Picture this: It’s been a long sex bender; you’ve gone through all your adult toys, the vibes, the G-spot stimulators, the glass toys and butt plugs, anal beads, bullets, rabbits — all the things a high-quality, toy-based sex life can possibly contain. It has been a very productive day.
But now you’ve got this sinkful of dirty sex toys, and you just can’t leave them like that, used and discarded, as you fall into a deep slumber. Well, you can, but you’re going to have to clean that pile of joy eventually, otherwise, it’s going to gain sentience…and the world isn’t ready for that yet.
What sex toy material can you clean?
Listen, the fact is that all sex toys can be cleaned, regardless of what they’re made of. It’s just that some of the more porous toys require more specific cleansing and sanitation methods (and perhaps care, depending on what you’ve got).
Pure silicone sex toys and other non-porous toys made of materials like glass and steel are the most robust, while other porous toys need additional care. Regardless of material, if your toy has moving parts (ie vibrates), or is not rated as waterproof, you’ll need to take care when cleaning.
Can I wash sex toys in the dishwasher?
Yes, if you’re inclined to use the dishwasher, much of the time, you can. A whole bunch of non-vibrating, waterproof toys — particularly toys made of non-porous materials like silicone, glass, or steel, are dishwasher-safe. Now, whether it’s a good idea to put these items in a dishwasher (especially if it’s a shared contraption — i.e. you have housemates) is up for discussion. Plus most of the soap used in dishwashers isn’t appropriate for sex toys because it’s too harsh on the toys, and, depending on the type of toy, can degrade the material. So, if you go the dishwasher route, skip the soap.
How long should I clean sex toys?
If you’re washing your toys by hand, cleansing them with antibacterial soap and warm water for roughly 30 seconds should do the trick.
If you’re wanting to be extra sure you’re disinfecting your toys (for example, if multiple partners are using them, or you’re cleaning up from a play party and you want to be extra careful), you can boil them in water if they’re made of a non-porous material.
When boiling sex toys, you want them to be in the boiling water for about 3 minutes. It’s a good idea to also leave a washcloth or some other surface protector in the bottom of the pot because sometimes the toys can “jump” from the activity of the water, and you don’t want Giant Glass George to break because it moved abruptly at a hot temperature.
Additionally, after you get your sex toys all hot (and bothered?), refrain from putting them back into cold water right away, especially if they’re glass sex toys. It’s a lot of stress on the material and is best avoided.
How to choose your sex toy cleaning method
The cleaning method really depends on the toy. Is it all glass, steel, or pure/medical grade silicone? As stated, toys made of glass or steel can withstand a more rigorous cleaning option such as boiling them or running them in the dishwasher. This isn’t necessarily the most energy-efficient method, because you probably can’t or don’t want to wash other things along with your toys. The toys also need to be sanitized, which generally uses a higher temperature for the dishwashers themselves, which can be more energy-intensive.
If you’ve got motorized toys like a vibe or magic wand, boiling water is not the appropriate cleaning method because the high heat can damage the electronics and circuitry, etc. It’d be bad for you to boil your best vibe and then get in the mood again, only to realize your favorite pal is no longer able to go brrrrr like it used to.
A go-to method for all toys (i.e. the right way to clean sex toys) is simple hand-washing. Simply wash your sex toys with either your hands or a damp cloth. You should use hot water and anti-bacterial soap (not dish soap) or a sex toy cleaner, then lay your toy(s) on a dry, clean towel or sanitized surface to air dry them. This method is safe for both porous sex toys and sex toys made of non porous (ie. silicone) material.
Why is hand-washing so good? Most toys need to be hand-cleaned in order to remove residues such as lube (read about how to use lube here), vaginal fluids, semen, other bodily fluids, or fecal matter. Whether you’re dealing with hard plastic toys or feather-soft silicone happy-makers, you can’t afford to have any lingering liquids on any from one session to the next. It’s when sex toys aren’t cleaned properly that bacteria can flourish, and you really don’t want those little guys anywhere near your private parts.
Other neat cleaning, sanitizing, or sterilization methods
Some sex toy manufacturers are now coming out with UV sterilizers to help maintain your toy collection. The nice thing about these devices is that they sanitize your toys using UV light, which is kind of an elegant solution to the whole disinfecting thing. The not nice thing about them is that they don’t actually act as a toy cleaner, just as a sterilizer, so your toys will still need to be cleaned. Before you put any fun-loving sex toys in the bacteria-killing box, you should also wipe them down and get rid of any pesky residue.
On that note, the killing of bacteria is very important to vagina-owners in particular, because using unclean and unsanitized sex toys can lead to a bacterial infections such as bacterial vaginosis, which is when the balance of naturally-present bacteria in the vagina becomes significantly altered. It’s best to make sure that your sex toys don’t contribute to this problem — much better for your sexual health.
Now, if you’re in a pinch and you’re unable to clean your sex toys because, for example, you’re at a swingin’ sex party and can’t stop between pegging positions or partners to clean because you’re in a such an exhilarating sex craze, condoms will also work as a barrier to protect all penetrated partners from said toys. What is pegging? Don’t hesitate to read all about this sexual practice.
In this case, you should use a condom that doesn’t have any self-lubrication or, if you must, use one with water-based lubes. Be aware, though, that sometimes condoms come with silicone lube, which can damage a silicone toy. And make sure to always swap out a condom for a new one when you’re changing partners, or if you’re going from anal to vaginal; your partners will thank you.
Really, though, the best idea is to just clean the toys between sessions, always. Clean toys make for good times, and who doesn’t want a good time?