How to use sex toys safely
Entering the world of sex tools and toys is exciting, but it’s not uncommon for newcomers to have safety and logistical concerns. Sex toys are perfectly safe as long as you know what to watch out for. In this guide, we’ll go over how to safely buy, use, and clean body safe toys. Equipped with this knowledge, you’ll be ready to explore confidently.
Are sex toys safe?
According to the British National Health, yes – as long as you keep them clean. Sex toys can potentially pass on sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and blood-borne infections if they’re shared or not cleaned properly. Because of that, it’s important to follow a few safety guidelines, which we’ll go over.
How to safely buy sex toys
Well-made sex toys should be smooth, sturdy, and easy to clean. Avoid toys with hard-to-clean parts, such as hard plastic toys with seams where bacteria can hide. Also keep in mind what you want to use a given sex toy for. If you’re planning to use a toy for anal play, buy a toy specifically for that. A perfectly safe vibrator can become dangerous for anal play, for example. When shopping, also consider what material the toy is made out of.
Materials to avoid when using sex toys
If you have a latex allergy, avoid latex toys and opt for alternatives. Some people also choose to avoid sex toys made with phthalates, a chemical that’s been banned for use in children’s toys and pacifiers. Porous, squishy-feeling sex toys are more likely to contain phthalates. Avoiding phthalates is a personal choice, but it’s a worthwhile consideration when shopping for a sex toy – it’s up to you to decide what you’re comfortable with. Toys made with jelly rubber or polyvinyl chloride (PVC) are much more porous silicone, meaning bacteria can hide in the material. We don’t recommend these for beginners.
Materials to use when using sex toys
For those new to the world of sex toys, we recommend starting with hypoallergenic, high-quality toys made with body safe silicone or elastomers. These are easy to keep clean and are also quite easy to use.
Buying sex toys from trusted suppliers
The sex toy industry is vast and varied, which is good – that means more options and availability for you. But it can also pose a challenge when it comes to vetting companies for safety. Before buying from a specific brand or manufacturer, do some research. Look for companies that are transparent about their products, materials, and sourcing. If a manufacturer provides a lot of detail about the materials it uses and gives good instructions about how to clean, use, and care for their toys, that’s a good sign. It means they care about what they do and about your safety and experience.
Whenever possible, check verified reviews. If you’re comfortable, ask for referrals from savvy friends and partners. You’d feel more comfortable getting a haircut at a salon your friend recommended, right? Similarly, finding out what sex toy companies other people trust is a good place to start.
And as an overall rule of thumb, listen to your body. If you feel any discomfort when using a toy – itchiness, burning, pain – it’s not the toy for you. This applies to both your physical safety and your enjoyment. Remember, sex toys are just that – toys! They should be fun to use.
How to safely buy sex toys
Between uses, we recommend storing your toys in a clean container to prevent accumulating dust or other debris. Many reputable toy companies include a storage box or bag for this reason.
Before each use, make sure your toy looks clean (no dust, particles, or debris) and check it for scratches, breaks, or cracks. Bacteria and germs can lodge into those areas, which then find their way into your body – not good. When a toy starts to show signs of wear and tear, it’s time to say goodbye and order a replacement.
- Clean your toys after every use or cover penetrative toys like dildos or internal vibrators with a condom every time you use them.
- Don’t share sex toys, especially porous ones.
- If you have multiple partners, keep a different set of toys for each partner. Again, this is particularly important if you’re using porous toys.
How to clean your sex toys
Keep your sex toys clean. Wash them with soap and water (or a special toy cleaner from a reputable supplier) after every use. Read the manufacturer’s care instructions – some toys can go in the dishwasher or can be boiled, and some can’t. When in doubt, wash your toys with warm soapy water and dry them thoroughly after.
How you clean any given sex toy depends on a number of factors: what it’s made of, whether it uses batteries, and whether it has parts that can’t be washed. Reputable sex toy companies include cleaning and storage guidelines, so be sure to read those every time you get a new toy and follow them carefully.
Examples of materials and how to clean your sex toys
- Silicone, glass, or stainless steel (with batteries) – Clean by using mild antibacterial soap and a damp cloth to wipe your toy clean
- Silicone, Pyrex, or stainless steel (no batteries) – You can be more thorough when your toys aren’t motorised. Read the cleaning instructions that come with the toy, you may find you can put this in the dishwasher!
- Hard plastic, elastomer, thermoplastic elastomer (TPR), or jelly rubber – These toys are made of porous materials, so make sure these are thoroughly cleaned. If you are going to use with a partner, we suggest using a condom if penetration occurs