How to Clean Sex Toys: A Guide for Post-Play Housekeeping
Your vibrator should be the source of an orgasm, not an infection. Sex toys get up close and personal with all your parts, coming into direct contact with all manner of bodily fluids. Keeping them squeaky clean after you service yourself or your partner isn't just a courtesy. It's essential to stay safe from STIs and other ailments.
Learning how to clean sex toys isn't as complex as it sounds. With a few simple household cleaning supplies, you can continue to be a dirty hoe — just not literally.
The sexy pantry: The most common sex toys
There's a diverse world of sexual doodads and gizmos out there. Before we dive into the best way to clean sex toys, let's break down the most common bedside companions and their materials so you know what you’re getting into (or what’s getting into you).
Go-to sex toys
- Wand vibrators
- Double-ended dildos
- Butt plugs
- Spreader butt plugs
- Anal beads
- Prostate massagers
- Sleeves or strokers
- Cock rings
- Penis pumps
- Nipple clamps and suckers
- Ball stretchers
But how do I choose from so many options?
The first step is to check what material your sex toy is made from before purchasing, as not all sex toys will be safe for your body. Materials such as rubber, jellies, and PVC can cause allergic reactions in some people, with symptoms including itchy rashes, burning, and even tissue damage.
Body-safe materials may be more expensive, but when it comes to sticking something in your body, it's better not to buy based on price alone. After all, cheap products in your ass can turn into expensive visits to the proctologist.
Materials like silicone, stainless steel, and borosilicate glass are non-toxic and nonporous — ideal for internal use. Nonporous means bacteria aren't getting into microscopic crevices you can’t fully sanitize.
Porous versus nonporous materials
To know how to clean a dildo, butt plug, or anal spreader, you must first understand the material it's made of. Before getting into the checkout line at your local sex shop, consider the material’s comfort and maintenance.
Nonporous materials include the following:
- ABS plastic
- Some crystal, wood, and stone (depending on the material and coating)
- Glass (including Pyrex)
- Medical-grade silicone
- Stainless steel
And these are porous materials:
- Jelly rubber
- TPR, TPE, and PVC (sometimes called silicone on toy labels, so look out for the “medical grade” distinction)
Just because a sex toy is made out of a porous material doesn't mean you should avoid it altogether. Leather whips, vinyl harnesses, and PVC nipple clamps are a lot of fun — but they aren't designed for penetration.
If you use a porous toy for penetration, be sure to use a condom as well. They aren’t just for your dick!
Prep your station: How to equip yourself for cleaning
Many sex toys can be cleaned with warm, soapy water and a clean washcloth. But here are some additional tips to get your sex toys clean enough to eat off of, figuratively speaking.
- Always read the user manual and manufacturer's instructions. Different toys have unique characteristics and care requirements. Not only will the user's manual help you choose the correct cleaning material, but it'll also fill you in on other important details, like whether you can fully submerge your toy in water.
- Double-check it's waterproof. Electronic toys require extra care. Non-waterproof toys require careful wiping and other cleaning techniques to prevent damage.
- Stock your cleaning cabinet. No one needs to deal with a 3 am DoorDash for a bar of neutral antibacterial soap. After reading through the user's manual, add the recommended sex toy cleaner to your grocery list and stock up.
Shrinking your favorite shirt in the wash is sad. Warping your brand-new double dildo in the dishwasher is a tragedy. Just like you prepare for safe sex with condoms, a tube of lube, and a careful douche, you can protect the integrity and longevity of your sex toys by prepping ahead of time.
How to clean a vibrator, buttplug, or other sex toy
Properly cleaning your toys depends on the material. Learning how to clean silicone sex toys is different than caring for jelly rubber or leather.
Be particularly careful with toys made out of mixed materials. For example, if you have a silicone ball gag in a leather strap, separate the two for proper sanitizing.
Let's break down the cleaning protocol, one material at a time:
- ABS plastic: Wash with warm water and soap or a sex toy cleaner. Store in a lint-free fabric bag.
- Cotton: Sweat is sexy. An old, sweaty jockstrap isn't (unless you’re into that, of course). Wash cotton materials like any other delicate, with cold water, soap, and air dry.
- Crystal, stone, and wood: Although sex toys made out of these materials are generally nonporous, always check to make sure it was manufactured with a nonporous finish. Clean with warm water and soap, wipe with a clean towel, and set aside in a lint-free bag or padded container.
- Glass, pyrex, silicone, and stainless steel: You can clean non-motorized sex toys in boiling water or a dishwasher, whereas motorized sex toys should be cleaned with warm, soapy water. Glass and Pyrex should be stored in a lint-free bag or padded container. Silicone and stainless steel can be thrown into any old clean container.
- Jelly rubber, elastomer, latex, and Cyberskin: These are porous materials that should be carefully cleaned with water at room temperature and a soapy, damp washcloth. Keep them in lint-free fabric bags or non-plastic containers.
- Leather: Spot clean with a damp, soapy cloth and store in a cool, dry place.
- PVC and vinyl: Use warm water and a soapy, damp washcloth to wash down those vinyl chaps or penis clamps. Store them individually in lint-free fabric bags.
- Nylon: Machine or hand wash your delicates with soap and keep them in a clean container or drawer.
As a rule, always use mild soap and clean washcloths or paper towels. And remember to keep that Mr. Clean fantasy out of your disinfecting routine. Heavy-duty cleaning materials like bleach or fragrant soaps can cause irritation for you or your partner.
So fresh, so clean: Why wash your silicone boyfriend?
After that post-orgasm glow, you might want to stay in bed and take a nap. But you’re better off facing your shame and giving your sex toys a wash right away. Here are three reasons to take the time to properly clean your toys:
1. It reduces the spread of infections
Proper cleaning prevents the buildup of bacteria, yeast, and other harmful bugs, which can lead to irritation and infections on the skin, anus, or vulva. This is especially important if you want to be a good top or bottom who generously shares toys with partners, as improper cleaning can facilitate the transmission of STIs.
Again, porous materials are nearly impossible to clean clean, so always use a condom if you’re going to insert something made of rubber or cheap plastic. And then wash it afterward anyway for good measure.
2. Personal hygiene is important, too
You shouldn't stop at simply cleaning your sex toy. Proper personal hygiene should also be a part of your post-nut routine. Gently clean yourself with soap and a washcloth, carefully douche, or take a post-sex shower to eliminate residual lubricants or materials that might cause skin irritation or discomfort.
3. Turns your sex toys into heirlooms
Although you probably don't want to include your toys in your will, regular cleaning and proper care can extend their lifespan, especially if they’re made of glass, steel, or another high-end material.
You might feel a sting in your wallet when you splurge on a fancy toy, but it sure beats an itch in your undercarriage. Next time you’re suffering through a shift at work, just think about all the NSFW things you’ll get to spend that money on.
Tear it up, rinse, and repeat
A dirty daddy is sexy. A dirty daddy who knows how to clean sex toys is even sexier. Remember, the best sex is considerate sex, so clean up after yourself to protect your health and your partner’s. Careful cleaning lets you focus on the essential task at hand: cumming.