How To Clean Your Sex Toys Properly

If you have sex toys, and I hope you do, keeping them clean should be your number one priority to avoid unwanted odors, infections, and STIs/STDs.
Photograph Of Young Woman Holding Wet, Orange Sex Toy

If you have sex toys, and I hope you do, keeping them clean should be your number one priority.

Sex toys are not at all like the lived-in favorite pair of jeans you might wear multiple times between washings.

When it comes to sex toys, we’re talking about objects that go in and around your vagina and booty — you absolutely have to clean them after use.

Yes, every single time.

A quick rinse after doing the deed will NOT suffice and unless you’re down for a raging vaginal infection, you must oblige. Trust us!

As you’ll discover, it’s important to keep your sex toys clean for a number of reasons but it’s also vital that you clean them the right way.

Editor’s Note: This article is part of our Everything Vibrators hub, an in-depth and evolving resource that comprehensively explores all aspects of vibrators from the different types and how to use them, to materials and safety — created to help you achieve the sexual pleasure you deserve.

How To Clean Your Sex Toys [Infographic Flow Chart]

For a quick yet comprehensive visual exploration of how to clean sex toys, we created an infographic flow chart that summarizes everything you need to know.

Click on the image to enlarge, and please include attribution to Women’s Health Interactive if you use this graphic.

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Flowchart Infographic On Cleaning Sex Toys

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Why It’s Important To Clean Your Sex Toys — Properly!

Two-Panel Image Displaying Sex Toys And Magnified Bacteria

So you finally got that special toy you’ve had your eye on for months.

You take it out of the packaging and you’re so excited you run to your room to give it a whirl — but wait!

Before you do anything, you must CLEAN IT.

Yes, I know it’s brand new. And it’s never been used before, hopefully.

There could be remnants of the packaging material or even residue from the manufacturing process left behind on the surface of the toy, and I guarantee your vagina is not gonna want to make friends with any of that.

But it doesn’t stop there. You also have to clean your sex toys after using them. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.

And if you don’t — you a nasty girl!

Look, you have to be super diligent if you want to keep bacteria and viruses away from your most special spot — even if you’re the only person using your toys.

Let’s talk about why this is so important.

Can You Get An Infection From Sex Toys?

YES!  You can absolutely get an infection from using sex toys.

Because sex toys go into, out of, and against genital surfaces, they collect bacteria and viruses that not only lead to infection but can also lead to STI’s and STDs.

Especially if you’re using sex toys with a partner or partners.

That said, it’s important to understand that different viruses have a longer or shorter lifespan outside of the body.

Hepatitis B and C are bloodborne diseases that can live for days outside of the human body. Hep B can live on the surface of a sex toy for up to a week, while Hep C can live for as long as 4 days.

HIV, on the other hand, is another bloodborne virus but one that doesn’t survive well outside the human body; the risk of transmission via a sex toy’s surface is significantly reduced after several hours.

HPV can survive outside the body for days, however, its ease of transmission through shared sex toys is questionable.

Similarly, you can contract bacterial vaginosis (BV) or candida (yeast) when sharing sex toys with someone else without cleaning them between partners.

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How Important Is Sex Toy Cleaner?

Infographic Displaying The Benefits Of Using Sex Toy Cleaner

Um, very.

There are so many good sex toy cleaners on the market that you should definitely be able to find one you like.

But before you select one, you must find the right product for your specific toy because sex toys are made from a variety of materials, and what you use to clean an anal sex toy made from metal might not work for a silicone pocket pussy or pegging dildo.

Likewise, you don’t want to go about cleaning your sex toys the wrong way. You cannot just give your sex toys a quick rinse, splash some bleach on there, or pour hand sanitizer all over them and hope for the best.

C’mon now, everybody!

Using the right product to clean your adult toys will keep you safe and maintain the integrity of your most precious sex toys.

If you’re a fan of science, the video below compares bacterial growth on sex toys after washing them with various things including dish soap, mild soap, sex toy cleaner, and even a UV machine. Check it out:

Screenshot Of YouTube Video Showing Bacteria On Sex Toys

What Can I Use Instead Of Sex Toy Cleaner?

Picture this: You’re on a spontaneous romantic weekend and you brought some fun toys to play with…BUT you forgot your sex toy cleaner at home.

You know nothing would ruin your weekend more than a bad case of bacterial vaginosis.

So, what’s a girl to do?

First, if your toy is motorized, remove any batteries or unplug it. (And if you brought a toy that has to be plugged in, you’re hardcore — so much respect.)

Next, take a clean cloth and dampen it with warm water and mild soap.

Give your toy a good, thorough cleaning, wipe it down with a rinsed and damp cloth to remove any soap residue, then let it air dry.

When you’re done, store your toy in a cool, dry place — preferably in its own carrying bag or case if you have it on hand.

Easy peasy.

That said, while a mild soap — the same type you’d use on your hands or body — is a safe cleaner for sex toys, there are several things you should NOT use to wash them:

  • Undiluted bleach
  • Alcohol
  • Household cleaners
  • Perfume
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Dishwasher

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How To Clean Your Sex Toys

Infographic Explaining Things To Consider Before Cleaning A Sex Toy

Ready to start cleaning right now? Jump straight to our recipe cards for step-by-step instructions for cleaning your sex toys:

When selecting what to use to clean your sex toy, whether it’s a dildo or vibrator, or something else entirely, the decision will come down to the toy’s material and its design — particularly if it’s motorized or waterproof.

The material of your sex toy matters here. If you use the wrong cleaner on a certain surface, you could ruin your sex toy entirely and that would be a big bummer…these things can be really expensive.

Before you do anything, take note of what your toy is made of.

Is your sex toy porous? Porous materials, which should be avoided, include:

  • Jelly rubber
  • Rubber
  • PVC
  • Vinyl/PVC
  • TPE/TPR
  • Cyberskin

It’s important to note that porous toys can never be thoroughly cleaned or disinfected.

Is your sex toy non-porous? Nonporous materials include:

  • Silicone
  • ABS Plastic
  • Stainless steel
  • Glass

Nonporous materials are by far the safest for sex toys, as they can be cleaned thoroughly and sanitized and they won’t harbor bacteria as easily as those with porous surfaces.

The answer to the above questions can make or break the cleanliness of your sex toy, not to mention the wrong product or cleaning method could kill your sex toy — period!

The next thing to consider is the design of your sex toy.

If it’s motorized, you generally won’t want to submerge it in water unless it’s 100% waterproof.

If your sex toy isn’t waterproof, avoid dunking it in water or rinsing it under a running faucet.

For toys that are not waterproof, you’ll need to use a wrung-out, damp cloth to remove any soap or sex toy cleaner residue, instead.

Mild soap — the gentle kind you’d use to wash your hands or body — is a safe option for cleaning sex toys.

Many sex toy cleaners are designed to be safe for use on all non-porous toys while being gentle on the skin but always read the label first to be sure — particularly if a cleaner uses an ingredient you may be allergic to.

You can also take a look at our full review of the best sex toy cleaners available — we provide a list of products that are safe across a variety of toy materials.

Now that we’ve got the basics for sex toy cleaning down pat, it’s time to cover the step-by-step instructions for cleaning your sex toys.

How To Clean A DildoIcon Of Green Dildo In Orange Circle

Supplies Needed For Cleaning A Dildo:

Steps For Cleaning A Dildo:

  1. Check your toy’s material before selecting a cleaner
  2. Use warm water with a clean cloth and mild soap OR spray or wipe with your favorite sex toy cleaner
  3. Let it air dry
  4. Store it in a cool, dry place or put it in a clean, lint-free pouch

Special Considerations: Sex toy cleaner is fantastic for dildos! We recommend using soap, warm water, and a clean cloth in tandem with your favorite cleaner.

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How To Clean A VibratorIcon Displaying Purple Vibrator In Orange Circle

Supplies Needed For Cleaning A Vibrator:

  • Sex toy cleaner:
  • Warm water
  • Mild soap
  • A clean, lint-free cloth

Steps For Cleaning A Vibrator:

  1. Check the toy’s material and select the right cleaner
  2. Spray or wipe it with your favorite sex toy cleaner OR use a clean cloth with warm water and soap
  3. Rinse or use a clean damp cloth to remove soap or cleaner residue
  4. Let it air dry
  5. Store it in a cool, dry place or clean, lint-free pouch

Special Considerations: Vibrators have motors, so be sure to take out any batteries if they are removable. Do not submerge them in water and make sure the toy’s material is compatible with the cleaner you are using.

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How To Clean A Pocket PussyIcon Depicting Vulva Inside Of Orange Circle

Supplies Needed For Cleaning A Pocket Pussy:

Steps For Cleaning A Pocket Pussy:

  1. Check the material and choose the right cleaner
  2. Rinse it thoroughly to remove any fluids or lube
  3. Use a cloth with warm water and soap OR or spray it with a good sex toy cleaner
  4. Rinse with water or use a clean, damp cloth to remove residue
  5. Store it in a cool, dry place or clean, lint-free pouch

Special Considerations: Some pocket pussies are made from porous material, so be sure to really get in there to clean out all bacteria.

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How To Clean Anal ToysIcon Displaying Blue Anal Toy In Orange Circle

Supplies Needed For Cleaning Anal Toys:

Steps For Cleaning An Anal Toy:

  1. Check the material and choose the right cleaner
  2. Spray or wipe it down with your favorite sex toy cleaner OR or use a clean cloth with warm water and soap
  3. Rinse or use a clean, damp cloth to remove soap or cleaner residue
  4. Let it air dry
  5. Store it in a cool, dry place or clean, lint-free pouch

Special Considerations: Remember to check the material of your anal sex toy and if it is motorized because anal toy materials can run the gamut.

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How To Clean Silicone Sex ToysIcon Displaying Pink Silicone Butterfly Vibrator In Orange Circle

Supplies Needed For Cleaning Silicone Sex Toys:

Steps For Cleaning A Silicone Sex Toy:

  1. If it’s motorized, take out the batteries if they are removable
  2. Spray or wipe it with your favorite sex toy cleaner OR use a clean cloth and warm water with soap
  3. Rinse if waterproof or use a clean, damp cloth to remove soap or cleaner residue
  4. Let it air dry
  5. Store it in a cool, dry place or clean, lint-free pouch

Special Considerations: You can boil silicone sex toys for a more thorough clean as long as they are not motorized.

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How To Clean ABS Plastic Sex ToysIcon Depicting Purple ABS Plastic Bullet Vibrator In Orange Circle

Supplies Needed For Cleaning ABS Plastic Sex Toys:

Steps For Cleaning An ABS Plastic Sex Toy:

  1. If it’s motorized, take out the batteries if they are removable
  2. Spray or wipe it with your favorite sex toy cleaner OR use a clean cloth and warm water with soap
  3. Rinse if waterproof or use a clean, damp cloth to remove soap or cleaner residue
  4. Let it air dry
  5. Store it in a cool, dry place or clean, lint-free pouch

Special Considerations: Although ABS plastic is nonporous, it does not mean your toy is waterproof. If your toy is motorized, do not submerge it in water unless you know it is 100% waterproof.

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How To Clean Stainless Steel Sex ToysIcon Depicting Gray Stainless Steel Dildo In Orange Circle

Supplies Needed For Cleaning Stainless Steel Sex Toys:

  • Sex toy cleaner:
    • Stainless steel is nonporous, so you can use any sex toy cleaner you want
  • Warm water
  • Soap
  • A clean, lint-free cloth

Steps For Cleaning A Stainless Steel Sex Toy:

  1. Spray or wipe it with your favorite sex toy cleaner OR use a clean cloth with warm water and soap
  2. Rinse
  3. Let it air dry or buff it with a lint-free cloth for a streak-free finish
  4. Store it in a cool, dry place or clean, lint-free pouch

Special Considerations: You can also boil stainless steel sex toys to sanitize them. Just make sure you take them off the stove before your guests come over for dinner. Additionally, you can safely run them through the dishwasher but remove them before your kids or roommates rummage through it — and don’t forget to give your toy a rinse to remove any soap residue!

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How To Clean Glass Sex ToysIcon Depicting Blue Glass Dildo In Orange Circle

Supplies Needed For Cleaning Glass Sex Toys:

  • Sex toy cleaner:
    • Glass is non-porous, so you can use any sex toy cleaner you want
  • Warm water
  • Soap
  • A clean, lint-free cloth

Steps For Cleaning A Glass Sex Toy:

  1. Spray or wipe it with your favorite sex toy cleaner OR use a clean cloth with warm water and soap
  2. Rinse
  3. Let it air dry or buff it with a dry, lint-free cloth
  4. Store it in a cool, dry place or clean, lint-free pouch

Special Considerations: Glass shouldn’t be exposed to extreme temperatures, but Pyrex toys are top-rack dishwasher-safe. When you’re done, place it on your mantel because glass sex toys are fancy, so you should show that shit off! Additionally, do NOT attempt to use Windex or household glass cleaner for a “streak-free shine!” If you must, buff any streaks using a lint-free cloth.

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How To Clean Porous Sex ToysIcon Depicting Pink Porous Sex Toy In Orange Circle

Supplies Needed For Cleaning Porous Sex Toys:

  • Sex toy cleaner:
    • UVEE Home Play is safe for all sex toys but it’s also going to be your best option for trying to sanitize a porous toy
  • Gentle soap
  • Warm water
  • A clean, lint-free cloth

Steps For Cleaning A Porous Sex Toy:

  1. If it’s motorized, take out the batteries if they are removable
  2. Spray or wipe it with your favorite sex toy cleaner OR use a clean cloth and warm water with soap
  3. Rinse if waterproof or use a clean, damp cloth to remove soap or cleaner residue
  4. Let it air dry
  5. Store it in a cool, dry place or clean, lint-free pouch

Special Considerations: We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: You really shouldn’t be using sex toys with a porous surface. But if you must, do take care to clean it thoroughly and after every use.

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In Conclusion

We at Women’s Health Interactive care about you, as do I, your humble curator of all things relating to sex toy cleanliness.

We especially care about your sexual health — so we’re bringing down the hammer. Cleaning your sex toys is mandatory!

We don’t want you walking around with a yeast infection or catching an STI or STD.

We want you out there living your best life with your favorite sex toy by your side — thriving!