The Complete Guide To Strokers

Complete Guide To Strokers

Rose MacDowell

So you're ready to step up your solo game and add a new stroker to the mix. Well, you're in luck. In this golden age of sex toys, there's never been a greater variety of satisfying, high-quality options to choose from.

But with so many models available, how do you pick? Read on. We answer all of your questions about strokers, including the differences between sleeves, masturbators, and blowjob machines, how to decide which one is best for you, and why a stroker can be the most enjoyable (and safest!) way to play solo.  

What Is A Stroker? 

As its name implies, a stroker is a toy designed for penis (and sometimes testicle!) stimulation during solo or partnered play. Strokers are designed to amp up pleasure during masturbation using grip, friction, and textured or smooth material. 

Once intended strictly for use by men, strokers have expanded beyond traditional gender boundaries and can be used by anyone with, well, something to stroke. Of course, the right fit matters when it comes to these toys, and they are designed to be penetrated, at least somewhat. But the world of strokers is vast, and there's something for almost everyone, of all sizes and shapes.  

When browsing for penis toys, you might come across any number of names to describe them.  Other common names for strokers include:

  • Sleeves
  • Pocket pussies
  • Fleshlights 
  • Onaholes
  • Masturbators
  • Blowjob machines

Though these terms are often used interchangeably, there are differences between some categories of penis toys. Let's examine the plethora of pleasurable options, and the unique features of each.

Masturbation sleeves

Sleeves

A "sleeve" once referred to the removable interior lining of male masturbator. But as penis toys have exploded in popularity, sleeves have come to mean anything soft and squishy that wraps around the penis and is intended for a little private self-care.

Sleeves are not to be confused with sheaths, AKA penis extenders or hollow dildos, which are typically made of silicone and fit over the penis like a genital suit of armor. Sheaths may also be referred to as sleeves, but are a sex toy generally used for penetration or to make the penis larger. 

So, how can you pick a sleeve out of a lineup? Here are some quick ways to identify a penis sleeve. 

What do sleeves look like? 

If it's squishy, has a hole in it, and is designed to stroke a penis, chances are it's a sleeve. Some higher-end sleeves have an external casing, and this is where some of the confusion between sleeve and masturbator can come in. There's quite a bit of crossover between penis toy terms, and any word will work. 

How do sleeves feel?

Sleeves feel soft and pliable to the touch. Think stress ball-type squeezability. Some feel softer, some feel firmer, but all are designed to feel good when stroked against the penis.

Sleeves can feature any kind of texture, from almost-like-a-real-vagina to unusual patterns like triangles, coral, and geometric blocks. When you use a sleeve, you can expect some combination of squishy pressure, suction, and stimulating friction.   

What are sleeves made from?

Though some sleeves are made from silicone, most sleeves are made from thermoplastic elastomer (TPE) or thermoplastic rubber (TPR), porous materials that combine the features of both rubber and plastic. They're super stretchy like rubber, but resistant to breakage like plastic. 

How big are sleeves?

Just as sleeve styles vary, so do sleeve lengths and widths. Sleeves range in size from a portable mini-masturbator that fits over the head of the penis to a full-length toy that encloses nearly the full length of the shaft. 

How much do sleeves cost?

Sleeves tend to be less expensive than masturbators, which may be made of hardier stuff like plastic or silicone casing. Sleeves usually come in at the low to moderate end of the price range, though you could drop upwards of a hundred bucks for a feature-packed model from a quality manufacturer. 

How long do sleeves last?

The majority of sleeves are made from the aforementioned TPE, which can last weeks to months depending on the toy. Whereas silicone dildos and vibrators might knock around a nightstand drawer for years, TPE is designed for a good time, not a long time. 

For more information about TPE Sex Toys, read Are TPE Sex Toys Safe? 


Pocket Pussy clear

Pocket Pussies and Fleshlights

They're quiet, don't take up much room, and more of them pop up every day. We're talking of course about pocket pussies. These fun-size toys have proliferated over the last few years, and now come in a wide range of styles, colors, and textures. 

A pocket pussy might also be known as a Fleshlight, which is a well-known brand of this popular type of toy. 

What do pocket pussies look like?

You'll know a pocket pussy when you spot it in the wild because it often looks — or is intended to look — like the real thing. Pocket (small enough to slip in your pocket, get it?) pussies come complete with flesh-toned materials, a hole designed for penetration, and on many models, cute little ersatz labia. 

Some pocket pussies are modeled on the anatomies of real porn stars and celebrities. Others are designed to look like a mouth or anus, and might include a tongue, lips, or anal rings. They come in all ethnicities and genders, and some have real or generic fantasy names (Farm Girl, Crash-landed Pilot). 

What are pocket pussies made from?

Like sleeves, most pocket pussies are usually made from thermoplastic elastomer or thermoplastic rubber, also known as TPE. This porous material can create a wide range of textures, from rings and ridges that feel similar to a vagina to squishy balls, leaves, shells, and geometric shapes.   

How do pocket pussies feel?

Not only are these toys designed to look like genuine human orifices, they're designed to feel like them, too. Pocket pussies typically have a soft-yet-firm, grippy-yet-yielding quality reminiscent of the real deal. You can choose from the semi-real ribbed interior of a vagina, the smooth tightness of an anus, or the soft suction of a mouth.  

Pocket pussies are designed with an ergonomic grip that makes them easier to hold when the going gets fast and slippery. 

How big is a pocket pussy?

The average pocket pussy is about 4-6 inches long and 2-3 inches wide. Sound too small for your johnson? Rest assured that pocket pussies stretch, stretch, and stretch some more. No matter what your length or girth, there's a pocket pussy with your name on it.

Because pocket pussies are so compact, they're great for traveling, tucking in a bedside table, or on-the-go pleasure. They're also light and easy to maneuver, making them a good option for people with hand or wrist mobility issues.  

How much do pocket pussies cost? 

No matter how fat your wallet, you can find a pocket pussy to fit your budget. Brand name or specialty pussies can run well over a hundred dollars, while a simple stroker that wasn't molded on a porn star's naughty bits but does the job nicely (thank you) can cost less than a fast food lunch for two. 

How long do pocket pussies last? 

Pocket pussies can last from a few weeks to several months, depending on how often you use them and how well you care for them. TPE, the material that lines the interior of most pocket pussies, can break down or tear over time, but will last longer with proper care. 


Arcwave Ion Masturbator

Masturbators

You could call sleeves and pocket pussies masturbators and you wouldn't be wrong, but masturbators tend to describe penis toys with a bit more substance and weight. These toys are often bigger, heavier, and more expensive than your average sleeve, and come with some very pleasurable bells and whistles.   

What do masturbators look like? 

Masturbators typically have some decent structure in the form of hard casing or a firmer silicone exterior. These toys are meant to last longer than a garden-variety sleeve, and often have a solid shell and internal electronic parts. A masturbator might be round or cylindrical, open or closed at the ends, flip open or stay closed. 

What are masturbators made from? 

Whereas TPE is the primary material in sleeves and pocket pussies, masturbators might be made from TPE or silicone. Silicone may not feel as soft and squishy as TPE, but it has a number of important advantages.

Unlike TPE, silicone is:

  • Non-porous. It doesn't contain microscopic holes, and therefore doesn't absorb bacteria, viruses, or particles of lube and bodily fluids
  • Non-toxic. Silicone doesn't contain potentially toxic chemicals such as phthalates or other plasticizers. While TPE is also described non-toxic, the plastics and rubbers that make up TPE are often a mystery, and it may be difficult to establish exactly what your TPE toy is made from
  • More durable. Because silicone is non-porous and doesn't contain softeners like mineral oil (as TPE can), you can expect it to hold up longer — sometimes much longer — than a sleeve or pocket pussy
  • Easier to care for. Masturbators made from silicone are less likely to develop a smell or harbor mildew. They can be cleaned with any mild soap or toy cleaner 

Masturbators might also have parts made from ABS plastic or metal. They might contain motors or heating elements if they vibrate, pulse, or have warming features. 

How do masturbators feel? 

Masturbators cover a wide spectrum of sensation, from soft and cushiony to semi-firm to no direct contact at all (really!). Some masturbators attach to a wand for intense vibration, while others utilize air pressure to stimulate the penis the way the famous Rose Toy stimulates the clitoris. 

A masturbator might pulse, vibrate, heat up, or have no electronic parts at all. Technological advances and user demand are creating a constant flow of unique toys to suit almost any preference. 

How big are masturbators?

These toys run the gamut. From the large and substantial to the small and stashable, masturbators come in all sizes. 

How much do masturbators cost?

You can splash out on a masturbator or not, depending on the features you're looking for. A luxe penis toy with multiple extras can cost a pretty penny, while a basic option that gets the job done may cost well under a hundred dollars. Masturbators made from body-safe silicone will typically cost more than those made from TPE, as will popular models from top manufacturers. 

How long do masturbators last?

When properly cared for, a masturbator made from silicone can last many months or even years. Silicone's non-porous nature makes it a better bet over the long run, and it's less likely to pick up odors or break down after several uses.

TPE masturbators can last for months, but again — care is everything. Treat TPE well and it will treat you well in return. 

Blowpro blowjob machine

Blowjob Machines

Blowjob machines are designed to replicate one of the most coveted acts on the planet fellatio, otherwise known as a blowjob, hummer, insert-your-favorite-slang-term-here. These motorized "pleasure consoles" do their level best to deliver the sucking, licking, and stroking of a human mouth, and the pleasure that results.  

Blowjob machines involve some serious engineering and design, and are several steps up from sleeves and pocket pussies in terms of complexity. These are machines on a mission, and that mission is to make you climax.

What do blowjob machines look like? 

When it comes to design, blowjob machines are a diverse bunch. Some lower-profile machines look a bit like a hefty water bottle that slips over the penis. Others might remind you of a streamlined coffee machine, while the bigger suckers (pun intended) bring to mind a clock radio with a separate penis device shaped like a travel beverage tumbler. Looking at you, VeDO Hummer

There may also be remote controls and phone apps and replacement sleeves depending on your BJ model of choice. Tldr: how they look is all over the map. 

What are blowjob machines made from?

Most of these toys and any remote controls that may come with them are made from a combination of metal parts, TPE or silicone, and ABS or other types of plastic. 

How big are blowjob machines?

The intricacy of a blowjob machine means it's typically bigger than your average sleeve. Sometimes a lot bigger. While some BJ machines are semi-discreet devices you can pop in a drawer, others are about the height and width of a mid-size humidifier. If it's secrecy you're after, a larger blowjob machine may require some creative concealing. 

The good news? As blowjob technology improves, the machines get smaller and quieter, and feel more like the genuine article. 

How do blowjob machines feel (and sound)? 

Blowjob machines can feel anywhere from nothing like a blowjob to as close to a blowjob as you can get without another human being involved. Depending on the material and features, blowjob machines can feel warm and wet, with a firm-yet-soft suction that engulfs, strokes, and draws on the penis like a willing and adoring mouth.

A blowjob machine won't get a sore jaw or ask if you're close, it will simply perform. This can also be a downside. Some BJ machines feel mechanized and consistent, which can give them a robotic, not-found-in-nature quality that might or might not be enjoyable, depending on what excites you. Other machines are designed to switch up the sensation to feel more spontaneous and less predictable. 

Now, remember that blowjob machines are machines. You'll not only feel them, chances are high you'll hear them. They'll be quieter than blowjob machines of the past, but the motor will be at least somewhat audible. As you bump up the settings, the sound of the motor may get a bit louder or more high-pitched, as well. You might barely notice this, or it could be an unwelcome reminder that, no, this isn't a real BJ and a machine is slurping the gherkin. 

How much do blowjob machines cost?

When it comes to these BJ devices, you often have to spend more to get more. An AI-engineered model that alters the stimulation mid-blow, gives you multiple suck styles to choose from, and connects to a video chat feature will set you back more than one that offers none of the above. 

Blowjob machines worth their salt will likely cost more than a hundred bucks, and often significantly more than that. 

How long do blowjob machines last?

Many of these machines are designed to go the distance. They contain complex electronic parts meant to deliver an indefinite number of pleasure sessions. A quality BJ appliance can last for years, while less expensive models might last several months, depending on how often you put it to use and how well you care for it. Blowjob machine sleeves are often replaceable, which can help keep the interior hygienic and running smoothly.

Proper use, cleaning, and storage go a long way toward extending the life of any masturbation device. In the event that your blowjob machine kicks the bucket sooner than expected, check the warranty. Many come with a warranty of one to five years and may be eligible for replacement or repair.  

Fun Factory Manta Stroker

How To Choose A Stroker

As we've seen, strokers come in many styles and materials, and each has its own unique features. How can you cut through the myriad options and find the one that's best for you? Here are several factors to keep in mind as you hunt for the right stroker. 

Your budget 

One of the many great things about strokers is that you find one at almost any price point. A decent sleeve can cost less than $20 and last through several solo sessions. Sleeves in this price range won't typically include any extras such as complex texture or vibration, but they can deliver a pleasurable experience nonetheless. 

With a moderate budget of $50 to $100, you can start branching out into strokers with flip-open cases and ultra-stimulating textured sleeves. You'll also find vibrating strokers and masturbators with additional features, such as pulsing stimulation and warming elements.  

Above $100 and the sky's the limit. This is the price range where blowjob machines rule, air pressure strokers aren't just a fantasy, and phone apps let a partner take control of your stroker from anywhere in the world. 

How you plan to use your stroker

Will you use your stroker on occasion or reach for it every night? Will your toy accompany you when you travel? Do you want to keep it hidden from prying eyes (and ears)?

How you plan to use your stroker can help you choose the ideal size, noise level, and material. A travel toy or discreet option will need to be smaller, lighter, and typically quieter than one you can use at home alone. If you have space and privacy, any stroker is an option, but if you'll be packing your stroker in a carry-on or tucking it away after use, check out a smaller sleeve or compact masturbator.

If you're going to use your stroker regularly, consider one that's easier to clean, such as a stroker that flips open or contains a removable sleeve that can be flipped inside out, washed, and dried.   

How you want your stroker to feel 

Perhaps the most important factor in your search is the kind of stimulation you enjoy. Look for a stroker designed to deliver the sensations you find most pleasurable. These sensations might include: 

  • Suction. If suction is top of your list, take a look at better-quality masturbators and blowjob machines, both of which can create the suction type of stimulation you enjoy
  • Pulling. See above. Suction and pulling are the hallmarks of blowjob machines and top-of-the-line masturbators with grippy, textured linings
  • Warmth. If chilly strokers leave you cold, check out masturbators with warming features 
  • Friction. Firmer sleeves and masturbators, along with silicone strokers, are all good choices if you enjoy the sensation of friction 
  • Vibration. If vibration is your thing, vibrating strokers, masturbators, blowjob machines, and power wands with stroker attachments were created with you in mind
  • Stimulation of the frenulum. Air pressure strokers can deliver focused and intense stimulation of the frenulum and the head of the penis 
  • Grip. For a firm grip, consider a sleeve or masturbator you can squeeze with your hand, or an adjustable stroker that can be tightened for a custom fit

Tenga strokers

    How To Use A Stroker

    Every stroker is as unique as the masturbator who uses it. All involve inserting your penis into an object, but that's where the similarities end. You may stroke it back and forth, switch it on, thrust into it, or lie back and let it do the work. If you unbox a stroker and aren't sure what to do with it, the manufacturer's instructions will usually give you a push in the right direction. 

    Instructions unhelpful or missing? Control buttons got you stumped? Don't hesitate to contact the shop you purchased from or the manufacturer directly. Either should be able to point you in the right direction. You can also look up your toy online for tips and ideas. Chances are there's a discussion about your stroker on the internet among like-minded penis owners.

    And, as with any sex toy, feel free to experiment until you find your groove. Just as your stroker and your stroking style are unique to you, so is your pleasure. We all enjoy different toys and different ways of using them. It can take a few sessions to figure out how a new stroker works and what feels best for you, but that's all part of the fun. 

    How To Clean A Stroker

    The design of your stroker and the material it's made from will determine how you clean it. Following the manufacturer's cleaning instructions is key to your toy's function and longevity. The folks who made your stroker may recommend a particular cleaner or cleaning method, or have specific tips and tricks to follow.   

    TPE strokers in particular need to be cleaned carefully because of the nature of the material, which can contain mineral oil and other compounds that make it vulnerable to soaps and high temperatures. Here are some common instructions for cleaning TPE strokers (the instructions for your specific stroker may vary):

    • Don't use regular soap, body wash, or dish soap
    • Don't boil a TPE stroker, wash it in the dishwasher, or expose it to hot water or high temperatures
    • Rinse thoroughly before cleaning with a manufacturer-approved toy spray
    • Allow your stroker to dry completely by leaving it turned inside out, or by using the included stick implement to keep it open 
    • Dust with cornstarch to absorb any residual moisture and help prevent mold growth. Keep your TPE stroker in a dry place away from sunlight and other toys that could potentially damage it. 

    A stroker made from silicone is non-porous and typically easier to clean, but still has a few general rules for a thorough, hygienic washing up:  

    • Don't boil a silicone stroker or wash it in the dishwasher (yes, some sex toys can be boiled and washed in the dishwasher. See "dildos, silicone")
    • Don't use body wash or dish soap, which can contain heavy fragrances and chemical additives that could cause skin irritation
    • Wash thoroughly, making sure to clean out all nooks and crannies 

    For a complete guide to cleaning all of your sex toys, including strokers, check out How To Clean Your Sex Toys

    How To Dry A Stroker

    It's as important to dry your stroker as it is to clean it. The textured surface of a stroker can make it a challenge to dry, which can shorten its life and make it less than appealing to use. A TPE stroker in particular can harbor mildew and odors if it doesn't dry completely between uses.

    Some strokers come with their own drying accessories. For those that don't, here are some tricks for getting the water out and keeping your toy in top shape:

    • Turn the sleeve of your stroker inside out, clean and rinse it thoroughly, and pat it dry with a clean, microfiber towel like a car chamois or detailing cloth. Leave it turned inside out to air dry
    • After giving your stroker a good clean and rinse, insert a drying rod made from diatomaceous earth into the stroker to help absorb water
    • If you can't or don't want to turn your stroker inside out, wash and rinse it, then roll up a microfiber cloth and insert it into the stroker. Squeeze the sides of the stroker against the cloth to help push out the water droplets. Leave the stroker with the towel inserted for a few hours, then remove it. Use your finger to check for residual moisture before putting the sleeve away
    • Wash and rinse your stroker and replace it in its case. Leave both ends open if possible, and set the toy in front of a desktop fan until dry. This method can work with shorter strokers, but is unlikely to help dry a longer stroker

    Once your stroker is dry, you can dust it with cornstarch to help keep it from feeling sticky, and make caps easier to put on and take off. 

    How To Store A Stroker

    Strokers prefer a cool, dry place to hang out between sessions. Avoid keeping your stroker in a warm room or near a heat source that might cause it to melt. You can store your toy in the box it came in, a drawer away from other objects, or a container designed to hold sex toys. 

    TPE strokers should never be stored in direct contact with other toys, and this is good policy with silicone strokers, too. Contact with other toys can cause reactions between materials, and result in indentations and staining.

    Finally, if you own any PVC toys, first, throw them out (they're porous and toxic), and second, if you don't throw them out, never let them touch your stroker. The chemical plasticizers used to soften PVC toys can damage the structure of silicone, make a mess of TPE, discolor every device you own, and generally wreak havoc in your toy box (not to mention your bloodstream).

    I'll say it again: toys made from PVC, jelly rubber, and vinyl are not body-safe and should be tossed. Man Wand Stroker

    FAQs 

    What kind of lube should I use with a stroker?

    Most strokers are made from TPE and silicone, which can be damaged by silicone lube. Use water-based lube instead, or the lube recommended by the manufacturer of your stroker.  

    Does an AI blowjob machine feel like the real thing?

    Let's face it — nothing feels like the real thing except the real thing. But the interior sleeve of a good blowjob machine is designed to feel like the inside of a human mouth, and damned if it doesn't come close. The grip, suction, and pull of the squishy-soft lining plus a good squirt of lube can mimic a blowjob extremely well, and scratch that itch when a partner isn't around to do the deed.  

    Can using a stroker hurt my penis? Also, is death grip syndrome a real thing?

    No, a stroker when used properly won't hurt your penis, and yes, death grip is a real thing. Squeezing your penis hard with your hand and wanking it ad infinitum can cause injury and reduced sensitivity that could lead to erectile dysfunction. It can also result in less interest in sex with a partner, particularly when you masturbate to porn on the daily. 

    Does death grip syndrome go away? Fortunately, in many cases it can. 

    If you're concerned about death grip, take a break from masturbating/porn for a few weeks and give your penis a chance to recover. When you return to masturbating, start slowly. Use a stroker instead of your hand, and choose a device that doesn't rely on your hand for grip. Strokers can actually help prevent death grip and protect your penis, because the lining of the device is designed to grip without excessive force.

    For much more info, check out What Is Death Grip Syndrome?

    Which Stroker Should I Buy?

    The world of strokers is filled with a huge number of stimulating options. We've compiled a list of the best strokers in every category to make your search more pleasurable.  

    Best textured sleeve

    Tenga Flip Zero You'll find the Tenga Flip Zero on many a list of best strokers, and here's why: this non-vibrating toy not only delivers intensely pleasurable suction and a deliciously textured sleeve, it flips open for ultra-easy cleaning and drying. 

    Best app-controlled masturbator 

    Lovense Max 2 This bestselling solo toy is also great for couples. Using the free Lovense phone app, your partner can operate this stroker from across the room or from a beach in Thailand. As the maker of some of the most popular toys for cam folks, Lovense knows a thing or two about app-controlled devices, and this is one of their best. Add intense 360-degree contractions, powerful suction, and an optional sleeve that turns this stroker into an instant pocket pussy, and the Max 2 is a must-have. 

    Best handjob masturbator

    Rocks Off Rush Vibrating Masturbator This body-safe silicone masturbator features a stimulating ribbed interior, 10 vibration modes, and an ergonomic, open design that makes it a great match for all sizes. It can even be used without an erection for warming up or stimulation between sessions.  

    Best budget sleeves

    Tenga Eggs Easy Beat New Standard 6-Pack Tenga Easy Beat Eggs strokers come in a convenient 6-pack, each with a different texture for lots of stroking variety. These mini-sleeves are disposable, small enough to pop in your pocket, and they feel great, to boot.

    Tenga Flex Sleeve Tenga makes such good budget sleeves, it's impossible to list only one. The Flex Sleeve not only stimulates the heck out of your junk, it spins in a spiral motion for a crazy combination of movement and smooth suction. Choose the white sleeve for plusher texture or the black sleeve for a firmer grip. 

    Best wand-style stroker

    Man Wand Original Vibrator It doesn't get more classic than the Man Wand Original Vibrator, a minimalist silicone masturbator that harnesses the deep, rumbly vibes of a power wand. If easy clean-up, body-safe material, and/or durability are important to you, the supercharged Man Wand fills the bill nicely. 

    Best silicone masturbator

    Arcwave Ion Not only is the Arcwave Ion made from body-safe silicone that's more durable and hygienic than TPE, it's one of the most innovative masturbators you can buy. The Ion uses air pressure to stimulate the frenulum and shaft of the penis, creating intense, long-lasting climaxes that some users say rivals the female orgasm.

    Runner up: the Arcwave Voy non-vibrating silicone stroker, which is fully adjustable for customized stroking. 

    Best rotating masturbator

    Cruizr Rotating and Spiraling Masturbator This Fleshlight-style masturbator delivers a whole bunch of extras, including a cushiony textured lining that conforms around your penis, eye-popping rotating and sucking motions, and an inviting warming function that blows ordinary chilly strokers out of the water.  

    Best blowjob machine for first timers

    Zolo Blow Gun This auto-stroking device surrounds the penis in grippy suction, making it a great introduction to BJ machines. It also just feels really, really good, with 10 stimulation options, a sleeve studded with intensely pleasurable texture, and optional erotic sounds to give you the total experience.

    Best hands-free blowjob machine

    VeDO Hummer This epic, hands-free sucking and stroking machine delivers a top speed of 180 RPMs and 200 suction impulses per minute. The Hummer is equipped with 9 gears, each offering multiple speeds for a completely customized experience. 8 automatic suction modes offer 4 minute sessions and random patterns for the ultimate in feels-real pleasure.