"I think one thing that people need to understand is that the anus and anal area is very thin, so you really need to treat it with respect," says Dr. Goldstein. "Not a lot of people are taught from their parents the right way to actually wipe."
- Evan Goldstein, DO, anal surgeon and founder of Bespoke Surgical and Future Method
Find yourself wondering what is the right way to wipe (wiping front to back... or back to front) or how to make your butt smell good? Not sure if anal wipes are a wise idea? Or maybe you just really want to know how to clean your butt like a pro. No matter what you're looking for, all the intel for your soon-to-be squeaky-clean behind awaits.
What is the right way to wipe your butt?
The first step in cleaning your butt is ensuring you’re wiping properly. Despite it being something we’ve all done every day since, well, forever, Dr. Goldstein says people get wrong all the time. By no surprise, a lack of wiping education not only prevents you from getting properly cleaned, but can lead to other issues down the line, too, like experiencing hemorrhoids when wiping.
So, the question of the hour: What is the right way to wipe, exactly? According to Dr. Goldstein, the answer is not wiping at all. “Believe it or not, you should really try not to wipe ever. Instead, you should practice using more of a patting method if you’re using toilet paper,” he says.
The direction matters, too, and wiping front to back is the most hygienic way to wipe your bum. “Most people are taught to wipe from front to back, especially those with vulvas, because you don’t want to risk getting feces near the vaginal opening,” he says. But by using his gentle patting technique instead of wiping, you’ll accomplish the same goal sans mess and irritation.
If you’re up for it, you could also ditch toilet paper altogether. Dr. Goldstein is a huge proponent of bidets and/or showering after going number two. “This minimizes the amount of wiping and potential irritation,” he says. And yes, you guessed it—now that you’ve had wiping 101, the next step is learning how to wash your butt, too.
What’s the best way to wash your butt?
The first step in properly washing your butt in the shower is finding the best soap for your anus. According to Dr. Goldstein, there are a few qualities to keep in mind. “I’m a huge fan of scrubs because even the skin in between your buttcheeks needs exfoliation,” he says. It also needs to be gentle yet effective, keeping the skin in that ultra-sensitive region soft and moisturized.
In Dr. Goldstein’s opinion, the best soap for your anus is actually one he created himself that checks off all the boxes—the Future Method's Butt + Body Scrub ($35). If you’re wondering how to make your butt smell good, it has that covered, too, with the addition of citrus, clove, and cedar. Plus, if you wax your butt, it's great at removing all traces of unwanted, sticky debris. Basically, it does it all.
If you want to take your butt-washing to the next level, you can also learn how to use a douche. “People generally prefer to douche because it gives them extra confidence,” says Dr. Goldstein. Like wiping and washing, the “less is more” approach applies to douching, too, as “douching with too much liquid or too many times can lead to these alterations and potential complications, like higher incidence of STIs, anal injuries, and bacterial infections.”
Because of this, before figuring out how to use a douche, Dr. Goldstein says you may want to start by practicing what he likes to call “gut before butt.” That means first incorporating daily fiber supplements into your routine, “as well as optimizing your diet, exercise, and a better external cleaning routine,” he says. Then you can implement other strategies, if needed, to get to where you want to be.
What problems can occur if you don’t know how to clean your butt properly?
When you don’t know how to clean your butt properly, many issues can arise—from anal irritation to anus smells to skin conditions. You could even experience rashes and itching when you over-wipe or don’t use the best soap for your anus.
“Just like you have rituals for the face, we should really be approaching the butt in the same way. It doesn’t have to be complicated,” says Dr. Goldstein. “I think the most important things are nighttime showering routines, aeration and letting it all dry, showering after exercise and/or changing underwear routinely, and working on diet, exercise, and better pooping techniques. The more we work on prevention, the better your butt (and your whole body) will be.”
The do’s and don’ts of cleaning your butt
Do: Avoid over-wiping
Raise your hand if you're an over-wiper. As Dr. Goldstein mentioned, this isn't the best way to keep your butt clean. Instead, stick to gently patting the area. “What happens is that the skin is the thinnest part of anyone's butt back there by the tailbone, so when you’re wiping front to back, that skin has the highest chance of being irritated,” he says. “Focus on obviously cleaning yourself but also minimizing as much irritation as possible.” If you need some extra assistance, lightly wet your toilet paper to help with the clean-up process.
Do: Ditch wet wipes
Apologies to any fans of anal wipes, because Dr. Goldstein recommends avoiding them at all costs. “I know why we all want to use them—they make you feel clean without having to shower—but they cause so much more irritation,” he says. You actually have good (and bad) bacteria on your butt, and it's important that it stays there for your health. "[These bacteria are] working together in homeostasis, so when you augment that with wipes—even ones that say they’re chemical-free—you're wiping away that good bacteria and the imbalance becomes a problem." This can lead to things like fungal infections or severe irritation.
Need further proof that you should ditch anal wipes for good? “Every day, I see new patients who use wet wipes and suffer from these conditions and experience complications,” he says. So if you’re considering buying another pack, you might want to reconsider.
Don't: Ignore moisture
One of the lesser-known culprits of a dirty butt is moisture. "If you don't dry yourself off completely [after a shower], the moisture is then sitting between your cheeks," says Dr. Goldstein. "When it's not dry, you're sitting all day long or all night with excess moisture, which can lead to a significant amount of issues."
Bacterial infections, fungal infections, dermatitis, rashes, and micro-tears are just some of the consequences of not having a dry derrière. So be sure to wipe yourself off thoroughly with a towel, or hit that air-dry function on your bidet.
Do: Eat enough fiber
If you find yourself going through one too many rolls of toilet paper, you may just need to up the amount of fiber you’re eating. “The goal is to have the best poops possible so you don’t have to wipe,” says Dr. Goldstein. Fiber can make that happen. Pro tip: If you’re wondering how to make your butt smell good, eating enough fiber can help out in that department, too. It’s a win-win.
Frequently asked questions about how to clean your butt
Can wiping too hard cause irritation?
Yes, wiping too hard can cause anal irritation, so be as gentle as possible when taking care of your business. “The anal tissue, specifically in cis women or trans females on hormones, is so thin and fragile,” says Dr. Goldstein. “Over-wiping, wiping too aggressively, and even using poor quality toilet paper, can lead to micro- and macro-tearing, swelling and hemorrhoid development, the formation of skin tags, and even just localized pain and irritation.”
I'm dealing with painful hemorrhoids when wiping—now what?
If you’re experiencing hemorrhoids when wiping, Dr. Goldstein suggests going the over-the-counter route first in order to fix the problem. “Get rid of the wet wipes, stop wiping aggressively, invest in a bidet and/or hop in the shower to clean off after going to the bathroom, shower at night before bed to minimize any daytime contamination, and spend more time being naked and free to air out and let things dry out,” he says. “You can use Preparation H and/or suppositories to soothe the area and let things settle down. Then, it's more lifestyle changes, like adding fiber and pre- and probiotics to your daily routine.”
Why do I still have poop after I wipe?
There are many different reasons why you still have poop after you wipe, or why your poop is so messy to wipe. Because everyone’s gut is different, Dr. Goldstein says it’s important to properly analyze all aspects of your poop to get some answers. “Some, especially due to the stress of work and life, have an irritable butt where not everything comes out, or sometimes their stool is too loose and other times it’s too hard,” he says. “Other people may have hemorrhoids or skin tags that make them feel as if wiping excessively is a must."
Dr. Goldstein says while there’s a lot to think about, there’s a secret to optimizing your poops and pooping habits: “The key really is in what we eat, our daily supplements, and working out to create a homeostatic relationship so that we poop like most dogs. Soft, yet formed, with no wiping required.”
How do you clean your bottom if you can't reach?
If you’re wondering how to wipe your bottom when you can’t reach, don’t worry—there are options that allow you to effectively get the job done. Toilet aids that have long curved handles, like the Bottom Buddy ($41), are a great place to start. The tool was developed by a healthcare expert and an engineering PhD who thought of everything—including a head that has retractable "tulip petals" that grip the toilet paper securely.
Another way to wipe your bottom when you can’t reach is to not wipe at all. Using a bidet post-bowel movement is the healthiest—and easiest—option. “Using a bidet or a water attachment of some sort is your best bet for making sure your butt is clean," says Dr. Goldstein. Another option is washing off in the shower, where a detachable shower head can become your new best friend.
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