Cleaning Your Sex Toys

Q: I always hear a lot about “safely” cleaning sex toys but I don’t really know what that means? Is soap and water okay? Is it the same for all sex toys? What’s the best way to keep them clean and how often should I do it?

A. Sex toys are awesome and fun and can totally change the way you play and orgasm, but they do have to be looked after properly in order to get the best experience from them and part of that looking after involves cleaning. I mean, they’re going to be used in some of the most sensitive areas of your body and just like you wouldn’t put something in your mouth from a dirty spoon, so shouldn’t you put anything that hasn’t been cleaned properly near your bits.

Can I Use Soap And Water?

I get asked this all the time and the answer is almost always no. 

Yes, soap will clean things. Yes, soap is cheap and already in your house. Yes, soap is a quick and easy option… But for the most part it is NOT safe to use on sex toys for a number of reasons. 

Firstly soap can be harsh and some sex toy materials cannot handle the harshness of its properties and it can damage the surface making the toy rough to the touch with materials breaking down, and voiding any sort of warranty the toy may come with.

Secondly soap can leave residue on products, no matter how many times you rinse it off, especially on porous materials like TPR Gel and “Cyber Skin” type toys, and because it’s is not pH balanced, when those bits of residual soap enter your system via the toy they can leave all sorts of imbalances and nasties leading to infections and conditions like bacterial vaginosis and thrush. (I would like to mention here, without being too scare-mongery, that porous toys made of cheap materials like jelly etc can never be 100% cleaned. They just can’t. The porous nature of the material means all sorts of nasties like bacteria, mould and germs will stay trapped in the material and never ever come out. So please be aware of that and probably buy high grade silicone toys instead)

And thirdly, while soap can get things clean it’s often not actually antibacterial and doesn’t clean germs away as well as other products do, and when it IS antibacterial it can still be very harsh on the delicate areas of the body.

There are some soap alternatives, QV for example, but mostly the consensus is to stay away from soap altogether and buy a specific toy cleaner.

Toy Cleaners

No, these are not filler, money grabbing, would-you-like-fries-with-that add ons at the adult store checkout, they are a necessary part of the whole sex toy experience and you should never have one without the other. The prices range from around $15 to around $30, but quite often you’re paying for the “brand” and the actual properties aren’t dissimilar across the board. They are usually made from a plant based ingredient – often citrus or tea-tree – and contain minimal chemicals and harsh ingredients so they are body safe and gentle on sensitive areas. They come in two forms, spray and foam, and it’s usually personal preference as to which one you’d prefer to use.

Using it is really simple too. Rinse the toy with warm water, spray the toy cleaner on it, leave it for up to five minutes and then rinse it off and let it dry (again please remember porous materials will never be properly “cleaned”).

Bleach, Boiling, and Dishwashers

If your toy is solid metal or glass or high quality silicone and has no power source then you can often clean them with bleach, or boiling, or dishwashers. It can be tricky to work out which ones can be cleaned in this method, and important to note how hot the water in the dishwasher is because if it’s not hot enough it could be ineffective, but these are alternatives you can use for the right products. I would absolutely research the specific toy you’re wanting to stick in a pot of boiling water, just to make sure, but it can be a fast and effective alternative to cleaning multiple toys at once.

When Should You Clean Your Toys

I personally believe you should clean your toys as soon as you buy them, because you have no idea how many hands have touched it even in a sealed box, plus who knows what was in the air in the factory when it was packaged.

Then I think before each use a quick clean with a toy cleaner can be a good idea for that peace of mind and, of course, they should be cleaned after each use.

Keeping your toys stored in their packaging, or in a silk bag (often included in packaging these days) is a great way to keep your toy dust free and clean between uses, but I still think it’s a good idea to give it a wipe down before use.

I hope this answers your questions, and remember to always talk to your local, friendly adult shop staff for advice on all things relating to the product you’re buying, including the best and recommended way to keep it clean.

11 Comments

  • Love2EatU69er
    More than a month ago

    Thank you for an interesting article but it leaves me a bit puzzled......
    I have used soap and water to clean my boy bits for my whole adult life and no lady friend of mine has ever had a problem due to me washing with soap.
    Likewise I have used soap and hot water to wash my sex toys for 35 years and none of my partners have ever had a problem with this.
    How can this be so if soap and water are not suitable or are harmful?

    • DeliciousEva Photo
      DeliciousEva
      More than a month ago

      Well on your bits it's a little different which just the way skin works, you lose cells and layers all the time, and wear pants that rub etc, so washing your penis with soap isn't necessarily going to then soak in, stick to, or transfer to another person... although I do know many women who can't use soap down there at all due to irritation and pH balance going off, and for toys it's just not recommend for the materials and the porous nature of many materials. It's not necessarily got the right antibacterial properties or the gentleness that is needed (there are exceptions like I said QV is good and Dove can be good for sensitive areas but still not great for toys)
      Every vagina is different and some can take more upset to pH than others, just like, say, faces. Some people wash their face with soap, others find it dries and irritates so they use other stuff... So what gives one vagina thrush might not to another.
      It's better to be consistent and use the proper products. It will help the toys last longer and keep within warranty claims and everything else mentioned in the above piece.

      Hope that helps!

    • Love2EatU69er
      More than a month ago

      Thank you Eva.
      Looks like this old dog will have to learn some new tricks.

  • Do_it_4_Fun Photo
    Do_it_4_Fun
    More than a month ago

    A very beautiful American girl I was with confess to me one night she had worked as a stripper and proceed to tell me that herself and all the girls she worked with used a mix of Listerine and water to clean toys. I've used the this method and never had any trouble.

    • DeliciousEva Photo
      DeliciousEva
      More than a month ago

      It's really not great. It's got alcohol and menthol and oils in it which can damage toys, dry out your bits and cause a whole lot of irritation. I'm glad it's never given you thrush or BV or any other nasties... But I would not recommend it at all.

      While there are studies that have shown gargling it can be effective in treating gonorrhoea in the throat that's a whole different process to cleaning toys and is not recommend as a vaginally topical product at all.

      Buy a proper toy cleaner.

    • AMM.Editor Photo
      AMM.Editor
      More than a month ago

      I think this might be exactly what Eva's article Have you been listening to bad sex advice is talking about.

    • Do_it_4_Fun Photo
      Do_it_4_Fun
      More than a month ago

      thanks ladies,
      I'll keep her dancing advice, and ditch her toy cleaning advice!
      luv
      L xxx

  • MissAffection Photo
    MissAffection
    More than a month ago

    I use condoms on my toys to be extra careful.

  • triXXXi66 Photo
    triXXXi66
    More than a month ago

    Ewwwk.. wouldnt even think of putting them in the dishwasher! Its kinda like washing undies n socks together!
    With the expense of most good quality toys these days it pays to care for them correctly... just like latex.. a bit of effort pays off.

    • ginjunkie Photo
      ginjunkie
      More than a month ago

      Wait, what? Do you wash your undies in a separate cycle to the rest of your clothes?

    • triXXXi66 Photo
      triXXXi66
      More than a month ago

      I do indeed! And the socks... they both get a “different type “ of dirty.. i know people that wash yea towels in with undies etc... thats just soooo wrong!

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