How to clean your sex toys

Keeping your sex toys clean and well cared for doesn’t just make for a more enjoyable experience. It can help keep you safe and healthy too.

Sex toys can be a lot of fun and a great way to learn about what works for you. But not many people know that you can get STIs and other genital problems through your sex toys. So how do you stay safe when using toys?

Firstly, be careful about when you use them. Do not use any penetrative sex toys if you or your partner have cuts or sores around the genitals or bottom.

You can use condoms to cover penetrative sex toys each time you use them. And change the condom before moving to a different body part, like from the anus to the vagina. This stops bacteria from moving to different areas. It’s important not to share sex toys with other people. If you have more than one partner, use a different set of toys with each person.

Finally, cleaning your toys is a great habit to get into. It’ll keep you safer and help your toys last longer.

How to clean a sex toy

Clean your toys after every time you use them. If you don’t, they can become a breeding ground for bacteria. This will increase the chance of you experiencing irritation or getting an infection when you use them.

Cleaning doesn’t need to take long. Before you get started, check the instructions for the toy. That will explain how to clean and store it correctly, depending on what it’s made from and if it’s got batteries.

Then take a look at the toy. Check for any breaks or scratches, which could damage you when you use them or be a great space for germs to grow.

If all looks good, and the instructions say it’s ok, wash your toy with warm, soapy water. Be careful what soap you use. Perfumed or scented soaps can upset your body’s pH balance and cause vaginal irritation or issues like bacterial vaginosis (BV) and thrush. Use an unscented, mild or plain soap. Or you can buy specialist sex toy cleaners from most sex shops.

Stay safe when batteries are involved: do not submerge any battery-operated toy in water. For these toys, wiping them down with a clean soapy cloth is the best way to keep them clean.

Drying and storing your toys is the final step. Make sure to use a paper towel or something that won’t leave fibres behind when drying them. Something like a bath towel that sheds fibres can leave tiny threads on the toy, which can then irritate the vagina or anus when the toy is used. If you got a dust bag with your toy, use that to keep it covered when you put it away. This will protect the toy from collecting dust when it’s not being used.

Written by Helen Burkitt. Senior Sexual Health and Contraception Nurse
Last updated at: 02 February 2024
Published on: 30 August 2023