How to Clean Sex Toys

We don’t want anyone thinking that their genitals or the things they do with them are dirty…  That is no excuse however for not keeping your sex toys clean! Making sure you thoroughly clean your sex toys after use will ensure that you get rid of any traces of lube and bodily fluids. It also helps ensure that your toys don’t become a breeding ground of bacteria or mold which could cause you harm.

Cleaning vs. Sanitising

Most of the time when you have finished using your sex toys you will probably be fine with just giving them a clean. The means getting rid of any lube, fluids, fluff or gunk, letting them dry and safely stowing them away. However, if you plan to share your sex toys with a non fluid bonded partner*, want to use a toy vaginally after anal use, or if you currently have a yeast infection or other infections of the genital/urinary area (UTIs, STIs or skin infections for example) you need to sanitise your sex toys between uses.

Sanitising your sex toys means that you have put them through a process which will kill any  bacteria, viruses and fungi on the toy. This massively reduces the risk of passing infections to a partner you are sharing with or reinfecting yourself. Giving your sex toys a regular sanitising deep clean can also help them to stay in the best condition possible for longer.

There are some sex toys that are impossible to sanitise. Sex toys made of materials such as TPR/TPE, rubber or jelly are porous. This means the structure of the material is full of microscopic holes which are large enough for bacteria and mold to hide in. Even if you sanitise the surface of the toy, any nasties in the holes beneath the surface will survive and be able to reproduce and spread. We strongly recommend that you do not share porous toys and throw them away at the first sign of any mold or mildew. Check out our Sex Toy Materials Guide for more information.  

Cleaning Sex Toys

For almost all sex toys, the simplest way to clean them is just use a bit of soap and water. Rinse them under a warm tap, lather with a spot of hand soap and then rinse again. Make sure to pay attention to any ribs or creases where fluids can get stuck. An old soft toothbrush is a great tool for ensuring you get all the nooks and crannies.

Many electronic sex toys, such as vibrators, are now splash-proof, if not waterproof. This means that they are generally safe to clean with soap and water, although we recommend you check the packaging first to make sure. Watch out for with any joints or seams where water could get in to the body of the toy and damage electric parts. Unless it is waterproof, do not submerge any electronic toys. If you are unsure, use a damp cloth to wipe them down instead of running them under the tap. Any toy that uses mains power must be unplugged before getting water anywhere near it! 

This method is a safe way to clean, but not sanitise non-porous and porous sex toys. The exception are Fleshlight masturbation sleeves. Fleshlight recommend not using soap on their sleeves as it can degrade the material – a simple rinse with warm water should suffice.

A hand cleaning a sex toy by holding a pink bullet vibrator under a stream of water from a tap

Sanitising Sex Toys

Toy Sprays and Wipes

Antibacterial sex toy sprays or cleaning wipes are a convenient and safe way to sanitise non-porous sex toys. First rinse or wipe off any lube and bodily fluids. Once the surface of the toy is clean a quick spritz or wipe down with an anti-bacterial toy cleaner will get rid of any lurking nasties.  

Bleach Solution

If you don’t have a cleaning spray you can make your own sanitising bleach solution. A 10% solution (10ml of bleach to 90ml water) of household bleach with water is safe to use on most non-porous sex toys. Rinse the toys of any fluids then wipe all over with the bleach solution. If your toys are waterproof you can also soak them in a bowl of your bleach solution.  Make sure to rinse your toys again to remove any traces of bleach. 

Do not use bleach solution on porous toys made from TPR/TPE, rubber or jelly. Also don’t warm or boil bleach as it can give off fumes which can be harmful.  

Three sex toys next to a clear bowl with a draped on the side

Boiling

If your sex toy is made from pure silicone, metal or glass and doesn’t have any electronic parts a simple way to sanitise them is to boil them. Place your toys in a pan of boiling water and let them bubble for 3-5 minutes. Placing a clean cloth or tea towel in the bottom of a pan will stop them moving around and causing any damage in the process. The heat won’t damage metal or silicone toys and is safe for most made from glass. Borosilicate glass should be fine, but soda lime glass may not be. Check your materials and if you are not sure use another method such as a bleach solution soak. Metal and glass toys hold on to heat really well so make sure they have fully cooled down before handling.

Boiling is a good way to help avoid any lingering funky smells on your silicone anal toys. Giving them a regular boil will help keep them fresh and eliminate bacterial growth.

Dishwasher

In theory you can use your dishwasher to sanitise durable silicone, metal or glass sex toys. You need to be able to run the machine on a sanitise cycle with no detergents in order for it to be safe and give you the results you are looking for. With so many easier and more discrete solutions we don’t really recommend this one – but if it works for you go for it!

Drying and Storage

Before you put away your sparkling clean sex toys make sure you have given them enough time to get thoroughly dry. Putting them away damp invites the growth of mold and mildew. Once dry feel free to store your sex toys how you like. As long as it is clean and dry! We do have some tips however:

  • It is a myth that silicone sex toys can not be stored together. Somehow it has got around that silicone toys will melt if they are left touching – this is not true! It is fine to leave silicone toys in a box together.
  • Using a soft, fabric bag (satin, organza or cotton are good choices) can be a great way to keep your sex toys clean and free from fluff, dust and pet hair.
  • Take care when storing glass, wood or ceramic toys, particularly if they are going in a box or drawer with other items. We recommend keeping them in a box or padded bag to ensure that they do not get chipped or damaged.

*Fluid bonded is a term for sexual partners who have chosen to have ‘unprotected sex’ and not to use physical barrier methods such as condoms or dental dams – they share bodily fluids.