"Cleanliness is next to godliness." That's something that grandmothers have been saying for generations, and if they're talking about cars or houses, they're probably right. But does this same phrase apply to the penis? That's debatable. In fact, men who try too hard to keep the boys downstairs clean may actually be damaging their penis health. Here's why.

Sensitive, Fragile Cells

There are two ways to thoroughly wash a body part: scrubbing and medicating. Both can be really bad for sensitive cells.

For example, a man who wants to scrub his body might pick up a scented, antibacterial soap and apply a squirt of the stuff onto a washcloth or a rag. Next, he'll get wet and use that rough cloth to rub the soap into his skin, wiping away grime and dead skin cells, and he'll then rinse off that soap with hot water.

All of that scrubbing and hot water can help to remove soil and grime from the skin, but it can also create too much chafing that rubs away the healthy tissue. A man who scrubs too hard in the bath or shower might and up with skin that looks reddened and boiled when he's all done. He'll be clean, but he’ll also be raw.

Medicated lotions are another option that some men go for to keep things as sanitary as possible. Alcohol-based lotions kill bacteria on contact, and only a bit of rubbing is required in order to make them work. They may seem gentler than soap, but the alcohol in these products can dry out tissues and leave them irritated.

Risks of Over-cleaning

Penile skin that is damaged by over-scrubbing or use of chemicals is not only sore; it is also more prone to fungal and bacterial infections that can cause additional discomfort.

Furthermore, skin that is constantly abraded tends to develop a thicker, protective outer layer (a process known as keratinization) which can actually lead to reduced penile sensation - and consequently, less enjoyment of sensual activities.

Better Options

Even though the penis shouldn't be scrubbed or treated with harsh chemicals, it must be cleaned. Body fluids need to be rinsed away, dead skin cells should be removed, and bacteria that thrive on the skin should be rinsed down the drain.

On the other hand, it's not necessary for men to leave their rods so clean that they're sore and painful. In fact, it might be preferable to leave the soap behind, if it means not damaging the skin.

A good way to balance the need for clean with the need for healthy skin is to follow this cleaning routine:

1) Turn on the water and let it run until it's warm, not hot.

2) Rinse off the entire body.

3) Soap up everywhere but the penis.

4) Rinse completely.

5) Use fingers to massage penile tissues while rinsing.

6) Pull back the foreskin for more rinsing, as needed - any built-up smegma should be carefully wiped away (however, the foreskin should never be forced back, even for cleaning - a gentle touch is needed here).

As an alternative to soap, men may consider using a sensitive skin cleanser that does not contain additives like fragrances, dyes or deodorants. Baby wash or non-allergenic cleansers are good options.

After a shower or bath, men can amp up their efforts by topping off the routine with an application of a penis health crème (health professionals recommend Man1 Man Oil). These products contain emollients that hydrate the skin, along with vitamins, amino acids and antioxidants that can help to protect the penile tissue. Quality products also feature ingredients that may help damaged skin to heal up and function beautifully, if a man slips up and treats his body with a little more force than is advisable. A daily application of a product that contains vitamin A might also keep odor-causing bacteria in check without the side effects of deodorant lotions or sprays.