So, you’ve read our Essential Guide to Sex Toys for Couples. You and your partner have decided which products excite you, and spent hours perusing different options online. You spent your hard-earned money on a few precious new toys and waited with anticipation for Tantantalize Me’s discreet, next-day delivery. You opened the box, delightedly unpacked your toys, locked eyes with your partner, and as your faces both flushed, you realized... it’s time…
But, err, hold up! Have you washed these toys since removing them from their packaging? Have you figured out what type of cleaning and storage they require to ensure that they remain safe play toys for years to come?
Cleaning your sex toys is decidedly the most unsexy part of sex, but it’s an absolute necessity for anyone who cares about protecting their health and the longevity of their toys.
Why Cleaning Your Toys Is Important
Believe us, we’ve been there too, and we understand that cleaning your sex toys is likely the last thing on your mind after you’ve been rocked by the glory of an epic orgasm. However, it is an essential consideration in the practice of safe sexual health and hygiene.
The unfortuate truth of the matter is that the vagina, penis, and rectum harbor a myriad of bacteria, all of which can transfer to your sex toy and linger there, ready to cause infection if the toy isn’t properly cleaned after use.
Sharing Toys Between Partners
It’s important to pay special attention when playing with others and sharing toys between partners. Because the pathogens that cause sexually transmitted infections can be transferred between individuals who use the same toy, it’s essential that you follow proper cleaning instructions or consider using barrier protection on the toys, such as condoms.
Playing With Anal Toys
Additional concerns arise when playing with anal toys, which introduce exposure to gastrointestinal bacteria such as E. Coli. If such bacteria come into contact with your urinary tract, you run the risk of infections such as urinary tract infections (UTIs).
But how to clean your toys depends on what they’re made of. Keep reading for our quick-and-easy sex toy cleaning guide.
Not All Toys Are Created Equal
Porous vs. Non-Porous Materials
A quick word on different types of toys: generally speaking, you should avoid toys made of porous materials. Such materials include thermoplastic elastomers (TPE), thermoplastic rubbers (TPR), jelly rubber, Sensafirm and UR3, and polyvinyl chloride (PVC). These materials are more likely to gather and store bacteria inside the material, even after cleaning.
Medical Grade vs. Body-Safe Materials
Another good rule of thumb is to buy products from manufacturers who use “medical grade” materials. Note that there exists a difference between “medical grade” and “body-safe” materials.
Material-Dependent Cleaning Instructions
There is no one-size-fits-all rule for cleaning sex toys. The cleaning and care instructions for a sex toy depends on what material the toy is made of, and this sometimes requires some light research.
Generally speaking, you can figure out the material of your sex toy by checking the manufacturer’s box or website. Once you know your toy’s material(s), locate that material from the list below, and follow the cleaning and storage instructions listed.
Material-Specific Cleaning Guide
Silicone, Glass, Stainless Steel, or Wood—and it's motorized
If your toy is motorized and made of silicone, glass, stainless steel, or wood, clean it using any mild antibacterial soap that you would use on your body. Dampen a cloth, add some soap, and wipe the toy clean. Make sure to carefully clean all grooves and crevices, using a cotton swab when necessary.
Silicone, Pyrex, Stainless Steel, or Stone—and it's not motorized
For non-motorized toys made of silicone, Pyrex, stainless steel, or stone, deep clean the toy by placing it in boiling water for 8 to 10 minutes. Alternatively, you can run it through the dishwasher without soap and the steam will help sterilize it.
Use a small amount of antibacterial soap and warm water to gently wash it, noting that if the water is too sudsy, it can damage the sensitive cyberskin material.
Hard Plastic, Elastomer, Thermoplastic Elastomer (TPR), or Jelly Rubber
Remember, toys made of these porous materials are more likely to retain bacteria, even after you’ve washed them with soap and water. If you're sharing toys of this material with a partner, or concerned about bacterial infection, consider using a condom.
Storing Your Toys
Okay, so you’ve used (yay!) and cleaned (YAY!) your toys, and now it’s time to put them away (not for too long, we hope). What’s next? Where is a safe place to store your toys once they’re squeaky clean?
Here are a few best practices for storage that we’d recommend:
Storing Toys In Their Box
One of the best places to store your sex toys is in the original box in which the toy arrived (read: save your boxes!). This will also help you keep track of the material each of your toys is made of; if you’re a sex toy hoarder like us, it can get difficult to remember the materials of each individual toy!
Storing Toys In A Carrying Case
If you’ve already tossed the box your toy came in, or you want a more discreet storage place, consider storing your sex toys in a case or bag where they’ll be protected from other bacteria-laden items. A well-cleaned toiletry case or a silk bag is a good option.
Now, remember, reading the ins and outs of cleaning your sex toys is only half the job. We know it’s a difficult practice to get into when you’re laying face up in bed revelling in orgasm ecstasy, but for the sake of your health, please make sure you clean your sex toys after each use. If you’re a female-bodied person and also prone to bacterial vaginosis and/or UTIs, you might want to take extra precaution of giving your toys a pre-use wash as well.
Stay clean, stay safe, and happy playing!