Now that we’re all hyper-aware of germs, it’s a great time to make sure we’re keeping all aspects of our collective cleaning routine up to par. Cleaning and upkeep is an unavoidable part of being an adult. You’ve got to wash your body, you’ve got to keep your living space clean, and yup, you guessed it, you’ve got to clean your sex toys. Whether it’s a dildo, vibe, anal bead, butt plug, even a flogger, harness, or any other item from a trusted sex shop meant to add sexual pleasure to your life, you absolutely have to wash it regularly. After all, these items get up close and personal with some pretty intimate parts of your body. Cleaning your sex toys might be the last thing you think of when you’re even making a task list for your cleaning but maintaining your toys is the easiest way to keep them in good shape.
STIs, including HPV and herpes, can also survive on sex toys, so yes, safe sex is also a thing to consider even when it’s only toys involved!
I get it, cleaning your sex toys is the least fun part of owning sex toys. Sex, whether solo or with a partner, is your time to let your responsibilities and the stresses of daily life fade away. But if you want sex toys to remain a positive part of that sensual time, and if you want to make those toys that you paid good money for last, you’re going to have to clean them properly and regularly. Plus, unfortunately, if you don’t clean your toys properly you might cause infections. Unclean sex toys can cause recurrent bacterial vaginosis, yeast infections, and plain old irritation (for example, itching, redness, pain, etc). People with penises can also experience issues when using unclean sex toys, including overgrowth of yeast as well as skin infections. STIs, including HPV and herpes, can also survive on sex toys, so yes, safe sex is also a thing to consider even when it’s only toys involved!
Besides cleaning, what else is there to know?
When you get a rechargeable toy, charge it fully for at least 2-5 hours to fully charge it before you use it. In fact, even if you’re not using your rechargeable toy you should make sure you’re giving it a charge once a month or every other month to make sure the battery maintains a healthy life as well. On the other hand, if your toy is battery operated, take the batteries out when not in use. Removing the batteries will make the motor and the batteries themselves last longer.
Register your toy!!! If you invested in a toy with a warranty, make sure you’re able to use it if you need it. Any electronic device has the chance of being defective, it’s not about overuse or anything to be ashamed of if your toy breaks. Sometimes companies want you to register their product, and that’s the only way you’ll get a new one if it breaks. So take the time to register your toy or take a picture of the serial number to email yourself if you need it in the future. Also keeping the receipt in your email will be helpful to keep in case a warranty claim needs to be made.
You should avoid using a dildo or vibrator vaginally after it’s been used in the backdoor, without fully cleaning it first.
Want to thank the past version of yourself? Label your charger. Simple painter’s tape around the base will make it easy to label your charger so you don’t confuse it with another wire or lose it.
Wash everything before you use it, they’re typically coming from a factory where more than one person handled it, so better to be safe than sorry. I honestly recommend this for anything you purchase that comes in contact with your body. If you buy new plates from a store, you’d wash them before you eat off of them, right? So if you wear it, eat or cook on it, or put it inside of you, wash it before it comes in contact with you.
Vaginal and anal play can each be fun, but they don’t always mix when you’re using sex toys. You should avoid using a dildo or vibrator vaginally after it’s been used in the backdoor, without fully cleaning it first.
Most sex toys fall into two main categories: porous materials and nonporous materials.
Mind the Materials
Cleaning your toys is simple, but the first step in cleaning a sex toy is figuring out what material the toy is made of. Most sex toys fall into two main categories: porous materials and nonporous materials. If the sex toy material is porous, it means that it has microscopic holes (think of it like pores) that can harbor bacteria, fungi, and other gunk in general, even soap. Ideally, your toy is made out of a non-porous material, meaning these toys do not absorb any bacteria. So as long as you are cleaning the surface of the toy between uses and/or partners it is completely safe to use. These materials are the most hygienic and durable out of all the toy materials.
An easy way to remember if a toy is body safe is, is it safe to cook with? Silicone, stainless steel, glass, and certain types of plastic are safe to cook with and toys made out of these materials can be sanitized for use. Some materials are porous, but non-toxic, like elastomers which a lot of sleeves are made out of. These toys are typically used on the outside of the body and are only intended to have a limited number of uses so they tend to be more affordable.
How Often To Clean?
It might seem like a lot of effort to clean your toys every time — and I’m not here to shame you! But with toys and intimate hygiene, you should always be cleaning. That means before or after every single use, but before and after is even safer! Especially if you don’t store your toys in the most ideal conditions. Remember to give them a good cleaning when you first take them out of their packages, too. Even though it’s best practice to clean sex toys before even putting them away, a quick wipe with a wet washcloth or toy cleaning wipes like the Aneros Wipes will help remove the lube, bodily fluids, and other gunk in which bacteria and fungi can grow. That’s particularly important if you keep multiple toys in the same place because cross-contamination is always possible. But just like wiping your body with the wipes isn’t a shower, your toys will need a real wash.
Speaking of storage, don’t just drop them into “that drawer in the nightstand.” You know which drawer I mean. Keep your sex toys in clean pouches, bags, or boxes. The Blush Antibacterial Bag or the Dame Products Stash Bag is ideal, especially if your toy didn’t come with a pouch. That will keep them free of dust, dirt, and lint, and prevent them from touching anything else which might be carrying germs. Breathable cloth is a better choice than plastic since a still-damp toy placed in a tightly-closed plastic container can easily mildew. If you want a plastic container, this Joyboxx Antimicrobial System is made with ventilated slats that allow moisture to evaporate if you don’t dry your toys right away, and the antibacterial additive in the food-grade, BPA, PVC, and phthalate-free plastic prevents bacteria growth.
Drying is an equally important step as cleaning your toy in the first place. Make sure that your toy is dry before storing it. Regardless of what your toy is made out of, you’ll want to make sure that none of your toys have any wetness that could build mildew or mold, or make your toys smell weird. Making sure that your toy is completely dry also lessens the chance of any pathogens clinging onto your toy.
Clean With What?
First make sure to double-check if your toy is waterproof, meaning submergible in water, or if the manufacturer means water-resistant or splashproof, meaning it should not be submerged in water. If it’s submergible then you’ll be able to, you guessed it, submerge it in water to wash. If it’s splash-proof, wiping it down with a warm soapy washcloth works just as effectively. You want to use unscented antibacterial soap to clean. Avoid fragrance soaps, especially if you’re sensitive.
Toy cleaner is great for those who are sensitive and have a hard time finding unscented soaps. These sprays can be sprayed on and wiped down for quick cleaning. Wicked toy cleaner or Sliquid Shine is great for in-between deep clean washes. The cleaning foams like the Intimate Earth Green Tea Tree Foam and Wicked Antibacterial Foam are perfect for helping elongate the life of elastomer or Cyberskin sleeves. Elastomer is more sensitive to temperature than nonporous toys, so when cleaning, the gentle foams work best because you shouldn’t expose it to too much soap. This can damage the material, leaving it without the texture it’s known for. You should also not expose them to super hot water or they might get warped.
Do not boil a vibrator!
If your toy is made out of borosilicate glass, silicone, or stainless steel and doesn’t have a motor in it, you can boil it for 3 to 4 minutes to fully sanitize them. You can also run these toys in the dishwasher, on the top shelf with no soap in it. Keep in mind this is only for non-motorized toys! Do not boil a vibrator!
Borosilicate glass and stainless-steel toys are the only ones safe for bleaching, but this isn’t really necessary for non-porous toys. Washing as instructed above is absolutely enough. If you really want to use bleach to clean a sex toy, you want a mixture of only 1 part bleach to 10 parts water, then let the toy soak for 10 to 15 minutes, then make sure to rinse it off completely, then wash it with mild soap and water. Bleach is absolutely terrible for a vagina and intimate parts. You need to be completely sure there’s not a trace left of the bleach mixture before using the toy.
If you’re like me and love a gadget that can aid you in your cleaning process, there are two UV sanitizers on the market: UVee and b-Vibe UV Sterilizer Pouch. Keep in mind, that while they do sanitize, they don’t clean. You should still wash or wipe down your toy with a damp cloth after use because the UV light kills bacteria, but it won’t get rid of bodily fluids or dust.
Now Get Cleaning
Now that you know how you’re going to clean, make sure you have all your necessary tools to keep your pleasure arsenal in tip-top shape. Wash your toys, and enjoy them for years to come!