Sex is a beautiful thing. It relieves stress, boosts self-esteem, and, if done well, provides a decent amount of exercise. Yet, sex can become repetitive, whether with a partner or yourself, and sex toys are a great way to spice things up.
However, sex toys need to be used and cleaned properly to ensure your downstairs stays healthy. Sex toys can pick up the natural bacteria and fungi present in your reproductive systems. These generally don’t pose a threat to you, but transfer between different people or use of a toy in other areas of the body may cause infection.
In addition, if you or your partner happen to have an STD or infection, such as a yeast infection or a UTI, those germs can live in the porous materials used in the production of many sex toys. Later, those same germs can be transferred or reintroduced to your healed body if you’re indulging alone.
Because of this, regular cleaning of your sex toys is as important as practicing safe sex. We know that thinking about cleaning is the last thing you want to do after an epic orgasm, but it will keep you healthier down there in the long run.
In this article, we’ll cover:
- The difference between porous and non-porous materials
- How often you should clean your sex toys
- The best way to clean sex toys based on material
Keep reading to learn more about how to clean your sex toys safely.
Porous vs. Non-Porous
The first step in cleaning your sex toys is determining whether they are made from porous or non-porous materials. The latter have microscopic holes that allow microorganisms, including fungi, bacteria, and other dirt, to live in your toys even after they’ve been wiped down. Put simply; this means you’ll need to give toys made from porous materials a more thorough cleaning.
A few examples of porous materials include elastomer (rubber), latex and Cyberskin. Non-porous materials from which sex toys are frequently made include borosilicate glass (like Pyrex), silicone, ABS plastic and metals.
How Often Should Sex Toys Be Cleaned
No matter the material your sex toys are made from, you should wash them and dry them after each and every use. Doing this will prevent any germs from lingering on the surface and extend the life of your toys.
In addition, you may consider cleaning your toy before each use as well. Depending on your storage situation, your toys may pick up dust and dirt from sitting around your bedroom, necessitating a quick cleaning before use.
Now that you know why you should clean your sex toys, let’s run through how to clean sex toys depending on their material.
Red Flags to Lookout For
Always look for toys that contain a transparent list of materials listed on the packaging or the toy itself. If there appears to be a lack of info or it’s only advertised for novelty use, it may not be body-safe.
Certain manufacturers do try to find loopholes around disclosure practices for intimate toys, so be sure to always look for the words “medical grade” on toys you buy, if possible.
No label to be found? Search the product name online or contact a retailer who carries it for further info.
1. For Motorized Silicone, Borosilicate Glass and Stainless Steel
Sex toys made from silicone, borosilicate glass or stainless steel are the most common non-porous sex toys. These can be cleaned using a gentle antibacterial soap that you wouldn’t be afraid to use on your skin. This Dettol Antibacterial pH-Balanced Body Wash is a good choice. Gently rub the soap onto the toy, and then wipe it clean using a damp cloth. Be careful not to get the motor wet as water can damage the sensitive electronics.
Dettol Anti Bacterial pH-Balanced Body Wash
2. For Non-Motorized Silicone, Borosilicate Glass and Stainless Steel
Any toy that is completely encased in silicone, borosilicate glass (Pyrex) or stainless steel and doesn’t have a motor should be cleaned in high temperatures. One of the most popular ways to clean such sex toys is to run them through the dishwasher without soap. Alternatively, you can boil them for eight to 10 minutes in a saucepan, like the one linked below. Just be careful not to clean toys with metal plating so that the metal can come off or become damaged by steam.
Cuisinart Chef's Classic 1-Quart Saucepan
3. For Elastomer, Latex and Soda-Lime Glass
Elastomer and latex are both porous materials. Soda-lime glass isn’t, but all three can be easily damaged or ruined by exposure to high heat. For that reason, it’s best to clean these toys using only lukewarm water. If the toy is motorized, soak a washcloth in warm, soapy water and ring it out before wiping down your toy. If the toy is not motorized, rinse it off under running warm water before cleaning it down with a soap-filled washcloth.
Read More: Best Men’s Sex Toys
Utopia Towels Cotton White Washcloths Set
4. For Cyberskin and Vinyl
Cyberskin is a soft and porous material often used in dildos and Fleshlights. The material allows for life-like play, but it’s hard to keep clean as many soaps can damage it. Wipe down both Cyberskin and vinyl toys with a clean cloth soaked in warm water. Then, let them air dry before sprinkling them with a bit of cornstarch. Cyberskin tends to get sticky without the cornstarch step, making for unpleasant play the next time you try to use that particular toy.
Argo Corn Starch
5. For Leather
Like leather shoes or your leather couch, leather sex toys require a particular finesse when cleaned. You never want to soak leather toys in water as it will ultimately damage the material. Instead, wipe them down with a damp and slightly soapy cloth or use a leather cleaner, like this one from Chemical Guys. Leather cleaners will take care of any lingering germs while simultaneously conditioning your toys, keeping them in tip-top shape for as long as possible.
Chemical Guys Leather Cleaner and Conditioner
6. For Hard Plastic, TPR and Jelly Rubber
These are some of the most porous materials from which sex toys are made. Because of this, stiff, rigid plastic, TPR and jelly rubber toys can still contain germs even after they are cleaned with antibacterial soap and warm water. The best practice is to cover these toys in a condom during use, especially if you and your partner will both be using the toys. Condoms can also be used with most other sex toys if you want to be extra safe about bacteria spread.
7. Alternatively, Use a Built-For-Purpose Cleaner
If you’re feeling lazy or prefer not to head straight to the bathroom after playtime, consider investing in a built-for-purpose sex toy cleaner. While such cleaners don’t offer as thorough a clean as some of the other methods mentioned above, they will usually dispense any harmful germs. The Babeland Toy Cleaner is a favorite among the sexy retailer’s customers. Simply spray the cleaner on your toy and then wipe it off after a few seconds.
Babeland Toy Cleaner
8. Store Your Toys Properly
After you’ve taken the time to clean your sex toys properly, you don’t want to throw them in your dirty bedroom drawer without protection. Most sex toys come with a designated storage bag or case, which you can keep for saving them in between uses. Alternatively, purchase a lockable compartment online, like the Bomber Case. Such cases are usually slim enough to fit in your bedside table’s drawers yet still offer the protection of a clean environment and a combination lock.
9. Go the Extra Mile
Why not upgrade your storage options if you don’t have the original case for your toy? The Uvee Pro UV Light Sanitizer Box not only keeps dust and dirt away from your toys while they are in your bedroom drawers, but it also sanitizes them using a UV light at the same time. Built for your smartphone, this box can only hold smaller toys, but larger sanitizing devices are available if needed. Plus, when you aren’t using the Uvee Pro for cleaning your sex toys, use it to clean your earbuds, smartphones, watches and keys.
10. Invest in a Foaming Cleaner
Foaming cleansers get into all the nooks and crannies of your toys, which can be helpful if your device is based on clit suction or is more complex than a basic dildo or vibrator. This buy from Swiss Navy is leakproof thanks to a locking pump and completely unscented. In a new world where people are more focused on disinfecting than they used to be, this toy and body cleanser is a must-have.
Swiss Navy Toy and Body Foaming Cleaner
11. When in Doubt, Wipe
These 100% biodegradable wipes can be used on skin and all kinds of toys. The addition of aloe extract adds to a soothing experience that’s suitable even for sensitive skin. They’re ideal for traveling since they come in a resealable pack that keeps wipes moist. As one shopper puts it, “We all have moments where we either can’t safely bring a toy to the bathroom to scrub clean or (if we’re lucky) we’re just plain too exhausted to move after a rigorous playtime. In those moments, these wipes are a godsend.”
Lovehoney Fresh Biodegradable Sex Toy & Body Wipes
12. Something Specifically for Male Masturbators
Fleshlights and sleeve-style masturbators are a blast but can be notoriously tough to clean. This antibacterial cleanser is triclosan-based and specially formulated for the Fleshlight or any other toys made from SuperSkin, silicone and latex. If you want to increase the longevity of your toy, look no further. A reviewer adds, “I purchased this cleaner as I didn’t want to take the risk with cheaper cleaners only for them to destroy my fleshlights.”
Fleshlight Fleshwash Antibacterial Sex Toy Cleaner
13. Swap the Cornstarch for Toy Cleaning Powder
If cornstarch isn’t cutting it, keep your toys supple after cleaning by applying this Thrust Renewer powder. Adding this to your sex toy cleaning routine can help extend the life of whatever sex toy you’re using. One happy buyer says, “I bought my partner some of this renewer powder, along with a Thrust toy. It does exactly what it says on the tin! After use and a wash with soap and water, we sprinkled some of this on, rubbed it lightly over the toy, and it was like brand new!”
THRUST Lifelike Sex Toy Renewer Powder 4oz
14. Use a Dual-Purpose Bamboo Cloth
There’s no shame in doing the old-school way with a soft dishcloth, unscented soap and warm water. Rather than opting for a dirty rag that you use to clean up kitchen messes, consider investing in a set of kitchen dishcloths and set them aside expressly to use for cleaning your toys. These are made from sustainable bamboo and are highly absorbent. They’re also super soft if you want to use them on your skin to wipe down after a steamy session.
10 Pack Bamboo Kitchen Dishcloths
15. Go All-Natural
If you want to avoid alcohol and other harsh ingredients around your nether regions (who doesn’t?), consider this alcohol-free toy cleaner spray by Intimate Green Earth. It only uses natural cleaning ingredients such as lavender oil, guava bark and tea tree oil and is much easier than concocting your own DIY cleaning formula at home. If you’re not exactly sure what kind of cleaner your toy requires, this gentle and non-toxic body-safe spray is your best bet.
Intimate Earth Green Toy Cleaner Spray
16. Find a Toy Cleaner & Hand Sanitizer in One
We love a multifunctional product here at SPY — why shouldn’t your toy cleaner also keep your hands germ-free on the go? This compact bottle has hardly any smell, and the cleanser itself has a lightweight feel that’s completely residue-free and absorbs quickly. This formula uses hydrating coconut oil and 70% alcohol and is 100% vegan and void of parabens. It’s a rinse-free alternative to submerging your toy, making it perfect for your travels.