The Right Way to Clean Sex Toys, According to Experts

Whether for your own pleasure or to spice things up with a partner, sex toys are a great addition to your sex life. While there are certainly a large variety of different toys to use for pleasure, information on cleaning these products tends to be overlooked. And if you plan on getting the most mileage out of these toys without any risk of infection, you definitely don't want to skip on a good cleaning sesh — both before and after use.

Practicing good hygiene and ensuring your toys are clean is an important part of maintaining a healthy sex life. Because sex toys come in different shapes and types of materials, it can be overwhelming to figure out exactly how to clean the toy(s) you have. If you find yourself in this situation, read on for expert tips about how to clean a dildo, how to clean a vibrator, and how to clean any other sex toy you have stored away.

How to Clean a Sex Toy

If you recently bought a new sex toy, it is best to fully examine it before you clean it and subsequently use it. "Your sex toy should be free from imperfections like bumps, cracks, or tears," explains sex therapist Aliyah Moore, PhD. "Any damage can either hold bacteria or injure the soft tissues on your insides."

After inspecting your toy, consider its material to best determine how to clean it and what products are OK to use on it. Sex toys are commonly made out of silicone, glass, or metal, which are all safe for use and easy to clean. However, sex therapist Shadeen Francis, LMFT, warns buyers to avoid porous toys, as these can easily hold bacteria and are harder to clean. "Avoid using toys made with wood, crystals, stones like jade and rose quartz, latex, rubber, jelly, PVC, and vinyl without a barrier of some sort," Francis advises.

Generally speaking, a good rule of thumb to observe when cleaning sex toys is to be mindful of the toy's shape. "Pay particular attention to cleaning any nooks or ridges on the toy," Dr. Moore says. "These spots are often where bacteria accumulates the most." While many brands have specialized cleaners for their toys, Dr. Moore says simply using a mild, fragrance-free soap and warm water is both the most practical and accessible way to clean most sex toys.

However, if you decide you want something a little bit more than water and fragrance-free soap, you can check out our list of the best sex toy cleaners here.

Lastly, make sure that you clean your sex toys both before and after use. If you keep your sex toy in a bedside drawer, this will help remove any potential dust or bacteria before it reaches your nether regions, which can be helpful in preventing any potential vaginal irritation or UTIs.

How to Clean a Dildo

Dildos can come in different types of materials, but the most common ones are made of silicone, glass, or metal. In this case, a mild soap and warm water is the best way to clean your dildo. "Choose a fragrance-free soap to avoid irritations on skin contact or disruptions to your pH balance if the toy is an insertable like a dildo," Francis suggests. "Simply fill a basin with warm soapy water, and use it to wash your toys. You can submerge them for a few minutes, or simply wash them with a washcloth and rinse them."

Alternatively, you can use boiling water to sanitize your dildo, though be sure to check the information from the toy's manufacturer to determine if it can withstand high temperatures. According to Dr. Moore, dildos made from materials like borosilicate glass, stainless steel, and 100 percent silicone are heat-resistant and fine to boil for five to 10 minutes.

How to Clean a Vibrator

Because vibrating toys like bullet vibrators, wand massagers, suckers, etc. contain batteries or electronic parts, cleaning them requires a few extra steps to protect the toy and ensure your safety. Francis urges owners of these kinds of sex toys to thoroughly read through the manufacturer guide to determine the best cleaning recommendations.

"If the vibrator isn't waterproof, you can use a sex toy spray or a piece of wet cloth soaked in some mild antibacterial soap and warm water to wipe your vibrator thoroughly," Dr. Moore explains. "Ensure that no moisture gets inside the toy's open ports."

Before you clean your vibrating toy, first take out any and all batteries and/or unplug it. If the vibrator is waterproof, you can use warm water and a mild soap to clean it. After you're done wiping your vibrator, thoroughly pat it dry with a lint-free towel or paper towel, and let it dry for a few minutes to ensure there isn't any lingering moisture or water.

— Additional reporting by Taylor Andrews