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Here’s your comprehensive guide to great sexual hygiene.

If you own them, you should know how to clean sex toys. But don’t be so sure that soapy, hot water soak is rinsing away all the nasty bacteria and germs you left behind – especially if your toy(s) have a lot of grooves and crevices. So how do you clean your sex toys, ya know, the right way? Don’t worry, I’m about to spell it out for ya.

But before I get to that, first things first. If you’re looking to not only sanitize your vibes and dildos but keep them in pristine condition as well, then you’ll need to know what they’re made of. Knowledge of the materials used in your favorite toys and whether they’re porous or nonporous is not only imperative for your own health, but for the longevity of your device as well.

Why we need to regularly clean our sex toys

For safety’s sake, here’s a rundown of suggested sex toy materials. Anything else, quite frankly, not only makes for super low-quality toys, but toxic ones too.

  • Silicone
  • Glass
  • ABS hard plastic
  • Metal
  • Wood and stone

So what do you do with your jelly dick(s)? I suggest throwing them out, as not even a condom can provide adequate protection from the harsh chemicals (like phthalates) it’s loaded with. That being said, I’m also not one for policing what people do with their bodies, so if you find yourself too attached to the gadget to toss it, using it won’t kill you.

That said, not everybody knows that sex toys can encourage bacteria growth which leads to infections, and even transmit certain STIs – regardless of whether they’re made of something porous or not.

P.S. if you’re in the habit of sharing porous sex toys (or the squishy toys that are usually designed with an elastomer, TPR/TPE, PVC, jelly, rubber, vinyl or Cyberskin) you should be doing so with a condom. Since they’re porous, they’re nearly impossible to completely disinfect. Which means if your toy has been exposed to harmful bacteria, there’s still a risk that you could become infected even after you scrubbed it down.

How to clean sex toys the right way

Step 1: Sanitizing

Woo-hoo, we made it to the good stuff! As I mentioned earlier in the piece, you can use a mild soap and hot water to clean most silicone, glass, stainless steel and wood accessories. But just dousing it in your choice of mild, fragrance-free soap and running it under water isn’t going to wash away bacteria, dust, lube or any other miscellaneous residues. The trick is to really lather up the soap before rinsing it off with hot water.

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Our recommendations: 365 Everyday Value fragrance-free hand soap ($4.99 via Amazon) and Clearly Natural Essentials Unscented ($12.20 via Amazon) 

If your toy is designed with something super durable (like pyrex, silicone, stainless steel, or stone) you can just throw it in a pot with some boiling water and let it do its thing in there for a few minutes. This is probably your best bet at achieving a deep-clean, so if you’re sharing toys with a partner (or a few) this is my top recommended method to disinfect them.

I already know what you’re thinking: “Does this mean I can wash my sex toys in the dishwasher?” The quick answer: some yes, others no. Remember that scene from Broad City when Abby put her neighbor’s strap-on in the dishwasher and destroyed it? Well, that idea isn’t as far-fetched as you’d like it to be. Refer to the care instructions that came with your toy regarding heat and water temperature. But if you do choose to use the dishwasher, don’t load it with dish soap!

Additionally, it’s really important to note that not all sex gizmos can be immersed in water. Motorized devices (like ones with batteries or an attached cord) and other non-waterproof toys can never be submerged, ever. So save yourself the heartbreak of unintentionally slaying a cherished friend, and keep these toys out of the water while you clean them. You can do this by grabbing a clean, damp washcloth, soaping it up and wiping down the toy. Or you could just invest in one of the many sprays or cleaning wipes designed for this very situation.

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Our recommendations:  HoneyDew’s Antibacterial toy cleaner ($8.95 via Amazon) LELO Antibacterial Cleaning Spray ($9.90 via LELO), and Eden Fantasy’s All-Purpose Wet Wipes ($9.99 via Amazon) 

Looking to clean just acc-sexories like leather whips, leashes, and paddles? Easy! Just wipe ’em down with a 70% isopropyl alcohol solution and they’ll be as clean as the day you got them.

Step 2: Drying

Exactly like after you bathe yourself, your butt plugs and disembodied coochies need a clean towel to dry off with. And we emphasize the clean part because damp, used towels are a breeding ground for gross bacteria. And while leaving your toys out to air dry is ok for some, it’s detrimental for others. Why? Well, when left damp, hard to reach spaces, nooks, and crannies all serve as a welcome mat for rather unwelcome bacteria. Meaning all the cleaning you just did will be overcome with mold and mildew if not dried completely.

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Our recommendations: BONDRE Microfiber face towels ($9.99, Amazon) 

Step 3: Storing

This step may surprise you – hell, you’re probably surprised it’s even a step. But as it turns out, storing your vibrator loose in your bedside drawer isn’t the greatest idea. Think about it: how often do you get in there and scrub that drawer? Probably never. So instead of just letting that bad boy freestyle in your nightstand, you can either keep it in its original packaging or get it its own robe.

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Our recommendations: Blush Novelties Antibacterial Toy Bag ($8.99+, Amazon) and the lockable toy box by BMS ($26, Amazon) 

How often you should be washing your sex toys

And finally, the question we should all know the answer to: “How often do my dildos need to be sanitized?” Ideally, before AND after each use. But we know just how spur of the moment passion can be, so if you only wash your toys after you use them, you’ll probably live to see another orgasm.

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Marisa Losciale

Marisa Losciale

Marisa Losciale specializes in NSFW culture, audio gear, and photography. A former editorial and photo director for Spoon University at SUNY New Paltz, her work has been featured in the Rockwell Center for American Visual Studies, Post-Trash, the New Paltz Oracle, and the Legislative Gazette.