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You *Need* To Clean Your Sex Toys — Here’s How

Alright, it’s time that you and I sit down for a chat. I’m going to start by asking you this: when was the last time you cleaned your sex toys?

Don’t lie — I’m guilty of it too. The fact is, cleaning our sex toys is rarely something that crosses our minds, especially after a great solo sesh. Additionally, when you’re using sex toys with a partner, it’s even more important to stay sanitary. And while some of us might run it under some water and call it a day, or even use a disposable vibrator to escape the cleaning, it’s super important to start cleaning your sex toys regularly and correctly.

According to a survey by The Bed Bible of 1,760 participants, 14% of people have never cleaned their vibrator. Additionally, 22% only clean their sex toys after use. Not cleaning your sex toys can result in bacterial growth, which can then transform into genital infections (like yeast infections, bacterial vaginosis, etc.) and — wait for it — STIs like herpes, chlamydia, syphilis, and more. Not only does this put your health at risk, but it also has an impact on your sexual partners, whether you’re in a committed relationship or engaging in casual sex.

Think of cleaning your sex toys like cleaning your makeup brushes, or makeup sponge: after a while, sh*t gets gross. So, if you don’t do so already, grab your sex toys and get ready to clean — you’ll be so glad you did.

How often do I have to clean my sex toys?

It goes without saying that your toys should be cleaned (thoroughly) after every use — especially if they’re going inside of you. Additionally, it’s important to keep the sex toys that you use vaginally and anally separate, and even go so far as to have a designated toy for partnered sex.

However, it’s also important to clean your sex toys before use. Chances are, you’re not keeping your vibrator in a hyper-sanitized, vacuum-sealed bag. If you’re storing your sex toys in a box, drawer, bin, or any other secret space, they can be susceptible to dust, lint, and bacteria. So, before getting down and dirty, make sure to start with a clean slate. Literally.

How do I clean my sex toys?

Cleaning your sex toys is easy, and it doesn’t take a long time. Additionally, there are a few different ways to clean your sex toys depending on their material, how and where they’re used, and how long you’ve gone without cleaning them. (Let’s be honest, sometimes we forget)

How To Clean a Non-Porous Sex Toy:

“Non-porous” toys are the most standard sex toys out there. Think silicone vibrators, butt plugs, dildos, glass toys, metal toys, you name it. These are made of a non-porous material that prevents bacteria from penetrating the toy and harboring bacteria for long periods of time. For this reason, these sex toys are a little easier to clean. I swear by the Sweet Vibrations “Foami” toy cleaner (Sweet Vibes, $12) because it’s pH balanced and free of parabens and other harsh chemicals. However, any toy cleaner that’s fragrance-free, natural, and pH-balanced is a total win.

All you need to do is use some specialty toy soap — or a mild, fragrance-free soap — and thoroughly wash your toy. Make sure to hit all of the nooks and crannies before drying them with a clean cloth and storing in a clean, discreet place like a box, bin, or bag.

How To Clean A Porous Sex Toy:

“Porous” toys are made with a material that allows bacteria to penetrate and live below the surface. These are toys made with latex, rubber, Sensafirm, and UR3 — which is that skin-like material used on a ton of different sex toys. Since bacteria is able to dig its way deeper, these toys require a little more elbow grease. If they don’t have any kind of electrical makeup (like a vibrator), you can boil these toys to really sanitize them. After every use, be sure to scrub with a sex toy cleaner — and try to avoid using porous toys with a partner and maybe opt for a disposable toy. You know, just in case that bacteria is still in there.

If you want to be extra careful, there’s no shame in using a condom over your sex toy. Hey — safe-sex is hot. Even when it’s by yourself.

While it can seem small, cleaning your sex toy is a big deal — especially when it comes to your health. Bestie, your vibrator (or dildo, or both) is a gift. They know how to treat you right. And now, it’s time that you start to take care of them, too.

julianna is an associate editor at her campus where she mainly covers sex and relationships, wellness, mental health, astrology, and all things gen-z. when she's not writing burning hot takes and spilling way too much about her personal life online, you can find julianna anywhere books, beers, and bands are.