When the COVID-19 pandemic first entered into our consciousness, many of us learnt that hand washing was not one of humanity’s strong suits. Loads of people were doing it wrong, and for nowhere near as long as they should.
In fact, a bunch of data over the course of the last 18 months has indicated that we’re all a little grottier than we perhaps assumed.
And while it can feel a little boring to talk about, cleanliness is a pretty important part of our daily lives. That extends through to our sex lives, folks.
If you’re of the opinion that taking to your sex toys with a tissue is good enough, I’m here to tell you that’s absolutely not the case. In fact, there are a whole bunch of considerations that need to be made when it comes to cleaning your sex toys.
Here’s your guide.
Why do I need to clean my sex toys?
Well, for one, bodily fluids are making contact with it and while that in itself is not dirty, bacteria can build rather quickly. And it could expose you, and others, to infection.
Brown University shared an article in this space highlighting that if you’re using sex toys with partners, there is a risk of transmission of STIs through the use of a sex toy. The university shared that in many cases sexually transmitted infections will die off “once the fluid they live in dries” but some can survive on surfaces outside the body “for weeks or months”.
Yikes, okay. What’s the best way to clean them?
Depending on the kind of sex toy you’re using, your approach will likely need to change. For popularity’s sake, let’s start with silicone sex toys here.
The teams at Lelo and JouJou share that:
“The first thing that may come to mind may be immersing your device in boiling water or using a strong soap; however, using soaps with essential oils holds the potential to break down silicone, and not all devices are waterproof.”
So, put down the soap and step away from the kettle. According to the sex toys manufacturers, an anti-bacterial cleaning solution (that is silicone and body-safe) will be your best bet. They recommended Lelo’s Antibacterial Cleaning Spray which “contains active anti-microbial ingredients” and zinc salts which they claim reduce irritation risk.
“This cleaning spray also has additional anti-viral and anti-fungal properties within a pH balanced formula; this easy-on spray is the safest and most effective choice for all your toy cleaning needs,” the brands state.
Looking over to Brown University again, it explained that you can sometimes pop your sex toy in the dishwasher on the top rack or wash it with anti-bacterial soap and warm water. Just check with the manufacturer of your sex toy to make sure your cleaning method makes sense and won’t mess your buddy up.
It’s also important to remove any batteries before washing your sex toys.
If you’re working with stainless steel, you can boil that baby or toss it into the dishwasher, Brown University advises. You’ll want to make sure you’re disinfecting the toy.
Working with leather? Claire Cavanah, cofounder of Babeland, a sex shop in New York City told Refinery29 that wiping it down with a 70% isopropyl rubbing alcohol solution is a good option.
For glass sex toys, Brown University suggested antibacterial soap and water. Pyrex toys can go into the dishwasher but other glass toys cannot.
Honestly, if you’re not 100 per cent sure, avoid the dishwasher – you don’t want a Broad City situation, yeah?
How often should I clean my toys?
The general rule here is that you should clean your sex toys every time you use them. But Cavanah recommended bumping that up to before and after use.
And if you can’t properly clean your sex toys, she suggested to the R29 team that you use a condom where possible as protection.
It may sound like overkill but if it’s keeping your toys in good condition, and it’s preventing your risk of infection, a little time spent cleaning is surely worth it?