Anal sex is a common sexual practice for many people. Showering before anal sex, alongside other cleaning tips, can help all parties feel more comfortable and may help prevent complications.

Anal sex is a sexual practice that involves inserting a penis, fingers, or another object, such as a vibrator, into the anus for sexual pleasure.

Anal sex is a relatively common sexual activity. Knowing the best practices for anal sex and how to reduce the risk of infection are important.

This article discusses how to clean the anus before and after sex and how to prevent infection.

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The anus is designed to keep itself clear of fecal matter with regular washing.

In many instances, cleaning the anus in the shower immediately before anal sex is enough to ensure the area is clean and free of additional matter.

When washing the anus in the shower, use warm, not hot, water and avoid using soaps. The anus is a sensitive body part and should be treated as such.

A high fiber diet can help keep stools firm and regular. This helps keep the anus clean and reduces the risk of an encounter with fecal matter during anal sex.

In most instances, this should be all a person needs to do.


Some people may also consider anal douching. It involves inserting water into the rectum and anus to clean them, which can help anal sex feel more comfortable.

Not everyone agrees that douching is a good idea. It can damage the lining of the rectum, cause bowel movement issues, and increase the risk of infection.

Although douching does reduce the risk of encountering feces and the bacteria it harbors during sex, it does not reduce the risk of contracting a sexually transmitted infection (STI).

It is also essential to use the correct liquid, such as saline solution, although it is OK to use tap water for douching from time to time. Always use lukewarm water, as hot water can damage the area.


Some people may prefer an enema. It also cleans the rectum and empties the bowels but involves inserting liquid into the large intestine. Typically, doctors prescribe enemas for specific medical conditions.

However, home enema kits are available. Always follow the instructions carefully. Do not add any solutions to the kit or force more water into the rectum than recommended. Use lukewarm tap water or a saline solution that comes with the enema kit.

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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), anal sex presents the highest risk of contracting and transmitting HIV if either partner has HIV and they do not use a condom.

The receptive person might be at risk because the rectum’s lining is very thin and can tear, which means the virus can enter. The insertive partner may also be at risk because HIV can enter the body through the urethra or cuts or scrapes on the penis.

Always use a condom during anal sex.

Anal sex without a condom may also transmit other infections, such as E. coli, salmonella, and giardiasis.

Cleaning up before and after anal sex does not prevent STI transmission. It may, however, reduce exposure to harmful bacteria and some parasites.

Feeling clean before anal sex can also help all parties relax and enjoy the experience.

Cleaning the penis does not prevent the transmission of infections. However, cleaning sex toys and other penetrative objects can reduce the risk of spreading certain bacteria.

While some sex educators suggest cleaning sex toys might slow the transmission of infection when a person uses the same sex toys with multiple partners, some research undermines this claim.

For example, a 2014 study followed participants with vaginal human papillomavirus (HPV) who used a sex toy and cleaned it. The results found that in some instances, HPV was still present on the vibrator 24 hours later.

Cleaning sex toys may remove some bacteria. It can also rinse off lube and bodily fluids.

The right cleaning strategy depends on the type of sex toy:

  • Glass and stainless-steel toys: Clean with soap and water.
  • Hard plastic: Wipe with antibacterial wipes or wash with antibacterial soap.
  • Silicone: Boil for 5–10 minutes or wash in the dishwasher. Antibacterial soap or wipes can also clean silicone.
  • Electrical toys: Unplug the toy and clean it according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Be sure not to submerge the cord or any electrical parts in water. Allow the toy to dry thoroughly before using it again.
  • Porous material toys: Follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Soap and water are OK for some materials, such as leather and nylon, whereas only water is OK for vinyl products.

Be sure to wash all parts, including cloth attachments. For example, wash a cloth strap-on harness in the washing machine if the label indicates it is safe to do so.

Clean each toy after use. Avoid storing dirty toys. This encourages the growth of bacteria.

It is safe to use condoms on many sex toys. Doing so reduces the need to clean them and lowers the risk of transmitting infections.

Anal sex is not usually very messy. Lube and bodily fluids may wet the sheets. Some people notice small traces of fecal matter. If a person has a bowel movement accident or notices large quantities of feces during anal sex, this may signal a health issue.

To reduce any mess, try putting down an old towel or sheet.

To clean up afterward, remove any sheets or blankets. Pre-treat stains, then wash immediately.

People who enjoy anal sex can assemble a simple kit to make cleanup easier. Try putting the following in a bag:

  • old sheet or towel that is easy to clean
  • water wipes for wiping down hands and surfaces
  • antibacterial wipes for cleaning sex toys
  • an enema or anal douche kit
  • condoms

Anal sex is safe for most people. It is a myth that frequent anal sex damages the bowels or intestines. As long as partners use lubricant and do not force anything into the anus, the risk of injury is very low.

To enjoy anal sex:

  • Take PrEP beforehand if one or more parties are HIV-positive or do not know their status.
  • Use a condom to reduce the risk of transmitting infections.
  • Always use a lubricant. The anus does not make lubricant. Dryness increases the risk of pain and tears, so use as much as necessary.
  • Work up to anal sex. Some people become more comfortable by beginning with fingers and toys, and then accepting penetration with larger objects.
  • Practice open communication and ensure all parties enthusiastically consent to anal sex.
  • Go slowly. Sometimes a person needs time to adjust to the sensations of anal sex. Moving slowly allows the muscles to relax.
  • Breathe deeply and bear down as if having a bowel movement to help relax the muscles.

Anal sex presents a higher risk of infection than other sex acts but is safe when all parties are cautious, know their STI status, and use condoms.

While it is not necessary to clean the anus before anal sex, doing so may make all parties feel more comfortable and facilitate more satisfactory sex.

People who experience pain or other issues during anal sex can discuss this with a doctor, who may be able to identify the source of the problem.