care decisions around the skin antiseptic to be used during catheter care.
  • Nurses will disinfect clean skin with an appropriate antiseptic before catheter insertion and with each dressing change.
  • Aseptic technique must include choice of solution, use of friction, and adequate contact time in order to be considered an effective use of technique. Please consult your institutional policy or infection control policies for more details.
  • The table below describes the required drying time needed for particular solutions in order to prevent skin breakdown as a result of chemical reaction between the solution and the dressing.



Required drying time

Chlorhexidine gluconate 2% with alcohol


30 seconds


Chlorhexidine gluconate without alcohol


2 minutes


2 minutes

70% isopropyl alcohol

Dries quickly, kills bacteria only when first applied.

No lasting bactericidal effect; can excessively dry the skin

Clinical Management
Care and Maintenance to Reduce Vascular Access Complications
Point of Care Resources