Healthy Body

Intimate wash – yes or no? Intimate care myths and facts you weren’t told growing up

Emma Harpham in partnership with YES®  |   7 Dec 2023

The intimate wash debate

When it comes to taking care of down there, nothing seems to divide opinion like an intimate wash.

But how clean do we actually need to be? Does it matter what you’re using to clean your intimate area? And why do intimate washes in particular get such a bad rap? 

How do you take care of your intimate area?

From the hushed and often wildly uninformed conversations we used to have in the back of school classrooms to some of the results on page one of Google, there are so many myths out there about intimate care and intimate care products.

And, there’s still a certain stigma around the topic, too. In our most recent polls on Instagram, 79% of you answered that you avoid intimate wash and wipes when it comes to your intimate care routines. That’s a lot. 

So, we’re back partnering with YES® (AH! YES® in the US), a fab brand for all things intimate health, to set the record straight and bust some of the most pervasive myths.

intimate wash

Intimate wash myths

1. Your vulva and your vagina need the same kind of cleanse

Despite the fact that vagina is often (wrongly) used as the catch-all term, your intimate area is of course made up of several different ‘areas!’ Your vulva is your external genitalia, including your clitoris, labia, and vaginal opening, while your vagina is the internal muscular canal that connects the cervix of the uterus to your vaginal opening.

Biology lesson over – knowing the difference between your vulva and your vagina (92% of you said you did) is really important to understand the different kinds of care they need to keep things feeling good down there.

In a nutshell, your vulva has a high concentration of sweat glands and is exposed to different bacteria daily, so, maintaining external hygiene through gentle washing with water at the very least, is a good idea. 

However, respecting the natural self-cleaning processes of your vagina is important too – more on this below!

2. You need to wash inside your vagina 

Your vagina is amazing for so many reasons, but it is also completely self-cleaning

74% of those who responded to our polls said they didn’t know the pH of the vagina. Equipped with a natural system that maintains its own slightly acidic pH balance, it produces discharge that helps to flush out bacteria and dead cells, and keeps itself clean and healthy. 

So, washing inside your vaginal canal just isn’t necessary. In fact, douching or internal cleaning can easily disrupt your pH balance and the good bacteria that live there, leading to an increased risk of infections and irritation. 

3. Using an intimate wash will disrupt your vagina’s pH balance

Speaking of balance – 86% of you said that you actually avoid intimate cleanses because you’ve heard that they can disrupt your vagina’s pH. 

There is also a wider negative perception of intimate washes, due to the feminine hygiene industry’s use of chemicals in products and their perceived influence on our fears about being clean enough down there. 

However, not all intimate washes are created equal. Choosing a gentle wash tailored to your pH to use after sex, during your period, or post-exercise will keep you feeling fresh and comfortable.

By being mindful of your choice and opting for a certified organic, non-perfumed, intimate wash like the YES® CLEANSE – Intimate Wash (That’s the pH matched Feminine Cleansing Wash – AH! YES® CLEANSE in the US) you can prioritize your intimate health and wash away harmful bacteria from your vulva, without upsetting the balance of your vaginal biome.

intimate cleanse

Intimate wash truths

1. There’s a best way to wash

When it comes to washing your vulva, gently cleaning around the folds of skin with a clean washcloth or your hands whilst avoiding your vaginal opening will do the trick.

Washing from front to back helps prevent the transfer of harmful bacteria from the anal region to the vagina and urinary tract, reducing the risk of urinary tract infections (UTIs) and other potential intimate health issues. 

When you’re finished, let the area air dry, or gently pat it dry with a towel.

2. Ingredients really do count

And most of you agree – 47% of our poll respondents said they would make sure to choose an unscented intimate wash, closely followed by 40% who said organic ingredients were important for them. 

This said, 22% of you said you use shower gel to wash your vulva, but whilst this is a super convenient choice, ingredients in most shower gels like parabens, sulfates and phthalates can easily dry out vulval tissues and disrupt your naturally acidic vaginal pH balance. The majority of shower gels and soaps on the market don’t disclose their pH, but it is suggested that most lean more alkaline, within the range of 9-10.

The YES® CLEANSE – Intimate Wash (that’s the pH matched Feminine Cleansing Wash – AH! YES® CLEANSE for those in the US) is designed with a pH of 4 to match the vagina and vulva. It uses certified organic ingredients that are super gentle, including water, vegetable-derived lauryl betaine and calming aloe vera, making it the absolute gold standard when it comes to intimate wash.

3. What you wear after washing is important, too

81% of you said you wear breathable underwear as a rule for taking care of your intimate area. 

And yes, choosing breathable, moisture-wicking fabrics like cotton and wearing underwear with a comfortable, non-constricting fit can help maintain good vulva hygiene by allowing proper airflow and reducing the risk of irritation and infection. (Read up on our intimate care checklist more tips on this!)

Regularly changing out of damp or sweaty underwear, as well as washing your underwear with non-scented products are also good practices for supplementing your intimate wash routines, too.

The TRB team are big fans of YES products and their always organic and side effect-free ingredients designed to enhance rather than compromise intimate health.

Shop their range here in the UK (for an exclusive 20% off use code TRB20) and here in the US (also 20% off with code TRB20).

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