How to clean a sex toy

How To Clean Your Sex Toys

Sarah Riccio

So you’ve invested in some sex toys, and now you want to preserve them so you can enjoy a long, fruitful life together. Proper wash care is paramount to keeping your toys safe to use, in good condition, and (if you like!) suitable for sharing with others. 

Join me for all the tips and tricks you need to clean your sex toys safely and effectively!

When Should I Wash My Sex Toys?

Before we discuss how to clean your toys, let’s talk about when to do it. 

When your toy arrives: I recommend washing any sex toy you purchase as soon as you unbox it. You may not plan to use it right away, but it’s good practice to give a new toy a thorough once-over to rid it of any bacteria or dust it may have picked up in transit or the manufacturing process.

Before playtime: Clean your toys before getting down to business. Even if you washed them when they arrived and you haven't used them since, remember: toys can collect dust, pet dander, and bacteria from the air or other objects that might be in your nightstand. 

After playtime: No need to wash your toys the moment you’re finished (feel free to bask in the afterglow for a bit!). But when you’re ready, give them a complete clean.

Whether you’re playing solo or with partners, it's important to wash your toys after every use. Otherwise, you risk the buildup of bacteria, bodily fluids, and lubricants that can degrade your toys, disrupt your pH balance, irritate your skin, or cause infections.

How to clean the we-vibe chorus

How Should I Wash My Sex Toys?

The way you clean your toys depends on what they're made from, so there isn’t a single rule that works for every pleasure product. Here's how to clean the most common sex toy materials:

Silicone: Silicone is non-porous, making it both safe to use on your body and easy to clean. If your silicone toy is waterproof, you can wash it with mild soap and hot water or spray it down with toy cleaner.

Splashproof toys can be cleaned with the same methods, as long as you don't submerge them in water. If your silicone toy doesn't have a motor and is waterproof, you can run it through the dishwasher with no detergent.

To sterilize motor-free silicone toys like dildos and butt plugs, you can boil them in a pot on your stovetop! Just be sure they don't contain any batteries or electronic parts.

Read more: What Is Body-Safe Silicone?

Glass: The same rules that apply to silicone apply to glass except when it comes to boiling! A rolling boil has the potential to knock your toy around, causing small chips and cracks that would make it unusable.

When I'm cleaning a glass toy, I like to use a spray toy cleaner and a damp cloth and hold it over a folded towel in case I drop it. It is glass, after all, so handle with care!

Read more: Why Your Next Toy Should Be Glass

Stainless steel: As with silicone toys, you can wash stainless steel toys with mild soap and water, throw them in the top rack of the dishwasher (no detergent), spray them with toy cleaner, or boil them.

But be warned! Stainless steel is a good conductor of heat, and will get VERY hot, very quickly. If you boil your steel toy, give it some time to cool before touching it. 

Read more: How To Use Stainless Steel Sex Toys

Crystal: Clean your crystal toys such as butt plugs and dildos in warm water with a mild soap or toy cleaner. It’s best to avoid hot temperatures when cleaning this material, so don’t boil crystal toys or put them in the dishwasher. 

Polished wood: Sex toys made from wood are sealed with a finish that makes them non-porous, waterproof, and easy to clean. A spray sex toy cleaner or mild soap and warm water work well with polished wood toys. Avoid extremely hot water, and don't boil these toys or wash them in the dishwasher. 

Shop all hard material toys!

ABS plastic: ABS plastic is a non-porous, body-safe plastic that's durable and easy to clean. You can clean toys made from ABS plastic with toy cleaner or mild soap and warm water. ABS plastic toys should never be boiled, washed in the dishwasher, or run under very hot water.

Non-waterproof toys: Never submerge non-waterproof toys in water or cleaners of any kind. Use a damp cloth, warm water, and mild detergent to clean them by hand, or spray them with toy spray and wipe them down with a clean towel. 

Cleaning with UV Light

Looking for a faster, easier way to clean your toys? Got a toy that shouldn't come into contact with water?

Enter the UV light sex toy cleaner.

These convenient gadgets use a type of UV-C light to zap bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens without the use of soap, water, or toy cleaners. UV-C light has been used in clinical and medical settings for decades thanks to its superior germicidal qualities. 

UV-C light kills 99.9% of all bacterial and viral microorganisms, making it far more effective than soap and water or toy spray methods of cleaning.

Read our UVee Puritize Home Play Sanitizing System Review

How To Wash PVC Sex Toys

All the materials we've discussed so far are body-safe and non-porous. But what about toys made from porous materials like PVC (polyvinyl chloride) and TPE (thermoplastic elastomer)? How can you clean them effectively? 

Well, you can't. PVC and TPE are porous, which means they contain tiny holes that bacteria and other pathogens can penetrate. Once these pathogens are inside the toy, they're impossible to wash, scrub, or spray away. Because of the bacteria and fungi they can harbor, porous toys often smell, break down, and change color. They are also a common source of infection, including UTIs and yeast infections.  

PVC is not only porous, it may contain toxic chemicals like phthalates that can leach into your bloodstream through your skin and mucous membranes. TPE used in male strokers and other toys is less risky because it isn't used for anal or vaginal play, but can still absorb bacteria and degrade quickly.

Porous materials can also absorb tiny bits of lubricant and bodily fluid. In addition, if you or your partner have a STI, a porous toy can absorb the virus or bacteria and transmit it to one or both of you when you use it again. 

I do not recommend buying or keeping toys made from PVC or TPE, particularly if you plan to use them for vaginal, clitoral, or anal play. TPE strokers are often designed to be used a few times and then discarded to help prevent odor or other changes to the material from bacterial build-up. 

If you own a PVC toy and simply must clean it, you can use a spray toy cleaner or soap and water. But keep in mind that your toy will only look clean. Deep down, under the surface, your PVC toy is filled with bacteria and not safe to use, particularly more than a time or two.  

Read more: Why You Shouldn't Buy Sex Toys On Amazon

Sex toy spray cleaner

How Should I Store My Sex Toys?

Once you’ve given your toys a good clean, it’s time to store them in a safe spot. Otherwise, you might just be inviting bacteria into your freshly washed sex-essories (yes, that’s a combo of sex and accessories!).

How to store your toys properly? 

Avoid direct sunlight: Sunlight won’t make your toy any less clean, but extended exposure could cause discoloration over time. 

Don’t lump them together: It might be tempting to toss all your goodies in the same dresser drawer, but it's best to give your toys space for air to circulate. That’s partly why a good storage case is so important (we’ll get to that next!). 

Invest in storage: Some sex toys come with their own storage case (which we love), but many do not. I heartily recommend investing in proper storage for your toys to keep them clean and protected. You can browse all toy storage options here

Keep them dry: Damp, enclosed areas with poor ventilation can be a breeding ground for bacteria. I suggest you take your toys out to breathe once in a while, and keep them in a dry place (bathrooms are usually a no-go).

When Can I Share My Sex Toys?

Yes, you can share sex toys if they're made from the right, body-safe material! However, there are some important guidelines to sharing as safely and ethically as possible. 

Communicate: Before using a shared toy with a partner, check in to see how they feel about it. Even if the toy is completely clean and sterilized, some folks simply won’t be comfortable sharing toys, and that’s okay! Respecting boundaries is an important part of sharing pleasure. 

Non-porous only: If your partners are willing to share, make sure the toys are non-porous. As I mentioned, porous toys absorb and retain bacteria that can never be fully eliminated. Even if you clean them, porous toys can spread infections and STIs. Don't buy them and don't share them! 

Clean, clean, clean: Always (and I mean always) wash your toys ahead of time. Even if they’re body-safe and non-porous, they still need to be thoroughly cleaned before use, especially if you’re sharing them! 

Shop all Delicto toy cleaners!

Hand washing a sex toy

When Should I Retire My Sex Toys?

Proper maintenance can dramatically extend the life of your toys. We at Delicto recommend inspecting toys every few uses for cracks, chips, scratches, or anything else that could make your toy porous or unsafe to use (light surface scratches on stainless steel toys are generally okay!).

Additionally, if you notice that your motorized toy loses battery power faster than it once did, it may be reaching its expiration date. 

The durability of toy materials is directly linked to their lifespan. Stainless steel, platinum-cured silicone, and glass can last for years, but every toy and manufacturer is different. To get a sense of your toy’s durability, take a look at the manufacturer's warranty. A generous warranty is usually a good indicator of durability.

Final Thoughts

Now you know how to keep your (non-porous!) sex toys clean, go forth and play safely! And be sure to follow us on Instagram and TikTok for more reviews, tutorials, and sex education.

Before you go, if you have questions about cleaning a toy or just want a personalized recommendation for the perfect pleasure product, feel free to reach out! Just send me an email at info@delicto.com or DM me on social media.