ICYMI, knowing how to clean your sex toys is just as important as knowing how to enjoy them. But not all toys are created ~equal~ when it comes to making sure they’re actually clean and ready for use.
If you’ve ever asked yourself: Wait, what products should I be using to wash them with? And how often? Does a butt plug need to be cleaned differently than a rabbit vibe? Don’t panic. We created this toy cleaning guide with the help of Good Vibrations staff sexologist Carol Queen, PhD, for you to reference when you don’t know WTF you’re doing or just can’t remember.
But please, if there’s anything to take from this piece as a whole: Do not boil your vibrators.
When and how often should you be cleaning your toys?
After every single use, suggests Queen. And, depending on how you store them, you may need to give them a quick wash prior to your masturbation session too, says Queen. “If you put them away while still damp, or you toss them in with a bunch of other toys/items, give them a quick wash before.”
Cleaning them is especially important if you 1) Use the toy with another person, and 2) Switch between vaginal and anal play. “Not adequately cleaning your toys between uses risks affecting vaginal flora—and once that gets wonky, itching and discomfort may follow,” she says. In other words, hello UTIs, yeast infections, and other uncomfy bacterial things.
Also, know the rules about double-dipping: You can go from vaginal to anal play but never anal to vaginal penetration (and this applies for fingers, toys, body parts, etc.).
Depending on the material, how should you clean your toys?
Queen confirms that toy cleaners like Intimate Earth or Wicked Cleene work v efficiently, but good ol’ soap and water are two trusty methods too. Let’s get down and dirty with all the specific materials, though.
Stainless steel, glass, plastic, or jelly-like material
These can be thrown in the dishwasher (easy!), but if you’re thinking about hand-washing them, just make sure it’s not with that cherry-scented Bath & Body Works soap in your bathroom.
Fragranced and antibacterial soaps are a no-go, especially if they contain the ingredient Triclosan. “This ingredient is an irritant and could be linked to health problems,” says Queen. “I recommend using normal soap or mild unscented dish soap.” Trust me: You don’t wanna put fragrances up your vag unless you want to risk getting a yeast infection or bacterial vaginosis.
Silicone is really the only material you can boil with a huge, huge, huge caveat: only silicone dildos. “Silicone dildos can be boiled for a few minutes,” says Queen, but this does not apply for silicone vibrators or silicone toys equipped with motors. There are exceptions. “Just wash these by hand and guard the battery case or charge port when you rinse it,” says Queen. If you can’t even rinse your toy or some part of it, like an old-school battery pack or a remote controller, use a wipe.”
Soft skin items
“If you’re using a soft skin item like some dildos, many packers, as well as sleeve toys like Fleshlights have, rinsing them may make them feel a little sticky.” Queen recommends smoothing the surface again with a non-talc alternative like Renew Refreshing Powder.
Oh, and obviously don’t forget to wipe down your lube bottles and wash your hands. Those are sex toys in need of cleaning too, my friends.
Where should you store your toys after you clean them?
Whether we’re talking about BDSM or cleaning pleasure products, aftercare is important. Don’t leave your toys out to collect dust on your nightstand. Store ‘em in a silicone case like this Happy Rabbit one, a simple breathable stash bag, a tote bag, this cute bag from We-Vibe, or the fun Julie Mollo stash bags (with zodiac symbols and amazing words like f*ck and c*nt on them). Just note that fabric bags won’t hold moisture the way a sealed-up bag could, Queen adds.
If you don’t want to buy a new storage kit just for your toys, try repurposing bags already laying around in your home. “DIY it by saving a washable cloth grocery bag for their toys or getting one of those silk wine bottle gift bags to store their wand vibe,” suggests Queen.
Whatever you do, just clean and store your toys properly, K? Your health and your partners will thank you for it. Promise.