I’m betting that many people reading this haven’t given a lot of thought to the cleanliness of their sex toys. It’s very easy to just toss them into your bedside drawer after a hasty session before bed without bothering to wipe them off, let alone give them a proper scrub. But keeping your toys clean and fresh is really important. Without proper cleaning, your sex toys can begin to harbor germs that can cause irritation, inflammation and infection. If you’re sharing toys with partners then the risk is even greater. In addition to the threat of introducing germs into your genitals, toys that have been improperly cleaned can pass STIs between partners. But not to worry! Keeping your toy collection clean and ready to go is actually pretty simple.
To begin with, make sure that you’re buying toys that are body-safe and made of non-porous materials. These toys can be fully cleaned and sanitised between uses, and don’t have any nasty pores that can trap and breed bacteria. I have a whole post about choosing body safe sex toys if you want more information.
The simplest way to get your toys clean is using good ol’ soap and water. Using warm water and gentle soap, give your toys a thorough wash in the sink. If your toy is textured with bumps or ridges, be sure to get into all the gaps (you might want to keep an old toothbrush just for this purpose). Give them a thorough rinse and leave your toys to dry completely. Most toys can be washed with soap and water, but check motorized toys to see if they are waterproof before you dunk them in the sink. Waterproof toys can be safely submerged without damaging them. Some toys are merely “splashproof” which means that you can run them under a tap or wipe them with a wet cloth, but they shouldn’t be submerged in water.
Cleaning with soap and water is perfectly fine for toys that you are using by yourself. I’d recommend cleaning them as soon as you can after use, because the longer you leave them, the more challenging it is to get them completely clean. If you’re prone to dozing off as soon as you’ve climaxed, try keeping a pack of gentle baby wipes in your goody drawer to give your toy a quick wipe before you flake out. Wiping the toy off isn’t a substitute for a good clean, but it will make it much easier to wash the toy more thoroughly when you’ve come to.
If you’re sharing toys with a partner, then washing with soap and water may not be sufficient. For shared toys you will need to thoroughly sanitize each item between uses. It’s also a good idea to sanitize anal toys, and even solo toys should be fully sanitized every once in a while. There are a few ways that you can go about this.
Firstly, you can soak or wipe down your toys with a diluted bleach solution. The ratio of your cleaning solution should be 1 part bleach to 10 parts water. Bleach is great at killing germs, but it’s very harsh on skin and the last thing you want is a chemical burn below the belt. For toys that don’t have a motor, you can soak them in the bleach solution for about 10 minutes. If your toys can’t be soaked, they can be wiped down with a cloth dipped or sprayed with your bleach solution. Either way, make sure that you rinse your toy thoroughly to get rid of any trace of bleach.
You can also sanitize your sex toys by boiling them. This method works best for sanitizing dildos or anal toys that do not have motorized components. Silicone, glass and stainless steel toys can all be boiled. Simply boil a pot of water on the stove, toss in your toys and boil for 3-5 minutes. Make sure you give them a little stir to make sure that they don’t stick to the bottom of the pan during boiling. Carefully remove the toys from the pot with tongs and leave to cool and dry on a clean towel.
If you have a dishwasher, some toys can be washed on the top rack on the “sanitize” setting. This is a thorough cleaning method, but it’s not suitable for all toys. Only silicone, metal and borosilicate glass can be cleaned this way. Obviously, any vibrator or other toy with motorized parts should not be washed in the dishwasher. Also, make sure that you’ve removed your toys from the dishwasher before you have guests over for dinner.
Once your toys are clean, I recommend letting them air dry on a soft towel. Wait until your toys are completely dry before storing them, or you run the risk of them getting mouldy in between uses.
It’s so easy to get slack about cleaning your sex toys, especially if you only ever use them alone. But keeping your vibrators, dildos and plugs clean and shiny is an act of self-care. It keeps your body healthy and your toys in top condition. It also helps keep your partners safe and sound. So make a pact with yourself to keep your toys squeaky clean and ready for action whenever the mood might strike.