Like and other toy or tool sex toys need to be taken care of properly for long term use. In addition to using the correct kind of lube, that means cleaning and sometimes sanitizing them, so that you get the most bang for your buck.
When it comes to sex toys, for most uses and users cleaning them is sufficient. In some cases, however you may need to look into actually sanitizing them as well.
When is cleaning a toy enough?
If you are using the toy on yourself and are using it for the same purpose/orifice, cleaning a toy is enough. This means wiping it with a cleaning cloth, using a toy cleaner or water and unscented/gentle soap. It is your own bacteria you are cleaning off of the toy, and this simple method will take care of them well enough.
When is sanitizing/sterilizing needed?
Sanitization and/or sterilization is needed when you have
1. used a toy anally and want to use it orally or vaginally,
2. when you plan to share the toy with another person or partner, or
3. when you are dealing with an STI or yeast infection and you do not want to reintroduce infection.
Sanitizing means any one or more of the following:
- Running it through a dishwasher on the “sanitize cycle”. (without soap. Very important)
- Boiling it in water for 3 to 4 minutes
- Dipping the tool into a bleach solution (Please make sure to rinse and clean them carefully after that)
- Using a UV sanitizing system.
Please note that only non-porous materials can be sanitized. In the case of sex toys that means metal, ceramic, glass, silicone, ABS plastic and some specially treated wood.
Cleaning vibrators depends on the type and manufacturer of the vibrator. If the vibrator is waterproof, you can just scrub it with an unscented and gentle soap or toy cleaner and water in the sink. Depending on the surface features of the vibrator, you may want to keep a toothbrush around to clean any nooks and crannies: cracks and crevices are where lube and bodily fluids may accumulate and they can get a bit gross (i.e. grow bacteria). This method works well for silicone and ABS plastic. If you have a TPR/TPE toy you may need to read up on the manufacturer’s instructions for toy care. Even toys that are not water or splash proof can typically get cleaned in the sink with this method. If you are unsure, use a toy cleaner wipe or alcohol wipe.
Some vibrating toys allow the vibrating part to be removed, so you can remove the bits that need to be cleaned thoroughly and keep the sensitive electrical parts away from water and various chemicals you might be using.
Toys that are made out of jelly, rubber, or “skin like” materials are more difficult to clean. These materials are often used in strokers. Check the manufacturers recommendations on these. If you do opt for bleach or alcohol cleaning, make sure to rinse them thoroughly afterwards.
Toys made with the aforementioned kinds of material typically are porous and contain chemicals such as phtalates. It is recommended to cover them with condoms during use. We do not sell dildoes or other penetrative toys with these materials because they are not body-safe. (For more information see our previous blog about materials here)
Cleaning Non-Vibrating Dildos
Cleaning dildos is easier than cleaning vibrators, since there typically aren’t electronic parts. So depending on the materials, all options mentioned above tend to work. That includes sterilization/sanitization. Especially dildos made from non-porous materials like silicone, metal, wood, glass, and ceramic: these are easy to clean, durable and safe for re-use.
Cleaning Anal toys
Anal toys need to be cleaned thoroughly after each use. Anal bacteria are harmful anywhere that is not the anus. So if you use a toy anally and then want to use it vaginally or orally, it needs to be sanitized. That means if you want to use a toy in multiple orifices or with multiple partners you want to make sure the material can be sterilized.
Another issue with anal toys is that they can develop an odor (especially silicone ones). Sterilization can help in these cases. Alternatively, you can soak the tool in a vinegar solution (50/50 vinegar and water) or exposing it to direct sunlight for a few days.
Otherwise the same rules mentioned above apply.
Please note that whatever cleaning option or sanitizing option you chose, make sure to rinse and dry your toys thoroughly as well before you put them back into storage.
If your toy has replaceable batteries, most manufacturers recommend that you remove them before storing them. Keeping them inside the toy can cause the batteries to corrode and reduce the life of the toy. Also be sure to turn off your toys and activate the travel lock, if the toy has one. This way, you won't pull out your favorite toy, only to find it has a dead battery.
Silicone toys are best stored in cloth bags, so they don’t pick up lint.
If you value privacy or have children or pets in the house, a lockable box or drawer might be a good idea.
Toys made of high-quality materials can be stored pretty much however you like. Try to make sure that you don’t put latex, jelly or PVC toys together. They can release softeners and other chemicals that can cause the toys to degrade over time and/or melt each other.
Take care of your toy and your toy can take care of you
A good toy costs a fair bit of money, so cleaning and storing it properly (and using the right lube) will protect your investment and make sure your toy can spark joy for many years to come.
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