Musty and funky in the Florida sun: guide to washing your naughty bits
January 28, 2017 10:39 AM   Subscribe

Dear females in America, how do you wash your private parts in these conditions? Sincerely, Scandinavia.

I am currently staying at (a rather expensive) Florida hotel, and I have no idea how I'm supposed to sufficiently wash my female parts in the following circumstances:

1) The showerhead is non-removable and fixed at about 7ft up,
2) the water pressure is lousy,
3) there is no bidet basin or shower (barbaric!) and
4) there is no tub.

There IS a pool on the premises, but jumping in without washing my sweaty privates first seems uncivilized, not to mention off-the-chart nasty.

I have stayed at about a dozen different hotels in the US during the last decade, and have met with the above conditions several times. My mother - who has travelled the US rather extensively - has spoken of similar troubles.

So, how is the trick done? Is there some secret technique I've not been let in on? I can't think of anything besides doing a handstand below the shower and going spreadeagle, but I'm not sure if my traveller's insurance would cover the resulting broken bones.

Or maybe I could borrow a coffee cup, fill it with water and sort of, uh, toss it upward...? (Clutching at straws here.)
posted by honeyacid to Travel & Transportation (33 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
I have never found the above realities to be an issue because I have a washcloth.
posted by olinerd at 10:42 AM on January 28, 2017 [21 favorites]

That basically sounds like every shower I have ever used in my life. I just stand under the falling water and my lady bits get wet from the water by the nature of gravity. I lather up some unscentef soap on my bits and stand under the water to rinse the suds off. Never had a problem or needed to splash water upward at the bits.
posted by joan_holloway at 10:44 AM on January 28, 2017 [4 favorites]

Sorry, I guess I don't understand what you are trying to do . . .? Are you trying to wash inside, like, your vagina?

Here is how I wash my lady-bits in the shower:

The Vulva:
-Apply soap to hands.
-Raise one leg in the air, putting foot on ledge if available.
-Apply hands to vulva.
-Rinse hands in shower water.
-Cup hand at crotch level until it has water in it.
-Move hand up to vulva so it gets wet.
-Let gravity take soapy water down to the floor/drain.
-Repeat as necessary.
-Put leg down.

The Vagina:
- I don't. It is a self-cleaning system that does not enjoy the application of soap or water.
posted by chainsofreedom at 10:45 AM on January 28, 2017 [13 favorites]

Cup your hand at the right angle to catch some water and splash it upwards on yourself. Basically your coffee cup idea but without the risk of losing your grip and ending up with shards of porcelain all over.

Source: American female who didn't encounter a removable showerhead until studying abroad in France (and agrees that the US system of non-removable showerheads is obnoxious)
posted by basalganglia at 10:47 AM on January 28, 2017 [1 favorite]

I cup my hand down below to catch water and splash up if I really don't have a lot of water going around, but yes if the water pressure is really awful I use a washcloth. Wet it, put the tiniest rub of soap on it, clean your vulva and inner thighs, and if the water won't run well enough to rinse you off you can then do the splashing or rinse the washcloth free of soap and then use it to splash by squeezing it out over the affected areas.

It also helps if you squat slightly, legs apart. In some hotel rooms that means standing surfboard style, one foot ahead of the other.
posted by Lyn Never at 10:49 AM on January 28, 2017 [1 favorite]

when i have to travel there, i bring a collapsible bottle or container. that's my only (sage) advice for america.
posted by cendawanita at 10:57 AM on January 28, 2017 [1 favorite]

I have done the upsplash (but used a plastic cup because trust me to drop a breakable object in the shower every time). Most of the time I do what chainsofreedom does.

In hot muggy areas, generally: after toweling off I also step back into the shower and powder my underparts with cornstarch.
posted by notquitemaryann at 10:59 AM on January 28, 2017

Yeah, I don't understand why you can't use a washcloth? Nearly every shower I've ever taken in my 26+ years has been what you describe, and my "naughty bits" are perfectly clean.

Perhaps you could sit in the shower so that the water runs directly over your vulva.
posted by schroedingersgirl at 11:01 AM on January 28, 2017

A washcloth seems like a good solution - I never knew using one for your privates was A Thing (!), probably due to lifelong access to bidets and detachable showerheads. Off to the supermarket I go, thank you for the answers.

(For the record, I'm not trying to wash inside anything; it's just that cupping water in my hand seemed inadequate. Also, I'm not the most flexible person in the world and the shower here is tiny, so manually throwing water around is just... unwieldy!)
posted by honeyacid at 11:04 AM on January 28, 2017 [3 favorites]

A washcloth seems like a good solution - I never knew using one for your privates was A Thing (!), probably due to lifelong access to bidets and detachable showerheads.

This is blowing my mind almost as much as the duvet thing - my American knee-jerk reaction was "why are Europeans going out of their way to invent special devices just so that they don't have to touch their crotch when they clean it?"

Yeah, just get a washcloth wet and use it to clean your bits - no need to scrub or use soap or anything.
posted by showbiz_liz at 11:25 AM on January 28, 2017 [16 favorites]

I don't think you need to hit the supermarket -- did the hotel not give you a washcloth? I'd maybe call the front desk and ask, if not.
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:32 AM on January 28, 2017 [16 favorites]

Does your fancy hotel not have washcloths? Usually kept with the towels? You should not have to buy a washcloth.
posted by unknowncommand at 11:33 AM on January 28, 2017 [13 favorites]

You could also sit on the toilet or on the edge of the tub, and rain down water from the front, out of a cup or bottle, using your hand to move water/soapsuds around as you see fit.

If you think even 10% of Americans do anything resembling actually washing their sweaty privates before jumping into a public pool... well... don't drink the water in that pool, is all I'm gonna say about that. And thank the periodic table for chlorine while you're deliberately not-thinking about it.
posted by spraypaint at 11:42 AM on January 28, 2017 [9 favorites]

No washcloths in the hotel room as far as I can see - sadly, this time "expensive" doesn't equal "fancy".

(showbiz_liz, my European kneejerk reaction to this issue: why add to your laundry pile when you can just blast directly at your bits with a jet of water? :) )
posted by honeyacid at 11:51 AM on January 28, 2017 [10 favorites]

(showbiz_liz, my European kneejerk reaction to this issue: why add to your laundry pile when you can just blast directly at your bits with a jet of water? :) )

Well, it doesn't add any more laundry because I've already used the same cloth on the rest of me - so then the new question is, what do you clean your skin with? Is it just more rinsing, or a scrub, or a loofah, or what?

(Also why did we never cover this kind of crap in my middle school social studies classes??)

(Also also, the concept of a hotel not having washcloths sounds to this American about the same as them having no towels at all, in terms of wtf-ness)
posted by showbiz_liz at 12:04 PM on January 28, 2017 [8 favorites]

Wow, I have only ever done what Chainsoffreedom describes - I apply neither a jet of water or a washcloth. The first just being rarely available, the latter being needlessly rough (esp for delicate skin) and adding laundry.

I work in an office. Unless I've been camping or something, I'm just not that dirty. Most of the time showering amounts to rinsing with soap in summer and something moisturising in winter. I have on occasion used scrubby towels to exfoliate (from Daiso).
posted by jrobin276 at 12:19 PM on January 28, 2017

The line I always remember is "The vagina is self-cleaning" so all I am really doing is getting sweat and maybe a bit of stale pee/discharge off. I do the scoop and rinse thing and usually use soap though I know that many people have a ymmv approach to this (whether soap will irritate or not) and same with mybackside.

I have stayed in a lot of hotels fancy and non and I have never seen one without a washcloth, so I don't mean to be second guessing you, but I'd also look again?

We all jump into pools without washing our crotches, almost always, FYI.
posted by jessamyn at 12:32 PM on January 28, 2017

I scrub around the thigh crease and mons area with the same soapy scrubby cloth I use on the rest of me, and use my fingers and some splashing of water to clean my more delicate vulvar areas. I was taught not to apply soap directly to that area, so I just use whatever soapiness is left from my other scrubbing to clean.
posted by MadamM at 12:35 PM on January 28, 2017 [1 favorite]

yeah i had the same annoyance issues when i moved back to the US from almost a decade in europe, and i'm still an aggressive bidet proselytizer because wHY, why wouldn't you want the cleanest bits possible, at any time of the day without having to take a full-body shower? it is wonderful, especially in the summer when swamp ass is king.

anyway. a washcloth is your friend. the use of soap or not is a personal thing, it's not instant firey vajeeper death for me if a little bit gets inside but it doesn't feel great so i try to avoid it.
posted by poffin boffin at 1:02 PM on January 28, 2017 [10 favorites]

At the YMCA where the showerheads aren't removable I use a disposable douche bottle with just plain water, on the outside bits. It sprays into the area a LOT better than cupping my hands, is meant to spray upside down mostly and this American agrees it's barbaric not to have removable showerheads, spraying gets all my parts much cleaner imho. Worst case I will use a soaking wet washcloth to rinse but it never feels as clean to me.
posted by RichardHenryYarbo at 1:18 PM on January 28, 2017 [2 favorites]

Can't you just put soap and water on it and rinse it off the same as the rest of your body parts? This is like the one part of having a vagina you don't need special equipment or to put one foot up somewhere to accomplish.
posted by bleep at 1:18 PM on January 28, 2017 [4 favorites]

I would be utterly gobsmacked if the hotel weren't able to offer you wash cloths once you call the front desk to ask for them!
posted by Hermione Granger at 1:50 PM on January 28, 2017 [11 favorites]

Add me to the list of people who would be shocked if an american hotel didn't have washcloths in the rooms! And yes, I would use a washcloth in your situation. I'm used to hotels having a rack like this or this, probably over the toilet. Even at a fancy or expensive hotel, the towels will almost always be white. Whatever folded or rolled item is highest up at the top of the rack should be a washcloth (sometimes they blend in with other sizes of towels depending on how they roll them). It's possible I haven't stayed at fancy enough places, but this seems like the one familiar thing that stays the same from hotel to hotel.

Even if they were trying to do something clever with energy efficiency, I think they'd have to leave a note to explain where the washcloths went, since the front desk would get so many calls asking about it. I'm kind of fascinated by the idea that maybe one hotel in Florida is trying some radical new washcloth policy. (It seems more likely that the cleaning people forgot to restock your towels all the way.)
posted by Secretariat at 2:13 PM on January 28, 2017 [4 favorites]

Nthing that it's super-weird for a hotel to not have washcloths. (Myself, I do a splashy thing in the shower for my bits.)
posted by desuetude at 2:20 PM on January 28, 2017 [3 favorites]

The washcloths might be so large and/or plush that you're mistaking them for hand towels. They'll be square, is really the only way to tell.
posted by teremala at 2:23 PM on January 28, 2017 [9 favorites]

Okay, my bad - as teremala suggested, I mistook them for hand towels. (The square tip helped, thanks!) They are... huge, considering the general size of the Area In Question.

(showbiz_liz, this may (?) be unthinkable for some, but I use no cloth/loofah/mystery instrument X in the shower to clean my skin - just my hands.)
posted by honeyacid at 3:36 PM on January 28, 2017 [6 favorites]

honeyacid, I think that washcloth vs. hands is like toilet paper under vs over, wiping standing up vs sitting down, shower facing toward vs away from the shower head etc. Everyone believes very strongly that there is One True Way, and it's their way. It's not even necessarily even something that they think about because it's impossible to conceive that there could be a different way. So really, you're fine.
posted by Stewriffic at 3:57 PM on January 28, 2017 [1 favorite]

Two options:
1 . Can you buy a bottle of water with one of those squeeze top, pull it up and it's open, push it down and it's closed mechanisms? Do that, fill it with warm water, and squeeze it upwards, using it as a makeshift bidet.

2. This might be totally gross to do on a hotel bathroom floor, but can you lie on the ground and open your legs and let the water fall in? Then stand up to let the water stream out? You could probably put on of the extra hotel towels on the shower floor to lie on.

I get why you want water going up there as opposed to just a washcloth. For me it feels better to have clean water flowing in/up/out/down so as to get all areas.
posted by erattacorrige at 5:08 PM on January 28, 2017

No matter how "nice" the accommodations, I always ask if there is a bathtub; no bathtub = on to check out the next place.

I've never figured this one entirely out either. I take baths, which obviously sorts the issue. A shower leaves me feeling insufficiently rinsed. (Somebody is going to come along and say "ew, baths, you're just soaking in your own funk," but I bathe daily and don't do manual labour so it's not very funky, and there's a showerhead on a hose for thorough rinsing...)

I have been amazed to read on Reddit that an apparently huge number of women do not really distinguish between vagina/vulva/etc -- they talk about "shaving their vagina" -- and the "the vagina is a self-cleansing organ" and "soap or other agents besides water will irritate your vagina" messages, spread, IIRC, to get women to stop douching, became "you don't need to wash your crotch." There are a disturbing number of assertions that claim that you should never let any sort of cleanser go near your vulva, that that is very much Not Okay; water only. Ask any doctor! It's true! Because too many USA mothers do not distinguish between terms, I think...

Sort of unsurprisingly Reddit also has a large number of dudes in /r/relationships saying "My GF smells really bad down there and I don't know how to tell her," and a lot of girls in female-oriented groups replying to "I think I have a bad smell down there, plus I use a lot of pantiliners" that "it's totally normal to have some odour and discharge, everybody does!" instead of "if it's enough to be bothering you, you probably need to see a doctor."

Note that the USA has wide availability of douches (still!) at every drugstore, "feminine deodorants" (still! despite the scandals in the 70s), and, recently, the market for special snatch wash has blown up and the country is full of fools who need -- I am not making this up -- a bottle of liquid soap that is somehow magically designed for crotch use, and crotch use only. This did not exist a generation ago, and has already become totally normalized. Check out the ladybits care in your local CVS or Rite-Aid or whatever; I ended up snapping pix to send home. has 637 results for feminine care products, excluding tampons, pads, lube; has roughly 19 (once miscategorized facial wipes etc are removed), Boots UK has 23 products in this category, and neither the UK nor Canada will sell me the weirder things like flower-scented suppositories.

I offer these admittedly judgmental observations to try to help flesh out why you might not see detachable showerheads. Every time my parents bought a new house when I was a kid one went in ASAP if there wasn't one or if it was deemed inadequate, so on the odd occasion I've been forced to shower I too am confused by how you thoroughly wash -- and more critically, thoroughly rinse -- a part that does not really get water flowing over it well unless you were to pull a quick handstand. Usually I look around for an empty shampoo bottle or plastic basin or something like that.
posted by kmennie at 5:22 PM on January 28, 2017 [7 favorites]

Previously: Which way do you face in the shower goes way into this!
posted by Room 641-A at 6:40 PM on January 28, 2017 [1 favorite]

an apparently huge number of women do not really distinguish between vagina/vulva/etc -- they talk about "shaving their vagina" -- and "the vagina is a self-cleansing organ"

I said this because it's true and I know the difference between my vagina and my vulva. This doesn't mean people shouldn't wash their crotches if they need or want to, but just that there's not something special about that part of your body that makes it extra grosser than your feet, your armpits or any other part of our body where you have apocrine glands (unless you're sexxin it up or menstruating at the time). People are welcome to choose to wash how they prefer, of course but it's not that useful to suggest that women who only use showers are somehow doing it wrong. There are a lot of ways to get clean.
posted by jessamyn at 6:51 PM on January 28, 2017 [14 favorites]

Honeyacid, I FEEL YA!!

You are absolutely right. Americans are barbarians to be pitied and led into the light.

I had no idea there were so many MeFites who didn't know what a 'proper' shower configuration was.

People! Go to Walmart or your local Big Box store and spend $25 for a shower head on a flex cable.


You can wash and rinse the lady bits without worry that there will be soap residue. You can rinse your hair easier. You can use the shower as a gentle hot-water massage on sore muscles. You can wash the dog. You can use the hose sprayer to wash and rinse the shower walls after you wash the dog. But the best part is that you will have an *enhanced* shower experience. Life will be soooo smooooth.

I'll never be without a shower on a hose. If you're renting, unscrew the old shower head and screw on the new mo' betta one. Replace when you leave (or not.)

When you have one of these wonderful hose gizmos, it seem so uncivilized to wash the neathers after you wash your face, or the other 'way around even. Using two washcloths works, but who can be arsed to do that?

Honeyacid, honey, I'm sorry. I'm afraid you'll either have to do the washcloth thing or go get a squeeze bottle. I've done that when I've been camping, and it works better than not having a hose.
posted by BlueHorse at 7:19 PM on January 28, 2017 [10 favorites]

Rub your pussy with your hand, same as you just did on the rest of your body.
Even with low water pressure the water running down your body will be plenty enough.
posted by Iteki at 3:04 PM on January 29, 2017 [2 favorites]

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