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Whether you’re enjoying solo pleasure or playing with a partner, you’ll eventually need to know how to clean your sex toys. Much like your dishes, laundry, and other life essentials that get daily use, your favorite nether region accessories also need to be kept clean.
“The two most common misconceptions when it comes to cleaning sex toys are that leaving a toy in fresh air will kill off all possible pathogens, and that the toys themselves are not affected by the pathogens they carry,” says Dr. Alexandra Stockwell, Intimacy Expert in Residence for Pepper, an intimacy retailer that will open its first brick-and-mortar location at Resorts World Las Vegas this summer.
Stockwell tells Rolling Stone that dirty sex toys “can carry and transmit sexually transmitted infections (STIs) [as well as] bacteria and other pathogens which lead to vaginosis, yeast infections, and urinary tract infections.” This can also be the case when sex toys are shared during the same sexual experience she says, which is why it’s also important to clean your vibrators and other intimate accouterments in between uses.
“If actually cleaning the toy is not desired then, depending on the toy, a condom can be used — in this scenario, a fresh condom should be used each time the toy is used by a different person,” she adds.
You’ll also need to consider the device’s material as you’re cleaning. Porous or plastic materials may “begin to degrade when the sex toy is exposed to bodily secretions and potential pathogens for an extended period,” says Stockwell. “It’s not likely to be a concern with silicone, steel, or stone. Importantly, most modern sex toys are made from multiple materials so it is important to read the package insert and follow the instructions.”
How to Clean Sex Toys
“A good rule of thumb is to use cleaning methods and ingredients that are used to clean cutlery — both cutlery and sex toys enter our bodies, so it’s important to avoid toxic substances,” notes Stockwell.
In addition to washing your toys (including any battery-powered items) with water and non-toxic soap, make sure you thoroughly dry your piece by wiping it with a clean cloth or allowing it to air dry. Depending on your accessory’s material and if there are no electronic components, “boiling in hot water is a great idea if the material the sex toy is made from can withstand the temperature,” adds Stockwell. She also suggests storing your toy in a pouch or another container to protect it from dust, light, and buildup of mold and mildew.
For those in relationships, Stockwell recommends adding sex toy cleaning as part of your post-play ritual. “If one partner is the one to always clean the sex toys, it unconsciously makes that person more responsible for the couple’s sex life. I recommend couples switch it up or make it a fun thing to do together — it’s likely to lead to some good laughs and deepened intimacy.”
What Are the Best Sex Toy Cleaning Products?
The best cleaners for sex toys can help your playthings last longer by preventing damage and keep your genitals free of harmful bacteria. Below, check out the best products for cleaning and storing your sex toys.
1. #ToyLife Foaming Toy Cleaner
Keep your pleasure treasures squeaky clean with this foaming cleaner by #ToyLife. It’s formulated without alcohol, parabens, and sulfates, and it eliminates bacteria while still being safe for your skin. It’s safe for all types of materials (including menstrual cups), and has a mild sweet citrus magnolia scent.
2. IntiMD Multi-Purpose Hygienic Cleaner
IntiMD’s multi-purpose sex toy cleaning spray can be used on materials such as jelly, glass, metal, plastic, silicone, and stainless steel, so you can use it to clean items beyond the bedroom (or wherever you’re doing it). It’s free of parabens, soap, and sulfates, and won’t leave a residue.
3. HomeSoap UV Sanitizer
If you’re looking to go the extra mile, HomeSoap’s UV sanitizer can blast away 99.9% of bacteria on your sex toys in just 10 minutes. It’s equipped with a UVC-light and has automatic and manual cleaning modes. The sanitizing bay measures 13.2 inches tall by 9.2 inches deep by 3.7 inches high, so it can hold your vibrator and other intimacy devices alongside tablets, phones, remote controls, and other small belongings. There are also two built-in USB ports so you can charge your devices (sex-related or otherwise).
4. Luckiss Bamboo Dish Cloths
If you’re using the old-fashioned washing method, these bamboo dishcloths will quickly dry off your naughty accouterments after cleaning. The absorbent towels come in a 12-pack and measure 12 inches by 12 inches, but keep in mind they’ll shrink about an inch the first use, so it’s best not to throw them in the dryer. They’re made of 320 GSM material, so they have a plush feel.
5. Blush Novelties Safe Sex Antibacterial Toy Bag
Once your goods are clean and dry, stow them away in this antibacterial drawstring bag to keep them dust-free and discreet. It can hold toys up to six inches long, and the bag “contains ultra-fine silver crystals that release silver ions at a controlled rate but only when conditions for germ growth exist,” according to Blush Novelties.
6. Joyboxx Adult Toy Lock Box
If you prefer easy access to your dildos, beads, plugs, lube, and other sex accessories, Joyboxx’s antimicrobial lock box will keep your items safely stowed away wherever you decide to do the dirty. This child-resistant box measures 12.6 inches long by 5.5 inches wide and 5 inches tall, and includes a top storage compartment on the lid and an interior organizing tray.
Ventilated side holes help to eliminate moisture while keeping everything dust-free, and there’s a cord hole for USB charging. It’s made of dishwasher-safe, food-grade plastic that’s BPA-, pthalates-, and PVC-free.
7. Lovehoney Fresh Toy and Body Wipes
Clean yourself and your toys with these biodegradable cleansing wipes, which are safe for sensitive skin. They feature a paraben-free formula that contains gentle aloe extract, so you can use them anywhere on your body. This 25-pack comes in a resealable, travel-friendly package to keep your wipes from drying out.