You already know you should clean your sex toys, but vowing to do it is easy, before you really take a good look at what you’ve got. Sex toys are made out of all different kinds of materials. Some feel squishy, some are hard, some have electric components, and some go in different places than others. Does that impact how you clean them? Yes, it does.
What are different kinds of sex toys made of?
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When you hear the phrase “sex toys,” your mind usually goes to vibrators and dildos, then maybe to butt plugs, but it’s a broad market full of devices that go everywhere, and made of many kinds of materials. To give you a sense of the scope, consider how many kinds of things fall into the category:
- Butt plugs
- Prostate toys
- Bondage gear (i.e. restraints, eye coverings, etc.)
- Clit vibes
- Rabbit vibrators
- Wand vibrators
- G-spot vibrators
- Penis rings
- Penile masturbators
- Penis pumps
Each of these is made of something unique. As Dr. Jenni Skyler, resident sex therapist at Adam & Eve, tells me, “There are many different kinds of materials for sex toys: Medical-grade silicone, stainless steel, and glass are the best materials out there because they are non-porous and less likely to breed harmful bacteria. There are also plastic and jelly toys, which are easier on the pocketbook, but not traditionally as body safe as the others above.”
While you’ve probably had some vibes that were soft to the touch, it’s generally understood that softer toys don’t transmit vibrations as well, while hard toys can be more uncomfortable to use. Non-porous materials are preferred in most cases, meaning you’re looking for silicone, glass, or plastic to make cleaning easier and keep your goods more hygienic.
How to clean porous sex toys (rubber, vinyl, etc.)
Porous sex toys can made of different materials and are difficult to clean, so it is recommended to use them with condoms where possible. Otherwise, it’s best to wipe them down using warm water and a very mild soap only, as you don’t want chemicals or harsh cleaners to penetrate into the toys before the next time they penetrate you (or your partner).
How to clean non-porous sex toys
Always check the packaging or description of a toy to make sure it’s one of the non-porous materials listed above. Simply put, there are a lot of different kinds of fluids involved in sex and none of them are ones that you want to get stuck in the exterior of your toy, as some can degrade the toy and some are simply gross.
If a toy is non-porous and doesn’t include electrical components or any kind of motor, you can actually just boil it (as long as it’s not made of plastic). Pop it in a pot of boiling water for about three minutes, suggests Skyler. Then, lay it out to dry and make sure you clean your pan well afterwards. If you somehow do have a rigid-but-porous toy on hand, try a UV-C sterilizer—one of those boxes you can put devices in to zap the germs off of them.
In general, soap and water are great for wiping down the exterior of a toy, but if you’re dealing with something that has nooks and crannies like a rabbit vibe, it’s going to be harder to get the soapy water everywhere it needs to go and also remove it. Consider, instead, ready-made sex toy cleaning wipes, which you can get online or at any shop where you buy your toys. They’re fast, thin enough to get into difficult spots, quick-drying, and designed for use on these exact materials. Perhaps most importantly, they’re convenient: After play, you can just grab one from your nightstand, wipe your device down, and not have to bother with anything else, so you’re actually more likely to clean it. (Periodically, do give it a soapy rubdown just to go the extra mile.)
Some toys, like those made of pyrex or stainless steel, are dishwasher safe, but if you’re even a little concerned about whether yours is, don’t try it.
How to clean up after lube
Lube is part of your toy repertoire, though you may not consider it a toy itself. Water-based lube can be easily removed from toys and sheets through regular washing, but silicone lube is water-resistant, and while that’s great for when you’re in the shower or super sweaty, it’s not so great when it comes to cleaning.According to GoLove, you should act quickly to clean it off your toys or surroundings when it makes contact, as it will be much harder to remove if you let it dry. If this happens, you can actually use more of the same kind of lube to rehydrate the dried-up stain, then wipe it off. You can use water to rinse lube from your toys, but be sure to follow up with an actual soap-and-water or boiling cleaning after that. (Again, the pre-made wipes are a great option here.)
How to clean bondage gear
Something like a silky eye cover can be thrown in the wash, but for bondage gear made of leather, you’ll have to do some more intense cleaning. Lash Fetish Gear suggests frequently dusting your leather with a clean, dry cloth and always wiping moisture off, especially around studs and buckles. After use, you should also wipe it down with a soap and water mixture, ideally using saddle soap, which is formulated for leather.
Metal components, like rings and chains, can be washed in a small bowl with water and a few drops of mild soap, like shampoo or dish soap. Take it out of the bowl after about a minute and rinse it under running water.
Drying your sex toys
Whether silicone, leather, metal, motorized, or static, your toys should be dried after washing, but your best bet is to lay them out to air dry. Make sure they’re completely dry before putting them back into a storage bag or box to avoid them getting musty. You can use heat to dry them if they’re glass, but avoid hair-drying anything electrical or plastic.