Sweeping of the membranes, also named stripping of the membranes, is a relatively simple technique usually performed without admission to hospital. During vaginal examination, the clinician's finger is introduced into the cervical os. Then, the inferior pole of the membranes is detached from the lower uterine segment by a circular movement of the examining finger. This intervention has the potential to initiate labour by increasing local production of prostaglandins and, thus, reduce pregnancy duration or pre-empt formal induction of labour with either oxytocin, prostaglandins or amniotomy. This is one of a series of reviews of methods of cervical ripening and labour induction using standardised methodology.