How to Clean Sex Toys: A Step-by-Step Guide (With Pictures)

how to clean sex toys

Over the past decade we’ve tested countless sex toys, which means we’ve cleaned countless sex toys too.

Using sex toys can be one of the easiest and sexiest ways to spice up your sex life. But no matter what, whether you’re using them alone or with a partner, it’s essential to regularly clean and store your sex toys properly to ensure you’re not putting yourself or your partner at risk.

But do all sex toy materials need to be cleaned? Are there special products you should be using to clean your sex toys? And what’s the best way to clean and store your sex toys?

Below, we’re diving into our ultimate guide on properly cleaning sex toys.

Table of Contents

Cleaning Sex Toys – A Step By Step Guide

Step 1: Don’t catch an STI

cleaning sex toys step

Even if you’re not actually having sex with another person, there are still risks when using sex toys.

Sharing your toys with another person can still lead to the spread of STIs, and even unplanned pregnancy if you don’t clean them properly.

And I don’t think I need to explain why those can be bad. I’ll leave that up to your imagination!

Step 2: Before your first use

how to clean sex toys step

You would think your brand-new sex toy would be safe to use straight out of the box.

But before you insert a vibrator or dildo into any of your holes (or stick your dick into a pocket pussy or realistic butt), I strongly recommend that you take the time to clean them first.

Yes, most manufacturing facilities are clean, and once the toy is in its package, it’s not likely to be touched or handled by anyone.

But, the fact is that you don’t know what your toy has been through to get to you.

And from the factory where they’re made to your bedside drawer, sex toys do undergo a lot of handling.

So it’s best to clean them before using them for the first time, just to be safe.

Step 3: Read the instructions

sex toy cleaning step

I know you’re raring to get your new toy out of the box and start using it.

But before you toss the packaging aside and indulge, I strongly advise you to read what the manufacturer says about using, cleaning, and storing their toys.

The fact is that all sex toys are a bit different, whether they’re made out of different materials, or simply require different cleaning treatments.

So reading the instructions really is an important part of safely using and caring for your brand new sex toy.

I promise this only takes a minute or two, and then you can have as much fun as you want with your new toy!

Step 4: Know what your sex toys are made from

how to clean sex toys step

Dildos, vibrators, Fleshlights, butt plugs, BDSM gear

They’re all made from different materials, which require different types of care and maintenance.

So you’ll need to clean them accordingly.

Non-porous materials, like glass, silicon, and stainless steel can easily be wiped clean with soapy water or a sex toy cleaning wipe.

But electric sex toys, like blowjob machines or automatic masturbators, may be built using different materials that may need a bit more delicate care.

Step 5: In soap we trust

sex toy hygiene guide step

There are a few different ways you can clean your sex toys (soap, dishwasher, wipes, etc.).

But most times, just using soap and water is the best and easiest way to keep them clean.

As long as you’re using a mild antibacterial soap, there’s really not much risk of damaging your toys.

And it’s a lot more affordable than buying sex toy-specific wipes or cleaners, like Fleshwash.

You can even bring your sex toys into the tub or shower with you to give them a good scrubbing while you clean your undercarriage.

Just don’t get distracted!

Step 6: Baby wipes to the rescue

how to clean sex toys step

Baby wipes are great to keep in your bedside drawer for quick cleanups after fooling around.

Baby wipes are easy to find in any supermarket or store, safe to use on your and your partner’s private parts, and, at least in my opinion, they smell nice!

The problem is that they are so gentle they might not kill all bacteria, or sperm.

So while they’re great for quick cleanups, I still recommend cleaning your toys with soap and water.

Step 7: Condoms aren’t just for sex

sex toy cleaning step

Condoms are another great way to keep your sex toys clean.

By using a condom on your vibrators or dildos, you’ll prevent them from becoming contaminated with bodily fluids and bacteria.

Similarly, if you’re a dude using a Fleshlight or pocket pussy, wearing a condom prevents you from needing to clean up the sticky mess when you’re done.

Of course, you’ll still need to clean your toys if they get covered in lubricant, but if you’re careful, you’ll just need to remove the condom when you’re done and toss it into the trash!

Easy peasy!

Step 8: Don’t bleach your sex toys

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Never use any type of household cleaner, like bleach or ammonia, to clean your sex toys!

Sure, they’re guaranteed to kill any germs or bacteria present on your toys, but they can also damage your toys AND your reproductive organs!

So yeah, you might come across other content on the web telling you it’s ok to bleach your glass dildo…

But I strongly recommend you don’t!

Step 9: Store them properly

sex toy cleaning step

Keeping your beloved sex toys stored properly is just as important as cleaning them after you’ve used them.

But please don’t toss them into a dusty, dirty bedside drawer when you’re done with them, where they’re likely to get covered in dirt, hair, dog fur, and all sorts of other things you don’t want near your junk.

If you do want to store your sex toys in a drawer, just make sure it’s clean before you toss them in.

Otherwise, I recommend using a separate box or container to keep your toys in.

Some retailers even sell UV sex toy chests, which are designed to clean your toys while keeping them stored safely.

These devices look a bit like miniature tanning beds but for your sex toys…

Just imagine your dildos are going to the salon to get a base tan before their next vacation.

Only, instead of going to the beach, you’ll be taking them to pleasure town.

How To Clean Sex Toys – Key Takeaways

  • Cleaning sex toys prevents the spread of sexually transmitted infections and unplanned pregnancies.
  • Wiping your sex toys with hot, soapy water (preferably antibacterial soap) is the easiest, safest, and most effective method for cleaning them.
  • Sex toys made from hard plastic, silicone, glass, or stainless steel are the easiest to clean.
  • Some sex toy manufacturers sell sprays, cleaners, and wipes designed specifically for cleaning sex toys.
  • Heat-treated glass, stainless steel, and silicone sex toys can be cleaned in the dishwasher using its disinfectant setting.
  • Submerging toys made from glass or metal in boiling water is an effective method for cleaning them. Just make sure they’re not electronic or made from a material that will melt. And give them plenty of time to cool down before using them.
  • Disinfectant wipes, bleach, and household cleaners may deteriorate sex toy materials and aren’t safe for internal use.
  • Baby wipes usually do not contain germ-killing disinfectants.
  • You should clean sex toys before or after use, especially if exposed to blood, semen, or vaginal fluid.
  • Hepatitis, HSV, and other viruses can live on sex toy surfaces for days or weeks.
  • Sperm can live outside the body for as long as 30 minutes.
  • The US sex toy industry is mostly unregulated, which means not all sex toys are made from body-safe materials.
  • Sex toys made from rubber may contain phthalates and other unsafe chemicals. You should always use a condom when using these types of sex toys.
  • You should always store sex toys in a clean, dry area, separate from other household items.

Why Should I Clean My Sex Toys?

You should keep your sex toys clean to ensure that you don’t accidentally introduce dirt, viruses, bacteria, or other foreign debris into your or your partner’s body.

When you don’t clean your toys, saliva, vaginal juices, semen, and other bodily fluids can be left on them.

Over time, these fluids may fester, exposing you to the risk of infection the next time you use them.

Most of the bacteria and viruses that cause STIs will die when exposed to air.

But some viruses, like hepatitis, can live outside the body for days, weeks, and even months.

So it’s important to understand that sharing your toys with others exposes you to the risk of contracting sexually transmitted infections, such as herpes, HPV, syphilis, gonorrhea, HIV, and more.

Similarly, using a dildo or vibrator for vaginal play after using it for anal play also exposes you and your partners to potentially harmful bacteria.

And finally, cleaning sex toys ensures that they won’t be contaminated with sperm, which is extremely important to know if you’re trying to avoid unplanned pregnancies.

  • Hepatitis A can survive for up to four hours on a person’s hands, several days in feces, and up to a month in water.
  • Hepatitis B can survive for a week outside the human body.
  • Hepatitis C can survive for up to 4 days outside the human body.
  • HSV, the virus responsible for herpes, can live between a few hours and up to 8 weeks on a dry, inanimate surface.
  • Sperm can live for anywhere between 15 to 30 minutes outside the body.

So whether you’re playing with a partner or playing solo, safe sex practices, which include properly cleaning and storing your toys, should always be put into practice.

What Sex Toy Material Can You Clean?

You can clean any sex toy material, including silicone, TPE, glass, stainless steel, leather, and more.

But depending on the material, you may need to take specific steps to clean your toys.

For example, while you can clean a glass or stainless steel dildo by submerging it in boiling water, this isn’t true for other sex toy materials.

If your toy is made from plastic, using the boiling water method will likely melt it.

Of course, it’ll still get cleaned, but it’ll probably turn into a pile of mush. And I promise you that’s something you’ll want to avoid.

While there are many types of sex toy materials, they generally fall into two different categories: non-porous and porous.

Cleaning non-porous materials

Hard plastics, silicone, glass, and stainless steel are all non-porous materials.

A non-porous material is solid and has no openings or pores where bacteria and viruses can hide.

This is why non-porous sex toys are the safest to use, and the easiest to clean.

Toys made from non-porous materials are impervious to water, meaning that you can clean them adequately simply by wiping the surface clean with some soap and water.

Cleaning porous materials

A porous material is any surface that contains microscopic voids or spaces in its atomic structure.

These spaces provide bacteria, viruses, and other contaminants with the perfect place to hideout, making them more challenging to clean properly.

Sex toys made from vinyl, rubber, nylon, or leather are all considered non-porous, which means you’ll need to take extra precautions when cleaning and storing these types of toys.

Soap and water are still effective at cleaning these types of toys.

But you’ll want to make sure to properly clean, disinfect and sterilize them to ensure optimal safety.

Remember:

  • Properly cleaning your sex toys is part of safe sex.
  • Not cleaning your sex toys can lead to infections, especially if you’re using your sex toys with multiple partners or you’re using them for anal play.
  • Always refer to your sex toys’ manufacturers’ instructions for proper cleaning tips.

Body Safety – Are Your Sex Toys Made From Body-Safe Materials?

Aside from the risk of viral or bacterial contamination, it’s essential to only use sex toys made from body-safe materials.

Unfortunately, the sex toy industry in the United States and abroad is still mostly unregulated.

Therefore, manufacturers, wholesalers, and retailers often sell products that aren’t safe for internal use.

For example, the composition of sex toys made from rubber is often unknown, which means they may contain phthalates and other chemicals that may harm your sexual and reproductive health.

So if you’re using a rubber sex toy or are unsure what your toys are made from, I strongly encourage you to use a condom.

What are the best sex toy materials?

When choosing the best materials for your sex toys, I strongly recommend using toys made from non-porous materials, like glass, stainless steel, hard plastic, and silicone, which are easier to clean.

Remember:

  • Sex toy manufacturers, wholesalers, and retailers are not regulated by any government bodies, which means it’s your responsibility to know what your toys are made from.
  • Not all sex toys are safe for internal use. Some sex toys, especially if made from rubber, may contain phthalates, which can be harmful to your reproductive organs.
  • Non-porous materials are the safest and easiest to clean.

How To Clean Your Sex Toys

I’ve already mentioned that using soap and water is the best way to clean your sex toys, but I’ve come across a lot of questions, myths, and misconceptions surrounding sex toy cleaning best practices that I’ll cover below.

Can I wash my sex toys with soap and water?

Yes, sex toys can be safely cleaned using soapy water and a cloth. I recommend using antibacterial soap and simply wiping down your toys, ensuring that you’ve cleaned the entire surface.

Then, simply dry using a clean towel and store in a dry location until the next time you’re in the mood to play.

If your toy contains batteries or electronics, just be careful not to get these parts wet or submerge them in water.

Most sex toys are waterproof or splashproof, but you’ll need to check with the manufacturer’s instructions so you don’t end up damaging them.

What about using sex toy cleaners?

There are many sex toy-specific cleaners, sprays, and wipes available from trusted brands like LELO, Lovehoney, Adam & Eve, and Fleshlight.

These are perfectly safe to use on your sex toys, especially if it’s from the same manufacturer.

For instance, if you’re using a Fleshlight, I recommend using Fleshwash to keep your toy clean.

Just make sure that the sex toy wipes or cleaners that you buy are suitable for the types of toys that you’re cleaning.

And always avoid using disinfectant wipes or household cleaners on your toys.

Can I wash sex toys in the dishwasher?

Yes, sex toys made from heat-treated glass, silicone, or stainless steel can be safely placed and cleaned in your dishwasher.

This is especially helpful if your dishwasher has a disinfectant setting, which will use a higher temperature to clean the toys.

That said, not all sex toys can withstand the high heat of being placed inside your dishwasher.

Plastics, rubber, and regular glass sex toys may crack, split, or shatter if exposed to high heat.

So yes, you can clean sex toys in the dishwasher. But again, I advise checking with the manufacturer first.

What about cleaning sex toys with boiling water?

Submerging your sex toys in boiling water for just a few minutes can clean and sterilize their surfaces.

You can safely clean heat-treated glass, stainless steel, and silicone sex toys by using boiling water.

On the other hand, materials such as plastic, leather, nylon, vinyl, or rubber may melt if submerged in boiling water.

Additionally, you should never clean electric or battery-powered toys by submerging them in boiling water unless they’re fully waterproof and the manufacturer’s instructions say it’s OK.

What about cleaning sex toys with UV light?

UV sex toy sterilizers are one of the most effective methods for cleaning and sterilizing the surface of your toys.

These devices are designed to kill all viruses and bacteria on your toys.

UV sex toy cleaners generally come in the form of a chest or box, which somewhat resembles a small tanning bed for your sex toys.

You simply place your toys in the UV chest, turn the device on, and as the toys are exposed to the unit’s UV light, they’ll be cleaned, making these devices the ideal way to clean and store your sex toys simultaneously.

Plus, they’re safe to use on virtually all sex toy materials, no matter what they’re made from.

Can I clean sex toys with wipes?

Yes, baby wipes can be a suitable method for cleaning your sex toys.

But you should avoid using disinfectant wipes that contain bleach, ammonia, or any other household cleaners.

These substances may cause damage to your toys, and they’re also not suitable for internal use.

Baby wipes are a more suitable option for cleaning sex toys.

But because they are meant to be gentle on a baby’s skin, they generally do not contain any germ-killing disinfectants.

So yes, baby wipes are suitable for quick cleanings, but they’re not for sterilizing or disinfecting your sex toys.

Can I clean my sex toys with bleach?

No, you should never use bleach to clean your sex toys.

Bleach is a very strong household cleaner that will kill virtually all viruses, bacteria, and sperm. But it’s not safe to be using bleach on anything that you’ll be putting inside your or your partner’s body.

So yes, bleach will disinfect your toy, but you must take additional steps to rinse them with water before using them, ensuring that there’s no bleach left on the surface.

Otherwise, you could accidentally introduce bleach into your urethra, vagina, or anus, which won’t feel pleasant and can even cause mild burns or emergency room visits.

And those are all things that you definitely don’t want included in your sex life!

Remember:

  • Using antibacterial soap and water is the simplest, and most effective way to clean your sex toys.
  • Glass, silicone, and stainless steel sex toys can be safely cleaned in the dishwasher using the disinfectant setting.
  • Avoid using bleach or other household cleaners to disinfect your sex toys. It’s not worth the risk!

Bonus – Other Ways to Keep Your Sex Toys Clean

Using water, soap, cleaners, and heat aren’t the only ways to get your vibrators, dildos, and other sex toys clean.

Keeping your sex toys clean by using a condom

Even if you’re just masturbating or playing with a trusted partner, using a condom on your sex toys is one of the easiest and most effective ways to keep them clean.

Simply apply a condom over your toys before using it.

Then, when you’re done, you can simply remove the condom and dispose of it in the trash.

For males using a Fleshlight or any other type of pocket pussy, wearing a condom is also a great way to ensure that your plaything stays clean.

Of course, if you’re using a lubricant, you’ll still want to wipe your toys clean and rinse them before putting them away until next time.

But using a condom helps keep things cleaner, and you won’t have to worry about STIs or unplanned pregnancies.

How to clean leather sex toys

Straps, harnesses, whips, and other leather sex toys should be cleaned using soap and water.

Simply wipe down the entire surface and dry it using a clean towel.

Depending on the manufacturer’s instructions, you might even be able to use a leather conditioner on these toy materials to keep them looking their best.

Common Sex Toy Cleaning Mistakes

Not cleaning your toys when you first get them, using household cleaners and scented soaps, and improper storage are just a few of the most common sex toy cleaning mistakes.

Let’s take a better look!

Not cleaning your toy when it first arrives

From the factory where the toy is made to your local retailer’s shelf, sex toys undergo a significant amount of handling before finding themselves in your bedside drawer.

Therefore, I always recommend thoroughly cleaning your sex toys before using them, even if you’re taking them directly out of the box.

While most sex toys will arrive clean, it’s impossible to say who has touched or handled your toy before it got to you.

So there’s always a risk of exposing yourself or your partner to foreign contaminants.

Not checking whether your toy is waterproof or water-resistant

Vibrators, battery-powered toys, and Bluetooth-enabled toys may or may not be waterproof.

So submerging these toys in water can quickly destroy their internal electronics.

It’s also good to note that there is a difference between waterproof and water-resistant sex toys.

You can fully submerge waterproof sex toys in water without any ill effects. Water-resistance toys, on the other hand, are designed to be fully submerged in water.

For these toys, it’s safe to wipe them down with soap and water. Just don’t keep them underwater for long.

Again, this is why reading and following your toys’ manufacturer’s instructions is crucial.

Not drying your toys off properly

For most female toys, I recommend drying them before storing them, but you won’t have to worry too much if they’re still damp since they’re dry on their own.

For male strokers and Fleshlights, putting them away without properly drying them can lead to mold and mildew formation on the inside of the toy.

And I don’t think I need to explain why that’s a bad thing!

Using scented soaps, household cleaning products, or bleach

I mentioned that you can use bleach to clean certain sex toys. But for the most part, you should simply avoid using scented cleaners, bleach, or any other type of household chemicals to clean your toys.

But, if you do use a strong disinfectant, just remember to properly rinse your sex toys afterward.

In fact, if you disinfect your toys with any of these products, I still recommend washing them with soapy water to ensure that they’re safe to use.

While these products might be highly effective at killing viruses and bacteria, they are unsafe to put into your or your partner’s body.

The best-case scenario is that you’ll end up with minor irritation in your urethra or vulva.

But in the worst case, you could need to make an embarrassing emergency visit to see a doctor for treatment.

Throwing your sex toys in a musty bedside drawer

Just like it’s essential to properly clean and dry them, it’s important to store your sex toys properly.

While there’s nothing wrong with storing your sex toys in your bedside drawer, you need to make sure that it’s clean before tossing your dildos, vibrators, strokers, or other sex toys in there.

I recommend choosing a specific container or drawer and storing your sex toys separately from other items.

Some sex toy shops even sell specific sex toy chests or silk sacs, such as the UV sterilizers I mentioned, which you can use to store your toys safely.

Otherwise, they can easily become contaminated with dirt, debris, hair, or other foreign materials.

And that’s precisely why it’s essential to properly clean, dry, and store your sex toys according to the best practices I’ve discussed here!

Questions

How often should I clean my sex toys?

You should clean your sex toys whenever they’ve been exposed to any type of bodily fluids, including saliva, semen, vaginal secretions, or feces.

I recommend cleaning your toys before or after using them, especially if you’re using them with multiple partners or for anal play, which increases the chances of bacterial exposure.

How should I store my sex toys?

The best place to store your sex toys is in a clean, dry area, ensuring they’re kept separate from any other items that may contaminate them with dirt or debris.

UV sterilization chests are a great place to store your toys.

These devices not only keep your sex toys dry and separate from other items but also clean them simultaneously, which means that you’ll never need to worry about scrubbing, boiling, or cleaning your dildo ever again!

Can I use alcohol to clean my toy?

Both rubbing alcohol and spirits (like vodka, rye, or gin) work as strong disinfectants, which can clean your toys.

But these substances aren’t safe to be in or around your genitals.

So it’s best to avoid cleaning your sex toys with them.

How do you clean sex toys made of silicone?

Silicone is a non-porous material, which means you can clean silicone sex toys with soap and water, by boiling them, or by tossing them into the dishwasher and using the disinfectant setting.

Is there any way to effectively sterilize a dildo for multiple users?

Sharing a dildo with multiple partners comes with the risks of spreading bodily fluids and potentially sexually transmitted infections.

Therefore, if you’re using a dildo with multiple users, it’s important to thoroughly clean it before using it on another person.

Using soap and water is the most effective method for doing this.

Baby wipes will not effectively kill all germs on your dildo, which means there will still be a risk of spreading bacteria between partners.

References

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Avatar for Deon Black About Deon Black

In the past 11 years, Deon has helped tens of millions of people around the world through his sex toy reviews and guides. Since 2012, he and his team have spent over 60,000 hours testing more than 1000 sex toys. His work & advice has appeared on websites like: Insider, Healthline, MensHealth, Wikipedia, Yahoo, Cosmopolitan, Romper, WomensHealth and more. Learn more.

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