Even if you’re not doing it with a partner, safe sex is smart sex. Which is why it’s a good idea to know how to properly care for and, most importantly, how to clean your vibrator or any other sex toys you may use. Because, after all, anything that spends that much time up-close and personal with your body should probably be clean, right?
Sex toys–including vibrators, dildos, and plugs–are a great way to explore your sexuality, either alone or with a partner. But if cleaned or stored improperly, they can easily build up bacteria and, if shared, or used together, can even transmit diseases. Luckily, they’re not that difficult to keep clean and safe.
I asked the smart, savvy ladies over at Babeland, one of the most reliable sources for sex-positive information, toys, and other goodies, for the best tips on how to keep all of your personal items in pristine condition. They sent me some pretty helpful information regarding the various types of toys, and what kind of cleaning they require.
While there are special cleaners available which will disinfect most materials, the fact is that you probably don’t really need anything too fancy. Nearly all sex toys (those made of stainless steel, glass, and silicone), whether porous or otherwise, can be efficiently and adequately cleaned and sanitized either with regular old soap and warm water.
But be sure to use a gentle, fragrance-free soap to avoid any potential irritation. And if you’re using a battery-operated or other electric toy, make sure you don’t actually submerge the mechanical bits–that’s a surefire way to cut down on the life of your Rabbit or bullet.
For glass, Pyrex, or even stainless steel toys (which don’t include any batteries or electrical components), you can also boil them for a short amount of time, or–if you’re comfortable/live alone–run them through in the dishwasher. Leather toys (as well as vegan leather alternatives) and hard plastics can be safely disinfected with isopropyl rubbing alcohol.
Also important to know: Some toys can’t be 100% sanitized. Rubbery jelly toys–which, by the way, frequently contain not-particularly-safe plasticizers like phthalates–are porous, which means there can always be some bacteria lurking. That’s why Babeland recommends using a condom with these kinds of toys. Which may seem weird at first, but that extra layer can help keep your delicate parts away from potentially harmful materials, and protect you from infection. For more information on porous toys and how to use them properly and safely, check out this material tip sheet.
Finally, proper storage is also highly important, both for preserving the life of your favorite toys, and for keeping them clean and bacteria-free. One huge storage tip that Babeland recommends is removing the batteries from any and all vibrators or rings. Not only does that make the batteries last longer, it makes for safer, easier cleaning.
Another? Cleaning them before you put them in whatever drawer or box you keep them in, every single time. That way, you’re not re-contaminating with the storage space. And make sure they’ve fully dried after cleaning, so they don’t build up mildew (gross, I know). Keep your toys in a cool (but not cold), dark place, so that they aren’t exposed to sunlight or excessive heat, which may cause melting, warping, or discoloration, and they should last for a good, long time.
Following these cleaning and care tips will help you and your vibrator or other sex toy avoid uncomfortable infections and, on the part of the toy, an unfortunate early demise. For more information, check out Babeland’s website, which is a veritable pleasure trove of amazing, body-positive information. Shop Toy Cleaner now.