Can you remember learning how to clean your vagina properly? Me neither. The topic of vaginal hygiene is often pushed under the rug which creates a lot of confusion for women trying to figure out the best way to maintain a clean and healthy vagina.
Keep reading to learn more about the dos and don'ts when it comes to vaginal washing. This post will do a deep dive into how to wash your vagina (actually your vulva), as well as other tips for caring for your vagina. Let’s get into it!
Where You Should Be Cleaning Down There
First, it’s extremely important to note that you should not clean your vagina. Your vagina is literally inside of your body, and it is a self-cleaning machine that does not require skincare products. What you can and should be cleaning is your vulva. The vulva is the outer part of the female genitals, like your labia (aka “lips”), clitoris, and clitoral hood. You can clean your vulva the same way you clean the rest of your body - just with a bit more caution and care. Here are some easy steps to follow next time you are cleaning down there, as well as a recommendation for what to use as a vaginal wash.
How To Properly Clean Your Vulva
When in the shower or bath, wash your vulva with warm water (make sure the water is not too hot!) and a gentle all-natural cleanser that is safe for sensitive skin, and pH balanced.
Separate your labia and let the warm water and cleanser clean all around the clitoral hood and between your labia.
Make sure you rinse off the cleanser.
Give yourself one final rinse with warm water and pat dry the area.
Apply a soothing oil to the outside area to prevent irritations like ingrown hairs and razor bumps, and ensure you are using a clean oil that will restore the skin’s natural moisture.
How To Clean Your Vagina On Your Period
Remember, your vagina is self-cleaning. This does not change while on your period. Blood will naturally flow out without any additional help. However, you can help your vagina self-clean by changing your pad and/or tampon regularly. Depending on your flow, you should change your tampon every 4-8 hours. A pad should be changed every 3-4 hours. If you are feeling icky down there during your period, you can wash your vulva with warm water 2-3 times a day while on your period.
Vulva Cleaning Tips from Dr. Ruth Arumala, a Certified Gynecologist.
We asked Dr. Ruth Arumala, board-certified gynecologist to provide us with insight and expert tips on how to keep your vulva clean without irritating this sensitive area. Here’s what Dr. Ruth Arumala had to say:
“I do not tell my patients to use soap when it comes to cleaning the vulva, it’s too harsh,” says Dr. Arumala. “I tend to recommend and use a soft and foamy cleanser that includes natural oils and is pH balanced - like Bushbalm’s Skincare’s Nourishing Body Wash”.
“You never want to have squeaky clean skin in that area. Think about shampoo and your hair when it feels squeaky clean the natural oils have been stripped away. We don’t want our skin in sensitive areas to feel like that. Once you're finished you want to pat dry so no yeast grows. After the water has dried off, you should apply a soothing oil.”
Learn more about vagina health from a certified gynecologist, Dr. Ruth Arumala here.
What To Look For in Vaginal Cleansers
1. Jojoba Oil (Simmondsia Chinensis Seed Oil)
Jojoba Oil is a soothing ingredient that coats the top layer of the skin in order to retain the moisture and prevent the skin from drying out. This coat is rich in fatty acids and packed with Vitamin E, A and D making it the ideal ingredient to preserve the skin’s natural moisture and restore/maintain a balanced pH level.
2. Tea Tree Oil (Melaleuca Alternifolia)
Packed with antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and anti-fungal properties, Tea Tree Oil is a natural healer fit to combat any bad bacteria down there. This star ingredient is the key to fighting off yeast or fungus growth around your vagina. This ingredient will also keep the vulva moisturized enough to be healthy but not too moist so bad bacteria can grow.
3. Copaiba Balsam Essential Oil (Copaifera Spp)
A major property of Copaiba Oil is Beta-caryophyllene; Beta-caryophyllene has anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antibacterial, and antioxidant properties. Like Tea Tree Oil, Copaiba is an all-natural anti-inflammatory agent that will heal skin irritations such as bad bacteria.
4. Grapeseed Oil (Vitis Vinifera Seed Oil)
Grapeseed Oil protects and preserves the skin's soft and supple appearance. The ingredient has properties such as vitamin E and phenolic antioxidants which work together to remove bacteria from the surface of the skin. This lightweight oil penetrates the skin to and activates Vitamin E and C in the skin which protects and preserves the skin from external agents.
Other Ways to Take Care of Your Vagina
You Are What You Eat - And So Is Your Vagina.
What you decide to put in your body can have either positive or negative effects on your vagina. Dr. Ruth Arumala recommends eating good probiotics (such as yogurt, gummies or probiotic pills). Foods high in probiotics help prevent yeast infections, vagional odor and/or bacterial vaginosis. Probiotics balance out the pH levels in the vagina which translates to a healthy and happy vagina.
Now, let’s talk about food to steer clear from. There are 5 main foods to steer clear of OR eat in moderation in order to promote vaingal health: 1) processed foods; 2) coffee; 3) alcohol; 4) sugar; and 5) onions. These foods either bring down your immunity or alter the pH balance of your vagina. This causes the vaingal region to become prone to infections and/or smell nasty.
Let Your Vagina Breathe While You Sleep
According to Dr. Ruth Arumala, bad bacteria that cause vaginal infections do not like oxygen. So it’s important to allow oxygen to flow down there while you sleep to minimize bad bacteria and maintain a healthy vagina.
Wipe Your Vagina From Front To Back
The right way to wipe the vagina after peeing is from front to back. It’s also important to not over wipe to ensure you don’t irritate your skin.
Change Out of Sweaty Clothing ASAP
On that note, change out of your sweaty gym clothes right after you workout! Bad bacteria breeds in wet and dark spaces. By getting out of your wet clothing asap you will inhibit the multiplying process and save your vagina from bad bacteria.
pH Balanced Products are the Vulva’s Best Friend
When the vagina is pH balanced on the interior and exterior, good bacteria will thrive and protect this intimate area from bad bacteria and yeast. On other hand, when the pH balance is thrown off this can lead to imbalance in bacteria and yeast levels which puts you at risk of developing a number of infections such as, UTI’s, yeast infection, vaginal odor and bacterial vaginosis. A normal vaginal pH level is xxxx Bottom line: only ever use products that are pH balanced around the vagina and on the vulva.
For more information on the ideal ingredients to look for in your skincare products, check out this blog.
Establish 3 Ground Rules In the Bedroom..
There are 3 important rules to keep in mind before you and your partner have sex:
- Wash your hands
- Clean your sex toys
- Pee before & after sex
#1: Our hands carry lots of bacteria; this bacteria has no place being inside of the vagina. This bacteria can cause UTI’s, yeast infections, bacterial vaginosis and other uncomfortable infections that are completely avoidable if you take the time to clean your hands.
#2: After use, sex toys should also be washed and stored in dry, clean space. You can clean your sex toys with the same gentle cleanser you use to clean your vulva.
#3: Peeing before and after sex is crucial for vaginal health. If one does not pee right after, she runs the risk of developing a UTI. Ridding yourself of all urine before and after sex gives bacteria less time to multiply and develop into a urinary tract infection.
We hope that this guide on how to maintain vaginal health answered some of the questions which are often not addressed. If you have any other questions, feel free to DM us on Instagram @bushbalm and we will answer your questions as soon as possible.