This is a very difficult thing for us to say, but…not every single aspect of having a sex toy is fun and games. Shocking, we know! But, just like dishes, laundry and our very own bodies, it’s important to know how to clean sex toys in order to keep them in peak condition — and ensure you don’t wind up with a nasty infection. Luckily, cleaning sex toys is a pretty quick and easy process once you understand which cleaning solutions are safe and effective for each kind of toy you own.
Why is Cleaning Sex Toys So Important?
The vagina and anus have a wide assortment of bacteria chilling out inside them. That’s not a bad thing — in fact, it’s perfectly natural — but when the hangout sesh moves to your sex toy, things can get a little grody. Some sex toys are porous, meaning they have little pockets where the bacteria can get cozy and multiply. When you don’t wash your sex toys, those bacteria most likely won’t be gone by the time you use them again.
If your sex toy comes in contact with your vagina only and you have no STIs or STDs, you may be able to get away with not cleaning the sex toy every single time; that’s because it should only have bacteria on it from your vagina, which your body is already used to. That being said, if you don’t have a special storage container for your toys (or the boxes they originally came in), they may pick up other bacteria, dust or lint from rolling around freely in a drawer — yuck.
On the other hand, if you share sex toys, have an STI, STD or other infection, or use a toy both vaginally and anally, you need to clean it every time. If you don’t, you and your partner could wind up giving each other infections, worsening pre-existing ones or introducing anal bacteria like E. coli to your vaginal environment.
Sex toys are supposed to give you a good time, not uncomfortable infections. If you clean them right, you shouldn’t have any trouble.
How to Clean Sex Toys
First, you’ll need to know whether your sex toy is porous or nonporous. As we mentioned, porous materials have tiny holes that bacteria can get trapped and grow in. Nonporous materials don’t have these holes, but bacteria can still linger on the surface for quite some time after you’ve finished playing with your sex toys.
Porous sex toy materials include:
- Elastomers (rubbers) like TPR and TRE, which are also called “skin-safe rubbers”
- Materials that mimic the feeling of skin, like Sensafirm and UR3
- Jelly rubber. Keep in mind that jelly rubber can sometimes contain phthalates, which may be dangerous to your health. You won’t find any phthalates in PinkCherry’s sex toys.
Nonporous sex toy materials include:
- ABS plastic
- Borosilicate and soda-lime glass, which are used for things like Pyrex and drinkware, respectively
- Stainless steel and similar metals
For both porous and nonporous materials, soap and water will generally do the trick. You should also always use a fresh, clean washcloth and towel to wash and dry your toys — you definitely don’t want any bacteria from the dinner you cooked last night coming into contact with a toy that will be touching your most sensitive areas.
As for how to clean sex toys made of elastomer/rubber, latex, ABS, borosilicate and soda-lime glass, metal and silicone — washing them with warm, soapy water is just fine. When cleaning sex toys made of elastomer/rubber or latex, be careful not to wash them in water that’s too hot — this can cause your toy to warp or even shrink. On the other hand, borosilicate, metal and silicone toys can be boiled without a problem for an extra thorough clean. While they are a type of glass, soda-lime sex toys should only be washed with warm, soapy water.
If your toy is made of a skin-like blend, you can still use warm water, but use a small amount of very mild soap. Using too much soap or something too harsh can affect the skin-like texture that makes it feel so amazing. As a general rule for cleaning sex toys, try to use unscented soap products that won’t leave a ton of residue — even though it’s just soap, it can still throw off your pH balance if it’s not totally rinsed away.
Wondering how to clean a vibrator that can’t be submerged, but is made of these materials? Just wet down a washcloth and carefully wipe down all parts of the surface that came in contact with your or your partner’s vagina or anus. Then rinse off any residue, dry and store it away for next time.
Try Out Our Sex Toy Cleaners
Worried about cleaning sex toys with the wrong soap or water that’s too hot? Afraid you don’t know how to clean a vibrator without getting it wet and shorting it out? Try one of PinkCherry’s many sex toy cleaners! These simple, safe cleaners generally come in spray mists or foam pumps, so it’s easy to thoroughly cover your toy without being excessive. Many are antibacterial to kill off any unwelcome, microscopic critters crawling on your toys, and many are unscented to accommodate even the most sensitive skin. While a good scrub in soap and water every now and again is still recommended, these sex toy cleaners are an ideal way to get a quick, effective clean when you’re really not in the mood for chores.
And that’s it! Now that you have a much better grasp on how to clean sex toys, you can use and maintain your favorite dildo or vibrator with confidence. Your toys — and your body — will thank you.