When your favourite sex toy has done its job and you’re floating on a cloud of post-orgasmic bliss, getting up and cleaning your toy is probably the last thing on your mind. We get it. Cleaning of any kind is usually a bit of a buzzkill. But when it comes to protecting your genitals – and prolonging the lifespan of your toys – proper sex toy housekeeping is a must-do.
Why is it Important to Clean Your Sex Toys?
Safe sex matters – and that’s just as important when you’re flying solo! Genitals are home to lot of microscopic bacteria and fungi to help to keep them healthy, and when you use a sex toy, some of these microorganisms can attach themselves to the toy. This is even proper cleaning is even more important after the use of anal toys, for obvious reasons.
Poor sex toy hygiene can cause irritation and infections, so cleaning your toys properly after (and even before) each use is crucial.
How to Clean Sex Toys
While you may think you can just dunk your sex toys in soap and water and be done with it, it’s important to consider the type of toy you’re using and the material it’s made from.
If the material is porous (like elastomer/ rubber, thermoplastic rubber or elastomer / skin-safe rubber) it’s more likely to have the potential to harbour bacteria if it’s not cleaned properly.
Sex toys made from nonporous materials (like ABS plastic, borosilicate glass, silicone and metals such a stainless steel and gold) offer a less habitable surface environment for microorganisms, however it’s still important to clean them thoroughly between uses.
Why is this important? Because the best method for cleaning sex toys can vary depending on what they’re made from.
Cleaning porous materials like rubber, vinyl, cyberskin, nylon, and leather
Rubber materials: 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 anti-bacterial 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 non-porous materials like glass, stainless steel, hard plastic, and silicone
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 anti-bacterial soap and water. Do not boil.
Silicone: Either boil for 5-10 minutes, put it in your dishwasher (on top rack), or wash with anti-bacterial soap and warm water. Do not boil silicone vibrators because you will destroy the vibrator mechanism.
Regardless of your toy’s material, you should wash and dry it immediately after each use to keep your toys as clean and sanitary as possible. Remember – cleaning each of your sex toys properly is just as important as cleaning them regularly. Taking care when cleaning your sex toys reduces the risk of eroding your toys’ materials, warping their shape, or breaking any battery-operated functions they may have.
What Kind of Soap Should I Use?
If your sex toy is made from a material which is safe to clean with soapy water, you’ll want to use the right soap. Choose a mild hand or dish soap, and be sure to choose a soap that’s unscented – especially for toys designed for vaginal use. The vagina has a natural pH that that can be thrown out of whack by fragranced soaps, and lead to infections.
You can also use toy cleaners specifically developed to clean your toys safely and thoroughly, such as:
The Best Way to Dry Sex Toys
No matter how you wash your toy, double-check that it’s dry before storing it to ensure there’s no chance of mould or mildew having an opportunity to build up. Ensuring your toy is fully dry also lessens the likelihood that any pathogens can cling on for dear life.
After thoroughly washing your toys, dry them off completely with a clean towel, or – even better – let them air dry on a clean surface. If you do choose to towel dry, avoid the kinds of fluffy towels that leave any kind of debris, as this can leave irritating particles on your toys.
How you store your sex toys matters, so don’t go to the effort of cleaning and drying them properly only to stuff them loose into your bedside drawer. Even if it’s your designated place for sex toys, there’s probably a bunch of lint and dust in your drawers, and you don’t want that stuff inside you.
Instead, store your sex toys smartly and safely. Either –
- Pop them back in their original packaging
- Place them in a dishwasher safe plastic container
- Store them in a silk or satin drawstring bag or pouch
- Keep them in a waterproof, sealable bag
Whether you store your sex toys in your top drawer, bathroom cabinet or somewhere else entirely, be sure to keep them away from areas that may have oils, powders, and perfumes around to prevent them from picking up any irritants that can end up in your body, damage your device, or both.
Do I Need to Clean Sex Toys BEFORE Use?
Even if you’re diligent about thoroughly cleaning your toys after each use, you should think about cleaning them before you use them, too. Even when stored carefully, there’s a chance your toys may come into contact with dirt, lint and dust, and you don’t want to expose yourself to those elements. Washing your toys before you use them is the best and safest option.