Picture this: you’ve just had a pleasurable sexual experience with your partner(s) or yourself and you’re basking in a post-sex glow. Even better, you took things up a notch with a splash (or more) of personal lubricant to keep things smooth and sexy! Great, but now it’s time to clean up.
Clean up isn’t the most exciting part of your sex life, but it’s worth talking about. Hygiene is just as important for what your sexual health includes, as it is for every other area of your well-being. This can & does vary from person to person.
Personal lubricant can enhance your sex life, but it can also make things a little bit messy. On top of bodily fluids like semen, vaginal fluid and/or sweat, if you have used personal lubricant, it will probably leave a light residue on your body.
While no action is required, we have compiled some information, tips and tricks and more for you to decide how to design your only post-sex protocol, especially where personal lubricant is involved.
Why Clean Up Is Important
Officially, there is not a medical requirement for specific post-sex clean up. That being said, there are a few best practices recommended by experts to lower the risk of infections, including urinary tract infections (UTIs), and yeast infections.
Water-based lubricants tend to absorb into the skin, whereas silicone lubricants do not. That's why with silicone lubricants especially, a little clean up is a good thing.
So, that’s why it’s important to wash off lube after sex. Want some tips and tricks? Say no more!
Tips and Tricks
Generally speaking, the mantra to remember when approaching post-sex clean up is: “less is more.” While it may be tempting, you will only want to wash around and not inside any sensitive genital areas. Remember, personal lubricants have been carefully manufactured for decades to be safe for internal use and generally do not pose a significant risk to you.
There are a few notable exceptions to this rule:
- For people with a clitoris, gently lift the vaginal folds and clitoral hood in an upwards direction to rinse with warm water and soap or unscented wipes. This helps avoid any bacteria becoming trapped within folds and potentially causing infection.
- For people with penises that have foreskin, gently retract and rinse with warm water and soap or unscented wipes. Similarly, this will help any semen or other fluid like lube from drying under the foreskin and/or for bacteria to become trapped.
Additionally, for people with vaginas, this “around, not inside” rule rings especially true. Specifically you want to avoid douching with any water or prepackaged fluids, as this can lead to infections. The vagina cleans itself naturally using healthy bacteria that is carefully regulated by your body, and introducing any outside products is not recommended, especially for those prone to yeast infections.
This includes when personal lubricant is used for vaginal sex, and whether or not latex condoms (or another form of birth control) are used. Your vagina can handle it, a simple external rinse or wipe is all that’s needed!
If you’ve had anal sex, you will want to shower after your sexual experience, as the type of bacteria you may encounter is different than with other forms of sexual play. Similar to vaginal sex, it is not recommended to run an enema or to clean inside your body – a quick rinse will do to remove any bacteria. This will also wash away any residue from water-based lube or silicone lube, as soap and water should wash both right off (and your body will do the rest).
What Products are Safe to Use?
When it comes to hygiene products, you also want to exercise a little bit of restraint. Using a mild soap with warm water or an unscented moist wipe is more than enough. If you have liberally applied lube, and are frustrated with how long washing up is taking, consider toweling off first (especially for silicone based lube).
You will want to avoid any harsh chemicals that might dry out or irritate sensitive skin. This includes products like scented wipes, creams and sprays marketed as a way to “freshen up” your personal areas, as these are often made with strong soaps, fragrances and other chemicals that can make your skin break out.
What About Sex Toys?
Sex toys can be a blast, but you also want to make sure to clean them after sex to remove any bodily fluids and lube. This will keep you and your partner(s) healthy, and will make sure that you can trust that your sex toys are ready to go for the next round at peak performance!
Cleaning sex toys is very straightforward. For silicone sex toys, these can be placed directly into the dishwasher or even boiled (talk about built to last!). If your sex toy is waterproof, simple antibacterial soap and water will do, and if it’s not, you can rinse without fully submerging underwater. Pretty easy right?
One note is that it's also recommended to use condoms with sex toys, if you share them with multiple partners. That helps prevent the risk of transmitting STIs.
Not sure what to do or can’t track down what kind of sex toy you have? No worries. Just wash the part of the toy that came into direct contact with any skin or bodily fluids with antibacterial soap and a washcloth.
Bonus: How to Deal with Lube Stains
But wait, there’s more! Now that we’ve covered how to clean up your body and your sex toys after sex to rinse off any lube and ensure your ongoing sexual health, what about any sheets, towels or fabrics? It’s no secret that lube can make its way onto unwanted surfaces during the heat of the action. Don’t worry, we’ve got some tips for that too.
One perk of water-based lube is that a standard laundry cycle will remove any stains from fabrics. Hooray! If you’re a pro, consider adding a laundry pre-treatment with protein-treating enzymes or applying white vinegar and rubbing with coarse rock salt. Presto, no more lube stains!
Silicone based lube is a little trickier based on its longer lasting formula. Firstly, try not to let the stain dry, as this will make it harder to remove. Next step is to apply a laundry pre-treatment with protein-treating enzymes or a degreaser product.
Alternatively, you can try sprinkling a thin layer of baking powder, cornstarch, or talcum powder onto the stain and brushing out, if you’re adventurous. Last step is to machine wash and air dry – the last part is key, as the heat from your dryer may permanently set the stain.