Pom vibrator perched on a shoulder
Sexual Wellness

Best Practices for Cleaning Your Sex Toys

11/10/2022
There she was...pink and perfect, hiding yet visible enough to catch my eye. I didn't want to be cleaning my grandma's Airbnb that day, but some extra money never hurts. Little did I know, I'd walk out with a new toy in my purse too. I felt like a kid leaving the candy store. Who are you and what is your name? I wondered. I found out later, the toy I capturedwith paper towels and a zip lock bag, mind youwas Dame’s one and only, Pom. At first, I wasn’t sure what magical creation I’d just discovered, but I knew she’d been there a while. Bending down to fix the bed skirt, I found the abandoned sex toy nestled between the headboard and wall, covered in dust, and out of battery. Taking it home, I felt better knowing whoever used it last got a good run for their money. However, this left me wondering how I was supposed to use my new vibrator without a charging cord. Yet, if you can stalk someone online knowing only their first name and other subtle details, how hard could it be to find what I was looking for? Let me just say, it was very hard. After scanning just about every “toys for women” corner of the internet, I gave uptemporarilyon finding the charging cord for the mysterious vibrator. I knew I’d find it eventually. In the meantime, I needed to clean the toy if I wanted to avoid getting a bacterial, or Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI). This got me interested in learning what are the best ways to clean your sex toys are if you plan on sharing them with others.

To share or not to share

Now, before you go saying things like, I would never share my sex toys—hear me out. Imagine your best friend comes to you after a breakup. They’re feeling low and uninterested in dating, but they haven’t had an orgasm in what feels like forever! They want to buy a vibrator and practice more self-pleasure, however, going to adult shops is overwhelming and they don’t want to waste their money on something they may end up not liking. So, do you share one of your vibrators with them, or tell them to figure it out because it’s not your problem? I can guarantee with how much I love a few of my toys, I’d be sending my friend home with not only a goodie bag of clean sex toys, but a set of instructions for the ultimate experience while exploring themselves too. Other scenarios where you might find yourself sharing, are if your partner is wanting to use one of your sex toys, or you’re in an open relationship and have the desire to use a specific toy with more than one person who you are not fluid-bonded with. That being said, I did some digging and was able to find quite a bit of information on how we should be cleaning our sex toys if we plan on sharing them with others. Although the Pom is a vibrator and toy for women, these tips can also be applied to anal toys, dildos, and any other types of 100% silicone, stainless steel, or borosilicate glass toys. It’s suggested by experts that everyone avoids more porous sex toys like jelly rubber, leather, and stones, as they are much harder to clean.

The three levels of toy cleaning

In case you didn’t know, there are three levels of toy cleaning: surface cleaning, disinfecting or sanitizing, and sterilizing. Surface cleaning is the most common method for cleaning sex toys and includes using warm water and any non-aggressive soap. For instance, dish soap. Whether or not it’s antibacterial doesn’t matter, but keep in mind that surface cleaning is only enough of a precaution if you’re the only one using your toys, or are in a monogamous relationship. Even then, viruses have the potential of remaining on your toys up to 24 hours after washing them. On the other end of the spectrum, is sterilizing, which Sophia Chase, a former employee of the Chicago-based sex toy store Early to Bed, claims to be unnecessary unless you plan on doing “invasive, medical play.” Ouch… just writing that makes my lady parts hurt and I should probably tell you to—in that case—consult your doctor. In their article featuring Sophia Chase, the New York Times makes it clear that disinfecting, or sanitizing is the most common and ideal method for cleaning sex toys. In other words, helping to remove and get rid of harmful bacteria and pathogens. Below, I will walk you through some of the best cleaning practices to follow when preparing to share your toys.

How to disinfect or sanitize your sex toys

Remove batteries

The first thing you should do before cleaning a toy is remove its batteries unless, of course, it’s splashproof or waterproof. If you’re not sure on the specifics of your toy(s), refer to the manual or website product details. Most vibrators these days can withstand water, yet it’s always a good idea to double-check.

Surface clean your toy

Run your toy under warm water, apply a gentle soap to its surface, scrub, and rinse. If your toy is not waterproof or splashproof and doesn’t have batteries, do not submerge it under water. Instead, use a damp washcloth.

Boil sex toy, use a bleach solution, or place in dishwasher

Use a pair of tongs to place your 100% silicone, stainless steel, or borosilicate glass toy in a pot of boiling water. After three minutes, remove the toy and place it on a clean towel to air-dry. To disinfect using a bleach solution, you will want to use a ratio of ⅓ cup of bleach to one 1 gallon of water. Afterward, spray or submerge your toy in the solution for 10 minutes, before taking it out and washing it with soap and water a second time. The last option would be to place your sex toy in the dishwasher on a sanitizing cycle, and without soap, after you surface clean it. If your dishwasher doesn’t have a sanitizing cycle, use one of the previous two methods. Even if it does have a sanitizing cycle, it’s said that most dishwashers fail to kill all heat-tolerant viruses and fungi. Nevertheless, this option is still better than only surface cleaning. With all three methods (boiling, using a bleach solution, or putting your sex toys in the dishwasher), make sure you allow your toys to dry completely before storing them in a sealable pouch or case. If you plan on sharing your toys, you must have something to protect them from collecting more unwanted bacteria or pathogens once they are clean, and while being transported from one person to the next. With that, do also make sure the pouch or case is clean too. Now that we’ve got that out of the way, I’m sure you are all dying to know how my story ends.

The day my life forever changed

I, at last, found out my hand-me-down toy was Pom in the most unexpected way. While doing some research on websites hiring freelancers for paid articles, I stumbled upon Dame. That’s when I started exploring the website and noticed a toy similar to the one I found in the Airbnb that day. Sure enough, it was the same one! So, I ordered a charging cord and patiently awaited its arrival.

Grandma got jealous

The best part of this whole story is when I accidentally told my grandma about my new vibrator while drinking one evening. Her eyes became wide with shock before she accused me of being a thief. “I would never do that,” she told me. I then asked her how she supposed we track down the owner of the found sex toy? I mean, how do you casually ask an assortment of past guests if they forgot their vibrator under the bed? Plus, no one ever asked. That’s when she admitted that once, back in her days of traveling for work, she left her vibrator in a hotel! But wait, there’s more! A few weeks earlier, my mom and I surprised my grandma with a toy for women. We lost my grandpa over two years ago and knew she was in need of some excitement and pleasure. Don’t go thinking sweet and innocent when you think of my grandma. Instead, think honest and fiery. That night, she let us know her new toy wasn’t doing the job and if anyone was to walk away with a new toy, it should be her. “Do you want it?” I asked her. She dismissed the question then, but who knows, I just might be sharing my new vibrator with my grandma…I bet that’s a scenario you never thought of.

Moral of the story

Keep your pleasure infection-free by cleaning your sex toys, and disinfecting or sanitizing them regularly if you plan on sharing them with others. Sharing is caring…especially if it involves your grandma.

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