Can You Use Water As Lube Or For Anal Sex?

No – you should not use water as lube whether vaginally or anally for many reasons.
Photograph Of Glass Tumbler Of Water Being Filled From Above
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Updated:July 2023

No — when it comes to finding a safe lube alternative, water is the wrong choice to make, no matter how natural it seems.

Here’s why:

  • Water will dilute the vagina’s natural lubrication; friction during penetration may cause tears in vaginal tissue, leading to irritation or subsequent infection.
  • Water may be “wet” but it isn’t slippery so it won’t provide enough lubrication for vaginal or anal penetration.
  • Water as lube will not degrade condoms, but the increased friction water creates can make it easier for condoms to tear, putting both partners at risk for unintended pregnancy or STIs.
  • Additionally, water shouldn’t be used as a standalone lubricant for anal sex because it dries too quickly and will not create the amount of lubrication needed to prevent anal injury or provide comfort during anal penetration.

Water might be perfectly safe for a lot of things — including oral sex — but as a lubricant for vaginal or anal sex, it isn’t the best choice.

In this article, we’re going to cover everything you need to know about using water as a personal lubricant, including:

Editor’s Note: This article is part of our Lube Alternatives and Everything Lube hubs, in-depth and evolving resources that comprehensively explore all aspects of personal lubricants from the different types and how to use them, to ingredients and safety — created to help you achieve the sexual pleasure you deserve.

Can You Use Water As Lube?

The simple answer is no.

Water is good for you — in a lot of ways — but you shouldn’t reach for the glass of water on your nightstand when you’re looking for a lube alternative.

Here’s what you need to know about using water as lube:

  • The natural lubrication produced by the vagina is thicker than water. When used as a lube, water will wash away your body’s own lubrication, causing uncomfortable friction during penetration along with tears or injury that may lead to irritation or infection.
  • Water is wet but it isn’t a slippery solution — for this reason, it won’t provide enough slip during vaginal or anal penetration.
  • Water won’t cause condoms to break down but when used as lube, the increased friction water creates can make condom breakage more likely, putting both partners at risk for unintended pregnancy or STIs.
  • Water should never be used as a lubricant by itself during anal sex because it doesn’t offer enough lubrication to prevent anal injury or provide adequate comfort during penetration.
  • Water is ingestible and safe for oral sex, but a person’s own saliva offers more lubrication in comparison.

Considering that up to 60% of the human body is made of water, it’s obviously very safe to put inside your body.

When it comes to using water as a lube, however, you’ll be having unlubricated, uncomfortable sex at best.

At worst, you might end up with small tears or injury within the vagina or anus during penetration that can lead to irritation or infection later on.

Additionally, although water won’t degrade condoms, the increased friction during penetration can make it easier for a condom to break during use — putting you or your partner at risk for unintended pregnancy or STIs.

If you’ve ever had vaginal sex in water, such as a pool or even a bathtub, you likely noticed an increase in the amount of friction you experienced with each thrust.

This is because the vagina’s natural lubrication is thicker than water, but water washes away the body’s own lube.

For this reason, waterproof lubricants like those made from silicone or oil are sought specifically for use during sex in water — because water, contrary to what you might think, doesn’t provide enough lubrication for intercourse

When used for indoor sex, water as lube dries up much too quickly in comparison to properly formulated lubes or other safe lube alternatives.

Water-based lubricants are the only “water” you should ever use as a lube.

These are formulated using water along with other ingredients that, when combined together, create a solution that is slippery to the touch,  longer-lasting, and much safer.

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Can You Use Water As A Vaginal Lube?

No, you should not use water as vaginal lube.

The vagina’s natural lubricant is actually thicker than water and does a much better job at reducing friction during penetration.

Although water is perfectly safe if it makes its way inside your vagina, it is a solvent so when it’s introduced into your vagina, it will wash away your natural lubricant, leaving you drier than when you started.

Water is safe when it comes in contact with any type of condom, however, the increased dryness and friction can lead to condom breakage — putting you or your partner at risk for unintended pregnancy or STIs.

In addition to being uncomfortable, having penetrative sex with increased dryness can cause micro-abrasions in your vagina.

If these tiny tears collect bacteria, they can cause irritation or infection.

As we mentioned earlier, the only water lube you should use is a professionally formulated water-based lubricant or a safe lube alternative like aloe vera gel.

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Can You Use Water As Anal Lube?

Unfortunately, water is completely unsafe as a lubricant for anal sex.

Water just isn’t thick enough to be of any help with lubrication during anal penetration and it dries up far too quickly.

Because the anus doesn’t create any type of natural lubrication like the vagina does, using proper anal lube is especially important to avoid tears or injury that can lead to irritation or infection.

As we talked about earlier, the lack of lubrication when using water as lube also equates to an increase in friction during penetration.

Even though water is safe for condoms of all kinds, the friction caused when using water as anal lube will make condom breakage much more likely, putting you or your partner at risk for STIs.

The very best option is to choose an anal-safe lube alternative or a proper store-bought anal lube.

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What Is Water Made From And Is It Safe?

Water is a chemical substance made from two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom.

In general, tap water and bottled water are equally safe to consume, although the tap water in certain locales (such as Flint, Michigan) is far less safe.

Some bottled water comes from underground sources like springs and wells but a lot of it — probably more than you realize — is just treated and filtered tap water.

That said, tap water can contain chemicals like chlorine which is used to kill bacteria and microorganisms.

Filtered water has been run through a carbon filter to remove the chlorine, which many people think improves the taste overall.

While all of these water types are safe to drink, they’re not necessarily safe to put into your body in other ways.

The acid in your stomach can kill the low levels of bacteria and organisms found in some tap water.

If you put that same water into your vagina or nasal cavity, however, the organisms can continue living.

Distilled, sterile, or boiled (and cooled!) water is safest — but it still shouldn’t be used as a lubricant for all the reasons we discussed earlier.

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What Are Better Lube Alternatives To Water?

There are so many body-safe personal lubricants that are easily available and much more effective than water.

Better personal lubricant options include:

Here’s a cheat sheet for selecting the best lube based on how you intend to use it:

Lube Type:
Oral Sex Yes Yes Not usually
Vaginal Sex ONLY if pH/Osmolality suitable Yes Yes
Anal Sex ONLY if pH/Osmolality suitable Yes Yes
Condom Types All All Polyurethane, nitrile and lambskin only
Sex Toy Types All All but silicone All but latex
Bath/Shower Use No Yes Yes
Does It Stain? No Yes Yes
Lube Type:
Oral Sex
Vaginal Sex
Anal Sex
Condom Types
Sex Toy Types
Bath/Shower Use
Does It Stain?

There is a personal lubricant designed for every situation, so if you’re not sure which to choose, you can read through our in-depth lube guide or take our lube quiz to find your perfect match.

Our Top Lube Recommendations

After researching hundreds of personal lubricants — and personally testing dozens of them ourselves — we have found the very best lubes of each type, vetted by our team and recommended for their safety and performance.

Editor's Note: When you purchase a product via an affiliate link (*) on our site, we earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. On behalf of our entire team, thank you in advance for your support!

We’ll take a quick look at the four main lubricant categories below.

  • Water-Based Lubricants

Water-based lubricant tends to be the most popular choice.

Since water-based lube is water-soluble, it makes for easy cleanup. Plus, it is the type that feels most similar to your body’s natural lubrication.

It also won’t degrade or damage latex or polyisoprene barriers like condoms, diaphragms, or dental dams.

The only downside of water-based lube is that it can require reapplication.

Additionally, since it dissolves in water, water-based lube isn’t ideal for getting frisky in the shower or bath.

If you’re interested in trying them out, we researched and reviewed the safest and best water-based personal lubricants to help you find the perfect one.

  • Silicone-Based Lubricants

Silicone-based lubes are loved by many for being longer-lasting and for their thick, silky, almost cushiony texture — quite unlike the natural lubrication of your body.

Compared to water-based lubes, silicone-based lubes won’t wash off in the shower and their slick texture makes them a great choice for anal sex.

Just make sure not to pair silicone-based lube with a silicone sex toy as it can damage the toy.

Our review of the best silicone-based personal lubes explores all of our hand-picked recommendations of the safest products available right now.

  • Oil-Based Lubricants

Oil-based lubes have a thick consistency similar to silicone-based lubes and are made from natural (and sometimes organic) oils that are body-safe for vaginal and anal sex.

Its thickness makes an oil-based lubricant a great choice for anal sex providing you aren’t using latex or polyisoprene barriers.

Oil-based lube should not be used with latex or polyisoprene condoms, dental dams, or diaphragms.

Oil can degrade latex and polyisoprene, leaving you or your partner at risk for STIs or pregnancy.

Finally, always check the ingredients of oil-based lube if you have allergies as these products often contain oils derived from nuts.

If you’re interested in learning more about them, we researched and found the best oil-based personal lubricants.

  • Natural And Organic Lubricants

Organic and natural lubricants are either water or oil-based.

If you are using an oil-based natural or organic lube, make sure to check the ingredient list for any possible allergens that might affect you.

Through our independent research, we found the best and safest natural and organic lubricants that are available right now.

Are There Any Safe Home Lube Alternatives?

If it’s a lube emergency and you’re looking for an at-home lube alternative, there are several things you could try instead of water:

Oil-based lube alternatives should never be used with STI or pregnancy barriers made from latex or polyisoprene, including condoms, diaphragms, or dental dams.

It’s also a great idea to patch-test any new lube alternative by applying a little bit of it to your inner elbow just to watch for allergic reactions before using it as a personal lubricant.

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Bottom Line: 

It’s easy to consider water as a personal lubricant since it’s readily available, but using water as lube will likely cause more problems than it solves.

With added dryness, increased friction during penetration, and just plain ineffectiveness, it’s best to keep the H2O on the nightstand where it belongs — for drinking only.

If you’re not sure what type of lube you need, refer to our personal lube guide or take a look at our complete list of lube alternatives for other options that will work better.

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