What You Need to know About Cleaning the Vulva, According to an Ob-Gyn

Victoria Moorhouse
·1 min read

The vagina itself is a self-cleaning organ, and it does not need the assistance of any of the shower gels and soaps on your shower rack. In fact, cleaning inside your vagina isn't generally recommended and could disrupt the body's balance of healthy bacteria, potentially leading to irritation and infection.

The vulva (the part of the genitals outside of your body) also has its own rather uncomplicated cleansing recommendations.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, the vulva can be washed with warm water and dried with either a towel or a hair dryer set on cool if the area is irritated.

Wondering if mild soap is safe to add to the mix? Megan Zaander, MD, a board-certified ob-gyn at Lake Oswego GYN, said that "less is more" when it comes to vulvar care, and that "you do not absolutely need to use soap." She added that those with skin sensitivities and vaginitis issues should only cleanse with warm water.

If you do choose to use soap, Dr. Zaander said to "stay with simple," meaning hypoallergenic products without fragrance. Harsh soaps with fragrance or essential oils can be especially irritating to this sensitive area.

"Anything marketed as just for the vulva or pH balancing is typically unnecessary and may worsen vulvar issues. And definitely avoid anything labelled 'antibacterial.' We need the good bacteria down there!"

If you have any concerns or questions regarding vaginal care at all, be sure to reach out to your ob-gyn for personalized advice.


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