Properly cleaning sex toys isn’t hard work, but it is serious business. The consequences of not cleaning your sex toy are more significant than you might think. For women, a dirty toy can cause yeast, bacterial, and urinary tract infections. And an unclean toy can easily spread STDs between partners. An unclean toy attracts dirt and lint (hardly things you want near your private parts), and can break down or stop working as intended.
Sex toys come in a huge range of shapes and materials, and that will affect how you want to go about cleaning them. But there are some general tips to keep in mind, as well as specific instructions for individual materials.
General Tips for Cleaning sex Toys
Clean before and after use
In the heat of the moment, it can be hard to remember to clean your toys before getting down to the fun. Sometimes it’s even more difficult to motivate yourself to clean it up afterward, when you’re deep in a blissful post-sex haze. But in the end, you’ll be glad you went to the effort to clean your toys both before and after, which will help keep things sanitary and working as they are intended.
Perfumes and sprays are a no-no
We all want to smell our best—especially in close physical contact—but resist the urge to spritz perfume or cologne on your toys. The perfume doesn’t easily wash off certain toys, particularly ones that are porous. More than that, the scented sprays can irritate sensitive skin areas.
Make sure it is completely dry
Toys come in all kinds of wonderful shapes and sizes, which also means there are plenty of places that water and soap can build up, attracting mildew and bacteria. After you clean your toys, it can be helpful to let them dry for a few hours on a soft cloth or paper towel. If that’s not an option—and we get that leaving your sex toys out to dry may not be an option—then take the paper towel or cloth and carefully dry all the nooks and ridges of your toy before you put it away.
How to Clean Individual Materials
In general, we encourage you to avoid using soaps or only use a very mild, scent-free soap when cleaning your products. Harsher detergents can leave residue that can damage the toys or get into your body. You should avoid antibacterial products for the same reason—they can leave a residue. Remember that many toys come with cleaning instructions (either on their packaging or online) that you should follow whenever possible. But if your desk or web browser looks anything like mine, and you’ve misplaced those instructions, keep in mind some simple guidelines:
Motorized Silicone and Rubber
If your toy comes with any kind of a motor or vibrating mechanism (like a silicone vibrator does), you should avoid putting it in the dishwasher or running it under the tap for long periods of time. And you should certainly never submerge it in water. Instead, use a cloth, hot water, and a mild, unscented soap to wipe your toy clean. If the batteries are accessible, try to remove them before getting your toy wet.
Glass, Silicone, and Stainless Steel
Non-porous toys, such as metal cock rings and dildos, can be cleaned with hot water. Some people like to submerge their toys in boiling water for a few minutes, or put them in the top rack of the dishwasher without soap (the hot water and steam will do the job).
Hard Plastic and TPE
Toys like a man sleeve, which are made from thermoplastic elastomer, are porous, and so you don’t want to submerge them in water or run them through the dishwasher. Instead, use a cloth and warm water. Be sure to dry “pocket” toys like the man sleeve completely.
Many sex toys—like slappers, ball gags, and collars—include leather materials. Leather is very porous and will absorb moisture and germs, which is why it’s important to clean it and clean it correctly. You should never submerge your leather toys in water or put them through a washing machine. Instead, you should use a soft cloth and warm water mixed with saddle soap to wipe them clean and then dry. You can disinfect leather with rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide, but again, be sure to wipe the toy clean afterward with saddle soap and hot water.
Fabric toys, like soft handcuffs or blindfolds, require a mixed approach. If you can remove all the metal and porous items from your toy then you can usually run the fabric portion through the washing machine. But often, it’s not easy or even possible to separate the fabric from the rest of your toy. In that case, use hot water and a few drops of a soft detergent with a cloth. If you can’t put the item in the dryer, it is best not to fully submerge the toy; use a spot-cleaning approach instead. Make sure you leave all fabric items out to dry completely before putting them away—no one likes a musty blindfold!
Storing your Sex Toys
When you’re putting your toys away, most of us are just happy if we can find a reasonably secure, private spot in which to keep them. But how you store them matters, too. Many toys come with a discreet pouch or bag in which to keep your favorite items. But if you don’t have a bag, consider gently wrapping your toys in a soft cloth, towel, or an old pillowcase. Wrapping your toys will help keep dust and debris from getting inside your toy when you slide them back into the drawer or the closet.
How to keep you Sex Toys working
Regularly cleaning your toys is more than just sanitary—it helps keep them working their best. Here are a few more tips you can use to keep your toys in great working conditions.
- Remove the batteries: Pop the batteries out of your toy before you store it—especially if it’s a toy that you only use on occasion. This can help prevent the batteries from leaking.
- Check your lubes: If you are using a silicone toy you should avoid oil- and silicone-based lubes, which can break down the silicone material on your toy.
- Extra protection: Toys made from porous materials can be especially hard to get clean and dry. Many health experts suggest using a condom with hard rubber, TPE, and synthetic skin products—especially if it is a toy that multiple people use.
Like our favorite pair of jeans, we want our sex toys to last. Putting in the effort to effectively clean and maintain your toys—using the appropriate materials and methods—will keep those toys healthy, functioning and satisfying for years to come.