Wa `alaykum as-Salamu wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh.
In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.
In this fatwa:
Washing the deceased starts with washing the private parts, then doing wudu (ablution) and finally washing the whole body starting with the right side.
In response to your question, the late prominent Saudi scholar Sheikh `Abul-`Aziz ibn Baz, states:
With regard to the proper prescribed manner of washing the deceased, it starts with istinja (washing the private parts), if any urine or stools have been expelled.
The washer should wear gloves or place a cloth over his hand and wash away any dirt from the back and front passage, pouring water over it. He should also cover the area between the navel and the knees so that it cannot be seen, as this is awrah.
After that, he should do ablution for the deceased wiping the mouth and the nose with water, washing the face and arms, wiping the head and ears, and washing the feet.
Then, he should pour water containing lotus leaves over the head, then over the right side first, then over the left side, and then pour water all over the body.
In the final washing, he should add camphor to the water, which is a well-known perfume that strengthens the body and gives a pleasant fragrance.
This is the best way, but any manner of washing is acceptable. What matters is that water should reach the entire body and remove any dirt.
But the best way is to start with istinja (cleaning the private parts), then wudu then washing the body with water and lotus leaves three times and last pouring water over the body three times on the right side and three times on the left.
If there is a need to do that more than three times, then it should be five times; if there is a need for more than that, then it should be seven times. It should be an odd number of times; this is preferable.
But if the person is washed once or twice, that is acceptable, although what is preferred is three or five or seven times, if need be.
Allah Almighty knows best.
This fatwa is based on Fatawa Nur `ala ad-Darb by Sheikh Ibn Baz. It first appeared on: islamqa.info