How to Cleanse During Menstruation

At one time or another, most women will experience doubt or concern about maintaining genital hygiene, especially during menstruation. The stigma persists that the menstrual cycle renders female genitals unclean. While this is untrue, good personal hygiene includes appropriate cleansing during menstruation.

Appropriate cleansing during menstruation is easy to do. (Image: Steve Mason/Photodisc/Getty Images)

How to Cleanse During Menstruation

Step 1

Run warm water in the shower or bathtub. It is okay to wear a tampon while cleansing, or to have no protection at all. Have mild soap or cleanser and a washcloth available, if preferred.

Step 2

Wet the entire genital area with warm water just as you normally would any other time. Wet the buttocks and external anal area last to avoid bacterial contamination of the vagina or urethra.

Step 3

Gently wash from front to back, using unscented, mild soap or cleanser to the external genital area, if preferred. According to the "American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists," It is best to cleanse the genitals with plain, warm water only. Use soap and warm water to wash the buttocks and external anal area.

Step 4

Rinse the entire genital area with warm water. Avoid leaving traces of soap or cleanser, as even mild products may dry out or irritate delicate skin if left on too long. Rinse the buttocks and anal area last.

Step 5

Gently pat yourself dry with a clean towel. Check that the entire area is dry before getting dressed. Covered wet skin can enhance the growth of bacteria and other organisms.

Step 6

Remove and discard any tampon you may have worn while cleansing. Apply a new tampon or sanitary napkin and clean underpants.

Things You'll Need

  • Warm water

  • Unscented, mild cleanser, if preferred

  • Washcloth, if desired

  • Clean underwear

  • Clean sanitary pad or tampon


Many women prefer a shower instead of a bath, as any leaking blood will drain away. If menstrual bleeding is moderate or heavy, you may dry with soft paper towels to avoid staining a cloth towel. Wear cotton underpants instead of synthetic ones. Cotton undergarments allow airflow, inhibiting the growth of harmful bacteria and organisms. When choosing soap or cleanser, avoid products with color, perfume, dye and harsh ingredients.


Refrain from using a vaginal douche, especially during menstruation. A healthy vagina naturally maintains a delicate balance of pH and normal flora. Douching can disturb vaginal health and may push blood back up toward the cervix and uterus.

If despite menstrual cleansing you notice foul odor, unusual vaginal discharge, pain, itching or other symptoms, consult your doctor.

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