Let’s talk about preparing for anal play: One of the biggest barriers people encounter to having fun doing “butt stuff” is the idea that anal play is inherently, well, messy.
It’s true that it’s impossible to engage in anal play that is 100% feces-free. Even the most poop-free experiences leave trace amounts of fecal matter on penetrating toys and body parts. If that’s too much information to bear, then perhaps anal play just isn’t for you, and that’s okay!
However, if you’re interested in anal play and willing to take steps to keep it as hygienic as possible, you’ve come to the right place. Anal sex is fun and pleasurable, and we’re here to help you learn how to enjoy it while minimizing mess. Let’s start with some basics.
Booty Basics for Anal Play
First thing’s first: washing up before anal sex isn’t absolutely necessary. Since any toys or body parts that enter an anus are assumed to have at least a little poop on them, many people don’t mind if that poop is visible. It can be helpful to prepare yourself mentally for this possibility even if you do wash up, though. Poop comes with the butt play territory.
There are steps you can take to reduce the amount of fecal matter you’ll encounter during play. It’s important to note, however, that these steps will not reduce the chance of transmitting STIs. No amount of cleaning will remove an infection or completely eliminate the chance of spreading the non-STI bacteria that live in our rectums.
If you’re playing anally with partners of different or unknown STI status, use barrier methods like condoms or gloves. Remember to use water-based lubricants with these forms of protection, as oil-based ones can damage latex.
Okay, now that that’s out of the way, let’s get to washing!
Washing Up for Anal Sex
Here’s some good news: your bowel movements aren’t stored in your rectum. Since the rectum makes up the 6-8 inches past the anus where most penetrative anal sex happens, it’s unlikely you’ll bump into anything major during play.
What this means is that as long as you empty your bowels 30-60 minutes before anal play, you’re unlikely to have any big mishaps. Some people with health conditions, certain diets, or special circumstances (like a recent spicy meal) may find exceptions to this rule. Otherwise, a high-fiber diet and choosing water over caffeine and alcohol should make for regular, firm bowel movements that make it easy to engage in anal sex when you please.
The most likely reasons you may see poop during anal play are that a little was left behind in the rectum after the last bowel movement (this is common for people who don’t have firm stool) or some was left behind on or around the anus after wiping (oops!).
As a result, many people find that an unscented wet wipe or quick shower with soap and warm water before anal play leaves them feeling more confident and clean. Perhaps this is the time to consider investing in a bidet if you haven’t already!
Worried about hair down there? Again, washing the area should remove anything unpleasant. You can shave if you want to, but hair is a totally normal part of your body—many people really enjoy hairy bums for anal play.
Going Deeper With Douching and Enemas
Some people use the terms “douching” and “enema” interchangeably, but it’s important to note that traditionally, an enema is a medical treatment that reaches beyond the rectum into the lower intestine. As a result, enemas tend to take longer than douching and for most people aren’t necessary when preparing for anal play.
Douching, on the other hand, is something many regular anal play practioners make a part of their washing routine 1-2 hours before sex. Douching uses about two cups of water to rinse the rectum of any fecal particles left behind from the person’s most recent bowel movement. You can find douche kits, also called “hot water bottle and syringe” kits, at drugstores.
Be aware that the lining of your rectum is very thin, so it’s easy to accidentally damage it with overly-enthusiastic douching. Be gentle so as not to invite injury or infection. Make sure the water you use is clean enough to put in your body (think drinkable water), and avoid using formulas provided by douche kits unless they are simple saline solutions. The water or solution should be lukewarm, not hot.
Frequent douching can affect your bowel movements. Douching can also leave water behind in your rectum even after you’ve finished the process, so don’t stray too far from the bathroom in case you realize you need the toilet again.
If you’re determined to cleanse your lower intestine with an enema, be prepared to spend more time on the process. Follow the instructions carefully on any kit you buy, and do not add or substitute solutions or use more water than recommended.
Keeping It Clean During and After Anal
Feeling fresh and clean? It’s time to have fun! If you’re still a little nervous about the potential mess, try laying down a towel so you’re less worried. Keep another one nearby if you feel you might want something to wrap around yourself or wipe with after playtime is over.
Keep in mind that once a toy or body part has been used for anal play that it likely has bacteria on it. Use and replace condoms if switching from anal to another type of play or to another partner’s bum, or get in the habit of taking time to wash thoroughly in between uses. (Even washed toys can harbor bacteria from anal play. As a general rule, it’s a good idea to either use condoms on anal toys or dedicate toys to anal-only once they’ve been used for backdoor fun.)
Being aware of where body parts and toys go after anal play doesn’t just help reduce the chance of spreading STIs. It also keeps bacteria away from eyes, noses, mouths, and vaginas where they can cause non-STI infections.
Remember that preparing for anal play doesn’t mean accidents won’t happen, and that’s okay. If despite your best efforts things get messier than you’re comfortable with, don’t hesitate to take a break, hop in the shower, and transition into whatever activities feel good after that.
Got More Advice?
There are as many ways of preparing for anal sex as there are people engaging in it. What does your wash-up routine look like? Let us know in the comments!
Shannon (they/she) is a sex coach and content writer residing in New Orleans.