How to clean a horse’s sheath at home

August 24, 2014

The sheath is one of those things that many horse owners pretend doesn’t exist. But I’ve found my geldings really appreciate good hygiene, and sheath cleaning needs to be less embarrassing and a higher priority.

I wanted to do a video on sheath cleaning, but my attempt to do so turned out to be a longish video of my elbow. If I posted it, viewers wouldn’t be able to tell what I was doing.

I will describe this process with words.

I have to clean the sheath of one of my laminitic horses every other week to prevent him from itching.

Thus, I had to learn how to do this myself rather than call the vet.

Since the sheath is a sensitive area, the water must be warm. I hook up a hose to my kitchen sink with an adapter and run the hose out the kitchen door since I don’t have hot water in my barn.

There is the smell factor. Sheath cleaning can leave your hands smelling unpleasant. Gloves can help with this, but I have never gotten through a cleaning without taking off the gloves because they were getting in the way. Don’t clean a sheath if you need to be someplace in an hour.


Cleaning solution:

• Distilled white vinegar from Walmart
• Walmart’s Equate brand mouthwash, any variety
• Arm & Hammer baking soda

Fill a small bucket half full with water and add three big glugs of the distilled white vinegar and three glugs of the mouthwash. I don’t think you can use too much of either.

Tear off eight to 10 sections of paper towels, with two paper towels per section, and put them in the water.

Halter the horse and bring it to the wash area.

Take a segment of paper towels out of the bucket and start cleaning inside the sheath.

The sheath has two chambers. The lower chamber, where most of the dirt collects, and the upper sheath, which is harder to reach.

Lower chamber

Dirt and wax tend to accumulate in the area just inside the opening of the lower chamber. That debris will cover the first paper towels you use. In fact, if you haven’t cleaned the sheath in a long time, you may need more than 10 segments of paper towels for this cleaning.

As you work, you may need to peel or roll big pieces of debris off the walls of the sheath with your hand.

Once you have most of the debris removed, get a final wet paper towel segment and sprinkle a very generous pile of baking soda on it and use that to get the last bit of debris off the sheath wall, particularly just inside the opening.

Then use the hose to rinse everything off. I just thread the hose inside the lower chamber. I’ve never had a problem with the horse minding.

Upper chamber

As you work the hose toward the far end of the lower chamber, you will be able to work maybe two fingers into the upper chamber, where the penis will be hiding. I use my fingers to remove the small amount of debris in there as the hose is squirting water in there. At first, my horses noticed this part of the cleaning, but now they don’t.

There are blog posts that talk about removing a bean at the end of the penis. I’ve never found anything there, but I won’t discount what others are recommending.


Wash the bucket and hose well with either more vinegar and baking soda or dishwashing detergent. I wash these items and the hose in between horses if I’m doing more than one horse.

I can get two horses done in under 15 minutes. This does not take long, and I think it’s a real service for geldings and stallions.

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