Have you ever tossed your sex toy back under your bed after the deed is done? It might be the last thing on your mind when you're basking in the glow of an incredible orgasm, but learning to care for your toy is just as important as learning to use it.
While it doesn't sound sexy, cleaning your sex toys is essential. After all, sex toys get up-close and personal with your most intimate parts. If they're not cleaned correctly — even if you use them on yourself — you could be putting yourself at risk. You could be soon saying "hello" to UTIs, yeast infections, STIs, and other uncomfortable bacterial diseases. Whether you're wiping your toys down with a cleaner for daily maintenance or giving your toy a much-needed deep clean, cleaning your sex toy is a necessary part of having a healthy sex life.
Besides, why wouldn't you want to give your sex toys the best possible care?
Sex toys can make your life more exciting and orgasmic. There's no limit to the benefits that sex toys can provide, from stress relief to more powerful orgasms. No matter your age, relationship status, gender, or orientation, your favorite toy can help you embrace sexual confidence and navigate your most intimate desires. Give those well-loved toys the care they deserve.
To extend the lifetime of your toy, prevent damage and protect yourself down there, learn everything you need to know about cleaning sex toys.
Washing Your Sex Toys 101
Like cleaning your house and doing the laundry, cleaning sex toys is a necessary skill that we should all learn. And to be completely honest, it's a skill we should be exercising more often.
Your sex toys are getting extra-intimate with an area worth keeping clean. All it takes is one slip-up, and you could find yourself in the middle of a yeasty ordeal. That's why it's more important than ever to be keeping up with our sexual hygiene — and that includes cleaning sex toys.
You might not want to hear this, but sex toys should really be cleaned after every use. And yes, that means every single service. Even if you're using it solo, it's not worth the risk of getting a bacterial buildup anywhere near your genitals. That means, at the very least, wiping your sex toy down with an antibacterial cleaner before and after each use.
It also means giving it a regular clean with soap and water.
You might still be wondering: "What if I haven't cleaned them in a while? Or what if I want a more thorough clean?" That's where learning how to clean your sex toys deep comes in. As a general rule of thumb, you can boil your sex toys for about three minutes to disinfect them thoroughly. However, this only works with 100% silicone, stainless steel, or borosilicate glass toys. According to CDC recommendations for disinfection, you can submerge waterproof toys in bleach.
Cleaning Each Type of Sex Toy
The basic instructions might sound pretty straightforward:
Don't panic just yet. We'll walk you through all the different toys and how you can clean them.
How To Clean Vibrators and Motorized Toys?
It might seem pretty self-explanatory to wash a solid glass dildo under some soap and water. But what if your toy has a motor in it? It may take more to keep those caring for their trusty vibrator or other motorized toy in top condition.
You can clean a vibrator using fragrance-free soap, water, or a toy cleaner.
- Spritz the toy a few times with a cleanser or wash it with soapy water.
- Unlike non-motorized toys, you shouldn't be completely dunking your vibrator in water — and don't boil it.
- If your toy isn't waterproof, be sure to guard the battery pack or charging port while you wash.
How To Clean Anal Sex Toys?
A lot of the sex toy cleaning advice online is geared towards vaginal toys. But what about learning how to clean your butt plug? Because anal sex toys deal with the back door, keeping them clean is more important than ever. The last thing you want is a transfer of fecal matter or a nasty infection.
The best way to wash an anal toy is to first rinse them off with warm water to eliminate any lube or fecal matter.
- Warm some water.
- Gently wash with soap and warm water.
- Repeat the process until gets 100% clean.
To avoid any lingering bacteria or foul smells, you can finish off with some antibacterial cleaner or a UV light.
How To Clean a Dildo?
For the most part, washing a dildo is pretty straightforward. Using a soapy washcloth or your hands, clean with a gentle cleanser and warm water. You can pass and boil non-porous materials, like silicone, stainless steel, and glass.
It's ok to put sex toys in the dishwasher?
However, if you want to know how to clean a PVC dildo, it might take more care. PVC is porous, which means it collects and carries more bacteria. Make sure to take your time to clean all the pores and crevices as carefully as you can. When finished, let it air dry to avoid mildew.
How To Clean a Male Sex Toy?
Did you know that only 57% of men clean their sex toys after use? Over a third don't clean them at all. Those stats aren't great, especially when you consider that the semen left in many sex toys — like fleshlights — is a recipe for bacteria to grow.
That's why it's so important to know how to clean a male masturbator. To clean a male sex toy you must follow:
- Remove the sleeve from its case and rinse it out with warm water.
- Using a mild soap or a toy cleaner, gently clean the interior before rinsing it out and letting it air dry.
How To Clean Kegel Balls?
Pelvic strengthening power and orgasmic potential, kegel balls are becoming more and more popular these days. It's important to clean before and after use.
- First, run them under water and thoroughly clean them with soap or an antibacterial cleaner.
- Once they're dry, store them in a bag or case until you use them again.
Know Your Materials
We've covered the different sex toys, but that isn't the end of the lesson. Sex toys are all made from different materials. Some might harbor bacteria and dirt more than others.
If you jump into the cleaning process without double-checking your material, you could find yourself in hot water — literally and figuratively. Certain sex toy materials don't mesh with some basic types of sex toy care. For example, boiling water could ruin a vibrator.
So how do you make sure that you're taking care of your sex toy the right way?
The first step is always to check the material. Let's break down each type of sex toy material and how to keep it in top shape during the cleaning process.
How To Clean Silicone Sex Toys?
If you want to know how to clean a silicone dildo, it's probably easier than you think. Medical-grade silicone is non-porous, making it an accessible sex toy material to clean.
- Use a mild soap and water or an antibacterial cleaner to wipe down the surface. If the product isn't motorized, you can put it in boiling water for a few minutes for a deeper clean.
- While it's not as sanitizing as boiling water, you can even throw a silicone dildo on the top rack of your dishwasher.
How To Clean Plastic, Elastomer, and Rubber Sex Toys?
Elastomer, hard or soft plastic, and jelly rubber are all common materials for sex toys. They're also all porous. While this isn't necessarily a bad thing, it does mean you'll need to devote a bit of extra attention to keeping them clean.
- You can wash these toys with warm water and a mild soap or cleanser.
- Just be sure to get into the crevices. You can use a toothbrush to help dig into those cracks for any built-up debris.
- Always dry these toys with a towel or air dry completely before putting them back into storage.
Cleaning Soft Skin Sex Toys
If you're using a sex toy designed to mimic natural skin — like dildos or fleshlights — you'll need to devote careful attention to their texture.
While you can rinse and wash with soap, the water can make soft skin toys feel a bit sticky or tacky. To smooth the surface again and get it back to that realistic feel, use a non-talc powder to refresh the material.
Cleaning Vinyl Sex Toys
While vinyl is affordable for many sex toys, it's also a bit more sensitive. Only use a small amount of soap, as too much can break down the product. Vinyl is also porous, which needs to be cleaned more thoroughly.
Cleaning Leather Sex Toys
Don't worry, and we didn't forget about the BDSM gear. Leather is often found in harnesses or other fun toys like whips and bondage sets.
It's incredibly porous, which can make it hard to clean. Using a damp, soapy washcloth, wipe down the surface of the leather, making sure to get every nook and cranny — including the stitching. Then, leave it out to air dry.
Cleaning Neoprene Sex Toys
From cock rings to floggers, you might find neoprene in some of your sex toys. Wash them as you would an item of delicate clothing. That means hand-washing them gently and soaking them in soapy water. Always let them air dry.
When To Retire Your Sex Toy?
Some sex toy gadgets are truly made to withstand the test of time, but no sex toy can last forever.
How do you know when it's time to retire Old Faithful?
There's no set time you can wait before a sex toy goes bad. Some vibes will only last a few months, while others could last for ten years.
It all comes down to the quality of the sex toy, the type of material, and how often you use it. Here are a few signs it's time for a replacement:
- The material has started breaking down, degrading, or warping
- You notice a different color or smell to the toy — this is especially true for porous ones
- The motor stutters, breaks, or malfunctions
- You're not as into it as you used to be
How do you keep a toy from breaking down?
Investing in top-quality toys is the first step, of course. But a diligent cleaning routine and proper sex toy storage can help extend its lifespan. The better you take care of your toys, the better they'll take care of you.
While you want your favorite sex toys to last as long as possible, it's not the end of the world if it's time to retire them — even if it's your favorite vibrator. It can be even more exciting to seek new toys and new sexual experiences.
Why Safety Is Sexy
Safety is the sexiest thing you could practice in the bedroom. It might not be the first thing on your mind after you have an outstanding solo session with your sex toy. But after you catch your breath?
It's time to clean.
Cleaning your sex toy is the only way to practice truly safe sex toy play. Keep your most intimate areas safe from disease and increase the lifetime of your products by keeping up a strict disinfecting discipline.
Water, soap, and a trusty sex toy cleaner are all you need to put your cleaning regimen into action.
Whether you just bought a new toy or you have a favorite toy that hasn't been cleaned in a while, the right cleaning product can keep it just as clean as when you first got it—looking for the perfect cleaner to refresh your toys?
How to Clean Your Sex Toys. (April 2020). Cosmopolitan.
How to Clean Sex Toys. (June 2021). Wirecutter.
Yes, You Need to Clean Your Fleshlight. Here's How. (May 2019). Men's Health.
How to Use Kegel (Ben Wa) Balls Like a Pro. (March 2019). Healthline.