How to Clean Your Sex Toys

Putting the sexual chemistry in (solo) summer fun

I heard y’all were getting some stellar recommendations for adult toys from all the fine local Austin purveyors and makers to make your new “me” time this summer a little more fun.

But it’s just as important to know how to take care of your toys as it is to know which ones you like, so here’s a quick rundown of good housekeeping for, as describes as a synonym, “intimacy products.”

Courtesy of Getty Images Getty Images

Maintenance will vary from toy to toy, but the most important thing to keep in mind is the toy’s material. That will inform how you wash the product as well as how you use it on your bits – them’s soft n’ wet places are delicate and can’t be touched by just any old novelty. Sex toy materials break down into two categories: nonporous and porous.

Reach for nonporous materials whenever possible (indeed, toys made of porous material are generally less expensive). The material’s lack of pores means there’s less of a chance for bacteria to make a home on your synthetic friends. Nonporous materials like silicone, ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) hard plastic, and certain types of glass and metal are well suited to the most personal of uses – and much easier to clean.

Stuff like jelly materials and PVC (polyvinyl chloride) have porous surfaces where bacteria and fungi can grow, which means their use cycle is shorter (undesirable in these long-haul lockdown times, much less regular times). Moreover, this means porous materials can never be totally sterilized.

When thinking about your sex toy’s material, you should also pay attention to the type of lube you combine with it. Silicone lube is great for longer-lasting slickness, but you should never use a silicone lube with a silicone toy. The combo will degrade the toy over time and leave you vibe-less in more ways than one, being 1) no more vibrator, and 2) rotten mood due to the first reason. A water-based lubricant works well with most toys; is great for the more sensitive among us; and often doesn’t leave behind a tackiness like silicone lube. If you’re married to silicone, you can always use a hybrid lube of water and silicone, but it carries the risk of leaving behind a gumminess on your toy.

To wash your toy, use nonscented antibacterial soap and warm water and let it dry completely before use. If your toy doesn’t have a motor and is made of silicone, you’re welcome to sterilize it with boiling water. Don’t send that dildo through the dishwasher though; that heat can warp your precious plaything unless it’s specifically dishwasher safe. You can also purchase a commercial cleaner meant specifically for sex toys, which can be pricey but a consideration for more upscale products.

Most of the information I’ve listed here is taken from a mix of what wonderful adult toy store workers have told me, personal experience, and internet research. Sex blogger Felicity at Phallophile Reviews has a fairly extensive rundown on what toys are body safe, and how to keep them that way. You can check out this excellent chart on which lube to use with what toys, and Refinery29 is where I got some great sex toy cleaning advice. It is also a good idea to reference whatever instructions come with your toy, since they can sometimes be unique to that product.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More by James Scott
Qmmunity: Queer Comedy Pipeline
Qmmunity: Queer Comedy Pipeline
Ivy Le talks the impact of Tongue in Cheek, a queer comedy open mic providing fertile ground for Austin’s LGBTQ comics

Sept. 29, 2023

Qmmunity: Making It Ourselves
Qmmunity: Making It Ourselves
Examples of queer creativity abound in Austin, Texas

Sept. 22, 2023


Summer Fun 2020, sex toys

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Keep up with happenings around town

Kevin Curtin's bimonthly cannabis musings

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle