Much the way you can’t ignore dirty dishes, you have to figure out how to clean sex toys in your possession too. If this last responsibility sounds a bit daunting, that’s understandable. Cleaning your sex toys is necessary and it’s pretty easy as long as you know what you’re doing.
Why Clean Sex Toys?
Proper cleaning of sex toys is essential to avoid bacterial infection or transmission of STIs.
While some STIs die once the fluid they live in dries, others (such as hepatitis and scabies) can live for weeks or months outside of the body. If you want to prevent pregnancy, it is also important to remove sperm that may be on the sex toy before using near or in the vagina.
Cleaning your toys properly and regularly also ensures their life spans are as long as possible. There’s also a chance that poor sex toy hygiene can actually cause infections; so yes, safe sex is also a thing to consider even when toys are involved.
And finally, cleaning your sex toys is simply sanitary. Nobody wants crusty old toys laying around their room (or wherever you store your toys).
We will be sharing details for cleaning your toys, but most toys actually come with cleaning instructions for that particular toy (you can often find them online as well).
It’s important to keep the instructions for cleaning the sex toy and to follow them carefully. If you feel that cleaning the toy properly would be too time consuming or unrealistic for you, think about buying a different toy as some are easier to clean.
The information provided below gives a general overview for cleaning different types of toys and isn’t meant to replace the manufacturer’s instructions.
Cleaning Different Types of Sex Toys
To figure out how to clean sex toys, you’ll need to know exactly what they’re made of.
You might think you can just dunk your sex toys in soap and water and be done with it. Please don’t do that. Instead, the first step in cleaning a sex toy is figuring out what material the toy is made of.
You can divide most sex toys into two broad categories: porous materials and nonporous materials. If the material is porous, it has tiny holes (like pores) that can harbor bacteria, fungi, and general gunk.
These include elastomer (rubber) varieties, like:
- Thermoplastic rubber, or TPR for short; sometimes called “skin-safe rubber”
- Thermoplastic elastomer, a.k.a. TRE; also sometimes called “skin-safe rubber”
- Jelly rubber; sometimes (not always) contains phthalates, a group of chemicals that have come under fire for their potential to affect human health.
- Polyvinyl chloride (PVC); also sometimes contains phthalates
- Materials like Sensafirm and UR3, which can help toys feel like skin
- Latex, which isn’t regulated by the Food and Drug Administration in sex toys the way it is in condoms.
If your sex toy is made from nonporous materials, it doesn’t have those holes, so various microorganisms are less likely to stick around.
- Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) plastic (a kind of hard plastic)
- Borosilicate glass (as in Pyrex and similar varieties)
- Soda-lime glass (like the kind used for drinking glasses)
- Metals (like stainless steel and gold)
To find out what kind of material your toy is made of, check the box or look it up online.
It’s worth noting that even if you clean your porous sex toys, you might not be able to remove as many germs as you’d be able to with nonporous ones, so it’s best to save them for personal play or use them with condoms for partnered fun.
Regardless of your toy’s material, you should wash and dry it after each use so it’s as clean as possible. Nonporous materials are the easiest to clean.
Though porous toys are more likely to harbor bacteria or other microorganisms than nonporous ones, it’s a good idea to clean any toy you’ve used right after you’ve used it. I know, I know: What a buzzkill. But incorporating this crucial step into your routine will keep your toys as sanitary as possible.
How to Clean Your Sex Toys
For basic toy care,
- Remove any batteries
- Never submerge electrical components in water
- Use a damp, soapy washcloth to clean your electric toys, preferably with anti-bacterial soap
- Keep toys stored in a container or pouch (to keep them clean) and in a cool, dry place
- Sex toy cleaner sprays can help aid in cleaning, but shouldn’t replace actual washing
- Make sure to use proper lube with your toys (for example, silicone-based lube shouldn’t be used with silicone toys)
Cleaning Non-Porous Sex Toys
Glass: Wash glass toys with soap and water. Pyrex toys are dishwasher safe. Do not expose glass to extreme temperatures.
Stainless Steel: If attached to an electrical device, use warm soapy water, being careful not to submerge any electrical components. If there are no electrical components you have 3 options: Boil or soak in a 10% bleach-water solution for 10 minutes, or place it in the dishwasher.
Hard Plastic: Clean with antibacterial soap and water. Do not boil.
Silicone: You can choose from 3 options to clean a silicone toy. Either boil for 5-10 minutes, put it in your dishwasher (on top rack), or wash with antibacterial soap and warm water. Do not boil silicone vibrators because you will destroy the vibrator mechanism.
Cleaning Porous Sex Toys
Rubber: Rubber materials are porous and difficult to clean. In addition, their composition is not always known or may contain phthalates, chemicals which have been shown to be harmful to your health. For these reasons, it is recommended to use condoms with these types of toys.
Cyberskin and Vinyl: Cyberskin is soft and porous, often used for dildos. Wash cyberskin and vinyl toys delicately with warm water only. Air dry and powder a small amount with cornstarch to keep them from getting sticky.
Nylon: Nylon harnesses and toys can be machine or hand washed with a mild antibacterial soap.
Leather: Wipe leather products with a damp, soapy cloth or with leather cleaner. Do not soak leather. After cleaning, you may recondition your toy using a leather conditioner. Protect metal parts from tarnish by applying a coating of clear nail polish.
Cleaning Different Types of Sex Toys
Aside from material, some types of sex toys are more difficult to clean than others.
For example, cleaning a Fleshlight is a lot harder than a glass dildo because it has a lot more hidden nooks. So, you’ll want to take this into account as well when purchasing new toys to add to your collection.
The Bottom Line
Cleaning your sex toys properly is important – we hope you learned everything you were looking for when it comes to how to clean sex toys! Pleasure is wonderful, but not at the expense of our health. On a final note, how you store your toys matters as well. Keeping them in a cool, dry, secure place will mean the difference in them lasting for years to come or not. Take care of your sex toys and they’ll take care of you.