You finally picked up that vibrator you’ve been eyeing and those anal beads you’ve been curious about. You had a wild and ruckus night and this morning, in the cold light of day, you look over and see the lube and cum-encrusted toys on your bed stand and wonder “What is the best way to clean my sex toys?” Like most things, there is not just one answer to that question. In this post I have broken down cleaning instructions by material of the toy and if there is a motor or not. This post will be part of a larger series all about the maintenance of sex toys and BDSM gear. Your sex toys are an investment and your health & well being are connected to the care of your toys. A well made toy should last you for years– maybe even decades if the material is top-notch and you know how to properly care for it.
How To Clean Your Sex Toys
Solid toys (no motors) made from silicone, pyrex glass, or metal are the easiest to clean: a quick rinse in the sink or a cleaning wipe to remove gunky fluids or lube or whatever got on the toy followed by 7-10 minutes in a pot of boiling water. (It will be helpful to keep a pair of tongs handy for removing the toys from the pot.) If you have a lot of toys or don’t have a good pot for dildo boils you can put these toys through a dishwasher on the top rack. These toys have the special distinction of being totally disinfect-able.
Solid toys (no motors) made from wood, stone, acrylic, blown glass, or any toys with magnets or inlaid gems can be washed in the sink with hot water and soap. Do not boil these toys because it will effect the varnish on the wood or stone that makes them non-porous, it will potentially crack the blown glass, and it will ruin the magnets. Because all of these materials are either non-porous or have a body-safe varnish that makes them non-porous you can be certain that hot water and soap will fully clean the toy.
Silicone and hard (ABS) plastic toys with motors that are fully waterproof (submersible) can be easily washed in the sink with hot water and soap. A basic anti-bacterial soap is great. Avoid any body washes or soaps with lotion in them because you don’t want to leave residue on the toy. Do not boil any toy with a motor or put it through the dishwasher because you’ll fry the motor.
Silicone and hard (ABS) plastic toys with motors that are “shower-proof” or not at all waterproof can either be cleaned with hot water and soap on a washcloth or with cleaning wipes (I like the chlorine-free diaper wipes.) The trick with these toys is you don’t want to put them under running water and risk getting water in the mechanics. And of course, if any of these toys plug into the wall please unplug them before you wash them!
For any of the above materials that are 100% non-porous you can also spray them down with a 1:10 bleach and water solution to disinfect and then leave it to air dry. Try to keep the spray away from battery compartments if possible to avoid any possible corrosion.
For any toy that is very textured or has little ridges along the base or motor compartment I like to use an old toothbrush or nail brush to make sure no gunk is hiding out. If detailed cleaning is difficult or you just don’t feel like dealing, you can always cover the toy with a condom to make clean-up a little easier. Also, if you are using a toy with multiple people (2 to 100+) who are not fluid bonded in a single scene or orgy you can use barriers for the toy just the same as you would use barriers for multiple body-to-body contacts (i.e. switch the condom or dental dam out for each partner.)
Elastomer, cyberskin, TPE, nylon, and other plastic toys that have no motors or are waterproof can be washed with hot water and soap in the sink. Unfortunately these materials are semi-porous so there is no way to get them fully clean. If you share these toys you should ALWAYS use a condom or other barrier with them. In addition, these toys have the potential to hold on to bacteria, so if you are prone to yeast infections, UTIs, or bacterial vaginosis you should always use a condom with these materials (or invest in a non-porous toy: see above.)
Elastomer, cyberskin, TPE, nylon, and other plastic toys that have motors and are not waterproof can be wiped clean with a damp washcloth with hot water and soap or a wet wipe. You want to be careful to not get the battery or motor compartment wet and if they plug into the wall, unplug it before you clean it! Again, these toys are semi-porous and the material will break down over time so use condoms and barriers when applicable and know that milage may vary. Soap will cause cyberskin to break down faster, so use soap sparingly when washing to elongate the life of your toy.
Jelly toys should be avoided. They are porous and made from unstable material that is in a constant state of disintegration. They can not be cleaned properly and will most likely leave residue on the body they are used on or in. A condom is useful in a pinch but some jelly leaches oils that break down latex barriers, rendering the condom useless. This is for everyone, but especially if you have sensitive skin, are prone to infections, or have a compromised immune system PLEASE avoid jelly rubber sex toys. They are not good for you or for the environment or for the workers making them. They will be the cheapest option, but there are a bunch of companies that are stepping up their sex toy game and actually trying to make silicone toys more affordable for all play types.
You are important and your pleasure is important. You don’t need to live near a Sex Boutique or Feminist Sex Shop in order to get a toy that is safe to use and will last. In addition to the internet, many larger chains and novelty sex shops now also carry silicone, glass, and hard plastic toys as the industry is getting a bit more savvy in the materials department. Just check the labels on the box or ask the salesperson. If they can’t give you a straight answer or the box doesn’t tell you, it is best to assume that the material is sketchy and just move on. You’ve got options!