Vaginal hygiene is not exactly the kind of topic you’d want anyone to find in your Google search history, but considering that it’s something every single woman has to think about every day, we should definitely be able to find information about it more easily.

When it comes to a part of your body as important as your vagina, you should be able to feel confident and comfortable about taking care of it without wondering if you’re ‘normal’ or if you’re doing something wrong. Here are some common vaginal hygiene tips that every woman should know:

Your vagina does most of the cleaning for you

One of the coolest things about your vagina is that it is self-cleaning (on the inside). It keeps a very particular pH balance that allows natural and necessary bacteria to grow down there and protect it. OB/GYN Dr Phyllis Woo recommends washing with warm water, and if you need to use a soap opt for unscented ones only.

Choose underwear and clothing that’s dry and breathable

Dr Mary Jane Minkin says that the best way to clothe your vagina is with 100% cotton as the fabric absorbs moisture and allows breathing room. Unfortunately, the synthetic fabrics that a lot of lingerie is made out of traps heat and moisture, causing a breeding ground for yeast infections. However, if you are gonna opt for the lacy undies, make sure they have a cotton strip on the inside.

Tight clothing can also result in trapped heat and moisture so try to avoid over-wearing them. Make sure to change out of sweaty workout clothes or wet swimsuits as soon as possible too.

Discharge is normal

Discharge is completely normal and every healthy vagina secretes a small amount of discharge to keep itself clean and fight infection. You should avoid methods like douching which will only mess with your vagina’s pH balance and increase your risk of infection. If your discharge is discoloured or has a funny odour, it’s best to visit your gynae.

Change pads and tampons regularly

Like underwear, pads and tampons can also cause heat and moisture to be trapped in your vaginal area, which could cause infections. Make sure to change every few hours.

Prevent ingrown hair

Waxing and shaving are the most common and convenient methods of hair removal for your bikini line, but one of the downsides are the increased potential for ingrown hairs. To combat in-growns, exfoliate with a gentle, organic scrub and use an ingrown hair serum to soften the skin and prevent dry skin cells from covering the hair follicle’s pores.

Whatever you do, don’t pick them! Picking them can cause open skin to become infected, or infection from bacteria on your hands.

Avoid cross-contamination

Think about your vagina when you go to the toilet. Wipe from front to back to avoid spreading bacteria from your anal area to your vaginal area. The same applies to sex – if you’re having anal sex, make sure to avoid switching to vaginal sex after. If you are going to, switch to a new condom or clean off properly first.