While it might not be very sexy and a bit of a mood-killer, cleaning your sex toys needs to be an essential part of your pleasure play.
If the covid pandemic has taught us anything, it's the importance of cleanliness. Just as you wash your body after sex and rigorously wash your hands after touching, well, anything these days, the same should go for your sex toys.
Left unwashed with traces of lube and bodily fluids, your sex toy could become a breeding ground for bacteria, leading to anything from a urinary tract infection (UTI), yeast infection or bacterial vaginosis to an STI.
What material is it?
Before you can figure out how to clean your sex toy, you need to know what its made from and whether or not it has a motor. The packaging that your toy came in should tell you all you need to know. Have a look to see if it is 100% waterproof and can be submerged in water, or whether it's just splashproof. Ie, does it say you can use it in the bath? This will give you a good indication of how much water you can use when it comes to cleaning.
Soap or sex toy cleaner?
The second thing to think about is what soap to use. Remember if the toy is used vaginally, you don’t want anything that will affect your body’s natural pH balance. So opt for a mild soap, like handwash or mild detergent and preferably one that's fragrance-free. Whatever soap you use however, be sure to rinse it thoroughly with warm water, rather than hot water which might damage the material.
At Harmony, we recommend a good quality toy cleaner. (note, we only stock good quality toy cleaners so you’re in safe hands). These have been designed specifically to kill off any bacteria and clean your toys effectively without leaving a residue.
Simply spray on the cleaning solution or cover the toy in the soapy foam and leave it for a few seconds to work its magic. Then rinse off with warm water or a damp cloth depending on the toy’s material. (read on for that bit).
Porous vs Non-Porous
A material that is porous means that it has tiny holes throughout which aren’t necessarily visible to the naked eye. Which means bacteria can linger, no matter how thorough it's been cleaned. These materials such as hard plastic, elastomer, thermoplastic rubber (TPR, TRE & TPE), jelly rubber, latex or polyvinyl chloride (PVC) need a bit more careful attention. Also, if using with a partner, to avoid transmitting any bacteria, it's best to use a condom on anything that is being inserted vaginally or anally.
Non-porous materials are much safer and don’t harbour harmful bacteria. Look for materials such as medical-grade silicone, glass, borosilicate glass (pyrex) and metals such as medical-grade stainless steel and gold. Just be gentle with the gold ones though, as they’re likely to be plated - so probably don’t go plunging these into boiling water)
Silicone, glass or steel and IT IS motorized.
Use a mild antibacterial soap, one that you would use on your body like an antibacterial handwash and lather it up a little.
If it’s a toy that’s 100% waterproof and good to use in the bath, rinse it well under warm water. If it's not a waterproof toy, wipe it down with a clean damp cloth like a washcloth instead.
Silicone, glass, pyrex (borosilicate glass) or steel and it’s NOT motorized.
Similarly, lightly lather it up with a mild antibacterial soap and rinse it well under warm water. For a deeper clean, try submerging it in boiling water for a few minutes.
Cyberskin is made to replicate the exact feeling of human skin, which makes it a great toy choice, particularly for lifelike dildos. But this also makes it quite a delicate material, so be gentle with this one. Just a small amount of soap and rinse well with warm water. Too much soap or harsh cleaning products will damage the material.
Can I clean a dildo in the dishwasher?
As long as the toy isn’t motorised and is made of a non-porous material like medical-grade silicone, glass, pyrex or stainless steel, then yes, technically you can clean it in the dishwasher and the steam does help sterilize it. Just be cautious however as dish soap can leave a residue. So if you really want to put it through the dishwasher, do so without any detergent.
Dry it thoroughly
Bacteria thrives in damp environments, so it's vital to make sure you dry off your sex toy using a towel or a piece of kitchen roll works even better.
Storing your toys
After all the effort you’ve just gone to in rigorously cleaning your sex toys, all that work will be undone if you don’t store them properly. There’s not much point in cleaning off that expensive vibrator then just leaving it lying around to pick up dust, lint, pet hair or any other household bacteria that you’ll be later putting near your most intimate areas.
Many toys will come with their own pouch, but if they don’t it's worth investing in a little storage bag like a wash bag or make-up pouch, or even a plastic box will work too.