Most sex ed lessons cover the topic of safer sex. As teenagers a lot of us learned how to prevent pregnancy and avoid STI’s. However, it’s rare that sex toys get a look-in during the safer sex talk. This is a real worry, because many STIs can be passed along this way if you don’t take proper precautions.
Sex toys often get overlooked when we talk about safer sex because they’re not attached to our bodies. They don’t excrete fluids and we don’t really think about their potential to pass along infections and diseases. But the truth is that if you use sex toys with your partners you need to make sure that you’re using them safely, and taking the following things into consideration.
Choose non-porous materials
Many materials used to make sex toys are porous, which means that they have tiny pores in the surface of the product. Bodily fluids, bacteria and lube can live in these pores and breed. Each time you play, you’re re-introducing that bacteria into your body. And if you use the toy with a partner, you’re spreading that bacteria to them. If you have multiple partners as you can easily spread an infection among all of your partners with one porous sex toy. If one of your partners has an STI, then this could potentially pass the infection on to other people you’re sleeping with. Even if everyone is healthy, then a porous toy can still harbour and spread bacteria which can cause yeast infections and irritation.
That’s why it’s so important to choose toys that are made of non-porous materials. Silicone, glass and stainless steel are the gold star materials to look for. Avoid toys made from jelly-plastic, cyberskin, PVC or rubber. Be wary of toys that are made from wood or stone, as these may be porous unless they are sealed with a non-porous coating.
Clean your toys thoroughly after each use
Porous toys can never be thoroughly cleaned, because those tiny pores can easily trap bacteria. But if you’ve selected a toy in a non-porous material then you can get it truly clean. And you should take the time to clean it completely each time you use it.
For dildos, butt plugs and other non-vibrating toys, wash them in the sink in hot water and a specialised toy cleaner. To sterilize these toys, you can boil them in a pot on the stove for several minutes or even put them on the top shelf of your dishwasher. If you share toys, or use toys for butt play, I definitely recommend sterilizing them after use.
If your toy has a motor then cleaning it can be a little bit more finicky. Wash your toy in the sink with warm water, toy cleaner or a mild bleach solution. Wipe off any residue from cleaning products which may cause skin irritation. Remember to dry your toy completely before storing it.
Wrap it up
Making sex toys safe is easy when you employ one of the oldest safer sex tools on the market: the condom. Putting a condom over a porous toy will prevent fluids or bacteria coming into contact with the toy’s surface. If you are sharing a toy with multiple partners, butting a fresh condom on your toy between partners will keep everyone’s fluids separate and avoid cross-contamination.
It’s also a great idea to slide a condom onto your toy if you’re planning to do a combination of anal and vaginal play in one session. It’s vitally important to keep anything that has been in or on an anus far away from a vagina. Contamination between butt and vagina is one of the most common causes of UTI’s. To stay safe, slip a condom onto your toy, do your butt play, then whip it off and dispose of it before you go anywhere near the front door.
Keep them separated
It can be nice to have separate toys for solo use, and toys that you use with your partner. If you play with more than one person, ask each person to bring their own toys to the bedroom. This may not always be feasible, particularly if you use toys during casual encounters or don’t have a lot of cash to splash on separate toys for everyone. But if it works for your personal situation, having separate toy collections can help keep sex safer.
Don’t neglect your safer sex practices when using sex toys. Toys often get overlooked when we discuss disease prevention and STI’s, but they can absolutely pose a threat if proper precautions aren’t taken. Make sure that you choose toys carefully and clean them carefully after use. And if in doubt, use a condom to keep yourself and all your partners safe from STI’s.