Updated at: 14-04-2022 - By: Rose Elliott
If you use sex toys, such as vibrators, dildos, and anal toys, you need to know how to properly clean them. Cleaning your sex toys doesn’t have to be difficult, but failing to do so might have serious implications.
A sexologist at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, says that using unclean sex toys can potentially introduce unwanted bacteria or other pathogens—like fungi—into the vulvar-vaginal environment that can lead to the overgrowth of bacteria known as bacteriological vaginosis or cause a urinary tract infection. When toys are shared by numerous people, it is extremely vital to carefully clean them. The majority of sex toys can be cleaned with liquid detergent and water and then air-dried, making them easy to maintain. Even so, we’ll be able to tell you when it’s better to disinfect your toys more thoroughly.

To figure out how to clean sex toys, you’ll need to know exactly what they’re made of.

When it comes to cleaning your sex toys, you might believe you can simply soak them in soap and water and be done. Please do not do that. When cleaning a sex toy, the first step is to determine the substance it is composed of. Porous and nonporous materials make up the vast majority of sex toys.

Lisa Finn, a sex toy educator at the sex toy boutique Babeland, tells SELF that porous materials include tiny holes (like pores) that can harbor bacteria, fungi, and other junk.

According to Finn, porous materials include:

  • Thermoplastic rubber, also known as TPR or “skin-safe rubber,” is one type of elastomer (rubber).
  • Thermoplastic elastomer (TRE), commonly known as “skin-safe rubber,” is a type of thermoplastic rubber.
  • A category of compounds known as phthalates have come under fire for their potential to harm human health (the scientific jury is still out, according to the National Library of Medicine) Jelly rubber; sometimes (not always) includes phthalates

A common PVC material that may also include phthalates is polyvinyl chloride (PVC).

  • Materials like Sensafirm and UR3, which can help toys feel like skin
  • Latex, the Food and Drug Administration does not regulate sex toys in the same way it does condoms

If your sex toy is composed of nonporous materials, there are no holes for bacteria to hide in. Nonporous sex-toy materials include:

  • 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)
  • Silicone
  • Metals like stainless steel and gold

Find out what your toy is made of by looking at the packaging or searching online. Porous sex toys, even if cleaned, may not be able to eliminate as many germs as nonporous ones, so it’s best to save them for solo play or use them with condoms for partnered fun—more on that in a moment.

For surface cleaning

  • Water
  • Soap: Castile soap or liquid hand soap is recommended. I don’t think it’s necessary to use antibacterial soap. Avoid dish soap and other harsh soaps.
  • Paper towels or clean washcloths: After you’ve cleaned your toys, hang them up to dry.

For deep cleaning

  • Pot for boiling water: You may disinfect a wide range of toys by first scrubbing them and then soaking them in hot water for a short period of time.
  • Bleach and spray bottle (or another receptacle for a bleach solution): Most pathogens on your toys can be killed by boiling or bleaching, but not all of them.
  • Dishwasher: Check to see if your dishwasher has the right disinfecting options. Boiling or bleaching your toys is preferable if you don’t have the time.
  • Paper towels or clean washcloths: After you’ve cleaned your toys, hang them up to dry.

Optional

  • Sex-toy wipes or cleaning sprays: Simple soap and water will do the trick in the vast majority of situations.

How to Clean Your Sex Toys So You Can Use Them Safely?

Your cleaning time depends on the technique you use. Surface-cleaning toys can take anything from a few seconds to a few minutes per toy, excluding drying time. You’ll need an additional three minutes to thoroughly clean a boiled toy. Toys can be disinfected in about 10 minutes by bleaching them. Plan for a full-rinse cycle if you prefer to use a dishwasher (yes, it is possible in some circumstances) (timing may vary).

For surface cleaning

  • Water
  • Soap: Castile soap or liquid hand soap is recommended. I don’t think it’s necessary to use a bar of antibacterial soap. Avoid dish soap and other harsh soaps.
  • Paper towels or clean washcloths: After you’ve cleaned your toys, hang them up to dry.

For deep cleaning

  • Pot for boiling water: You may disinfect a wide range of toys by first scrubbing them and then soaking them in hot water for a short period of time.
  • Bleach and spray bottle (or another receptacle for a bleach solution): Most pathogens on your toys can be killed by boiling or bleaching, but not all of them.
  • Dishwasher: Check to see if your dishwasher has the right disinfecting options. Boiling or bleaching your toys is preferable if you don’t have the time.
  • Paper towels or clean washcloths: After you’ve cleaned your toys, hang them up to dry.

Optional

  • Sex-toy wipes or cleaning sprays: Simple soap and water will do the trick in the vast majority of situations.

Your cleaning time depends on the technique you use. Surface-cleaning toys can take anything from a few seconds to a few minutes per toy, excluding drying time. You’ll need an additional three minutes to thoroughly clean a boiled toy. Toys can be disinfected in about 10 minutes by bleaching them. Plan for a full-rinse cycle if you prefer to use a dishwasher (yes, it is possible in some circumstances) (timing may vary).

With a good scrub, you can clean almost any form of sex toy. As a result, the toy is not clean or safe to play with. For toys that will only be used by you, a quick wipe down is all that’s needed.

Determine the water safety rating of your toy before you begin. Splashproof or waterproof toys can be safely washed in the sink because they do not have any moving parts and are therefore safe to use in the sink.

Splashproof means that the toy’s surface can be submerged in water. Waterproof toys can be submerged up to a specific depth without harm. This information can be found in the toy’s packaging or instruction manual. A damp paper towel or washcloth should be used to wipe out a toy that isn’t water-safe, rather than rinsing it and immersing it.

Remove the batteries if the toy is battery-powered before washing it.

To clean the toy’s surface, run it under water or use a wet paper towel or washcloth to wipe it down. If you’re washing the toy in the sink, use liquid soap and scrub it, or use a damp cloth and liquid soap to clean it once more.

If the toy has grooves or nooks that collect dirt, clean them out with a soft toothbrush you’ve set aside just for that reason. The toy should then be thoroughly cleaned by rinsing or wiping it with plain water.

Place the toy on a clean cloth and let it air-dry for a few hours. While air drying is recommended for many toys, Deysach says that “lint gets caught on most toys, hence air drying is the best option for most toys.” Allowing battery-operated toys to dry out in an open battery container is also recommended by her.

One more word on sex-toy cleaning solutions: In most circumstances, ordinary soap and water is just as effective at cleaning sex toys as any other product on the market. However, most of these products need to be rinsed off after use, so they may not save you time or energy,” Deysach noted. There are a few exceptions to this rule, such as AfterGlow Cleansing Tissues, which don’t require rinsing.

How to Clean Your Sex Toys So You Can Use Them Safely?

There are instances when all that is required is a basic cleaning. Disinfecting a toy is a good idea in the following situations:

  • People that are not fluidly bonded will play with the toy. The toy can be protected with a condom when being shared.
  • It is possible that the pathogens linked with the yeast, bacterial, or sexually transmitted infection had come into touch with the toy while it was in use. Researchers revealed that even after basic surface cleaning of vibrators, human papillomavirus (HPV) may still be detected. Toy business Pure Romance has given “a grant and non-financial support” to one of the study’s authors.
  • An anal and vaginal toy is what you’re looking for. As a result, experts recommend using condoms.
  • An anal toy has an odor that you’d like to get rid of. Silicone toys, in particular, may have a problem with odor retention.

Most pathogens will be killed using these methods. Dishwashers, on the other hand, can be used to kill bacteria, but not viruses or fungi, as well. In addition, these techniques can be used to remove silicone toy scents.

You can clean and disinfect 100% silicone, stainless steel, and borosilicate glass toys by putting them in a pot of boiling water for three minutes and then rinsing them with soap and water. Glass toys can “jump around in the pan,” so Deysach advises placing a washcloth in the saucepan to protect them from breaking or cracking. In addition, Deysach advised that you keep a close eye on the boiling process.

Using a clean towel and some tongs, remove the boiled toy from the water and let it air dry. After boiling, avoid rinsing with cold water to avoid stressing the material further.

A dishwasher’s top rack is ideal for deep cleaning a large number of nonmechanized 100% silicone, stainless steel, and borosilicate glass toys at once. Rinse and sanitize the dishwasher with no soap (which is too harsh to be used with sex toys). If you share the dishwasher with anyone other than a sexual partner, this practice is not suggested.

According to sex toy specialist Dangerous Lilly, a dishwasher’s sanitizing setting employs a lengthy hot-water rinse to kill bacteria but does not eliminate all viruses or fungi from the toys it cleans.

The sanitize cycle on home dishwashers must reach 150 degrees Fahrenheit and eliminate 99.999 percent of bacteria, according to a government guideline. For most bacteria and some other germs, this is hot enough to kill them. But for heat-resistant viruses and fungi, this may not be enough. Use the stovetop or a bleach solution instead of the dishwasher if you’re unsure.

After a thorough surface washing, toys can be cleaned with a bleach solution. To make a bleach solution, Chase suggests using a 5:1 ratio of home bleach to water. Bleach solution can either be sprayed on the toy or submerged in the solution for 10 minutes, she advised.

The CDC’s disinfection guidelines form the basis of her recommendations. In order to submerge a toy in bleach solution, it must be classed as 100% waterproof (not splashproof). A thorough wash with soap and water is required after the bleach treatment.

We recommend bleaching and boiling sex toys to UV disinfection since they’re less expensive, and they’re just as effective or better in most circumstances. According to Dangerous Lilly, “I believe that the broad population of sex toy owners does not require such a costly instrument for cleaning, it is a niche product.”

Because UV radiation can only disinfect surfaces it can reach, there is some worry about its efficacy. As a result, it may not work as well on toys with many little spaces.

How to Clean Your Sex Toys So You Can Use Them Safely?

Keeping your toys clean between uses is as simple as putting them away correctly after you’ve cleaned them. Nonporous sex toys can be stored in any sealable pouch or case, however most come with a cloth pouch, case, or box. Dust and lint will be kept at bay this way.

In order to reduce odor, Deysach recommends keeping silicone anal toys in “something breathable (not plastic).” In a cold, dark, dry spot, such a shelf or a drawer, toys should be kept. Toys should not be kept in direct sunlight or in areas where they are likely to become wet, such as the bathroom, where they could be damaged.

A toy should not be used if it has any “obvious fissures in plastic or acrylic,” say clinical specialists, because these defects can make the toy dangerous to use and difficult to clean. This is especially true for toys made of solid materials such as silicone and borosilicate glass or stainless steel. Rips and tears in silicone toys are just as bad.

If you’re feeling lazy, you can (occasionally) get away with using a sex toy cleaner.

Like the Babeland Toy Cleaner, you can always have some sort of sex toy cleaner on hand. You can use it to sanitize your toy without damaging its substance, but it’s not recommended for daily usage. There is “more of a dry shampoo” in the cleaner, adds Finn. “It’s better than nothing, but it can’t substitute for a full hair wash,” he says. There are ways to clean your toy after an intense orgasm, like wiping it down with the cleaner and then giving it a thorough wash when you’re ready to get up again.

You can also use condoms (especially if you’re sharing toys).

If your sex toy is shaped like a condom, a simple fix is to use a fresh one each time you use it. This could eliminate the need for any cleaning at all. Those of us who despise cleaning will like this hack, but it’s also a good idea if you plan on sharing sex toys for the aforementioned microbial reasons. To avoid condom erosion, avoid using oil-based lubes when using condoms (they can erode the condom).

And yes, how you store your sex toys matters.

After you’ve cleaned and dried your cherished sex toys, it’s tempting to simply place them in a bedside drawer. There’s certainly a lot of dust and lint in your drawer even if it’s your designated spot for sex toys. You don’t want that stuff within you. Storage is one of the most important aspects of your home.

  • Use the original packaging: Isn’t this easy? It’s easy to preserve your toys from the weather by keeping them in the tiny bags or boxes they came in!
  • Get a plastic container: Finn recommends using a basic plastic container to store your sex toys so they’re protected from dust and debris. The JoyBoxx ($44, Amazon) is a dishwasher-safe and lockable plastic container.
  • Grab a satin sack: As a last suggestion, Finn recommends acquiring a tiny silk or satin bag. There are bags intended expressly for sex toys on the market, as well as bags that are large enough for your needs. In the end, it’s better for you and your sex toys if you do all of this for an inanimate object than not doing anything at all.
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