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Cleaning sex toys

How to properly clean your sex toys

How to properly clean your sex toys

Cleaning your sex toys is crucial, but is far too easily forgotten or done badly, especially when you’re in that euphoric, exhausted post-orgasm state. But if you value your health, safety, and hygiene, you should take care to clean your sex toys regularly, in ways that are appropriate for the particular toys and materials in question.

Here’s a crash course on cleaning your sex toys

Material matters

The first thing to know about sex toy hygiene is that the material your toy is made of can make a big difference in terms of how (or whether) it can be cleaned. Porous materials, such as jelly, PVC, and elastomer, will hold onto bacteria in their pores regardless of how well you clean them – so these toys shouldn’t be shared with partners you’re not already swapping fluids with, and should ideally be thrown out after a few months to a year, so as not to cause infections and irritation.

If you can afford to do so, it’s always best to buy body-safe toys from the beginning. Look for toys made of non-porous and phthalate-free materials, such as silicone, hard plastic, glass, stainless steel, glazed ceramic, or lacquered wood. These materials can be cleaned properly and should stand the test of time, compared with their lower-quality counterparts.

Everyday hygiene

You generally don’t need to fully sanitize your sex toys every time you use them, especially if you’re using them solo and thus not concerned about any potential STI transmission.

You also don’t necessarily need to get a purpose-specific toy cleaner. Instead, for regular cleanings, you can simply use soap and water. (If your toy has mechanical components and isn’t waterproof, be careful to avoid getting water into any charging ports, control panels, etc. when washing it.) It’s best if the soap you use is unscented and mild, so that if any residue of it remains after rinsing, it’ll be less likely to irritate your skin in sensitive areas.


If you want to take your hygiene to the next level, you can fully sanitize your toys. You may want to do this when planning on using your toys with a new partner, for example, or when you’ve recently recovered from a vaginal infection and want to make sure not to accidentally re-infect yourself.

Remember that porous toys can’t be sanitized, because any cleaning method you use on them will only clean the surface of the toy, not the contents of its material’s pores. If your toy is porous, a better bet would be to simply use a new condom on it every time you use it, until you’re able to replace it with a non-porous option.

However, if your toy is non-porous, you can sanitize it in one of the following ways:

Toss it in a pot of boiling water for 3-5 minutes, or put it in the top rack of your dishwasher (by itself, without detergent) and run a “sanitize” cycle. These options will only work for toys that have no mechanical components (i.e. nothing that vibrates or requires charging, batteries, or electricity). If you’re not sure whether it’s okay to boil your toy, check the instruction booklet it came with, or the manufacturer’s website.
Let the toy sit in a solution of 1 part bleach to 9 parts water for a few minutes, then rinse very well. (Again, if your toy isn’t waterproof, take care to keep water away from any areas that might cause mechanical problems if they get wet.)
Wipe it down with rubbing alcohol, let it sit until the alcohol has completely dried, then rinse.

What’s your preferred way of cleaning your sex toys?


Kate Sloan is a journalist, blogger, podcaster, and educator who has been writing about sex online and in print for over five years. She writes about sex, kink, relationships, fashion, beauty, writing, and mental health. She has been voted a Sex Blogging Superhero for four years running, and her words reach over 22,000 sex nerds, weirdos and queerdos every month. As a journalist and essayist, Kate has written for Glamour, Teen Vogue, Daily Xtra, the Establishment, Maisonneuve, Herizons, the Plaid Zebra, xoJane, and more.

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