Cleaning your bum is a topic few like talking about but everyone needs to know. It may seem straightforward, but it’s not — there’s potential for injury and damage if you aren’t careful.

We’ll share tips ranging from the right way to wipe to which things you should absolutely never use on or around your bum. Read on to learn how to keep yourself clean.

Good anal hygiene requires comprehensive approach that also takes into consideration the foods and drinks you consume. Here are some basic tips:

  • Eat a fiber-rich diet involving fruits, vegetables, and whole-grain foods. These help to add bulk to your stool and prevent constipation. While you should introduce fiber slowly, aim to ultimately take in 30 to 40 grams of fiber per day. If you have inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), consult with your doctor about how much fiber you should consume.
  • Drink enough nonalcoholic fluids that your urine is pale yellow. Fluids help soften your stool, making it easier to pass.
  • Use soft toilet paper, and wipe gently after a bowel movement.
  • Allow the skin to air-dry after bathing.
  • Avoid wearing underwear that irritates the anal area, such as G-strings. Also, avoid using scented panty liners.
  • Wear undyed cotton underwear to avoid irritation.

The key is to keep the anal area clean, dry, and free of irritants.

Anal douching isn’t something you need to do every day, but there may be some circumstances where you need to feel very clean — like if you’re having receptive anal sex. If this is the case, you can consider anal douching.

We aren’t necessarily condoning anal douching, but if you’re going to do it, there are some guidelines you can follow to do it safely:

Materials you’ll need

  • Fluid. Normal saline is the best option for rinsing out your bum. This is better than tap water, which can affect the balance of electrolytes, such as sodium, in your body.
  • Delivery method. You’ll need something sanitary to get the fluid from its container to your bum. One method is a Fleet’s enema. This is a pre-packaged enema that usually has a lubricated nozzle to prevent damage. If you don’t have one handy, an alternative is a bulb syringe. These are also similar to another option called an anal douche bulb, which adult stores may sell.
  • Lubricant. You’ll need a water-based lubricant to ease insertion for whatever delivery method you choose.

A note about water temperature

The inner lining of your rectum is very sensitive to temperature, so you can’t use the same temperature you would in a shower. The water should be lukewarm. When you place it on the inner portion of your wrist, it shouldn’t feel warm.

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Steps to follow

  1. Apply lubricant to your delivery method. Some people also may insert a lubricated, gloved finger up their rectum before inserting a Fleet’s enema or bulb.
  2. Slowly, gently insert the delivery method into the rectum. Never force it or quickly insert it. Standing by the toilet with one leg on top of the toilet seat may be a good position to start.
  3. Release the liquid into your rectum slowly. Start with a small amount of water and attempt to hold the water in (if possible) for 10 to 15 minutes. If you can’t hold the water in, release it into the toilet.
  4. After 10 to 15 minutes, go to the bathroom to allow the water and stool to come out.

A gentle process with lubricated tools are needed to make this procedure as safe as possible.

Stool can be very irritating when it’s on your sensitive anal area. Careful wiping and cleansing of the anal area ensures you’re as comfortable as possible. Some best practices include the following:

  • Wipe front to back. This keeps you from introducing bacteria to your urinary tract.
  • Avoid using scented towelettes or other potentially damaging agents to wipe your bum.
  • Use soft toilet paper, unscented towelettes, or a soft, wet washcloth to wipe your bum.
  • Refrain from vigorous wiping, but instead use gentle motions to cleanse the bottom.
  • Cleanse with mild soap and lukewarm water, and dry your bottom with a soft cloth afterwards.

If your anal area is very irritated, you can apply a water-based cream to it to reduce irritation.

Part of learning how to keep your bum clean is learning what not to do. Take it from all the people who’ve tried and injured themselves before. Don’t use any of these solutions at or around your bum to clean it:

  • alcohol
  • bleach
  • hydrogen peroxide
  • iodine
  • oil-based lubricants (they can irritate the rectum skin)
  • olive oil
  • talcum powder
  • witch hazel

Essentially, if it isn’t a gentle cleanser or warm water, it probably doesn’t have any business going near your rectum.

Itching, burning, or the sensation of general dirtiness in your anal area isn’t a comfy feeling.

If you experience significant anal itching or have a hard time feeling clean, you may have hemorrhoids. Hemorrhoids are swollen veins in the rectum that may be around the anal opening, called external hemorrhoids, or inside the anal opening, called internal hemorrhoids.

While hemorrhoids are often painless, some can bleed or make it hard to clean stool. Unless they’re very large, hemorrhoids are usually more an inconvenience than severe problem.

If you notice tenderness or even pain after a stool that was hard to pass, the cause may be an anal fissure. Anal fissures are tears in the anal canal, usually due to hard, dry stool passing through. Treatments include adding fiber and water to your diet so your stool is easier to pass and your skin can heal.

If you experience acute sudden pain around the anal area, accompanied by redness or feelings of fullness, you could have an anal abscess or fistula. This can indicate an infection of the skin or anal gland.

While occasional itching is possible when you haven’t wiped all the stool away, you should see a health professional if you experience consistent or severe pain or itching in your rectum.

You should seek emergency attention if you see significant bleeding from your rectum.

This blood may appear bright to dark red or even have a coffee-ground like appearance. While a few drops periodically may indicate hemorrhoidal bleeding, significant bleeding warrants a trip to the emergency room. Frequent bleeding, but smaller amounts, may warrant a trip to a medical professional.

When it comes to keeping your bum clean, gentle is best. Using soft toilet paper or dye-free cloths can help keep you clean and comfortable.

For the most part, you won’t need more than this. If you notice itching, bleeding, or other abnormalities, talk with your doctor.