How to wash a penis

It's the body part that men arguably value the most, so you owe it to your penis to always keep it clean, healthy and fit for purpose.

Give it the care it deserves and you may not be the only one to benefit – your partner will probably be grateful too.

'It's really surprising how many men don't clean underneath their foreskin'


Patrick French, sexual health expert

Gently wash the penis with warm water each day when you're having a shower or bath. If you have a foreskin, pull it back gently and wash underneath.

If you don't wash underneath the foreskin correctly, a cheesy-looking substance called smegma may begin to gather.

Smegma is a natural lubricant that keeps the penis moist. It's found on the head of the penis and under the foreskin.

If smegma builds up in the foreskin, it can start to smell, stop you easily pulling your foreskin back and become a breeding ground for bacteria. This can cause redness and swelling of the head of your penis, called balanitis.

'Off-putting smell'

Patrick French, a consultant physician in sexual health, says: "It's really surprising how many men don't clean underneath their foreskin. Not only do they regularly develop complications from poor hygiene, but it's also very off-putting for a sexual partner."

Don't try to forcefully pull back the foreskin of a baby or young boy as this could be painful and cause harm. Their foreskin might still be attached to the head of the penis and will therefore not retract fully. At this stage of their development, there's no need to clean inside the foreskin.

Gently wash the penis with warm water each day when you're having a shower or bath.


If you have a foreskin, pull it back gently and wash underneath.

While regular personal hygiene is important, too much washing with soap and shower gels can cause soreness. Gently washing your penis once a day with warm water is sufficient to maintain good hygiene. If you want to use soap, choose a mild or non-perfumed soap to reduce the risk of skin irritation.

It may be tempting to use talc and deodorants on your penis, but these are best avoided because talc will get under the foreskin, where it may cause irritation.

Circumcised men have to be just as careful about cleaning their penis. Gently washing the penis with warm water once a day is sufficient.

Testicles and pubic area

Don't forget to clean the base of the penis and the testicles, where sweat and hair can combine to produce a strong smell, just as unpleasant as in your armpits.

These areas need frequent washing to stop sweat from accumulating, especially as they are enclosed in underwear for most of the day.

Make sure the area between the base of the testicles and the anus is also clean and odour-free.

While you're down there, it's a good idea to check your testicles for lumps once a month after a warm bath or shower.

Look out for any unusual lumps or swellings that were not there before. Find out what testicles should look and feel like

Page last reviewed: 20/04/2015

Next review due: 20/04/2017


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The 4 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

malmar said on 27 December 2014

as usual you only talk about uncired males once a day well I,m circumcised and wash morning and shower in the evening told this at boarding school twice daily

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Nathyneedshelp said on 11 March 2013

I'm 15 years old also, and I have the issue of smegma, this is simply due to me not being told how to clean it properly in the past, honestly, I'm still slightly confused, what can I use to get rid of the smegma and is it possibly to have a clear list of the best possible way to get rid of it, being very specific, I don't have any allergies and can get my foreskin the whole way back.
Please help?

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_Zeno_ said on 15 October 2012

Hey dude, ok so the same thing happened to me as well when I was younger(now 20). The foreskin is still attached at the back of the head and this usually takes some time to fully come off. I remember pulling the rest of the foreskin to the back when I was about 16 or 17. It didn't hurt that much because by that time there was only like a little piece left attached. It tends to break off by itself as you get older.
About that blu-tack effect, it still happens to me. Mostly, it's because the head of the penis is a little bit moist under the foreskin. This creates friction when you pull it back, which feels a little uncomfortable. The less "sticky" it becomes, the easier you can roll it back - try using lubrication(soap) when washing in the shower.

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qwertyuiopasdfghjklzxcvbnm said on 14 October 2012

I'm a 15 year old boy and I go in the shower every day. When I do I pull back my foreskin and collect water in my hand and throw it over my penis to clean it. I've noticed that my when I pull back my foreskin its almost a kind of tingling sensation (its not pleasant) its almost like when you try to pull blu-tack off of a wall, it trys to stick to the wall. And when its pulled back fully then there's three parts that are stuck to the foreskin, like, fully and it hurts to try and pull it apart. There's smegma under there, I can see it. But its really sore. Help anyone?

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