Maintaining good hygiene and care of your genitals (private parts) reduces the chances of developing problems like skin irritations and some common infections. So it's important to know how to wash your penis. The same basic principles apply whether you have a foreskin or have been circumcised.
- Gently wash your penis each day. Carefully pull back and clean underneath the foreskin, as well as the tip of your penis (the glans) using only water and a very gentle soap. Don't scrub this sensitive area.
- It is fine to use soap, but using too much could irritate your penis.
- Make sure you gently pat dry the tip of your penis, the area underneath your foreskin and the rest of your penis. Replace the foreskin over the tip of the penis before putting on your underwear.
- Make sure your underwear has been properly washed, thoroughly rinsed and fully dried before wearing.
- Make sure you wash your hands before you pass urine or touch your penis. This is especially important if you have been handling anything that might irritate your penis, such as chemicals, chilli peppers or heat rub.
It is normal to have some thick, white discharge under the foreskin. This is called smegma. If you have a lot of smegma or it is smelly, you may need to wash your penis more often.
If the head of the penis becomes painful, red or itchy, of if you have a discharge, you could have balanitis. Check with your doctor if you are concerned.
You don't have to forcibly pull back the foreskin on a child's penis. There is no need to clean underneath the foreskin in young children.
CHECK YOUR SYMPTOMS — Use the Symptom Checker and find out if you need to seek medical help.
Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.
Last reviewed: October 2021