According to women’s health professionals, there are 7 vaginal hygiene tips that’ll keep your vulva feeling and smelling clean.

Never use soap or a douche on your vagina; instead, bathe it with water every day. Avoiding perfumes in tampons, lubrication, and other items that come in contact with your vagina is also a good idea. After sexual activity, make sure you urinate and wash your vagina with water to flush out any bacteria. It’s crucial to keep your vulva and vagina clean because doing so can guard against infections, discomfort, and unpleasant odors. But unlike other parts of your body, your vaginal hygiene is distinct, and using soap or other things there could be problematic.

To maintain a clean and healthy vagina, you should abide by the following principal recommendations.

1. Visit a gynecologist. Every three years, women between the ages of 21 and 65 should visit their gynecologist for a pap smear, which looks for abnormal cells that could be signs of cancer or diseases like STIs.

But occasionally, you could require more frequent visits to your gynecologist. If you have a chronic illness like cancer, the human papilloma virus (HPV), or persistent yeast infections, your gynecologist may advise more regular checkups.

You should see your doctor right away if you experience any new vaginal symptoms, such as unusual discharge, irregular periods, or a strong odor.

2. AVOID PRODUCTS WITH FLAVOR According to Dr. Katherine White , a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Boston University and the author of “Your Sexual Health,” scents applied to bath and sexy-time items can be particularly unpleasant to the vulva and vagina.

Some of the most popular scents are found in:

Laundry detergent that could leave residue on your underwear, tampons, pads, and lubricants According to White, these perfumed products might irritate, burn, and increase vaginal discharge in people with sensitive skin.

Therefore, White advises using only unscented soap, detergent, and the like if you have any of these symptoms.

Because the inner vaginal walls are so delicate, it’s crucial to stay away from scented lubricants, advises Aleece Fosnight , a board-certified physician assistant with expertise in sexual medicine.

The ingredients in scented lubricants could contain alter the pH level in your vagina . The pH of your vagina maintains a delicate equilibrium between the “good” and “bad” bacteria inside, therefore this is an issue.

Certain bacteria can overgrow when the pH is off, increasing your risk of diseases like bacterial vaginosis.

3. DAILY WASH IN WARM WATER You don’t need anything other than water to wash your vulva. The vulva only has to be rinsed with basic, warm water to remove any possible daytime detritus, advises Fosnight.

You can also cleanse the vulva lightly with a clean washcloth while in the shower. Fosnight explains that while shampoo, conditioner, and body wash residue can sometimes be left behind, she tends to advise cleaning the vulva just before drying.

According to Fosnight, “the vulva is abundant in oil glands that produce pheromones and help control the pH of the genitals.” This pH could be thrown off by using anything other than water, which could result in itchiness, excessive discharge, and UTIs.

The following actions could have a negative impact on the pH level of your vagina:

cleaning the interior of your uterus employing a douche using soap, especially fragrance-infused soap 4. AFTER SEX, PEE AND CLEAN YOUR VULVA Bacteria can travel from your vagina into your urethra, the tube that connects to your bladder, during vaginal sex. According to White, this may make you more likely to develop a bladder infection or urinary tract infection.

Any residual bacteria in your urethra can be flushed out by urinating right away or shortly after having sex.

After having intercourse, you should also clean your vulva. Use a clean washcloth and warm water to wipe any leftover debris from the genitals, advises Fosnight.

It is preferable to simply wash your hands and use them if you don’t have a clean washcloth because a dirty washcloth might harbor bacteria.

5. MAINTAIN A DRY AREA Your vaginal hygiene depends on keeping the region around your vulva dry, so remove any damp items as soon as you can.

The wetness in and around your vulva increases when you exercise in sweaty clothing or a wet swimming suit for an extended period of time.
According to White, “This increased moisture can cause skin irritability, even blisters, as well as increased discharge.”
You may be more susceptible to getting a yeast infection in the damp environment.

GIVE COTTON UNDERWEAR A CHANCE. One of the greatest materials for underwear is cotton since it is less likely to hold moisture than materials like nylon, silk, or polyester and allows air to move around the vulva.

You have a higher risk of developing yeast infections and bacterial vaginosis while wearing fabrics that retain moisture and obstruct ventilation.

Non-cotton underwear may result in issues that are more commonplace. Artificial textiles or wearing pantiliners on a regular basis can restrict the vagina, which for some people results in greater discharge and occasionally a stronger odor.

7. DON’T WEAR UNDERWEAR TO SLEEP OR WEAR LOOSE CLOTHES Giving your vulva a rest from constricting or uncomfortable apparel is ideal during the night.
According to Fosnight, wearing tight clothing can restrict blood flow to the genitalia and compress the nerves, which can result in pain or numbness.
Additionally, wearing tight clothing increases friction in the region around your vagina, which, according to Fosnight, “may cause skin thinning and irritation/inflammation over the genitals.”

It is ideal to avoid wearing underwear to bed because of this. If you do decide to wear underwear, pick a pair made of cotton that fits more loosely, like boyshorts.

INSIDER’S KEY LESSON Keep your vagina healthy and irritation-free by practicing good vaginal hygiene practices, such as washing your vulva each day and avoiding perfumed products.

According to White, being mindful of the bath items you use, how you wash your clothes, and how you dress can help with any symptoms you might be experiencing.

If you are bothered by odor, irritation, or increased discharge, Fosnight advises seeing a healthcare professional with experience in vulvovaginal disorders.