For surface cleaning
- Soap: Castile soap or liquid hand soap are preferred. It is acceptable to use antibacterial soap, but it is not essential. Do not use dish soap or harsh soaps.
- Clean towels or paper towels: These can be used to dry toys after cleaning.
For deep cleaning
- Use boiling water to disinfect toys. First, clean the toys and then immerse them in boiling water for a few seconds.
- Bleach and spray bottles (or other receptacles for a bleach solution). Boiling or bleaching will kill most, but not all, of the pathogens in your toys.
- Dishwasher: Make sure that your dishwasher has the right settings for disinfection. You can boil or bleach your toys if you don’t have the right settings.
- Clean towels or paper towels: These can be used to testing dildos after cleaning.
Cleaning sprays and sex-toys: In most cases, you can use plain soap and water.
How long does it take to clean this?
Depending on which method you use, cleaning times can vary. Surface-cleaning toys takes between one and three minutes, not including drying time. To boil toys, you will need to wait three minutes to disinfect them. To disinfect toys, it takes about 10 minutes. You can use a dishwasher, but it is possible to in certain cases. Plan for a full rinse cycle (timings may vary).
How to choose the right cleaning method
While we have provided some general guidelines for cleaning different types sex toys, you should always refer to the manual of your toy if you want to know how to clean it.
Chase outlined the three levels of cleaning in this way:
- Material removal from the surface.
- Disinfecting or Sanitizing destroys bacteria and pathogens to make things hygienic.
- Sterilizing eliminates all bacteria, viruses and fungi.
- Chase stated that “Your vibrator and ball gag should be at the very least clean.” Chase stated that the toy should not have any lubricants or body fluids on it. It doesn’t matter if you’re the only one using it or if you have a fluid-bonded friend, you can wash the toy with soap and water. Sterilizing is not necessary unless you are performing invasive medical plays. Our goal is to disinfect or sanitize our toys.
This cleaning guide is for toys that are not porous and are used on the genitals. It includes materials like 100% silicone, metal or borosilicate glasses, as well as hard plastics such ABS or TPC. It is difficult to clean porous toys such as jelly rubber, silicone blend, PVC, leather and some types of stones. Experts do not recommend the use of porous toys as they can harbour bacteria.
Not all silicone toys are 100% silicone. This is especially true for toys with a soft skin texture. To confirm your toy is 100% silicone, you can use a flame test. You will be able hold a lighter to the item to check if the surface of the toy has not melted (PDF). This flame test should only be done with non-mechanized toys such as dildos.
Basic surface cleaning
A thorough scrub can be used to clean almost any sexy toy. The toy will not be sterilized or disinfected by this method. If you are the only one using the toy, however, it is enough for most cases.
Before you start, check the water safety rating of your toy. It’s okay to rinse your toy in the sink if it is not mechanized (such a silicone dildo) or mechanized but waterproof or splashproof.
A toy that is splashproof means it can be submerged in water. A toy that is waterproof means it can be submerged up to a certain level. The toy’s manual or box will usually indicate whether it is waterproof or splashproof. Water-safe toys should be cleaned with a damp towel or washcloth.
Before cleaning, take out the battery if the toy has a battery.
To remove any debris, rinse the toy using water. Apply liquid soap to the toy, and then scrub it with water. If you are washing it in the sink use a damp cloth to wipe it clean.
To remove gunk from any grooves or crevices in the toy, you can use a soft toothbrush that has been designated for this purpose. Use plain water to rinse the toy or wipe it clean.
Air-dry the toy by placing it on a towel. Deysach says that air drying is the best way to dry toys. This will prevent lint from getting stuck and allow the toys time to dry completely.
Note on cleaning sex toys with sprays or wipes: While there are many products that are specifically designed for cleaning them, most people find plain soap and water to be equally effective. Deysach stated that while wipes and sprays are convenient, they can also be time-consuming to clean. The exception is AfterGlow Cleansing Towels.
Sanitizing or disinfecting
Sometimes, a simple clean is not enough. In these situations, it is advisable to disinfect toys:
- People who aren’t fluid bonded will not be able to share the toy. You can also use a condom to cover the toy when you share it.
- It may have come in contact with genitals due to an active yeast, bacterial or sexually transmitted infection. A 2014 study showed that vibrators can sometimes be found with human papillomavirus, even after basic cleaning. Pure Romance, a company that makes sex toys, provided funding and non-financial support to one of the study’s author.
- The same toy should be used anally as well as vaginally. In this instance, experts recommend condoms.
- An anal toy should be able to eliminate odors. Particularly silicone toys, smell retention can be a problem.
- These methods will kill most pathogens. The dishwasher can also kill bacteria but not viruses and fungi. These steps can also help to remove odors from silicone toys.
To disinfect 100% silicone, stainless-steel, and borosilicate glasses toys, first clean them by rubbing them with a damp cloth. Next, heat some water to boil for three minutes. Deysach suggests that you place a washcloth inside the pot to protect the glass toys from cracking.
To remove the boiled toy with tongs from the boiling water, dry it on a towel and let it air dry. Avoid rinsing the toy with cold water right after boiling, as extreme temperatures can cause damage.
After surface cleaning, you can deep-clean several non-mechanized 100% silicon, stainless steel, or borosilicate glasses toys by placing them on top racks of the dishwasher. Next, run the dishwasher on the sanitize mode without soap. This is too harsh for sex toys. If you are sharing the dishwasher with other people, this method is not recommended.
According to Dangerous Lilly, the dishwasher isn’t as effective in disinfecting toys as boiling water.
Federal standard states that residential dishwashers must reach 150°F. This temperature is capable of killing 99.999% of bacteria. While this is enough heat to kill most bacteria and other microbes, it will not be enough to kill particularly heat-tolerant viruses or fungi. If in doubt, boiling or bleaching is a better option than the dishwasher.
After cleaning the surface, toys can be disinfected with a bleach solution. Chase suggests using five tablespoons (or 1/3 cup) of household bleach to make a bleach solution. She suggested that you either spray the toy with bleach and allow it to sit for 10 mins or that you submerge the item in the bleach solution for ten minutes.
This advice is based upon CDC recommendations regarding disinfection. Toys that are 100% waterproof (not splashproof), can be submerged in bleach solution. After the bleach treatment, wash the toy thoroughly with soap and water.
Avoid UV sanitizers
While some swear by UV boxes to clean sex toys, most people prefer bleaching or boiling methods. They are also much less expensive and more effective. Dangerous Lilly wrote in her article about UV light boxes: “I believe that the general population doesn’t require such a costly tool for cleaning sex toys, it’s a niche item.”
One concern is that ultraviolet light can only disinfect the area it’s able. It may not be as effective for toys with nooks or crannies.
How to store sex toys in order to keep them clean
It’s important that toys are properly stored after they’re cleaned. While many sex toys include a case, bag, or fabric pouch that can be used for storage, any other sealable pouch or case will work fine for a non-porous toy. This will keep your toys clean and dust-free.
To reduce odor, Deysach recommends that silicone anal toys be stored in something breathable (not plastic). Toys should always be kept in a dry, cool place such as a drawer or shelf. Toys should not be exposed to direct sunlight, or in areas where they could get wet like the bathroom.
Non-motorized toys made of solid silicone, borosilicate and stainless steel are extremely durable and long-lasting. However, toys with visible cracks in plastic, acrylic, or glass should be disposed off, according to medical experts. These defects can be dangerous and hard to clean. This is also true for silicone toys that have rips or tears.