The idea that the vagina is self-cleaning is a little misleading, because when you hear "vagina," plenty of people tend to think that means everything down there. But the vulva — aka the external parts of your genitals like your labia — needs some upkeep.
"The skin of the vulva is sensitive and needs the same hygienic attention that we give to our face," says Ross. "From all the urine and sweat and being so close to the anus, it can be very dirty and bacteria can build up. Pimples and acne can be a problem there, too."
All that said, it doesn't take much to properly wash your vulva — in most cases, water and a hand or a washcloth or some gentle soap (we'll get to that in a second) is all you need on the outer area of your genitals. To avoid overwashing, nonfragrant wipes for sensitive skin can be great for anyone looking for a quick touchup after the gym, before seeing a partner, or whenever you have a little buildup (or smegma) you want to clear out, says Ross. But keep in mind that even these can be irritating for some vulvas, so if you notice any discomfort or increased infections down there, just stick with water.