Life is stressful, and the last thing you want to worry about is how to stay fresh down there all day. But what exactly does it mean to “stay fresh down there?” Our genitals are not exactly our armpits, where we can just put on a scented deodorant and go. Why shouldn’t we use scented vaginal wash products to feel fresh down there all day? The short answer is that the perfumes and fragrances that are often placed in vaginal deodorizers are simply not needed.

The vagina is self cleaning – for one – and moreover, the scents and perfumes in a lot of vaginal wash products can upset the delicate acidity of a healthy vaginal ecosystem. Below, we’ll share some ideas on how to stay fresh down there all day.

Vaginal Hygiene 101 

While it’s easy to get into the habit of calling the entire vaginal area “the vagina,” that’s anatomically inaccurate. Something that you may not have learned in sex ed is that the outside part of your vaginal area is called the vulva, which includes the clitoris, clitoral hood, and labia, while only the inside part is actually the “vagina.” As far as vaginal hygiene goes, both the vulva and the vagina have their own unique hygiene needs.

The vagina itself is entirely self cleaning and doesn’t really need any help staying clean. It’s recommended to eat a healthy diet, drink lots of water, and exercise (basically all the things you would do for overall health). It is not recommended to get water inside the vagina as there simply is no need.

Cleaning the vulva (the outer part of the vagina) doesn’t need to be a complicated process either. While it’s not generally recommended to wash the inner part of your vagina, washing your vulvar area is important and is a part of good vaginal hygiene. Another part of good vaginal hygiene is to make sure to wash front to back and also to not miss the anus or perineum area. Though it’s possible to just use warm water for this on a day-to-day basis, using an unscented, mild feminine hygiene wash is generally considered okay for vulvar cleaning.

How to Clean Your Vulva

As previously mentioned, there are actually two parts to answering the question “how to clean your vagina.” There is the inner vaginal canal, which should never, under any circumstances be cleaned, and then there is the outer part, also known as the vulva or vulvar region, which only needs minimal cleaning. 

If you’re wondering how to clean the inside of your vagina, just note that it is self cleaning, with its own pH balance that really just wants to be left alone. The vaginal ecosystem is overall acidic with a low pH of 3.8 to 4.5. It also normally contains a healthy balance of bacteria whose job it is to keep the vagina functioning optimally. Using soap can disrupt this balance, so really, just leave the inside of your vagina alone.

As far as cleaning the vulvar region, you don’t need to do much for that either, though it is recommended to wash with at least warm water within the folds of your labia (the lips on either side), as well as around the clitoris, including the clitoral hood, located up towards the front of your vulva. You can also use a mild, unscented feminine hygiene wash to help, but it is not necessary.

Avoid using scented, perfumed products as this can upset the pH of both the vagina and the vulvar region. Some other tips for cleaning the vulva include changing out your pad or tampon regularly when on your period, wearing cotton underwear, and not staying in wet, tight, and/or sweaty clothes for too long.

How to Stop Vaginal Odor

If you have a vagina, you may have wondered at some point about how to stop vaginal odor. In fact, it’s perfectly normal for vaginas to have an odor. Why? Our vaginas are home to a variety of different bacteria that create different types of smells or odors. Many of them are normal and will change depending on many things, including sweat (after you work out) and menstrual blood (during and after your period). Vaginas are not supposed to smell like flowers or cashmere or any of the other scented products commonly marketed to women who feel bad about their natural odor.

Your vagina may also change throughout the day thanks to hormonal changes and your overall daily activities. If you start paying attention, you’ll notice that most of these smells are normal. Below, we’ll discuss times to be concerned and also when to visit the doctor.

Possible Reasons You Might Not Feel Fresh Down There

By now, we know that most vaginal odors are normal. However, there are possible reasons you might not feel fresh down there.

Some of these include your period, working out, certain types of foods, yeast infections, or other vaginal infections.

  • Periods. With the bleeding and hormonal changes that periods bring, it’s possible your vagina may get a sort of metallic smell during your period and for a day or so afterwards. This is generally normal, since blood changes the pH of the vagina.
  • Working Out. Ever smell musky or sweaty down there after a workout? Changing clothes and taking a shower usually takes care of that problem.
  • Certain Foods. Foods like garlic, onions, or asparagus can sometimes change the smell down there, but the effects go away after a few hours.
  • Yeast or Other Infections. If you smell yeasty, fishy, or just generally unpleasant, it may be a sign that something else is going on. This is a good time to call your doctor.

Common Vaginal Infections That Lead You to Not Feeling Fresh

There are some very common vaginal infections that can lead you to not feeling fresh. Many of these infections change your natural vaginal odor since they affect the pH of your vagina. Some of these include yeast infections, bacterial vaginosis, or trichomoniasis. If you notice an abnormal vaginal odor, it may be worth getting checked out by a medical professional. Getting good treatment for one of these can mean getting back to smelling like your normal self in no time.

How to Keep Your Vagina Clean and Fresh

If you’re wondering how to keep your vagina clean and fresh, practicing good vaginal hygiene is an essential first step. Basically, don’t wash the inside of your vagina whatsoever, since it’s self cleaning, but do practice a healthy overall lifestyle, including eating a healthy diet, exercising, and getting a good night’s sleep.

Cleaning your vulvar region is important, but it’s easy enough to do with warm water and possibly a mild, unscented feminine hygiene wash. As we mentioned earlier, practicing good vaginal hygiene, including changing pads and tampons on a regular basis, showering regularly, and wearing cotton underwear, is another good way to keep your vagina clean and fresh.

If you’re experiencing vaginal dryness or are curious about the best feminine hygiene products to keep your vaginal cleanliness in top shape, we recommend Good Clean Love’s Restore Moisturizing Vaginal Gel for internal use in maintaining vaginal pH and moisture, Balance Moisturizing Personal Wash for cleansing and balancing the vulvar region, and Rebalance pH-Balanced Feminine Wipes for on-the-go care.