How Do You Clean Your Vagina?

Washing your vagina can wreak havoc on your feminine hygiene.

Many popular vaginal soaps and creams are pushed on women in order to make them feel like they need to wash their vaginas. For example, a 2013 study found that Vagisil, a product used to treat vaginal irritation, suppresses Lactobacillus (friendly bacteria) growth. Beyond that, people may use scented products during foreplay, DIY sex toys, and scented feminine washes, which can harm a healthy vagina by toying with their pH level and causing infections. 

Vaginal steaming, an archaic herb-infused remedy publicized by celebrities like Chrissy Teigen and Gwyneth Paltrow, has been falsely advertised as a cure for funky discharge. According to Healthline.com, your vagina is not meant to be steam-cleaned: “An overheated vagina may provide the perfect environment for bacteria that cause yeast infections and other vaginal infections to thrive. Vaginal skin is delicate, sensitive, and easily traumatized. Using it as target practice for a plume of warm steam may cause vaginal burns or scalding.”

Vagina detox pearls are also—you guessed it—not healthy for your vagina. “You don’t need to detox … anything at all. There’s nothing in your reproductive tract that needs to be detoxed. Your whole body, you’ve got liver and kidneys—they take care of that,” Dr. Jen Gunter explained in an interview with CBC. “The pearls also contain borneol, an ingredient utilized in some traditional Chinese medicine practices and flagged by Health Canada as toxic back in 2002,” VICE explained. They noted that exposure to borneol may cause skin and eye irritation, nausea and dizziness in small doses, and restlessness, irritability, and seizures in larger amounts, according to the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services.

Douching, in particular, can cause an overgrowth of harmful bacteria, which can lead to a yeast infection or bacterial vaginosis. When you disrupt the acidic environment, it can’t protect the vagina from infections or irritation.