We’re willing to bet you wash your undies after every wear. Well, your sex toys deserve the same attention.

Obvs there’s nothing ‘dirty’ about your genitals, but if toys are stored away with bodily juices and lubricant on them then it can naturally lead to bacteria spreading.

Beyond keeping your body safe and reducing the chance of infection, cleaning your toys also helps them go the distance. Not cleaning your toys properly can lead to the materials, and sometimes even the motor, to degrade over time.

When to clean your sex toys

You should always wash your toys after use, before you store them.

In the post-sex glow we know you’re unlikely to hop out of bed and march your toys straight off to the sink, but before you stuff them all back into your undies drawer store them away in a safe place you should always rinse them off as a bare minimum.

Depending on how you store your toys you should also give them a quick rinse before use, as they can attract lint, dust and pet hair while in storage.

How to clean your sex toys

How you clean your toys will depend on two main factors: what they are made from and whether they are waterproof.

Materials fall into two categories: porous and non-porous. Porous materials have microscopic holes (pores) that bacteria get into - these toys can never be fully cleaned and as such shouldn’t be shared with partners, especially ones you are not fluid bonded with. You can read more about materials here.

Porous toys made from jelly rubber, real-skin or elastomer should be washed with warm water and a mild soap and should be dried fully with a clean towel before storage.

To submerge, or not to submerge?

If your toy is waterproof then you can clean your toy in a bowl of soapy water. If your toy is battery or mains operated do not submerge the toy. You can find out whether it’s waterproof on the toy’s packaging or on the manufacturer’s website - if in doubt, run only the bits of your toy that you need to clean under a running tap.

When to boil your sex toys

Some toys can be boiled clean. If your toy is made from pure silicone, metal or glass (and does not have a motor, obv) then you can sterilise your toy by carefully placing it in a pan of boiling water for up to five minutes. Don’t handle any freshly boiled toys with your hands - metal and glass retain the heat and could burn you.

The difference between cleaning and sterilising

Cleaning your toys rids them of any residual liquids or substances on the surface of your toys - generally mild soap and water will do the trick.

If you plan on using your toy for vaginal use after anal use, or if you want to share your toys then you may want to fully sterilise those toys to rid them of all bacteria - this is when you should opt for boiling where possible.

October 22, 2022 — Katherine G. McGreevy