If you’ve achieved a form of sexcellence that resulted in a pool of lube, sweat, maybe squirt, and even more lube, you might think you need to immediately untangle yourself from your partner(s) afterward and have a little rub-a-dub in the tub.
But luckily, Dr. Felice Gersh, OB/GYN, says that doesn’t have to be the case! Don’t surrender your sheets to the laundry just yet.
“Humans are part of the animal kingdom, so like dogs or cats, we don’t need any super elaborate post-sex rituals to achieve reproductive health or success,” she says.
The words doing the most work here are “super” and “elaborate.”
Dr. Renjie Chang, OB/GYN and founder of NeuEve, a women’s sexual health product startup, says going to the bathroom post-romp is a good idea, especially for folks who are prone to urinary tract infections.
“Bacteria located outside the body can enter the urethra during sexual intercourse and climb up to reach the bladder, causing a UTI,” she explains. Peeing helps flush out bacteria and reduce the risk of a UTI.
Are your bits the one thing you have to clean immediately after sex? Trick question. It depends on what you were doing and with what you were doing it with. Intact foreskin? Yes. Toys? Yes. Post-anal clean up? We got tips on that, and how to keep those sheets clean. Read on.
A lil wash isn’t a bad idea. For folks with penises, Dr. Gersh says gently washing the penis in the shower (or sink, if you can finagle that) with a fragrance-free soap is the right move.
If your foreskin is still intact, Lisa Finn, a sex educator at sex toy emporium Babeland, says rolling back the fold and rinsing can keep semen or bacteria from building up and causing an infection.
If you have a vulva, you can gently wipe it clean with a damp, soap-free washcloth. “A very brief and gentle finger wash on the outer portions with just warm water is best,” says Dr. Gersh.
Never, ever do anything that could be mistaken for scooping, scrubbing, or scraping (even if there’s sperm or lube inside!).
“The vagina really is a self-cleaning machine, and trying to wash out the inside can actually mess with your pH, which increases the risk of infection — especially if soap is involved,” she explains.
tl; dr: Vulva dabbing, not digging.
Pregnancy and STI risk:
No matter how thoroughly you clean your bits after sex, you can’t reduce the risk of pregnancy or STIs with a wash. If you’re worried about either, chat with your healthcare provider.
“The downside of anal play is that it’s possible to come into contact with fecal matter or fecal remnants, which are loaded with bacteria,” says Dr. Chang.
Some of that bacteria, if spread to other parts of your body, can cause infection. So, if your and/or your partner’s booty-hole got some love (with a toy, tongue, or finger) during your sex sesh, a little extra cleanup is required. #WorthIt.
Another piece of advice? Shower your bits anyway.
While ideally a condom or finger condom/glove was used (hint, hint), Dr. Chang says if you have a penis with foreskin and didn’t pull your skin back before wearing a condom, then cleaning your head really well is a M-U-S-T.
Note: There’s no post-romp protocol for the receptive partner. “Shower, but otherwise leave the rectum alone. You don’t need to do a post-play enema or anything like that,” says Dr. Gersh. Good to know.
Period sex is as divisive as CrossFit or Spam. But if you’re Team Period Sex, you know it can be a little, uh, bloody.
If you have the foresight, Finn says, “Laying down a towel or a [moisture-proof] blanket can be a great way to prevent mess.” (She recommends the Liberator Throw.)
Otherwise, as soon as you can (the longer the stain sits, the harder it is to get out), rinse the sheet with cold water and scrub as much of the blood out as possible.
Squirt on some stain remover and let it sit while you and boo do a post-romp recap (just me?). Finally, rinse out the remover and toss your sheets in the washing machine with some detergent.
As for your bod? Regular cleaning with warm water and gentle soap will do.
Note: These cleanup tips apply to other forms of blood play, too. However, some additional cleanup may be necessary. Any equipment used will need to be sterilized, and any cuts should be cleaned carefully.
“STI transmission is still a risk when someone is on their period, and HIV and hepatitis can be passed through menstrual blood, so practicing safer sex practices is still important,” says Finn.
How and when you wash your toys depends on the material.
Toys made of porous materials need to be washed right away with lukewarm water and mild soap so that the bacteria don’t have time to grow, says Finn.
- polyvinyl chloride
- thermoplastic rubber
- thermoplastic elastomer
- jelly rubber
“If it’s made of a non-porous material like silicone, stainless steel, glass, Pyrex, or ABS plastics, you can simply wipe the toy down with a wet cloth, dry it, and then store it until you have time for a proper clean,” she says.
The next morning, boil the toy in hot water or rinse it again with a soapy washcloth.
Boning on a bed-turned-Slip-’N-Slide is all cum and games until there’s a stubborn salty concoction on your linens. Finn has some quick tips for getting said sex stains out of your sheets.
Baby gravy is actually full of protein, so you’ll want to stay away from bleach, which can turn protein a neat-o yellow color.
Instead, treat wet cum stains with an enzyme neutralizer before tossing the sheets in the wash. Blot dry stains with baking powder before washing.
Heat can set a stain, so start by rinsing under cold water. Then spritz on some enzyme-neutralizing spray or hydrogen peroxide before tossing in the washer.
Water-based lube will usually come out in the wash. If you’re an overachiever, you can soak the sheets in salt and vinegar before washing to help lift the stain.
Dose silicone-based lube splotches with a dish soap or generic stain remover, and then use some good old-fashioned elbow grease to scrub up the stain and loosen the lube from the material.
If there are lil chunks, rinse or brush them off with cold water. Any smears can be treated with bleach and hothothot water.
Cleanup after some slick and saucy sexcapades may be a wee bit time-consuming. Luckily, a little foresight will allow you to lay with your lover a little longer after getting laid.
Finn’s recommendation? Invest in an extra towel, a water-resistant blanket, a mattress protector, fragrance-free baby wipes, a wastebasket, and maybe even some sex toy cleansing spray, like the Babeland Toy Cleaner.
That way you can get wet and wild and enjoy a post-coitus cuddle sesh.
Gabrielle Kassel (she/her) is a queer sex educator and wellness journalist who is committed to helping people feel the best they can in their bodies. In addition to Healthline, her work has appeared in publications such as Shape, Cosmopolitan, Well+Good, Health, Self, Women’s Health, Greatist, and more! In her free time, Gabrielle can be found coaching CrossFit, reviewing pleasure products, hiking with her border collie, or recording episodes of the podcast she co-hosts called Bad In Bed. Follow her on Instagram @Gabriellekassel.