In the same way you shouldn’t avoid washing and sanitizing your makeup brushes, you have to incorporate cleaning your sex toys on your to-do list. Though it might seem like an annoying chore (you could probably think of a hundred other things you’d rather do instead), it’s actually a quick and easy task once you figure out what you’re doing. And, of course, it’s a necessary part of safe sex — whether you’re doing it with a partner or having fun solo — so you don’t become at risk for infection. Read on to learn the best ways to keep your sex toys in tip-top shape.
How to clean your sex toys
Before getting started, you want to make sure that if it’s an electronic/mechanized toy that it’s waterproof. If it’s not safe to dunk under water, you can use a damp washcloth to wipe it down. All non-porous sex toys (for example 100% silicone, hard plastics, glass, or metal) can be cleaned with good ol’ liquid hand soap and water, then laid out to air-dry. If your toy has little grooves, use a toothbrush dedicated solely to cleaning your devices to get into the crevices.
Cleanings should be done minimally before and after every use. Even if your sex toys aren’t getting utilized that often, “consider washing them at least once per month to keep the surface clean, fresh, and ready for use,” says Julieta Chiara, sex expert.
When it comes to cleansing sprays that are specifically marketing to use with your sex toys, the jury is out: Some experts say they’re not needed, “but if you choose to use one, I recommend Intimate Earth Green Tea Foaming Toy Cleaner,” adds Chiara. Most cleansers need to be rinsed with soap and water anyway, so it might be adding an extra step. Ultimately, there’s no such thing as too clean when it comes to sex toys, so if you want to be sure they’re squeaky clean, go ahead and do this “double cleanse.”
Non-porous sex toy materials like leather should be avoided in general since they can be a Petri dish for bacteria even if you attempt to wash them. Consider them single-use sex toys to play it safe.
How to disinfect them
Keep in mind that cleaning the surface of your toys doesn’t mean it’s sterilized. This can be fine if you’re the only one enjoying your toys, but if you’re using them with a partner, simply wiping them down isn’t enough to protect you from STIs or infections like chlamydia. After you wipe the surface, you can disinfect 100% silicone, glass, or stainless steel toys by placing them in a pot of boiling water for three minutes (any longer and you may warp the product). Let them air-dry — be mindful that you don’t want to put them in the fridge or place them under cold water in an attempt to speed up the cooling process since the temperature change can also deform the material.
How to store your sex toys
“Some sex toys come with their own storage bag or box. If you don’t have those available to you, I recommend buying a silk bag to keep your toy safe from dust, contamination, and exposure. Make sure your toy is clean and completely dry before storing it to avoid bacteria/fungus growth,” says Chiara. Your sex toys should be stored away from sunlight and humidity — so rethink your organization if you tend to keep your toys in the bathroom.
When to replace them
“All sex toys aren’t created equally, which means the shelf-life may vary,” says Chiara. High-quality, body-safe silicone toys like Velvet Co.’s Thruster Line can last years if taken care of properly. “Materials like glass and metal may actually last you a lifetime when cared for routinely. With lower-end silicone toys, it’s typical to see some discoloration and texture differences over time,” she says.
Any sex toy should be thrown out if you see any wear and tear or visible crack in the material. Not only does it make it uncomfortable to use, but safety becomes an issue when it’s too challenging to clean.
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