How Do I Prep For Sex?

Unrecognizable woman with a red carnation flower between her legs, as a metaphor of the menstruation period.

Hygienically-speaking, there’s a lot to consider before having sex. Sure, it’s hot to spontaneously throw your partner against a wall…but, it’s also hot to have brushed teeth and fresh breath, amiright?

Cleaning yourself prior to sex (or a date) is one of those practical topics that all of us need. In part to limit the spread of germs, but mostly because we want to taste / smell / feel good for ourselves and our partners. So here’s how to get ready for sex: head to toe, toys to bed sheets.

Mouth + Breath

Let’s start with brushing your teeth. Hopefully it’s standard practice before your dates, but have you considered brushing and flossing before sex, too?

  • Enter floss picks for oral hygiene on the go. I love these. Stick a couple in your wallet or pocket, and you can floss anywhere, any time.
  • Also: use the right mouthwash. Bad breath comes from sulfur-producing bacteria that live in your mouth, which is why breath can smell bad even after you brush and floss. It’s why I’ve switched to this brand of mouthwash – SmartMouth – because it destroys sulfur gas on contact and works for 24 hours with just 2 rinses a day. Seeing as how 52% of respondents in a recent survey found bad breath to be the biggest turn-off when meeting a new partner…I advise not taking any chances.


How are your nails looking prior to sex? Clean and trimmed?

  • Jagged fingernails can tear the delicate lining of vaginal walls and/or the anal cavity, which not only hurts (ouch) – it opens up the person to possible infection. So keep nails trimmed, smooth, and tidy.
  • If you have long nails and plan on finger penetration, here’s a pro tip: place cotton balls on the tip of each, then put on nitrile gloves, like these. While less than 1% of the population has a latex allergy, I like to err on the side of caution, opting for nitrile over latex. Plus these particular gloves are black, which have less doctor’s office, more dominatrix vibes.

Under Arms

  • Remember back in 2021, when Matthew McConaughey came out saying he hadn’t used deodorant in 20 years? Then Lizzo co-signed? I share because body odor is controversial. Some people will love your natural smell, and others will not. 
  • A good rule of thumb: bathe under your arms with warm water and soap before your date. This will wash away any lingering (normal) bacteria.
  • Also, if you’re anti-antiperspirant, consider a natural deodorant. It won’t block your sweat ducts the way antiperspirants do, but many use natural ingredients like glycerin that absorb moisture. I stan this brand which is unisex and suppresses odor, thanks to baking soda in the formula. 


And now, we’re in what many consider overtly sexual territory. How to prep these sensitive spots?

  • Whether you’re talking penis or vulva, washing with soap and warm water is sufficient. If you’re a vulva owner, know that your vagina is a self-cleaning oven. You don’t need to douche. In fact I recommend against it, and this is why.  
  • Should you shave, wax, or otherwise remove your genital hair? That’s a personal decision. As long as you’ve cleaned your genitals with mild soap and water, then hygienically, you’re fine. 


So what about anal play hygiene?

  • Chances are, what you’re most concerned about is waste. But here’s the thing: waste is actually not stored in your anus. It’s stored in your upper bowels, so the chances of a toy, finger, or penis interacting with it are low. 
  • Still, fecal matter can be present in the lower bowels, so it’s a good idea to go to the bathroom 30 to 60 minutes before anal play if possible, and wash your entire booty (anus opening, crack, cheeks) afterwards. 
  • Should you use an enema? Not essential. But they’ll definitely make you feel more cleaned out. The wrong enema can damage the protective lining of your anal walls though, so choose wisely: look for a pH balanced solution and a small insertion bulb. 

Bed Sheets

How often do you change your sheets?

  • In general, a weekly sheet clean and/or sheet change is standard practice, according to cleaning experts.
  • When it comes to sex, doing it on fresh, clean sheets is nice sextiquette. You likely won’t get sick if they aren’t perfectly clean, but it’s considerate to wash them day-of if you can help it.
  • After sex, exposed skin can potentially react to the (numerous!) bodily fluids released: sweat, semen, saliva, etc. So the next morning, go ahead and throw those sheets in the wash, especially if you’re sensitive to skin woes like body acne. 
  • Another (genius) option: a heavy duty “sex throw” you can lay down on the bed. This one is machine-washable, soft and luxurious-looking.

Sex Toys

Finally, the age old question: should you clean your sex toys? (Yes!)

  • Without proper cleaning, sex toys can become a breeding ground for bacteria you definitely do not want in your body. 
  • Easy solution: this cleaner is a simple spritz-and-dry formula made with organic ingredients, and these toy-cleaning wipes are safe and gentle enough to use on your body, too.

Look at you: so fresh, so clean, so ready to do it. What are your pre-sex hygienic prep steps? I’d love to know. Talk to me over on Instagram, at @sexwithemily