Things You Should NEVER Use (Or Do) To Clean Your Sex Toys

Lysol? Bleach? What about boiling water or the dishwasher? How important is a sex toy cleaner? Here’s what to use to clean your toys properly and safely.
Photograph Of Bucket Of Cleaning Products With Vibrators Sticking Out

It’s vital you clean your sex toys, but also vital you avoid cleaning them with the wrong stuff or cleaning them in ways that could cause damage.

Not cleaning your sex toys properly is gross and can cause infections. But, there are things you never want to clean your sex toys with.

Using the wrong materials to clean your sex toys can be toxic or damage them permanently and not all toys can be cleaned the same way. Here’s what you need to know.

I’m gonna get straight to the point: Giving your sex toy a quick rinse after using it is not going to cut it.

Unless you enjoy bacterial vaginosis or increased risk of other infections, including STIs and STDs for some reason, you must pay attention and clean your sex toys every time you use them.

EVERY TIME!

That said, you also need to know what to use to clean them properly and safely — not only for the maintenance of your sex toys but for your health, as well.

And you need to know there are some things you should NEVER use to clean your sex toys.

Let’s cover all of it.

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.

Things You Should NEVER Use To Clean Your Sex Toys

Infographic Listing Things That Should Never Be Used To Clean Sex Toys

We all have our ways of keeping ourselves clean.

Some people like floral soaps. Some folks use citrusy sanitizer, others enjoy fresh-scented perfume, and some people just like to stank — each to their own.

Unfortunately, none of these strategies are appropriate for cleaning your sex toys.

There are many misconceptions about how vital sex toy cleaner is and some folks might think it’s perfectly safe to go spelunking beneath their kitchen sink in search of cleaning solutions.

It isn’t.

Put down the Lysol and back away from it, folks.

Here’s what you should NOT use to clean your toys:

  • Bleach: Certain sex toys can handle a little bleach diluted in water, but an all-bleach soak will damage most material.
  • Alcohol: Pure alcohol is also damaging to most sex toy material. So too are wipes that are alcohol-based. And if you’re thinking of tequila or something like that, just…no.
  • Perfume: Most are alcohol-based, which will damage your toy and potentially irritate your precious vulva skin.
  • Household Cleaning Products: These are designed to clean things like toilets and floors, folks. They’re made from harsh chemicals that shouldn’t come in contact with your toys or your genital skin.
  • Hand Sanitizer: Another typically alcohol-based solution, this might sound good in theory, but if it comes in contact with your sensitive skin, it’s gonna sting.
  • Dishwasher: Some folks say the top rack of the dishwasher is ok with certain motorless toys (more below), but a dishwashing cycle can leave soap residue behind. If you do run your dildo through the dishwasher, make sure to rinse it off thoroughly before use.

It might be convenient to reach for the nearest bottle of cleaning product like Lysol, alcohol, or even hand sanitizer, but those things can be harsh on a sex toy’s materials.

Not only that, but any chemical residue left behind can irritate the hell out of your skin when you use those toys later on.

Like we mentioned earlier, bleach diluted in water can be safe for some toys — such as those made from stainless steel.

Similarly, toys made from silicone, Pyrex, or stainless steel are dishwasher safe in the top rack, provided there are no motorized parts.

And some toys that are non-porous (which includes stainless steel and silicone), can be boiled safely for 5-10 minutes so long as it will not damage the toy — please don’t boil your plastic toys folks!

Still, your safest bet, particularly if you’re not sure about the material your toy is made from, is to use a mild soap or sex toy cleaner designed for use with all toy materials.

→Ready to clean your sex toys? We’ve got you covered with step-by-step instructions right here.

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Why You Need To Clean Your Sex Toys — Properly!

Two-Panel Image Showing Clean-Looking Sex Toy And Zoomed-In Microbes That Might Be Lurking On It

There’s no half-assing it when it comes to cleaning your sex toys.

Sex toys of all types hold on to bacteria and viruses like it’s their job. So if you want to keep your vagina healthy, you must be conscientious about this.

Just as you wouldn’t grab a piece of gum off the sidewalk and pop it into your mouth, you wouldn’t pick up a dirty vibrator and pop it into your vag.

Vaginal infections are no joke and we take your vaginal health very seriously!

Can You Get An Infection From Sex Toys?

YES!

If you don’t clean your sex toys after every use, all kinds of bacteria and viruses can accumulate on them.

But it is very important to note that certain viruses can live outside of the body longer than others.

For instance, both Hepatitis B and C — which are bloodborne — can live for days outside of the body. Hep B can remain alive on a sex toy’s surface for up to a week, while Hep C can live for up to 4 days.

On the flip side, HIV, which is another bloodborne virus, can’t survive well outside the human body, so the risk of transmission drops considerably within several hours.

For this reason, if a used and unclean sex toy has been left out for a while, the danger of transmitting an STD or STI by sharing it decreases because many viruses don’t live long outside of the human body.

HPV can remain alive for days on surfaces, however, it is questionable just how easily it can be transmitted by sharing sex toys.

You can also contract bacterial vaginosis (BV) or candida (yeast) if you share your toys with a partner without cleaning them first.

Again, the risk is always highest when the sharing takes place with minimal time passing between uses.

Sure, sharing is caring…but not in this instance.

Sex toys can be shared during the same sex session, but they must be cleaned thoroughly between partners — and even between orifices.

If you use a dildo in your vagina and anus without cleaning it between holes, as it were, you’re opening yourself up for a butt-load (or vag-load) of infection.

To minimize your risk, always clean your toys after use, during use when switching orifices, and between partners.

Not sure how to clean your sex toys? We’ve got you covered with step-by-step instructions right here.

How Important Is Sex Toy Cleaner, Anyway?

Properly cleaning your sex toy takes more than a rinse in the sink. You have to clean them thoroughly and sex toy cleaner helps you do that quickly, efficiently, and safely.

We know you’re busy. You don’t have hours and hours to spend at home watching soap operas while scrubbing your sex toys.

But if you know the proper way to clean them using a sex toy cleaner, staying infection-free will be a breeze.

There are so many great sex toy cleaners on the market that are specifically made to — you guessed it — clean sex toys.

Such products take into account sex toy material and sensitive skin because after a toy is cleaned, it’ll eventually come into contact with a person’s most delicate parts.

If you read the labels and are aware of any allergies you may have, you really can’t go wrong with a quality sex toy cleaner.

So there’s absolutely no excuse to use something you found around the house like bleach or alcohol — or even vodka.

You’re better than that, and so is your vagina!

We put together a complete review of the very best sex toy cleaners to make choosing one easier.

What Can I Use Instead Of Sex Toy Cleaner?

If you don’t have your favorite sex toy cleaner on hand, mild soap and warm water will do just fine in a pinch and it works with any sex toy material.

Remember always to check if your toy is motorized, so you don’t get it too wet and ruin it!

If a toy is motorized or not waterproof, wipe it with a damp soapy cloth and remove any soap residue with a rinsed, wrung-out cloth.

Nonporous toys like stainless steel and silicone can be boiled for 5-10 minutes as long as there are no motorized parts — so keep your finger vibes, clit sucking toys, wands, bullets, and all other vibrators OUT of the pot!

Additionally, silicone, stainless steel, and Pyrex toys are top-rack dishwasher-safe — again, in the absence of motorized parts.

Porous toys, which are made from materials that include jelly rubber, rubber, PVC, vinyl, TPE/TPR, or Cyberskin, are tough to clean, no matter what you do.

You can use soap and warm water on a porous toy, but it will not be thoroughly clean or sanitized since bacteria can seep into the material — and stay there.

Ideally, toys made from porous materials are best avoided entirely.

In Conclusion

Cleaning your sex toys before and after every use will keep viruses and bacteria from accumulating on them, but you don’t want to use some random cleaner you found under the sink.

Cleaning your sex toys properly now will save you hundreds of dollars in anti-fungal, anti-viral, and antibiotic medication later!

If you care about your health and your partner’s health, you’ll keep your sex toys as clean as possible.

Because at Women’s Health Interactive, we believe only YOU can prevent vaginal infections, so clean your sex toys!