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Cleaning your private parts after peeing is an important part of overall hygiene. It helps get rid of odors caused by leftover urine droplets and keeps your genitals healthy.

Bacteria need warmth and moisture to grow, so keeping the area clean reduces the risk of skin irritation and bladder and yeast infections.

The way you clean also matters. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to clean your private parts after peeing.

First things first: After peeing, you’ll want to clean your vulva, not your vagina. The vagina is the muscular canal inside your body. It’s self-cleaning and doesn’t need to be washed. Instead, you’ll want to clean the vulva, or the outer part of the genitals, such as the:

  • vaginal opening
  • clitoris
  • labia
  • urethra

There are two main methods of keeping your vulva healthy after urinating. The first is with soft tissue paper, and the second with warm water. Be gentle with both to avoid skin sensitivity and irritation.

Cleaning with tissue paper

  1. Grab more than one sheet of soft tissue paper.
  2. Wipe from front to back.
  3. Make sure the area is completely dry.

It’s important that you wipe front to back, as wiping the opposite way — back to front — can spread bacteria.

“Every time one wipes after urination, the bacteria from the gut can get transferred to the vagina or the urethra if wiping from back to front,” said Dr. Mona Fahoum, naturopathic physician, owner of Meridian Medicine, and director of clinical services at Bastyr University.

Cleaning with warm water

  1. Gently spray the area with warm water.
  2. Gently wipe yourself off with a towel.

A bidet is a good option if you have access to one. “This prevents hand contact, making it more hygienic and leaving no chance for the spread of bacteria,” said Dr. Victoria Glass.

Be sure to dry yourself off with a towel and not your hand. Additionally, avoid soap whenever you can. But if you do use soap, pick one that’s mild and unscented.

“Soap can actually be harmful and cause irritation and sensitivity and potential allergic reactions,” explained Dr. Brynna Connor, healthcare ambassador at

  1. Shake your penis to empty out any remaining urine droplets.
  2. Gently dab or wipe any remaining droplets with soft tissue paper.

Shaking doesn’t always stop excess urine from leaking onto undergarments, so the second step helps reduce the chances of this happening. If not, urine can stain clothing and leave behind a smell.

The Islamic faith has specific rules regarding urination.

One of these rules is called Istinjaa` (استنجاء), which means washing the private parts after urinating. It’s an obligatory practice of purification mentioned in the Quran, and its procedures vary for people with a vulva and people with a penis.

According to the rule, cleaning can be done with toilet paper, stone, or water.

If you have a penis, you’re to wash from back to the front. But if you have a vulva, you’re to wash from front to back. This is so that the genitals aren’t in contact with the bacteria from the anus.

In addition, the rule states that if you have a penis, you’re not allowed to clean yourself with your right hand.

The preferred practice for both genitals is to clean the area with toilet paper and then wash with water. You can use soap to clean the area if you’d like, but it’s not a requirement.

After following Istinjaa`, you’re to cover yourself immediately.

Practicing good genital hygiene habits helps prevent odor and infection. Along with bathing regularly, here are some tips to keep your genitals clean and healthy:

  • Wear loose-fitting cotton clothing. Try to avoid nylon or polyester. Cotton is more gentle, breathable, and effective at wicking away sweat and other fluids.
  • Change out of your workout clothes or bathing suit as soon as you’re finished. Bacteria and yeast thrive in warm, moist, and dark places, so it’s important to put on clean underwear once you’re finished with these activities. Also, change your underwear often.
  • Go commando more often. This provides more airflow to the genitals.
  • Use antiperspirants to help keep the area dry. There are concerns about a possible link between the use of talcum powders in the genitals and cancer. Until more research is done on this topic, you may want to avoid using talcum powder in this area.
  • Avoid using soaps with harsh chemicals and fragrances on the vulva. This can disrupt the vagina’s natural pH level.

Cleaning your private parts after peeing can reduce your risk of infections and irritations, including:

While UTIs can occur in people with a penis, they’re most common in those with a vagina. A UTI is an infection of the bladder caused by bacteria entering the urinary tract. Some bacteria are good and keep the vagina healthy, but an overgrowth or introduction of foreign bacteria into the genital area can cause an infection in the urinary tract.

Cleaning after peeing is one way to prevent this type of infection. This includes wiping front to back and cleaning the vulva every day. The vulva protects the genital tract from infection.

If you have a penis, you can prevent conditions such as penile itching and smegma with regular cleaning.

Smegma refers to a buildup of oils, moisture, and skin cells on the tip of the penis. Thick, smelly white chunks with a cheese-like consistency may develop. This condition is common in people with a foreskin.

There are risks associated with poor hygiene habits. In addition to developing a UTI, people with a vulva may also develop a yeast infection.

This happens when yeast cells multiply. It results in itching, swelling around the vagina, and painful burning during urination or sex. You’re more likely to get it again if you have it once. Practicing healthy hygiene habits is one of the first steps to preventing this.

Certain products also pose a risk. Popular hygiene products, such as douching or odor reduction products, can disrupt the natural bacterial balance of the vagina, making it more susceptible to infection.

A 2018 study of 1,435 people from the University of Guelph found that the use of intimate washes by people with a vulva increased their risk of bacterial infections by 3.5 percent. They were also more at risk of developing a UTI.

For cleansing, stick to washing the area with warm water by itself or using mild, unscented soaps.

Some cases of genital symptoms don’t require a visit to the doctor. Practicing healthy hygiene habits is often all it takes to reduce or eliminate odor.

See a doctor right away if you experience:

  • stinging
  • an increase in urinary frequency
  • strong or foul odor
  • pain or burning with urination
  • itchiness of redness of skin
  • blood or discharge in your urine or on underwear
  • rashes in the genital region
  • persistent sensation of an incomplete emptying of the bladder

Red, itchy, scaly, or clear blistery bumps are another concern. According to Fahoum, these bumps may indicate that you have a skin fungal infection or allergic dermatitis.

If you have a penis, talk with a doctor if your urinary stream is not as strong as it used to be. “This can potentially indicate a prostate issue,” said Connor.

Cleaning your private parts is a simple step-by-step process that doesn’t take too much time. This prevents unpleasant odors from building up and reduces the risk of infection and skin irritations.

Be sure to talk with a doctor if you experience burning, rashes, or a frequent need to urinate.