What are sex toys?
Sex toys can be an exciting way to spice up your sexual life, whether using them by yourself or with others. There are many misconceptions that sex toys are only used by people who choose to remain abstinent, do not currently have sexual partners, or by gay men and lesbians. The truth is, people of all types use sex toys. Some choose to use them when they are alone, on their sexual partners, or on themselves while partners are present. Whatever your choice, it’s important to understand how to best clean the toys and how to protect yourself against STIs if you choose to share sex toys with others.
No matter what sex toy you choose to use or how you choose to use it, there are a few things to keep in mind to make the experience pleasurable and help protect yourself from STIs.
Before using the toy check, for any imperfections, including rough seams, tears, or cracks.
Using lubrication is a great way to help enhance the pleasure and safety of sex toys. Ask your sales person which lubricant is best for the toy or follow the instructions that come with the toy. For example, silicone lubricants break down silicone toys after awhile. Flavored lubricants may cause yeast infections for some females because the sugar can disrupt the balance of pH in the vagina. Oil-based lubes will break down latex condoms and dental dams, which will increase your risk for contracting STIs.
If sharing sex toys, such as dildos, butt plugs, or vibrators, use condoms or dental dams to help prevent the spread of STIs. If switching the toy to another person, make sure to use a different condom. Remember, soap alone is not effective for removing STI bacteria or viruses from the toy.
Don’t insert a sex toy in the mouth or vagina if it has been used in the anus without a condom or without being washed properly. This could spread bacteria and viruses and cause infections in the urinary tract (for females) or intestines. If a condom was used with the sex toy, replace the condom with a new one before inserting the toy in the mouth or vagina.
If it hurts, stop! If you are using toys with a sexual partner, earn trust with one another. If you want to try again, relax and add extra lubricants if needed.
What’s the best way to clean sex toys?
Proper cleaning of sex toys is essential to avoid bacterial infection or transmission of STIs. While some STIs die once the fluid they live in dries, others (such as hepatitis and scabies) can live for weeks or months outside of the body. If you want to prevent pregnancy, it is also important to be remove sperm that may be on the sex toy before using near or in the vagina. It’s important to keep the instructions for cleaning the sex toy and to follow them carefully. If you feel that cleaning the toy properly would be too time consuming or unrealistic for you, think about buying a different toy. The information provided below gives a general overview for cleaning different types of toys and isn’t meant to replace the manufacturer’s instructions.
For basic toy care, remove any batteries. Never submerge electrical components in water. Use a damp, soapy washcloth to clean your electric toys, preferably with anti-bacterial soap. Keep toys stored in a container or pouch (to keep them clean) and in a cool, dry place.
Cleaning non-porous materials: glass, stainless steel, hard plastic, and silicone.
Glass: Wash glass toys with soap and water. Pyrex toys are dishwasher safe. Do not expose glass to extreme temperatures.
Stainless Steel: If attached to an electrical device, use warm soapy water, being careful not to submerge any electrical components. If there are no electrical components you have 3 options: Boil or soak in a bleach-water solution (50:50 ratio) for 10 minutes, or place it in the dishwasher.
Hard Plastic: Clean with anti-bacterial soap and water. Do not boil.
Silicone: You can choose from 3 options to clean a silicone toy. Either boil for 5-10 minutes, put it in your dishwasher (on top rack), or wash with anti-bacterial soap and warm water. Do not boil silicone vibrators because you will destroy the vibrator mechanism.
Cleaning porous materials: rubber, vinyl, cyberskin, nylon, and leather
Rubber materials: Rubber materials are porous and difficult to clean. In addition, their composition is not always known or may contain phthalates, chemicals which have been shown to be harmful to your health. For these reasons, it is recommended to use condoms with these types of toys.
Cyberskin and Vinyl: Cyberskin is soft and porous, often used for dildos. Wash cyberskin and vinyl toys delicately with warm water only. Air dry and powder a small amount with cornstarch to keep them from getting sticky.
Nylon: Nylon harnesses and toys can be machine or hand washed with a mild anti-bacterial soap.
Leather: Wipe leather products with a damp, soapy cloth or with leather cleaner. Do not soak leather. After cleaning, you may recondition your toy using a leather conditioner. Protect metal parts from tarnish by applying a coating of clear nail polish.