Is there a ‘right way’ to clean the genitals? The vagina? Find out!

Woman cleaning genital area

Generally speaking, the female genitals include skin folds (outer and inner lips), the clitoral hood + the clitoris, and the openings to the urethra and the vagina.

A lot to clean, right? Not really.

READ ALSO, A vagina is never odor-free but what is a 'normal' smell for a vagina? Find out!

The vagina itself is self-cleaning (!) and you should leave it alone unless instructed by your healthcare provider to douche; the rest can be easily maintained following the tips below.

Women with vaginismus – do your best to try the following; if nothing else, it will be a good exercise in the beginning to own your genitals!

☛Install a hand-held shower to better rinse off the area. If not possible, use a spray bottle.

☛Never use hot water on the genitals so as to avoid over-drying and chafing irritations. You can take your shower as hot as you wish but turn the water to warm when rinsing the genitals.


☛Best to use a neutral or hypoallergenic soap to avoid irritations caused by fragrances and/or other chemicals in the soap. However, feel free to use any soap you like when washing the rest of your body.

☛No need to scrub the area. Apply a bit of (neutral/hypoallergenic) soap on your hand, lightly soap between the genital lips (not inside the vagina) and rinse. If using the soap makes the genitals burn, use warm water for a few days before trying again, and/or try another soap.

☛ Pat dry the area when you towel off and just leave it alone.

☛If your genitals feel dry, you can apply a thin coat of Aquaphor Healing Ointment to the area between the lips, but not inside the vagina. Aquaphor is an over-the-counter ointment that can be also used as a lip balm, a diaper ointment, and a barrier ointment to prevent chafing irritations between toes (during running), in the genitals (bike riding), etc.

☛ Cleaning after intercourse? Read our post Intercourse & cleaning.

Final note: it is common to find residue in the genitals: toilet paper dust/pieces, sloughed dry skin, leftover ointment/medications, etc. If left accumulated they may cause skin irritation. Use a mirror and take a look at your genitals every 2-3 months to ensure proper hygiene.

Not much more is needed…. Use the same approach if taking a bath.

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