An objective study of the so-called “washing” behaviour of the raccoon is carried out on ten captive animals in order to determine the true causal nature of the response. The activity is described in detail and an analysis of the food objects which most readily release the response is made. Those factors of the water site which influence the frequency of the response are also examined in detail. The importance of the response as a functional cleansing or moistening action is discussed and it is suggested that, in order to avoid confusion, the behaviour should be described as “dousing”. The ontogeny of the response is studied in five young raccoons and a possible explanation for the behaviour is put forward.