Donning and Doffing

Donning and Doffing compression garments might be a little difficult. There are some general rules to live by that can assist with garments:

  • Avoid sticking fingernails into the knitted material of the garment when pulling it on
  • Do not overstretch the material
  • Do not wear jewelry while donning or doffing garments
  • User rubber gloves to help don and doff off the garment

Armsleeve Donning

Follow these steps when donning armsleeve garments: 

  1. Fold the top of the armsleeve down and inside-out so that the top of the armsleeve meets the bottom. 
  2. Holding the fold, slip patient’s hand into the garment and pull up till the bottom of the garment is just above the wrist. If you are having a difficult time pulling the hand through the garment, continue folding the garment down till you are able to pull the garment to the wrist.
  3. Once the garment is in place on the bottom-half of the arm, unfold the garment by pulling the top of the armsleeve up the arm.

 The sleeve is properly in place when it is situated smoothly on the arm without any creases. 

Glove Donning

Follow these steps when donning gloves:

  1. Slip the patient’s hand through the wrist of the glove and into the fingers.
  2. Adjust the fingers by carefully pulling on the fabric until the glove fits snugly into the web spaces between the fingers.
  3. Be sure the fabric is smoothed out over the fingers and hand.

Knee-High Donning:

Follow these steps when donning knee-high garments:

  1. Start with the garment inside out. Tuck the foot portion inside up to the heel and hold it with both hands, seams facing down, creating a toe tunnel.
  2. Stretch garment as wide as possible and slip foot into the garment, pulling it foot.
  3. Put the heel pocket over the back of heel.
  4. Take hold of the fabric just past toes (always grasp the garment at the sides, never at the seams).
  5. Pull it up over the foot past the ankle. The garment should now be right side out. Adjust the garment so that the heel is in place.
  6. Adjust the toe area for comfort by pulling the garment toward toes and releasing.
  7. Now work the garment all the way up to the knee, smoothing creases as you go.

For most knee-high garments, you want it to end about one inch below the bend of the knee.


Thigh-High Donning

Follow the same instructions as the knee-high, working the garment all the way up to the groin.


Waist-High Donning

Follow the same instructions for knee and thigh-high garments and then complete these steps:


  1. Stand up and grab a handful of fabric with both hands, pulling the garment up to the waist.
  2. Fit it snugly, but comfortably over the groin area.
  3. Adjust garment so that it is snug at the midsection. This will help keep the garment from sliding down. Pull the midsection to its proper height.
  4. Slip hands, palm out, into the back and lift the fabric up and away from the skin. Let the fabric fall back to fit snugly over the buttocks.


Caring for Garments

Most compression garments can be machine washed on a gentle cycle in lukewarm water (104 degrees) with a mild detergent. After washing the garment, lay it on a thick towel, roll it up and squeeze it hard to remove excess water. You can hang the garment straight or lay it flat to dry, keeping the garment out of direct sunlight. Never use fabric softeners or bleach. Follow the care instructions provided by the manufacturer.


Important Tips

Consider these helpful tips when donning and caring for garments:

  • Most garments are built to last up to six months, but always examine garments for signs of wear to ensure they are still effective.
  • Any open wounds should be covered with a sterile dressing prior to putting on compression garments.
  • Since the garment should be washed daily, many patients find it helpful to have several pairs of garments. This way they have one garment to wear while the other is being washed.
  • Do not cut any loose threads or snags as this may cause runs or holes in the garments.
  • If wearing a lower extremity garment, appropriate footwear must be worn when walking to prevent falls.


lymphedema garment donning instructions