How To Clean Sex Toys: The Ultimate Guide For Safe, Sexy Time

With so many different sex toys, understanding how to clean your sex toys can get confusing. Consider this your one-stop shop with tips for how to sanitize, disinfect, and sterilize silicone to porous sex toys.

Published Jun 27 2024 20 min read

Chances are, if you’re reading this article, you own a sex toy – and love the pleasure those vibrating, rotating, rumbling playthings provide. What you probably don’t love is cleaning them (yup, you’re definitely not alone). With so many different products and materials available, it can be confusing trying to understand how to clean your sex toys and the best way to clean your sex toys to keep both you and you sex toy safe. From simple washes to more thorough sanitization techniques, this sex toy cleaning guide will have you armed with all the information you could possibly need for all your intimate adventures. So, bookmark this page, because you’ll be back with questions that we have answers to.

  • Why bother cleaning a sex toy
  • Quick tips for cleaning your sex toys
  • How to properly clean sex toys by material
  • Cleaning sex toys made of porous materials
  • How to clean cyberskin, TPE, and TPR sex toys
  • How to clean a jelly sex toy
  • How to clean a PVC sex toy
  • How to clean nylon or cotton sex toys
  • How to clean vinyl sex toys
  • How to clean latex sex toys
  • How to clean leather sex toys
  • How to clean unvarnished wood sex toys
  • Cleaning sex toys made of nonporous materials
  • How to clean glass sex toys
  • How to clean metal sex toys
  • How to clean hard plastic sex toys
  • How to clean stone sex toys
  • How to clean coated wood sex toys
  • How to clean acrylic sex toys
  • How to clean silicone sex toys
  • Best way to clean sex toys in a hurry
  • Different methods of cleaning sex toys
  • How to wash sex toys
  • How to sanitize sex toys
  • How to disinfect sex toys
  • How to sterilize sex toys
  • Takeaway
  • Frequently Asked Questions

    Why bother cleaning a sex toy?

    First things first, keeping your sex toys clean is more than a suggestion; it's part of being responsible for you and your partner’s sexual health. Regular cleaning removes harmful things that could cause infections, like UTIs, yeast infections, bacterial vaginosis, etc. Yes, sex toys can pass on STIs, so it's super important to wash them well after each use, especially if you're switching things up or sharing with a partner. Cleaning also helps your sex toys last longer and reduces the chance of any material-related reactions.

    Quick tips for cleaning your sex toys

    Before getting into all the different products and methods for taking care of your sex toys, let's cover some essential, quick housekeeping tips that apply to all types of sex toys:

    • Tidy up fast: After using your sex toy, give it a quick clean to avoid gunk buildup and bacteria.
    • Follow the manufacturer's cleaning guidelines: Stick to the cleaning tips from the manufacturer; they're tailored to your sex toy's material and design so that you can keep it in excellent condition.
    • Remove the batteries: When cleaning battery-operated sex toys, remember to take out the batteries, if applicable. This helps safeguard the electronic parts and keep everything working smoothly.
    • Check water resistance: Check to see how wet you can get your sex toy - like waterproof, showerproof, or splash-resistant. This helps you understand the proper way to clean it. Waterproof sex toys can be submerged in water without issues. Showerproof sex toys can handle water exposure, like in the shower or rinsing under running water, but don't dunk them like waterproof sex toys. Splashproof sex toys can deal with some water, like splashing during cleaning or use.
    • Identify the material: Check the packaging or information online to determine if your sex toy is porous or nonporous for proper cleaning and care.
    • Dry after cleaning: Make sure your sex toys are completely dry to avoid bacteria and mold growth. You can let them air dry in a well-ventilated area or use a clean towel to dry them off.
    • Use condoms: While not necessary, using a condom with any sex toy can help with cleaning. Some lower-quality porous sex toys may still have bacteria even after cleaning or contain toxic chemicals. In those cases, always use unlubricated polyurethane condoms.
    • Store smartly: After cleaning, stash your sex toy in a clean bag or container to shield it from dust and dirt. Keep it in a cool, dark spot away from heat to avoid harm.

    How to properly clean sex toys by material

    With all the different sex toys out there - vibrators, butt plugs, strap-ons, plus bondage gear like cuffs, straps, cock rings, and ball gags - figuring out how to keep them clean can be a bit tricky. Properly cleaning sex toys depends on the material they're made of, as each material has its care instructions. Most sex toys can be categorized as either porous or nonporous. So, here is a breakdown on how to properly clean each type of material.

    Cleaning sex toys made of porous materials

    Sex toys made from porous materials like rubber, vinyl, cyberskin, nylon, certain stones, and leather are difficult to clean because they tend to soak up bacteria and fungi more than nonporous sex toys. While some people prefer porous sex toys, most experts suggest steering clear, especially jelly rubber, TPR/TPE, silicone blends, and PVC, because they can't be thoroughly disinfected, and some may release harmful chemicals. For safer play, use unlubricated polyurethane condoms on porous sex toys, stick to external use, avoid strong chemicals that linger, and throw away any sex toy with discoloration or smell.

    How to clean cyberskin, TPE, and TPR sex toys

    Sex toys made from cyberskin, TPE (Thermoplastic Elastomer), and TPR (Thermoplastic Rubber) materials need special care to maintain their lifelike texture. They provide a realistic experience in products like dildos, vibrators, and masturbators. Gently wash these products with lukewarm water and soap or a sex toy cleaner, let them air dry, and dust with cornstarch or cyberskin powder. Even with thorough cleaning, achieving total sterility can be tricky due to their porous nature. An additional safety note: TPE and TPR sex toys might have phthalates, so using condoms can help reduce the risk of bacterial transfer.

    How to clean a jelly sex toy

    Jelly rubber sex toys such as dildos and vibrators are often colorful and cheap. Yet, their porous nature can complicate cleaning and sterilizing. Rinse with warm water and gentle soap or a sex toy cleaner, ensure thorough drying, and keep them in a cool, dry place out of the sun. However, because the chemical composition isn’t always known or verified, it’s recommended to use a condom with jelly rubber sex toys for added safety.

    How to clean a PVC sex toy

    PVC, also known as polyvinyl chloride, is often used in sex toys like dildos and vibrators because it's affordable and flexible. To clean PVC sex toys, use warm water and mild soap or a sex toy cleaner, and ensure they're dry before storing them. Since PVC can't be fully sterilized and might contain phthalates to enhance flexibility, think about using a condom on PVC sex toys to reduce the risk of bacteria and exposure to harmful substances.

    How to clean nylon or cotton sex toys

    Nylon and cotton are common picks for bondage sex toys, such as rope or handcuffs. To clean nylon sex toys, use mild soap and follow the label instructions for machine or handwashing. Since cotton is absorbent, take care when cleaning. Hand wash cotton sex toys in cold water with gentle soap to maintain their quality. Ensure they dry completely to prevent mold growth.

    How to clean vinyl sex toys

    Vinyl is a soft material often used in sex toys like inflatables and bondage gear such as cuffs and blindfolds. To clean vinyl sex toys properly, stick to warm water and mild soap, and be gentle to avoid damaging the material. Skip the harsh cleaners, alcohol, or heat. Once cleaned, ensure they're completely dry, then lightly dust them with cornstarch to prevent stickiness. Store them in a cool, dry spot, ideally in separate bags, to prevent adverse reactions.

    How to clean latex sex toys

    Latex is known for its stretchiness and skin-tight fit, often found in sex toys like dildos and fetish wear such as bodysuits, gloves, and masks. When cleaning latex sex toys, handle them gently to avoid tearing. Use warm water, mild soap, or a specialized sex toy cleaner for latex products.

    How to clean leather sex toys

    Leather is commonly used in BDSM and fetish sex toys like restraints, whips, floggers, handcuffs, paddles, and bondage gear. To clean leather sex toys, wipe with a damp cloth and mild soap or specialized leather cleaner, then wipe dry. Avoid harsh chemicals or alcohol-based cleaners to prevent damage. After cleaning, condition the leather with leather conditioner to maintain suppleness and avoid cracking.

    How to clean unvarnished wood sex toys

    Wood sex toys can be either porous or non-porous, depending on the coating used. This is a popular material for BDSM gear like paddles and floggers. If the wood sex toy doesn’t have a coating, wash with a soapy washcloth and room-temperature water. After cleaning, dry them thoroughly with a soft towel to prevent warping. To keep the wood looking beautiful, consider conditioning it with safe, natural oils like coconut oil. Take heed not to submerge the wood in water when washing, as excessive moisture can cause mold and bacteria to accumulate. Avoid harsh chemicals like bleach, as they can damage the wood.

    Cleaning sex toys made of nonporous materials

    Nonporous materials such as silicone, glass, stainless steel, or hard plastic are the recommended choice of material for sex toys because they don't trap bacteria and that’s better for your health. They are also able to be cleaned and disinfected thoroughly when compared to porous sex toys. While nonporous materials are less likely to host bacteria, cleaning them thoroughly after each use is still essential for good hygiene.

    How to clean glass sex toys

    Glass sex toys like dildos, butt plugs, and anal beads are often crafted from top-notch materials like borosilicate glass (e.g., Pyrex) and soda-lime glass. Some glass sex toys, like ones made of crystal, can be porous or nonporous, so check before cleaning. Use hand soap and room-temperature water to clean the surface. Avoid harsh cleaners or hard bristle brushes that could scratch the glass. Additionally, you can sanitize Pyrex sex toys in a dishwasher or by boiling.

    • Boiling: If boiling, only boil them for 3 minutes, and wrap them in a washcloth to prevent any cracks or chips as they might jump around the pot. Once you remove the glass from the boiling pot, do not rinse or submerge with cold water because the extreme temperature change can cause the glass to splinter or crack.
    • Put it in the dish washer: If putting them in the dishwasher, make sure to surface clean with soap and water first, then put them on the top rack of your dishwasher, run a sanitizing cycle without soap or detergent, and ensure the temperature hits 150°F to zap those germs effectively.

    How to clean metal sex toys

    Metal sex toys, made from stainless steel, aluminum, and fancy metals like gold and silver, bring durability, weight, and easy cleaning benefits. They include anal plugs, Ben Wa balls, cock rings, nipple clamps, cuffs, collars, and chastity devices. To clean these sex toys, hand soap and room-temperature water work well; for electrical sex toys, warm, soapy water is good, but careful not to don't submerge them completely. You can boil non-electric metal sex toys for 3 minutes or pop them on top rack of the dishwasher on the sanitization cycle without detergent for a thorough clean. For a sanitizing soak, try a 10% bleach solution for 5–10 minutes, then rinse and dry completely. Remember to wear gloves when using bleach and avoid mixing it with other cleaning products.

    How to clean hard plastic sex toys

    ABS plastic, or Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene, is a durable thermoplastic found in many adult sex toys. To clean ABS plastic sex toys, use warm water and antibacterial soap. For a deeper clean, use sex toy cleaners: spray, wait 10 minutes, and rinse. Skip rubbing alcohol as it can yellow the plastic and harm the polyurethane (PU) coating. It is not recommended to boil hard plastic sex toys.

    How to clean stone sex toys

    Stone sex toys, like certain dildos and Ben Wa balls, have cool textures and can play with temperature. They're made from materials like jade, obsidian, and marble, so they look great and last long. Cleaning is different depending on if the stone is porous or non-porous. Non-porous stones can be cleaned easily with warm water and soap. Use a soft washcloth with room-temperature water for porous stones, and steer clear of harsh chemicals.

    How to clean coated wood sex toys

    If your wood sex toys have a varnish or coating, they can be nonporous. Cleaning non-porous wooden sex toys is easy - wash with warm water and mild soap. After cleaning, dry them thoroughly with a soft towel to prevent warping. To keep the wood looking beautiful, consider conditioning it with safe, natural oils like coconut oil. Avoid harsh chemicals like bleach, as they can damage the wood.

    How to clean acrylic sex toys

    Acrylic sex toys, with their clear, glass-like look and lightweight feel, cover a range of items from bondage gear to dildos. To clean them, use mild soap and warm water, and rinse well to remove any soap. For a deeper clean, try a sex toy cleaner, wait 10 minutes, then rinse. For a good clean, use 70% isopropyl alcohol or diluted bleach (1:10 ratio), soak for 10 minutes, and rinse thoroughly. Remember, don't use anything rough on acrylic sex toys to avoid scratches. Also, keep them away from high heat like boiling or dishwasher to prevent damage.

    How to clean silicone sex toys

    Silicone sex toys are a hit because they're body-safe, easy to use, non-porous, hypoallergenic, phthalate-free, flexible, and long-lasting. These qualities make them perfect for products like dildos, vibrators, anal sex toys, and BDSM gear. However, before diving into how to clean silicone sex toys, make sure your sex toy is really silicone. The marketing of a product can get confusing; for example, products labeled as TPR-Silicone or Cyber-Silicone might not be true silicone. Likewise, "silicone blends" could be made from less durable and porous elastomers like TPE or TPR, which have tiny holes that can trap bacteria. Knowing these distinctions is important because the cleaning techniques below are specifically for premium silicone sex toys. If you're uncertain about a sex toy's material, or if it's not completely silicone, stick to the cleaning methods for porous sex toys mentioned earlier to ensure safety and longevity.

    The best way to clean silicone sex toys comes down to what you find most convenient and preferred. Here are a few popular options:

    • Wipe: If your silicone sex toy isn't water-resistant or waterproof, grab a damp cloth and mild soap to give it a wipe-down, or use a wet wipe.
    • Wash with soap and water: If you've got showerproof or waterproof sex toys, wash them by lathering them with mild soap and warm water for about 30 seconds, then rinse.
    • Use a sex toy cleaner: You can also use a sex toy cleaner with warm water, rinse and allow to completely dry before storing.
    • Boil: If you own a waterproof, non-motorized silicone sex toy, you have the option of boiling it for 3-5 minutes. Avoid using vinegar or bleach for boiling. Remember, never boil motorized silicone sex toys because the intense heat can destroy the electrical mechanism.
    • Dishwash: If your sex toy doesn’t have electrical components, you can clean the sex toy in the dishwasher on the top rack and set it to sanitize (if your dishwasher reaches 150 degrees) using water only, no detergent. Avoid dishwasher use for motorized sex toys; the heat and water pressure can damage the electronics and functionality.
    • Clean with a bleach solution: Soak or spray the sex toy in a 10% bleach solution mixed with water and let sit for about 10 minutes, then give it a rinse and let it air dry. If it's a motorized sex toy, skip the bleach to prevent harm to the electronic parts and silicone material. Avoid soaking any motorized silicone sex toys in bleach solutions.

    Although silicone is quite tough, you'll want to steer clear of specific cleaning methods that could harm your sex toys.

    • Do not bake: Words you never thought you would read regarding a sex toy... While a few people or forums may mention baking silicone sex toys at low temperatures, it's dicey and could lead to harmful chemical release, particularly with low-quality silicone. Steer clear of baking motorized silicone sex toys, as high heat can mess up the vibrator.
    • Don’t clean with hydrogen peroxide: Steer clear of using hydrogen peroxide and oil-based cleaners since they can damage the silicone.
    • Use caution when cleaning with alcohol: Manufacturer instructions differ; some advise against using alcohol-based cleaners as they could harm silicone, while others may say it's okay. Always refer to the specific cleaning guidelines for your sex toy.

    Best way to clean sex toys... in a hurry

    Sometimes you may only have time or energy for the most basic cleaning. And if this is you – no judgement, it’s understandable after say an intense orgasm or during travel. The no-frills basic cleaning methods works great for sex toys that you're not sharing with others. While it won't sterilize them, it's perfect for quick personal clean-ups.

    Wipe with wet wipes

    Wet wipes are super handy for a quick wipe-down of the surface of your sex toy. They're convenient but might only partially get rid of bacteria. Just remember to follow up with a more thorough cleaning method later.

    Wipe with paper towels or washcloths

    Alternatively, wipe them down with a damp cloth and mild soap, especially if your sex toys aren't waterproof or have electrical parts. After washing, pat your sex toys dry with paper towels or a fresh washcloth.

    Use sex toy wipes

    Sex toy wipes made for cleaning are a nice balance of easy and safe. They're made to quickly clean off lube, bodily fluids, and odors. These wipes are handy for non-submersible sex toys, especially right after use or when you're traveling. For long-term hygiene, it's best to do a more thorough cleaning when possible.

    Different methods of cleaning sex toys

    For the sex toys nerds who want to know the ins and outs of how to clean sex toys, here’s a comprehensive breakdown of the different methods and levels at your disposal.

    How to wash sex toys

    Washing is the go-to method for cleaning sex toys and is recommended for all types, but there are some things to consider, like checking the water safety rating first. If a sex toy has electronic parts that aren't labeled as waterproof, it's better not to submerge it entirely. Even if they are waterproof, it’s a good idea to remove batteries from battery-operated sex toys before washing as those aren’t waterproof. For non-waterproof sex toys needing a thorough clean, angle them under the sink faucet to avoid water seeping into any exposed electrical parts.

    • Wash with soap and water: When cleaning non-electronic or water-resistant sex toys, use mild soap and warm water. This method works for silicone, stainless steel, glass, rubber, vinyl, and some wood. Rinse with warm water, then use a fragrance-free soap to prevent irritation. Scrub the sex toy, especially in detailed areas, using a soft brush if needed. Rinse thoroughly and pat dry with a lint-free towel.
    • Wash with antibacterial soap and water: Using a mild antibacterial soap is excellent for a thorough clean, cutting down the bacteria on your sex toy. Just lather up the wet sex toy, scrub gently, cover all areas, and rinse well. This is especially useful for metal sex toys that can handle a deeper clean.
    • Use a sex toy cleaner: For a more specialized clean, you might want to check out sex toy cleaners. These cleansers work well for most sex toy materials, making sure they're sanitized effectively based on the formula. Look for a cleaner free from alcohol, parabens, or irritants to keep sensitive areas safe. Ensure the cleanser is suitable for your sex toy material to prevent any damage or adverse reactions. Just follow the product instructions, as some suggest you let the product sit on the sex toy for a few minutes for a thorough clean, and then rinse it off well.

    How to sanitize sex toys

    If you want to give your sex toy a deeper cleaning, the next level would be sanitization. Sanitizing sex toys can keep bacteria in check. You've got options like putting it in the dishwasher or using a steam cleaner. Just a heads-up - these methods can harm certain sex toy materials, so it's best to ask or reference the manufacturer’s guide before trying these methods.

    • Steam clean: A steam cleaner can sanitize sex toys, mainly stainless steel, using high-temperature steam to eliminate bacteria. This method is more effective and safer than chemical methods, as no residue is left behind. Caution is needed to allow the sex toys to cool post-cleaning to prevent burns.
    • Dishwash: Dishwashing is sometimes used to clean non-electronic sex toys made of sturdy materials like Pyrex, silicone, stainless steel. However, it could harm certain sex toys materials like porous-Pyrex glass, those with electrical parts, and some non-porous types such as ABS plastic sex toys. If you decide to go this route, make sure your sex toy can be dish-washed, put them on the top rack, run a sanitizing cycle without soap or detergent.

    How to disinfect sex toys

    Disinfecting means using more potent chemicals like bleach, vinegar, isopropyl alcohol, or hydrogen peroxide to effectively kill off bacteria, viruses, and fungi. Removing harmful elements is important when sharing sex toys with other people or after exposure to infections, as it lowers the risk of spreading pathogens. Just a heads-up, these methods are strong and not suitable for all sex toys.

    • Bleach: Bleaching provides a thorough disinfection on non-porous materials like silicone, glass, or ABS plastic. Just remember, avoid using bleach on porous materials, vinyl, acrylic, wooden sex toys, stainless steel, and motorized sex toys to prevent any damage. Mix 5 tablespoons of bleach per gallon of water to safely sanitize with bleach. Spray or soak the sex toy in the solution if it's waterproof, and let it sit for 10 minutes. Afterward, rinse well to remove any bleach residue. And remember, handle with care: wear gloves, work in a ventilated area, and never mix bleach with other cleaners.
    • Clean with vinegar: Vinegar is a gentler cleaning option for sex toys, neutralizing odors and fighting mildew. Suitable for materials like rubber, silicone, and some plastics. Mix equal parts water and vinegar for a cleaning solution. Soak the sex toy for 20–30 mins (if waterproof); otherwise, spray, rinse, and air-dry.
    • Disinfect with alcohol: Isopropyl alcohol, especially 70%, does an excellent job disinfecting microbes on sex toys. Metal and rigid plastics like vinyl and acrylic can handle alcohol fine, but for PMMA acrylic and similar materials handle with care. With silicone and ABS plastic sex toys, it's best to follow the manufacturer's recommendations or skip the alcohol completely. If you need a quick clean, alcohol wipes, followed by a rinse, should do the trick. For a deeper clean, soak the sex toy in a 70% alcohol solution for at least 10 minutes, then rinse thoroughly.

    How to sterilize sex toys

    At the highest level of cleanliness is sterilization, which eliminates all germs, including spores. Methods such as boiling water or UV light systems achieve this high standard. It’s important to note that only nonporous sex toys can be thoroughly sterilized.

    • Boil: Boiling can sterilize some sex toys made of tough materials like silicone, glass, and stainless steel. Just boil for stuff that can take the heat and isn't electronic. Check what the manufacturer says about heat resistance before you start boiling. To sterilize your sex toys, cover them with a cloth to prevent direct contact with the hot pot, fully submerge them in boiling water for 3 minutes, and keep an eye on the pot to avoid accidents. Use silicone tongs to remove the item once it's sterilized, then let it air-dry on a clean surface. Allow it to cool gradually to avoid sudden temperature changes.
    • Apply UV sterilization: UV sterilizers use UV-C light to get rid of bacteria and germs on silicone, glass, and metal sex toys. Avoid using them on porous sex toys, as UV light might not reach all bacteria. Check the manufacturer's guidelines for the sex toy's resilience and material compatibility before UV sterilization. To sterilize a sex toy, pop it in a UV sterilizer bag or box and switch on the UV-C radiation for around ten minutes. Make sure the UV light covers all parts of the sex toy for effective disinfection. Although UV light kills bacteria, it doesn't remove bodily fluids or debris. So, before or after UV treatment, give the sex toy a wipe with a damp cloth for a thorough clean.


    Keeping your sex toys sparkling isn’t just about getting the gunk up, it’s about practicing good sexual health that keeps you and your partner safe – and that’s sexy! If you feel overwhelmed by this mountain of sex toy cleaning information, just remember these key points: cleaning methods depend on material types: porous or nonporous. And when it comes to sex toys, sure, you could go for the budget buys, but let's be real, trying to scrub those down is like trying to clean a wine stain with water. Not happening! Premium, nonporous sex toys will always be the recommended choice because they are the perfect union of high-quality meeting hygienic standards. And the only thing you should be worried about during your intimate moments is pleasure. So, now that you’ve covered cleaning, do you know where you’re going to store your sex toys? We do...

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Can you clean sex toys with alcohol?

    It depends on the type of alcohol and the material of your sex toy. Some sex toys made from non-porous materials like glass or stainless steel can be cleaned with alcohol. But steer clear of using alcohol on silicone, rubber, and latex sex toys because it can break down the material over time. It’s always a good idea to check the manufacturer's cleaning instructions before reaching for the alcohol or any other cleaning agent.

    Can you wash sex toys in the dishwasher?

    While some sex toys can go in the dishwasher, like those made from nonporous materials such as nonmotorized silicone or Pyrex it's not always the best idea. If you live with other people, they may not appreciate opening the dishwasher to find your intimate items. Additionally, the hot water and strong detergent could damage or melt your sex toy. Plus, there's a worry about mixing your sex toy with food bits from the dishwasher. It’s possible, but only for certain types of sex toys and certain circumstances.

    Can you clean sex toys with Dawn dish soap?

    Cleaning sex toys with Dawn dish soap isn't recommended. Dish soaps like Dawn are formulated to remove tough grease and breakdown food particles, which means these soaps may have preservatives, fragrances, and chemicals that might leave a residue on your sex toys. This residue could irritate or harm sensitive areas of your body.

    Can you use baby wipes to clean sex toys?

    Yes, baby wipes can work for tidying up sex toys, but it's best not to rely on them alone. While they can handle visible stuff, they might not fully sanitize your sex toys since they lack strong disinfectant properties.

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