Let’s be real: doing chores sucks. If there was a magic spell to instantly clean the whole house, you could sign most of us up in a heartbeat. That being said, when you get to a certain age, you realize that there are consequences to avoiding your chores.
Sure, you can occasionally leave a bed unmade, but for the most part, things around the house need to get done. If you don’t wash your clothes, you may find yourself without underwear. If you don’t do your dishes, you may find yourself facing a sink full of bugs.
And if you don’t clean your sex toys?
Well, let’s just say that you should clean your sex toys.
What Actually Happens if You Don’t Clean Your Sex Toys?
Okay, you can probably guess what happens if you don’t do anything at all to clean your toys when you’re done with them. Between the lubrication and the bodily fluids drying on your sex toys, if you don’t clean them when you’re done, they’re destined to look and smell pretty gross.
However, cleaning your sex toys because your partner is coming over isn’t like cleaning up your kitchen because your mom is coming over. While a quick rinse may make your toys look clean to the naked eye, it’s not actually enough.
Whether you used your toys with a partner or just used them to masturbate, it’s important to clean your toys after every single use. This is because your bodily fluids are packed with bacteria.
The bacteria from your body reproduce on your toys, so if you don’t clean them, you can wind up introducing new bacteria into your body. This can lead to nasty infections. Sex toys can also rot when they’re not properly taken care of, and no one wants that.
If you are using your toys with other people, it’s even more important that you clean them correctly between each use, as toys can transmit STIs from one person to another.
Not All Sex Toys Are the Same: A Look at Sex Toy Materials
The way you clean and store your sex toys comes down — in part — to how they are made. There are two main types of sex toy materials: porous and non-porous.
Cleaning Porous Sex Toys
Porous materials, like silicone, stone, and plastic, are harder to clean and more likely than non-porous materials to mildew or rot if cared for improperly.
The first step when cleaning sex toys made from porous materials is to remember that you shouldn’t submerge them in water. Instead, put your cleaning material on a cloth, wash the toys, and then dry them completely to reduce the chance of moisture getting stuck inside the pores and mildewing or rotting over time.
If you’re using porous sex toys with partners in non-monogamous relationships, it’s important to use a condom every time. Even cleaning these toys thoroughly may not 100% eliminate the risk of transmitting STIs from one use to the next.
If you’re not in a monogamous relationship, you may be better off saving your porous sex toys for self-stimulation and only using non-porous sex toys with your partners.
Cleaning Non-Porous Sex Toys
Non-porous sex toys, including glass and metal toys, are a lot easier to clean than porous sex toys. You don’t have to worry about water getting stuck in non-porous toys — so as long as the manufacturer states that the toys are waterproof, you can safely submerge the toys in water.
In fact, some non-porous sex toys, including glass toys and Pyrex toys, are even dishwasher safe. These toys can be placed in the top rack of your dishwasher for an easy, hands-free cleaning process.
Regardless of how you choose to wash your non-porous sex toys, you’ll still need to be sure that they’re completely dry before storing them.
It’s All About Technique: Proper Sex Toy Maintenance
Since your sex toys will be in frequent contact with the most delicate parts of your body, it’s important that you are able to effectively clean and properly store them. Each sex toy is a little bit different, and the first thing you should do when you purchase a new toy is to read the manufacturer’s instructions on how to correctly wash it.
Different toys will have different rules for care. For example, some toys are top-rack dishwasher safe, while others need to be washed by hand. This is dependent not only on whether they’re made from porous or non-porous materials, but also on whether they contain any electronic or moving parts.
Tips for Washing Your Sex Toys
If you’re cleaning super porous materials like Cyberskin or leather, your best bet is to use a small amount of water and to dry your toys quickly before moisture can set in.
Silicone toys may be dishwasher safe if they don’t have any electronic parts, but silicone vibrators or bullets likely need to be washed by hand with a damp cloth.
Glass, metal, and Pyrex toys are the easiest to clean since they are non-porous. Many of these products are top-rack dishwasher safe.
How To Dry Your Sex Toys?
Before you put your sex toys away, it’s really important to make sure they’re completely dry. The last thing you want is for moisture on your toys to cause them to mold, mildew, or even rot between uses. Gross!
For non-porous toys, it’s best to let them air dry on a drying rack or dry towel. This prevents you from introducing extra bacteria to your newly cleaned toy while trying to dry it off.
However, given that porous toys can have further issues if moisture settles into their pores, you may want to dry them by hand with a dry cloth, and then leave them on a drying rack for half an hour to an hour to ensure they’re truly dry.
How To Store Your Sex Toys?
Many people choose to shove their sex toys in a drawer or box, but this is actually not the best way to store your toys. Boxes and drawers tend to be cool, dark places, making them the perfect breeding ground for bacteria.
You are actually much better off storing your sex toys in a place where they can get some air and sunlight, such as on your nightstand or bathroom counter. This can be especially great if you have vibrating toys that need to charge between uses.
Of course, not everyone is comfortable leaving their sex toys on display. If you’re more comfortable tucking your toys out of sight, at least put them in a waterproof bag before putting them in your pleasure box. This will ensure that if your home gets damp between uses your toy will not absorb that moisture.
Cleaning Products To Use (and To Avoid)
When it comes to cleaning your sex toys, it’s important to pay attention not only to how you’re cleaning your toys, but also to what you’re cleaning your toys with. Sex toys come in contact with some of the most sensitive parts of your body, so the last thing you want to do is rely on harsh chemicals to clean them.
Warm water and a cleaner that has been specially designed for sex toys is the safest choice for cleaning your toys. Even mild household soaps can be scented or have chemicals that your body otherwise isn’t prepared for. However, if you do have to use something other than a sex toy cleaner on your toys, the gentlest dish soap in your house is your best bet.
Consider Going the Extra Mile
If you really want to be diligent about caring for your sex toys, consider washing them before each use in addition to after each use. Washing your toys after each use is mandatory — it keeps them from rotting or decaying over time (and also keeps them from developing a gross smell!) — but consider giving your toys a quick wash before you use them as well. This can clear off any dust that may have collected on them between uses.
Although most experts agree this isn’t 100% necessary, you may want to take this step if you have particularly sensitive skin or are prone to yeast infections.
Regardless of whether you do this every time, you should definitely clean your sex toy before you use it for the first time.
Even though it may feel like your sex toy is clean when it is fresh out of the box, it’s important to remember that it’s coming from a factory. Cross-contamination with other synthetic materials happens. Giving your toy a thorough cleaning before you take it for a spin is a good way to ensure that your first time using it is as enjoyable an experience as possible.
Good, Clean Toys Make for Good, Clean Fun
Keeping good sexual hygiene is one of the best ways to guarantee a happy, healthy sex life for many years to come. By learning how to care for your sex toys, you increase the amount of time that they will last while also ensuring that your pleasurable time remains pleasurable. Check out our FDA-approved antimicrobial toy cleaner (or check out one of our toys that comes with its own personal UV cleaning pod!) and enjoy your — clean — sexual journey today!
Is Your Sex Toy Safe? The Best & Worst Sex Toy Materials. (August 2016). Mind Body Green.
How To Properly Clean Your Sex Toys. (August 2019). Bustle.
How to Clean Your Sex Toys So You Can Use Them Safely. (August 2020). SELF.
Why You Should Invest in High Quality Sex Toys (December 2019). Hungry for You