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Last year, I fulfilled my solemn sex-writerly duty by spreading the good word of the sex towel — a towel used specifically for post-sex cleanup. Unfortunately, I regret to inform you that I was wrong. The sex towel is out; sex wipes are in.
Much like a sex towel, a sex wipe is pretty much what it sounds like: a single-use wet wipe designed with intimate hygiene in mind. A variety of these products have appeared on the ever-expanding sexual wellness market in recent years, and they are a game-changer when it comes to sexual hygiene and cleanup, proving superior to the old-school sex towel in just about every way.
For one thing, sex wipes are simply better at performing the sex towel’s primary function, i.e. mopping up semen that has recently been ejaculated onto someone else’s body. Few physical sensations are a less pleasant follow-up to a satisfying sex session than getting a post-sex rub down with a dry, scratchy towel that essentially amounts to a semen exfoliation treatment. (That said, I can absolutely see a Goop-esque “Semen Scrub” becoming the next viral wellness trend beloved and shamelessly promoted by celebrities on social media.) A sex wipe, on the other hand, is moist, quick and soothing on skin, whether it’s your own or a partner’s.
Not only are wipes a more comfortable method of post-sex cleanup, but they’re also more efficient, convenient and hygienic than a towel, or whatever unsuspecting sock or T-shirt happens to be within your most immediate post-orgasm reach.
“Wipes are easy,” says Ryan Kellner, Director of Marketing at Promescent, a sexual wellness company. “Promescent Before and After wipes come individually wrapped so you can take them on the go, are biodegradable and are flushable,” Kellner tells InsideHook. “They also provide moisture, which thoroughly removes any bodily fluids for a just-showered feeling.”
Moreover, while disposable wipes may raise valid concerns about sustainability, single-use products are often a more sanitary option when it comes to sexual hygiene. A reusable towel needs to be washed after every use, and even if you’re diligent about post-sex laundry, a sex towel can still “harbor potentially harmful bacteria that can spread on or into the genitals during use,” says Dr. Jed Kaminetsky, an American Board Certified Urologist and member of Promescent’s medical board.
Meanwhile, as the name of Promescent’s Before and After wipes suggests, sex wipes are also handy for pre-sex hygiene — a function for which a sex towel is almost entirely useless. Intimate hygiene is just as important before sex as afterwards, both in terms of preventing the spread of bacteria and infections as well as maintaining a level of general cleanliness for yourself and your partner. In a perfect world, we’d all have time to shower immediately before any given sexual encounter, but that’s not how sex or life usually works. Maybe you’re meeting up for happy hour sex after a long day at work, going home with a stranger after hours of sweating and dancing at the bar, or you just want to make sure everything down there is squeaky clean before your partner gets all up in it. Either way, a little pre-sex swipe is a quick and easy way to freshen up.
But what makes sex-specific wipes from sexually focused brands like Promescent different from regular old wipes? A lot, actually. “Most ‘intimate’ wipes are designed to be used in the genital area only,” says Taylor Sparks, Erotic Educator and Founder of Organic Loven, one of the largest online organic intimacy shops. Regular wipes that aren’t designed specifically with intimate hygiene in mind may contain harsh ingredients like alcohol, glycerin, dyes and parabens that you definitely don’t want anywhere near your most sensitive bits, explains Sparks, adding that quality sex wipes “should offer a pH-balancing formula and be without chemicals so as not to trigger sensitivities and/or yeast infections.” That said, she adds, not all sex wipes on the market follow this standard, so it’s important to always read and research the ingredients in a product before use.
It’s also important to note that while a quality sex wipe can serve many purposes, from mopping up sexual fluids to spiffing up your nether regions beforehand, there’s one area with which your wipes probably shouldn’t make contact: your asshole.
“I totally get why people would reach for wipes for a quick cleanup before sex or an easy cleanup after sex,” says Dr. Evan Goldstein, Founder and CEO of Bespoke Surgical and Co-founder of Future Method, who has previously warned InsideHook readers about the dangers of subjecting your butt to unnecessary wet-wiping. While a clean butt is an important part of sexual health and cleanliness, regardless of whether you’re engaging in anal play, wipes of any kind are best left out of your pre- or post-sex anal hygiene routine. “Unfortunately, you are literally wiping away the balance of good and bad bacteria that your body needs, called the anal microbiome,” explains Goldstein. “Therefore, chronic or frequent use of wet wipes can cause local irritation and tearing.” That said, the occasional butt swipe probably won’t cause too much harm, he adds, “But if you’re sexually active and using them every time you play, that’s where you can get your butt in trouble — literally.”
Goldstein recommends showering or using a bidet as an alternative to wet wipes for pre- and post-sex anal care, or a body-safe douche if you’re going for “an extra level of readiness.”
Other than the butt-cleaning limitations, sex wipes are an easy, convenient addition to your sexual hygiene routine, ideal for taking both pre- and post-sex cleanup to the next level. In addition to partnered play, sex wipes can also come in handy after solo sessions, and can even be used to clean sex toys and other intimacy devices.
For your sex-wiping convenience, we’ve included a few of our favorite products below. Happy wiping.
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