For some people there is only one tried-and-true toy in their collection, while others fill their toy box with copious brightly colored, kinky little trinkets. Whether you use one toy or many, it’s important to maintain a clean environment and sanitary practice for your toys. The key to understanding proper toy care is recognizing that each material comes with its own instructional guide.
If you’re prone to infections, it’s best to avoid anal or vaginal penetration with toys made of non-silicone or other porous materials. For instance, TPE or TPR material, thermoplastic elastomer, and thermoplastic rubber respectively, is soft, supple, and porous, which means they cannot be sterilized – this means it’s impossible to completely remove germs that can live in the small pores of these materials.
Non-porous materials like silicone, stainless steel, or borosilicate glass are the best options for anal sex and for those predisposed to UTIs, yeast infections, or other vulvar and vaginal infections.
Kill (most of) the Germs!
Motor-less and non-porous toy materials such as glass, silicone, medical-grade plastics or metals can be boiled in a large pot of water for 3-5 minutes to sterilize. These types of toys should never be submerged in boiling temperatures for longer than 10 minutes at a time. As an added protection, place a washcloth or small towel at the base of the pot to keep your toys from making contact with the pot’s hot metal – especially if your toy is made of glass.
After cleaning, carefully remove your toys from the pot. They will be too hot to touch so cautiously drain the water and let them cool completely before using or storing them.
Porous textured toys like some rubbers, jelly, and elastomers can be damaged by boiling water or high heat, so the most effective way to clean these materials is by spraying and lightly scrubbing with toy cleaner and warm water.
Some spray or foaming antimicrobial toy cleansers can also be used to remove microbes from the surface of the toy, as well, but the cleanser must be completely washed off before use. Remember: Materials like TPE and TPR are only able to be cleansed on the surface and cannot be sterilized, so it is recommended not only to clean them after each use but also replace them frequently. Hey, it’s always fun to shop for new toys.
As a good rule of thumb, no matter what the material, every toy should be patted dry after washing and stored in a cool and dry place when not in use, ideally in a way that gives them space away from other toys. Some materials can change texture or even break down after prolonged contact with an incompatible material (this is common with porous materials, like TPE, TPR and jelly).
If sharing toys with others, external condoms can be used to put a barrier between the toy and each partner’s skin/bodily fluids. Simply apply the condom to the toy before use, remove it when done, and apply a new one before the next person uses it. Dental dams can be used for toys made for external stimulation, like clit vibes.
Keeping your pleasure products clean is a critical part of maintaining the longevity of the toy as well as reducing the risk of infection or skin irritation. Creating a regular clean-up routine -it takes just a couple of minutes- before and after sex will make all the difference!
Written by Louie A. Ramos