You want to extend the life of your toys while also protecting your health, right?
Then learning how to properly clean your sex toys is a must.
Sex toys can spice up your masturbation routine or your pleasure with your partner. They’re a great way to learn more about what you like.
But like anything else, there’s a right and wrong way to care for them.
In this guide, I’ll cover the reasons why cleaning is so crucial and a rundown on how to clean different materials.
I’ll also cover cleaning protocol for different types of sex toys, along with the best materials to use for the job.
Why Clean Your Toys?
Your toys will likely be coming into contact with vaginal fluids, semen, and potentially anal bacteria.
For some, this knowledge is enough reason to regularly sanitize their toys.
But let’s look a little closer at a couple good reasons for a regular adult toy cleaning regimen.
Anal bacteria can survive outside of the body for days. With a regular cleaning routine, you’ll reduce the risk of cross-contamination (spreading anal bacteria to the vagina) with your anal toys.
This sanitation process is especially important if you share toys or use them for both the anus and vaginal area.
Protection from Pathogens
Certain pathogens, like hepatitis C, can survive for weeks outside of your body.
If you share toys without cleaning them properly in-between, you might risk spreading STIs and STDs.
Put simply, cleaning your toys regularly will help to prevent the risk of infections down below.
When Should You Clean Your Toys?
Your first question might be, “How often should I clean my vibrator?” or something similar.
Ideally, I’d recommend cleaning your toys before and after every use.
But I understand how the heat of the moment can make cleaning it before every use seem like a hassle.
So, if you properly sanitized and stored your toy after the last use, you can get away with using it without sanitizing first sometimes.
Just make sure that, at the very least, you’re washing and properly storing it after every use.
Or, better yet, keep some sex toy wipes next to your bed to give the toy a quick wipe-down before your playtime starts.
Sharing Toys – The Protocol
When you’re enjoying sex with a non-fluid-bonded partner, you should use a condom with your toy and be very careful about sanitization.
Porous vs. Non-porous Toys
In this article, I’ll cover porous versus non-porous materials. I have a list of toy types in the cleaning material section.
Porous sex toys can be a breeding ground for bacteria because it’s tough to properly sterilize this type of material.
You can still use porous sex toys, but if you do, make sure you wash them immediately after use. Otherwise, the bacteria has a better chance of settling into the material.
To be even safer with this, you can use a condom with your porous toys.
If you plan to use this type of toy with a partner, using a condom is even more important.
For simplicity’s sake, I recommend only using non-porous sex toys with a partner. That way, you can just wash it thoroughly before and after sharing it and you’re good to go.
Non-porous materials include glass, metal and silicone, and are naturally water-resistant and smooth.
Using Condoms With a Toy
To prevent bacteria buildup, consider using a condom with your toys. Even if you never plan to share it.
If you’re going to use a condom with your toy, make sure it’s non-lubricated or uses water-based lube instead of silicone.
Because condoms that use silicone lubricant can react with your silicone toy and cause warping or damage.
What is Your Toy Made of?
Knowing what your toy is made of is important not only for your health and safety, but for observing proper cleaning steps for the toy.
Silicone is an example of a high-quality material for a toy.
Silicone is soft, non-porous, and has a low risk of irritating sensitive skin. In my humble opinion, it’s the best material you can get for a toy.
But there are plenty of other good types, too. If you aren’t sure what material your toy is made of, look at the manual or box, or search for it online.
Potentially Toxic Toy Materials
As you learn more about what your toy is made of, keep in mind that some toys are made with toxic materials. Watch out for phenol, phthalates, and toluene.
If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, you should be especially careful about the chemicals in your sex toys. Make sure you do your research!
A quick way to tell if your toy has hazardous materials is checking to see if it has a strong odor. Typically, toys with a noticeable smell to them are made with unsafe materials.
You’ll recognize this odor as a rubbery or “new car” smell.
6 Quick Tips for Proper Cleaning
Each time you clean your toys, follow these tips to ensure that you’re protecting yourself and keeping the materials safe from damage.
In general adult toys aren’t cheap, so you’ll want to treat them right and help them last as long as possible.
1. Follow Directions
Every sex toy is different.
So, while this article will provide you with useful general information about cleanliness, the manufacturing information is also a great place to look for recommended care instructions.
2. What to Use for Cleaning
If your toys are made from wood, ceramic, metal, silicone, or ABS plastic, you can use 10 percent bleach solution to clean them.
Alternatively, rubbing alcohol is a good sanitizing solution.
If you decide to use soap to clean your toys, make sure you’re using a gentle, fragrance-free product.
Using harsh soaps with fragrances can heighten the risk of irritation in your most sensitive areas. In some cases, these types of cleaners can also damage your toy!
I personally recommend using specific sex toy cleaners, and I’ll recommend a few at the end of the article.
The reason I recommend these products over ordinary soap is because they’re specifically designed to clean your toys without causing damage.
Better safe than sorry, right?
3. To Submerge or Not to Submerge?
How can you know whether you should submerge your toys in water during the cleaning process?
If the toy has a cord or batteries, it shouldn’t go under water unless it’s specifically a waterproof toy.
Even then, I’d be really careful about submerging your motorized toys. Especially the expensive ones!
Durable toys without a motor, on the other hand, may be safely submerged.
Stainless steel and silicone are two materials that are safe to do this with. Some people even clean their toys in the dishwasher.
If you do this, though, avoid high temperatures (for materials like rubber) and avoid using detergent.
For the sake of cleanliness, it’s best to wash your toys on their own in the dishwasher instead of washing them with your dishes.
4. Drying Your Toys
Use a paper towel or clean hand towel to dry off your toy once you’re done washing it.
Using the hand towel that you use after washing your hands isn’t good enough as it’s likely full of bacteria.
Always allow your toy to dry all the way before you put it away since damp materials are at a higher risk of mildew and mold.
5. The Boiling Water Method
If your toy is made with a durable material like stainless steel or silicone, you can sanitize them using boiling water. Again, don’t submerge toys with a motor or cord.
If you insist on submerging your toys, make sure they’re waterproof.
You don’t need to use this method every time you clean your toy. Instead, I recommend it for every 5 uses (as a deep clean) or if you’ve just shared your toy.
I especially recommend using the boiling method for anal toys, to kill off excess bacteria.
If you are unclear on whether or not it’s safe to boil your anal toy, you can contact the manufacturer and ask.
Otherwise, using a special sex toy cleaner or sex toy wipes should be good enough for most cleaning sessions.
6. Proper Adult Toy Storage
As I mentioned briefly earlier, properly storing your toys is an important step for keeping them clean.
While it may seem fine, storing your dildo or butt plug in your drawer isn’t good enough.
Although you might not realize it, the drawer probably isn’t very clean. Keep your toy in a drawstring bag or even in its original packaging before putting it away.
Cleaning According to Material
For the safety of your toys (and your body), you should be well-aware of what’s safe sanitization protocol according to the toy material.
I will break these down into two categories: Porous and non-porous.
Keep in mind:
I recommend using an adult toy cleaner in addition to all of these steps, just to be on the safe side!
As mentioned, non-porous toys are smooth and easier to get clean because they don’t store bacteria in the same way as porous materials.
Here’s how to care for a variety of non-porous toys:
- Glass: You can use soap and warm water to clean your glass toys, although extreme temperatures must be avoided. If you’re cleaning an anal glass toy, make sure you use rubbing alcohol solution to properly sanitize it and get rid of any lingering odors.
- Steel: You may boil your stainless-steel sex toy or soak it in 10 percent bleach mixed with water. Steel toys can also handle going in the dishwasher but remember what I said earlier about avoiding detergents for this. If the toy includes an electrical component and isn’t waterproof, remember to keep the water away from it.
- Silicone: For silicone toys, you can boil them in water, wash them in the dish washer, or use warm water with gentle soap to clean them. Remember not to boil vibrators because it will likely ruin the electrical mechanism.
- Plastic: You can clean hard plastic sex toys with warm water and gentle soap, but don’t boil them as the material will likely melt.
Porous materials are a little more time-consuming to care for because they’re more prone to harboring bacteria.
Here are the general guidelines for caring for porous sex toys:
- Rubber: Rubber sex toys are harder to clean than the non-porous toys we just described above. You can use cleaners that are specified for use with rubber for this type of toy. But again, due to their porous design, I recommend that you use them with a condom to prevent bacteria buildup.
- Leather: While sex toys themselves aren’t usually made of leather, the straps that come with them can be. For these, you should use wet wipes or leather cleaner.
- Cyberskin: Some sex toys use Cyberskin, a highly porous material which creates a lifelike feel. These should be used with sex toy cleaners specifically designed for this purpose, or simply warm water. Avoid abrasive soaps for porous toys as this can cause damage to the materials. When the material gets damaged, it’s easier for bacteria to settle into it.
Cleaning Wooden Sex Toys
You should only use a wood sex toy if it has a body-safe coating that makes it non-porous.
You can clean your wooden toy using a soft cloth or sex toy wipes. Apart from that, ask the manufacturer what the safest way to clean the product is.
How to Clean Toys According to Type
I’ve already covered some basic information on how to clean toys according to their material. But sex toys come in so many different varieties.
So, to give you a clearer picture and to help ensure that you follow the right cleaning steps every time with your specific toy, I’ll also cover guidelines according to toy categories.
The best way to clean vibrators is to wipe them down with a warm, wet towel. You may also use sex toy wipes for sanitizing your vibrator.
Just be careful to keep the motorized portion as dry as you can.
Since vibrators come with a motor, they should never go in the dishwasher or a boiling pot of water.
Don’t forget to also clean out the cracks in the vibrator (around the buttons, battery cover, or any other crevices).
These areas can be hotspots for bacteria.
To clean a Fleshlight, take off the plastic casing and remove any bodily fluids or lube from the insert by running hot water through it.
Keep in mind:
Detergents or cleaners can harm the material in your Fleshlight, so avoid those. Hot water is good enough for getting it clean.
Leave it out to dry before putting it back together.
You can sprinkle some cornstarch or sex toy renewal powder on the Fleshlight insert if it feels slightly sticky after it dries.
Male masturbators include hand-sized strokers, pocket pussies, and blow job simulators.
Before you clean your male masturbator, remove the motor (if it vibrates) to make sure you don’t cause any damage.
Next, run the toy under hot water to get rid of any semen or lubricant residue. If you have a toy-safe cleaner to use, you may use that as well.
But only use a sex toy cleaning product if the toy is hollow all the way through and you can fully rinse it out.
Otherwise the cleaning product can get build up inside and you won’t have a way to get it out.
Dry your male masturbator with a clean, dry cloth or let it air dry.
You can clean your cock rings with wet wipes, a wet cloth, or hot water.
As with the other toys mentioned, you can use sex toy cleaner for these, too.
Just make sure that the cleaner is specified as compatible with the toy material before you do.
Cleaning Anal Sex Toys
To avoid your anal toys getting too dirty, you should follow general anal cleanliness steps before using them.
I wrote a guide all about anal hygiene which helps with this.
Making sure you’re clean before using them will help keep your toys cleaner. If you want to take this a step further, you can use your anal toys with a condom.
When you’re cleaning your butt plug, prostate massager, or other toy for the anal area, I recommend being extra thorough.
Not only is your anus a sensitive area, but your anal toys can easily cross-contaminate your vaginal toys.
You don’t want this type of infection!
So, wash your anal toys twice with hot water and use sex toy cleaner for good measure. You can boil your anal toys for additional thoroughness, too.
Again, just make sure the material can handle this type of high heat before you do!
Like your other toys, allow your butt plug or anal stimulating device to dry thoroughly and store it in a safe and sanitary location.
The Best Sex Toy Cleaners
I mentioned toy cleaners a few times throughout the article, and now it’s time for me to recommend some.
There are a few different options here that are designed for separate purposes.
I’ll quickly cover these so you know which type is best for you.
1. Green-Tea Tree Oil Foaming Toy Cleaner
The Green-Tea Foaming Cleaner works for all types of toys including metal, rubber, plastic, jelly, glass, and more.
If you’re sensitive to soaps, this might work well for you.
It’s made with natural, non-irritating ingredients like lavender oil and guava bark.
It’s also free from harsh chemicals like alcohol and parabens.
To use this foaming cleaner, cover your toy with the foam, then rinse it off.
This cleanser is safe for your body, so it also works for washing yourself.
2. LoveHoney Sex Toy & Body Wipes
Wipes are a good option for toys with a motor or some component that shouldn’t be submerged in water.
You can use the Lovehoney’s wipes both for your toys and in your intimate areas.
As I mentioned earlier, it’s best to clean your toys both before and after each use. But in the heat of the moment, running to the bathroom to wash your toy can be a bit of a pain.
Adult toy wipes are a quick solution that you can keep right next to your bed for these occasions.
The pack comes with 25 wipes and is resealable to keep them moist between uses.
But the best part?
These are free from parabens and work with all types of toys.
3. LoveHoney Sex Toy Renewer Powder
It can be tricky to keep male sex toys (or any products that use lifelike materials, such as Cyberskin) feeling fresh.
This sex toy renewer powder will keep them feeling like new.
To use it, apply a light dusting after you’ve thoroughly cleaned your toy and allowed it to dry.
It can help your toys last longer and continue feeling great through many uses.
I hope this guide was helpful for you in learning how to keep all your naughty playthings safe and clean.
When your toys are sanitary, you’ll lower your risk of catching infections and STIs (if you share your toys).
Thanks for reading!