Tempting as it is to simply toss your sex toy back in your bedside drawer and drift off to sleep in undisturbed post-orgasm bliss, this is a big no-no.
Whether you use it solo or with a partner, your favorite toy is actually a breeding ground for bacteria if it’s not stored properly and cleaned thoroughly after every use. For general hygiene, prevention of STIs and other infections and to ensure the longevity of your toys, cleaning your collection is extremely important.
Here, we take a look at why it’s so important to keep your sex toys sparkling clean, as well as explore top tips for how to do it.
Get clean to get dirty
Taking real care to clean your sex toys is essential to avoid build up of bacteria and keep your body free of STIs and other infections like bacterial vaginosis and HPV. If you share toys during coupled sex or, if you have a vulva and you’re using your toy anally as well, you must be sure to take the time to keep bacteria free and never cross-contaminate.
If they’re not cleaned before and after every use, your sex toys will collect bacteria, dust, lint and other debris depending on where they’re stored. It’s so important to keep this a totally clean and dry environment.
It’s also a wise to pay attention to what your sex toy is made of – opt for materials like silicone, metal or glass, which are body safe and non-porous. This means they’re less likely to harbor bacteria and are easy to clean. Porous materials, like jelly or rubber, more easily absorb bodily fluids, oils and lubricants (and, consequently, the build up of bacteria) and cannot be properly cleaned.
Thorough cleaning is necessary to avoid infection and irritation of intimate body parts, as well as extend the life of your toy.
Sex toy cleaning tips
Because of their material and the way they operate, not every sex toy is cleaned in the same way - you should check the packaging for instructions. Take a look at our general cleaning tips to make sure your favorite toy is ready – and safe – to pleasure ahead of the next playtime.
Storage is key
Step one of ensuring a clean and safe sex toy is storage. Many people assume under the bed or in a drawer is a good place to hide them out of sight, but this leaves them open to collecting dust and lint. Your sex toys should be kept in a case or silk bag, which will protect them from bacteria-infested areas. Make sure the case is washable too. Once it’s stored in a case, you can keep it anywhere you want.
Clean them before and after each use
We don’t want to sound like a nagging parent, but you need to wash your sex toys before and after each use. This way, you can be sure the toy is dust and dirt-free. The last thing you need is to spread dirt and dust in your most delicate body parts. Some people use soap and water, but that’s not always recommended depending on their material (and scented soaps aren’t good for the body’s natural pH balance and can leave you prone to infection).
Use a sex toy cleaner
A sex toy cleaner with an antibacterial agent is specifically designed for use when you’re short on time. There are plenty of sex toy cleaners available that will make sure your toy is spotless. The KIIROO Pure Premium Toy Cleaner does an amazing job of cleaning toys while being alcohol free, triclosan free, and it is antibacterial. It disinfects your toys and its compact and discreet size makes it great for travel too.
Whichever toy cleaner you go for, make sure it’s body safe and water-based. Silicone- and oil-based cleaners break down and damage silicone – and a broken or disintegrate toy is no use to anyone.
Don’t put your toys away wet
Aftercare is important. Toys cleaned and you’re ready to put them away in their case – but you should always double-check they’re not damp. If they are, let them air dry thoroughly on a clean towel or kitchen paper. This will prevent any growth of bacteria on them.
Don’t forget to wash your hands
Bacteria doesn’t just live on your sex toys - your hands are a Petri dish for bacteria. Before touching your toy, wash your hands first. We usually don’t think about it, but we touch a lot of things before we masturbate. Make sure you’re not bringing any unwanted bacteria to your genitals.
Feeling lazy? Use a condom
There are times where you’re in a heated moment, and the last thing you want to do is pull out your cleaning spray and waste precious moments cleaning your toy. Perhaps you’re sharing the toy or you want to use it anally too. We get it. In those moments, put a condom on your toy to act as a barrier. Make sure the lube you’re using isn’t oil-based, as it risks eroding the condom.
Get into the habit of cleaning your sex toys after every use – your body and your health will thank you for it.
Discover more about the safe use of sex toys – browse our guide to high quality.
Natasha Ivanovic is an intimacy, dating, and relationship writer best known for her writings on Kiiroo, LovePanky, Post Pravda, and more. She's the creator and author of her short stories on TheLonelySerb. She completed her first degree in Criminology and continued and finished her Masters in Investigative Psychology, but then decided to follow her true passion of writing.