Nearly three years ago, I bought my first sex toy, and at the risk of sounding melodramatic, it kind of changed my life. It was a bullet vibrator, and the day I brought it home, I spent about two and a half hours having consecutive orgasms because of it. Ever since then, I've been a pretty big supporter of using sex toys. Sex toys can spice up sex between long-term partners, they're useful to make sure you get off during partnered sex, and they're also great for single people (like me) who are just too lazy to finger themselves. But if you're into using sex toys — whether you use them strictly when you're masturbating, or you use them during sex, too — it's imperative that you learn how to properly clean your sex toys.
As I'm sure you already know, dirty vibrators and dildos can cause some pretty nasty vaginal infections. Also, if you generally share your sex toys with a partner, failing to properly clean your sex toys before and after use can actually result in them spreading STIs and STDs between you and your partner.
So, just to be safe, you might want to read the following six tips on how to properly clean your sex toys.
1. Know What Material Your Toy Is Made Out Of
According to Women's Health, how you should clean your sex toy depends largely on what the toy is made of. Evidently, silicone sex toys are hard to beat, because they're pretty soft, non-porous, and generally not irritating to sensitive skin. You should be able to tell what your sex toy is made of just by checking out the box and/or the manual it came with, but if you've already lost or pitched those things, you can look your toy up online, too. As you do so, keep in mind that many sex toys (particularly the jelly rubber kind) can contain toxic materials, like phthalates.
If your sex toy looks and feels like real skin, then it's probably made of cyberskin. Since cyberskin (also called "softskin" or "ultraskin") is super porous, it's crucial to only use a little bit of mild soap and warm water to clean it. Additionally, if your toy is made of porous materials like cyberskin, jelly rubber, or hard plastic, then getting it 100% clean isn't even possible, and you'll want to make sure to wrap it in a condom if you're sharing.
2. Make Sure You're Using Small Amounts Of Mild, Fragrance-Free Soap To Wash Your Toys
Don't make the mistake of thinking you need to use a harsh soap, or see lots of suds, in order for your sex toy to get properly cleaned. Actually, using too much soap or extremely harsh soap can damage sex toys that are made out of more sensitive materials (like cyberskin). You should probably also stick to only using fragrance-free soap on your toys, just so you can avoid any undo irritation to your vulva. This is especially important to keep in mind when you're washing any toys you may have that are made of porous materials.
Sex toy cleaning sprays and wipes are also an option to keep in mind, because they're specifically formulated to clean sex toys without damaging them. They're not too expensive, either. So whether you've put a lot of money into your sex toy collection, or you simply want to make your toys last as long as possible, consider investing in a sex toy cleaning spray.
3. Don't Submerge Any Toy That's Motorized
You probably could have figured this one out for yourself, but I'm going to go ahead and cover it anyway. If your sex toy is motorized — whether that means you're working with a battery-powered situation or your toy actually has a power cord of some sort — never submerge it in water. You'll ruin it, and then it won't matter how clean it is; because you'll either have to go to a sex shop and buy one in your sexually frustrated state, or order a replacement online and wait patiently for it to be delivered. Instead, clean these toys with a dab of mild soap and a damp cloth.
4. Do Submerge Non-Motorized, Durable Toys In Boiling Water
If your sex toy is made out of a durable material (like silicone, pyrex, stainless steel, or stone) and it's not motorized, then you should be submerging it in water to properly clean it. In fact, letting your toy sit in boiling water for a few minutes is your best bet for a deep clean.
You can also run your sex toys through the dishwasher to sanitize them, but make sure to pay attention to any cleaning instructions regarding water temperature (and be sure you don't load your machine up with Cascade first).
5. Always Use Clean Towels To Dry Off Your Sex Toys After Washing Them
I know, I know, duh. But seriously, it's important that you use either a super clean hand towel or a fresh paper towel to dry off your sex toys. Don't think it's ever safe to use the dingy hand towel hanging in your bathroom, either. Because unless you live alone and never have guests over, or you wash your bath towels daily, then that towel's almost definitely holding some bacteria hostage.
No matter what you choose to use when you dry your sex toys off, though, make sure you dry them completely before storing them. Regardless of how sanitary your sex toy storage space is, even slightly damp sex toys are susceptible to mold and mildew growth. Not only will fungus likely ruin your toys, it's obviously not something you want to rub on or inside of yourself.
6. Wash Your Toys Before & After You Use Them
I know it's a pain in the butt to wash your sex toys before and after you use them, especially if you're in the middle of something sexy and fun. But if you assume your sex toy is safe to use in the morning just because you washed it the night before, you could end up putting yourself at risk for infections.
Of course, this depends largely on how you store your sex toys. If you put your toys in their own sanitized case or bag directly after washing them, then it's not as likely that your toy rolled up against something germ-y overnight. However, since we're talking about your body here, regardless of your sex toy storage methods, you should probably go ahead and wash your toys both before and after you use them. It'll only take a minute, and knowing you're not about to give yourself an infection can only work to make your whole experience hotter, right?
This post was originally published on February 18, 2016. It was updated on August 26, 2019.
This article was originally published on