15 Hygiene Habits That You Shouldn’t Miss in Your Daily Routine

Hygiene is one of those things everyone is expected to know but no one ever talks about, and there’s more to it than just wearing deodorant and rinsing with mouthwash.

You probably remember that Sunday afternoon when your dad pulled you aside and taught you how to shave like a man. Unfortunately, this is about the only formal lesson you got in personal hygiene and grooming. From that point on, you were on your own.

Perhaps this is all a big conspiracy put on by the makers of Axe Body Spray; they want to ensure that guys have no idea how to avoid smelling like sweaty apes without dousing themselves in cologne and deodorant. Or maybe it’s just not very cool for bros to sit around and brag about their personal hygiene. Either way, there are some serious hygiene habits that are missing from the average male’s daily routine.

Here’s what you should be doing on a regular basis:

Inside Your Mouth

The freshness of your breath is the ambassador of your words. You could be whispering the sweetest of sonnets into someone’s ear, but if you smell like you just gargled a sewer rat, it’s going to be a turnoff no matter what.

These tips will help keep things fresh all day:

Invest in a decent electric toothbrush. Every time I see my dentist, he slips me a $10 coupon for an electric toothbrush. Either he’s a shill (doubt it) or these things really work. The key is to get a decent one, not just one of those regular toothbrushes that vibrates. You should spend at least $100 on your starter kit, if not a little more.

You can get a Philips Sonicare FlexCare brush that will treat you right for $111 or so. Or, if you’re on a budget, you can spend $35 on an Oral-B Vitality Dual Clean. While clearly inferior to the higher end models, it has something that is guaranteed to improve your brushing: a 2-minute timer. A timer ensures that you’re brushing for the recommended amount of time. You might be surprised at how little time you spend on your teeth currently.

Floss everyday. We all know that flossing is important, but few of us do it consistently. But it’s really, really worth it. It’ll freshen your breath, prevent gum disease and save you from those withering looks from your dental hygienist.

The problem for most guys, though, is the hardware. I’m willing to bet that if flossing wasn’t such a pain in the ass, you’d do it more often. Try buying a cheap reusable floss holder instead of using naked floss. You can get a pack of three for $10 and keep refilling them with normal floss. Heck, with one of these, you might even enjoy flossing.

Avoid those disposable flossers that you’ll see in the checkout lines at grocery stores. Not only will they cost you way more in the long run, but they produce a lot of garbage as well.

Bonus tip: According to the American Dental Association, it doesn’t matter if you brush then floss or floss then brush, just so long as you use an ADA approved product and do both tasks diligently.

Brush your tongue. Buildup on your tongue not only looks disgusting, but it’s the number one cause of bad breath. Giving your tongue a good scrub when you’re brushing your teeth can nix this. But if you have a sensitive gag flex, you might want to try some of these tips:

  1. Make a fist with your left hand with your thumb inside and hold it tightly. For many people, this suppresses the gag reflex; no one is sure why.
  2. Exhale through your mouth as you brush.
  3. Brush perpendicular to your tongue (i.e. side to side) rather than back and forth.

If all else fails, buy a tongue scraper (ask your dentist) or use a piece of floss to scrape your tongue.

Investigate for tonsil stones. Tonsil stones, or tonsillolith, are solidified deposits of food, bacteria and other junk that collects in the nooks and crannies of your tonsils. As you can imagine, they smell pretty nasty. So, if you have chronic bad breath, you may want to scope out the back of your mouth and see if you can spot any of these buggers.

You can see some pictures of what you’re looking for here. To remove them, try gargling with salt water or knocking them out with a toothpick or Q-tip. If all else fails, ask your doctor–you may be prescribed antibiotics, or in extreme cases, undergo surgery to remove your tonsil stones.

In the Shower

Showering feels like hitting the “reset” button on your accumulated stank. But chances are, you’re doing it wrong. Consider changing it up:

Don’t shower everyday. Your mileage may vary on this, but most people don’t need to shower every day. In fact, showering every day strips away the necessary oils in your skin and hair, which makes your body produce more to compensate. You can probably get away with showering once every other day. If you can’t swing that, skip the shampoo every other shower. If your hair gets greasy spots, try sprinkling some baby powder around the roots between shampoo days.

You might also want to consider a dry shampoo for no-shower days. You can make your own by grinding together 1 cup of oatmeal with 1 cup of baking soda. Sprinkle it on your roots, wait a few minutes and then comb it out. Fresh!

Wash your face with honey. If you have extremely sensitive skin, or are just looking for a cheap organic face wash, try this: Wash your face with honey. I mean it. Go to your nearest hippy food co-op or Whole Foods and get some local, raw honey (commercial honey is often too processed to have the same benefits). Honey is a natural humectant (e.g. moisturizes without leaving oily residue) and exfoliant. It even has natural antibacterial qualities.

Wet your face in the shower and massage it into your face. Leave it there as you wash the rest of your body and rinse it off last thing before getting out.

Actually wash your feet. Guess what? Soaking your feet in half an inch of soapy runoff while standing in the shower doesn’t count as washing your feet. Get in there with a wash cloth and scrub your toes and the bottom of your feet. This will help you kick embarrassing foot fungus and other odorous or unsightly issues.

Cool off before hopping out of the shower. This may sound masochistic, but right before you get out of the shower, turn it on full blast cold. There are numerous benefits to this so-called James Bond Shower (see: awesome article from The Art of Manliness), chiefly in the hair and skin department. But in the summer, it also prevents you from sweating the moment you step out of the shower and getting stinky all over again.

Down South

This is where things get really dirty. On any given day, all this business in your boxers is yours and yours alone. But when things get up close and personal, bad hygiene downstairs becomes much more noticeable. Follow these measures, or risk having her ask “who’s got the funk?” the next time you get down.

Pop a squat. If you’ve been to the non-touristy parts of Asia or Africa, then you’ve likely encountered a squat toilet. To you, these may seem primitive, possibly gross. But in reality, squatting is the most natural position for taking care of business, with numerous health benefits. It requires less straining and leaves less residue behind. In fact, many public squatting toilets don’t even provide toilet paper, since it’s often not necessary when you’re popping a squat.

Elevating your feet can give you some of the smooth moving benefits of a squat toilet, even on your dumb American toilet. A six-inch footrest should do the trick. If you don’t want guests asking you why you have a step stool in front of the can, then you could try using a big pack of toilet paper as a footrest.

Use baby wipes. And use them for the same reason a baby uses them. Fellow Primer contributor Justin Brown already covered this one in his Five Readily-Available Products You Should Try rundown.

Here’s how he puts it:

Answer me this: when you want to wash your face, do you use a dry washcloth? When you want your hair clean, do you just grab a towel and rub your dry scalp for a few minutes? No. And that’s because the best way to get our bodies (or specific parts of our bodies) clean is with a bit of moisture. See where I’m going with this?

You can try wiping with normal tp then using a baby wipe as final clean up. This trend is becoming so prevalent manufacturers now sell wipes that aren’t branded for babies.

Just one caveat: flushable baby wipes aren’t always as flushable as advertised. They can clog up your plumbing just like a tampon can. Proceed with caution, or dispose of them in a lidded trash can.

At the very, very least you should be getting that area as clean as possible at every shower. Don’t be squeamish. Get some soap and water and take care of it. You’ll be cleaner and more comfortable, I promise. You’d be shocked at how many dudes have admitted to never even considering this step.

Eliminate chafing. If you’ve seen the “Fun Run Race for the Cure” episode of The Office, you already know that chafing is a serious issue. But it’s not limited to your nipples. You might want to check out ChafeStick, a 100% organic skin balm for “Monkey butt, Cycle sores, Runner’s chafe, Diaper rash, Gig butt, Boardie’s rash, Swamp nuts, Harness chafe, Swimmer’s rash, Road burn, and any other skin irritation.”

For a specialty product that’s a bit more targeted, consider Fresh Balls (not joking). Avoid using baby powder. There’s talc and other nasty stuff in baby powder that can seriously over-dry your boys to the point that they become raw.

Cologne below. On a similar note, you should consider a quick spray of cologne on the front and back of your boxers before you head out. Your crotch is like the armpit of your legs, but unlike your pits, it doesn’t get deodorant. Chances may be slim that anyone will be close enough to notice the cologne down there, but if someone is, then odor may be mission critical. As for the back of your boxers, there’s apocryphal testament that cologne can CYA in case of gas. How true this is depends on the circumstances, and perhaps what you ate…

Miscellaneous

Here are three last tips that don’t fit into any of the above categories:

Keep a cool hand. Sweaty palms are a blight on the business world, or anywhere else, really. A soggy handshake conveys nervousness, dishonesty or just plain ickiness. To stay ahead of the game, try washing your hands with cool (but not freezing cold) water prior to a meeting, social mixer or any other situation where you might be extending your paw. If that doesn’t work, as your doctor to prescribe some Drysol antiperspirant. This prescription strength antiperspirant is so powerful that you only need to use it once a week.

Change your sheets once a week. In college, I bet the only time you changed your sheets was when someone barfed in your bed. That doesn’t fly anymore. Change your bed sheets once a week. Swap out your pillow case just as often, if not more. This will help reduce acne and the dreaded bacne.

If you find yourself breaking out, use a new pillowcase every night or put a clean towel over your pillow.

Pluck your unibrow. Not really a hygiene issue, per se, but if you’ve been shaving the Great Fuzzy Caterpillar that arches across your brow, don’t. Plucking is more precise, lasts longer and doesn’t run the risk of a cut in the middle of your forehead. All you need is a pair of laser cut tweezers–don’t cheap out and use the ones in your Swiss Army Knife. They won’t get the job done nearly as well. Tweezerman is a good brand that’ll set you back just $20.

Conclusion

With all of the above being said, the last thing you should do is follow any hygiene advice blindly. Each person’s body is different. Some of us sweat more, some of us have oilier hair, some of us have sensitive skin or deep belly buttons or hairy armpits. You may need to adjust some of the advice in this article to suit the way your body works.

Got any other hot hygiene tips? Share them in the comments section. Don’t be shy. It’s for the good of humanity.

P.S. A big shout out to redditor NickTheNewbie who kicked off the thread that inspired this article. Hat tips all around to the Reddit community for some truly enlightening hygiene insight.

Jack Busch is a Pittsburgh resident, freelance writer and a crummy dancer. You can find him on Twitter and at JackBusch.com.

  • http://www.booksonline.ie Oisin

    I second the cold blast at the end of a shower – takes some getting used to but it’s seriously invigorating.

  • AVIDIUS

    Great tips. I’d add that even if you shower every other day, make sure you wash your face twice daily still. Also, trim those nails and apply lotion to hands and feet. No girl wants to feel sandpaper next to her skin!

  • tato leal

    I read no mention of washing your hands every day, several times. It seems pretty obvious but I know lots of people that run around and shake hands with their willy, if you get what I mean.

  • http://shakeyourfoundation.com Playstead

    Great tips, although the showering every other day tip isn’t realistic for most sweaty, gross guys. I would tweak that by saying shower, but don’t wash your hair more than 3-4 times a week. Also, you need to exfoliate your face one a week as you age. Unless you like looking older.

  • Nick

    What would you recommend for highly active people? Rinsing off after a run as opposed to washing with soap? No one has been accused of smelling at a pool party or at the ocean, but you can’t just stay sweaty all day.

  • http://www.primermagazine.com/2011/learn/15-hygiene-habits-that-you-shouldnt-miss-in-your-daily-routine Andrew

    My personal take on the ‘shower less’ philosophy is that it obviously doesn’t apply when hygiene becomes apparent in the situation, in the opposite manner.

    If you’re hustling it at the gym, no one would ever recommend you not shower afterward. If you know you’re going to be hooking up with a girl, you should obviously shower, regardless of when the last time you took one.

    The point of the ‘shower less’ tip has to do with the adverse effects hot water, shampoo, soap, etc. can have on skin and hair. Finding the balance of showering less while maintaining your hygiene is all we’re suggesting.

  • cisco

    on the dental front, i can’t recommend using a water pick enough. a little salt water does wonders for your gums and it’ll take care of what you miss when flossing. fresh balls is awesome now that it’s gone back to its old formula.

  • alexs

    Try this as it helped me, I had faecal breath odour for YEARS, never had a girlfriend till now. Talked to many doctors who took my money then showed me the door….I finally had a friend who used to suffers bad breath, tell me about an eBook he bought 5 or 6 months ago he ask me how his breath smelt and I didn’t smell a thing. He said the eBook amongst much else had him stop eating dairy food/ soft drinks and coffee/tea. It covers every possible cause and provides the cure for each cause. So I’m like reading it and doing all the stuff it says to do. Thinking this has to be bull. But after a few days my tongue started turning red and felt nice. I worked up the courage to ask a friend how my breath smelt and he’s like I don’t smell anything. Now I’m thinking all those years of humiliation and I could have solved it ffs! There’s a site about it called Oraltech Labs. Just google it. Anyway hope this works for you too. Sufferer no more!

  • James

    On the “eliminate chafing” idea, try a plain stick of cocoa butter. You can find it in the “ethnic” section of skin and hair care, and it is both effective and inexpensive. Works better than any powder.

  • http://www.men-uusa.com Jack

    Another take on showering less – if you shower every day, try going after just certain “parts” (pits, feet, ‘down there’, behind the ears) on alternative days. Helps mitigate drying affects of soaping up entire body every day. Always shower in warm water, never “hot” to help retain skin moisture.

  • Derrik

    As to not using shampoo everyday, if you have normal to dry hair, try this. Use shampoo and conditioner 2 times a week, and on the other days, just use conditioner. If your like me, you’ll have the nicest hair you’ve ever had.

  • http://theygentleman.blogspot.com Zachary

    Using wipes is the best advice! The rationale you provide is great! I mean it’s always an awkward confusion why there are baby white atop your commode, but I don’t care.

    Your squatting comment though, I am so confused and intrigued, I have never heard of this.

    And I realize I have now only commented on pooping…but I did love all of the article.

  • William H.

    I know this is a little outside the bounds of ‘personal hygiene’ but it’s part of the overall picture in my mind; don’t wear dirty or smelly clothes / shoes. Sounds like common sense but it never fails to astound me how many guys walk around in wrinkled shirts/pants, shoes that smell, and clothes that give off a fruity or flowery smell from a laundry detergent that’s too strong.

    Cedar blocks in a closet, keeping the closet door shut off from the rest of the house, properly storing / cleaning of footwear, ironing applicable garments, and simply not letting clothing sit in the dryer go such a long way. No amount of cleanliness can save you from being treated like a slob if your giving off a shabby visage from 10 feet away.

  • http://www.fractionationseduction.org Lewis

    I thought I new a lot when it comes to personal hygiene. With these tips, It will surely take me a long time to finish just to clean up. I never tried applying honey on my face. It sounds relaxing and fun though, I’ll definitely give it a try. I will remember to cool off after a shower. I’m not comfortable not being able to shower everyday and It is hot here, I think I’ll stick with daily baths.

  • http://curiouscarly.com carly

    These are great tips. I’m printing them out for my boyfriend. Guys can get so stinky! :) BTW, those tonsil stones are disgusting. Ewww!

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  • Russ

    Cologne in your boxers? Thats a move a 14 year old kid would pull. You ever smell those guys who spray cologne over their B.O.. Thats pretty much what you end up with. I recommend using Gold Bond body powder. A couple of shakes in my boxers and some in the area. Keeps you dry and prevents “swmp ass”.

  • http://www.pityriasisrosearelief.com/ Lily

    Umm, don’t shower everyday…what the????

  • John

    I’m quite amazed that this article points out common sense stuff that not many men practice. Like actually washing ones feet with soap/shower gel! This this like Basic Hygiene 101 that men should when they graduate from high school, if not college. What did your parents teach you guys when you were a kid? Haha.

    @Lily: I think he means don’t cleanse your skin with shower gel/bar soap everyday. It’s like shampooing ones hair every singe day – your hair will be very dry, but in this case it’s your skin.

    For me, I do “shower” everyday, but the quotes reads as I use anti-bacterial soap everyday for my privates, arm pits, chest, upper back and bicep areas of the arm. I don’t cleanse my entire body everyday since running water over me does the job. Another thing I do every other day is I use an exfoliate sponge. Since I exercise everyday I need to scrub off the dead skin.

    • dan

      noone lurnd me nuthin thats y im heer to lurn myseff cleen

  • Rick

    I’ve got a question about shaving underarms and down under. I’ve noticed at the gym guys shaving more than ever.Is this a fad? On one hand it think men should be men, but on the other hand don’t want to be seen as “old”.
    What ya think? Rick

  • ninl

    I’m guessing this is for men only…

  • Marcus

    I didn’t know until after high school that people took showers for reasons other than washing the hair. I was very shocked when I found out people wash between the buttocks. I thought the cost of sullying your hand like that was worse than getting clean there. I guess the idea is that you wash your hands with more soap afterward. Seriously no one ever told me. I thought the whole point of a shower was to just shampoo—that’s all I ever did until after high school. Still, I don’t think I ever had a BO problem, as I always used deodorant. I do wash my body now, but as for washing my feet, I’d be more likely to fall over in the shower if I tried that. And I don’t use wash cloths, seems like it creates a lot of laundry. I wouldn’t want to reuse one without washing it.

    • Symone Bolden

      If you wash your laundry once or twice per week, having four wash rags
      will be enough. It may help to wash your feet in a bath first and to do
      yoga to stretch and gain balance during your free time. Once you become
      comfortable with your feet and are able to steady yourself on one foot,
      it will become easier, but just the same as many actions, it takes
      practice. Be sure the shower floor isn’t slippery and that your feet can
      maintain their grips to it. If you fall, practice more outside of the
      shower.

  • Kiara

    I have seen many if these articles on many sites but nobody ever states the following: water does not clean your face or hair without the use of soap or shampoo. I actually know of a person that does not use soap or any product to clean his face and occasionally just uses water to clean his hair. It is no wonder his face smells dirty and his hair often looks oily… and smells bad.

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  • ToppCock

    Showering should be a daily thing! Then dry yourself completely with a CLEAN towel especially down there where the sun never shines! Remember that odor-causing microorganisms thrive in moisture! Also wear CLEAN undies and clothes. And use odor-neutralizing products specifically formulated to prevent bacterial growth in the nether regions such as ToppCock.

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  • Niki

    If u have oily hair wash it with shampoo every day…. Rinsing with water is not the same as washing. Brush your teeth before going to work and before bed at least… Bad breath & cakie teeth are a turn off. Don’t go a week without a shower if u work outdoors. Shower if u sweet even if u do not smell. Wash your hands after u pee (men). Splashing water on your face is not washing your face, use soap or a cleanser.