Sex Toys

How to Properly Clean Your Sex Toys

written by BETH GILLETTE
Source: Urban Outfitters
Source: Urban Outfitters

I’d like to start this by saying if you haven’t cleaned your toys yet: 

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, we can talk about how you’re probably doing it wrong. Cleaning your sex toys isn’t meant to be complicated, but it’s not as easy as rubbing on ( I just cringed at this, I’m so sorry I’m making you read it) some soap and cleaning up. Because this literally goes inside your body (or at the very minimum interacts with the pH of your vagina), there are some precautions to make sure the products you use don’t upset your natural biome. You also have to be careful to clean them with products that are good for the material of the toys.   



The difference between materials

A quick lesson: sex toys are made of different materials, and some are made from a material that can harbor bacteria, oils, dirt, etc. These ones must be cleaned with specific products that don’t disrupt that and make that bacteria spread — or worse, give you an infection.  Nonporous materials include things like silicone (which are often found in typical vibrators), glass, metals, and acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) plastic (a type of hard plastic).  Porous materials, the ones that can harbor bacteria and other generally gross things, include rubber, latex, and Sensafirm, and UR3 (which sometimes makes toys feel like skin). These toys need to be cleaned more thoroughly, and it’s more important that you clean them after every use.   


How often should I clean my sex toys?

You probably don’t want to hear this, but sex toys should be cleaned after every single use. Even if you’re only using it yourself, it is very easy for bacteria to attach themselves to your toys, and you don’t want that getting anywhere near your genitals! (Please forgive me for all the awkward language I’ve used thus far in this article.)  


How to clean

If you keep the packaging, there should be cleaning instructions. However, if you just couldn’t wait and tossed that packaging immediately (relatable), here are a few guidelines:

  • If you’re using a sex toy made of a nonporous material . . . Use a mild soap-free of any micro-beads, exfoliants, or harsh ingredients. Make sure whatever soap you’re using is fragrance-free, as fragrances can irritate the vagina and the pH balance of your vulva.
  • If it’s made of a porous material . . . You can try cleaning it with some mild soap and water, but that might not get it completely clean. If you’re using this kind of toy with a partner, we’d recommend trying it with a condom to make sure no bacteria or STIs are transferred.
  • If it isn’t waterproof . . . Be careful about putting a non-waterproof toy (especially one that vibrates or is motorized) right into water. Just use a washcloth with a mild soap and a little bit of water, and then dry it with a paper towel.
  • If you’re using a sex toy with a partner . . .  Clean your toys with boiling water. If it’s not made of silicone, Pyrex, or stainless steel, try the above.  Always dry your toys off completely — especially if the toy is made of silicone or isn’t waterproof, as the water can hurt the material.   


How to store them

Some people choose to keep their toys in a toy bag to make sure they’re not in a place where they could get bacteria on them. If you don’t want to go to this length, just make sure it’s tucked away in a box or bag of some sort. You don’t want your sex toys just rolling around your bedside drawer, as this can cause it to collect dust, lint, or other things rolling around in there. You don’t want to have to clean a toy before you use it — what a mood killer. (However, many doctors suggest cleaning your toys before you use them too to be safe!)  


Is it OK to just use a toy cleaner?

A toy cleaner is great to use when you’re in a pinch for time; however, this shouldn’t be your main source of keeping it clean. This one by LELO works super well for disinfecting and spot cleaning when you don’t feel like getting up to clean your toys right after sex with a partner. They’re also great for travel!