Can You Use Silicone Lube With Silicone Sex Toys?

The short answer is no — you generally shouldn’t use silicone lube with silicone sex toys, and there are several reasons why.
split screen image demonstrating the effect of silicone lube on a silicone sex toy: on the left is an image of a silicone gear in perfect condition, labeled as the example of a silicone toy; on the right is an image of that same silicone gear after soaking in silicone personal lubricant, with gloved hands stretching it to more than twice its size and showing signs of serious degradation
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Updated:February 2024

Although many people tout this as a myth, you really shouldn’t use silicone lube (or oil-based lubricant) with silicone sex toys because it can degrade the material — and we spoke with a chemist who explained why.

Key Takeaways:

  • According to Dow, a world leader in the production of silicone, exposure to soluble liquids (silicone) and oils can cause plasticization of the material, decreasing its hardness; additionally, some silicone blends purposely add oils during the manufacturing process to make the material softer — which means that an oil-based lubricant can potentially degrade the material, too.
  • Anne Ladegaard Skov, Ph.D., a professor from the Department of Chemical and Biochemical Engineering at the Danish Polymer Centre, advised that “one should not use silicone-based lubricants together with silicone [sex] toys” and confirmed the adage that “like dissolves like.”
  • Beyond silicone personal lubricants, Professor Skov suggested avoiding oil-based lubes as well to ensure that sex toy material degradation will not occur.
  • When a sex toy’s material degrades, its surface becomes porous and a potential breeding ground for bacteria because it cannot be sanitized, even if cleaned thoroughly.
  • Water-based lubricants are always the safest and best option when using any sex toy made from silicone or silicone blends — and when you’re unsure of a toy’s material.

I spoke with a chemist to learn more about the safety of using silicone sex toys with personal lubricants — of any kind — and will also tell you what to know about material degradation, signs to look for, and the best lubes to use.

How Silicone (Or Oil) Lubricants Affect Silicone Sex Toys

a variety of black silicone sex toys including anal plugs, beads, and dildos, laying on a white surface sprinkled with droplets of water to signify wetness and lubrication from silicone lube

Silicone lubricants and even oil-based lubes can cause silicone toys to degrade over time, especially if they’re low-quality or made from questionable material blends that might not actually be silicone.

This degradation occurs because the silicone (or oil) in the lubricant bonds with the same material(s) in the sex toy — a concept that’s referred to as “like dissolves like” and confirmed by the chemist I spoke with, Anne Ladegaard Skov.

With a Ph.D. from the Department of Chemical and Biochemical Engineering at the Technical University of Denmark (DTU), and currently working at the Danish Polymer Centre, Professor Skov advised against using silicone or oil-based lubricants with silicone sex toys.

“One should not use silicone-based lubricants together with silicone toys,” she said. “I would also say that in general one should stay away from the oil-based ones too, and go for the water-based lubricants.”

→ For more, read: The Best Water-Based Lubes

Professor Skov’s research focuses on silicone-based elastomers.

She explained that silicone or oil-based lubricant can be absorbed into the silicone elastomer used in the toy’s material, making it expand or become softer.

According to Dow, a major producer of silicone-based products, some silicone blends purposely add oils as part of the manufacturing process to soften the end material — which means that an oil-based lubricant can potentially degrade it.

The degradation process can result in the surface of the sex toy developing a gel-like texture rather than the pliable, firm, and smooth finish it’s supposed to have.

When sex toy material degrades, it becomes porous and impossible to sanitize during cleaning, which can potentially lead to infections after use.

High-quality, medical-grade silicone sex toys are likely to last longer, feel better, and are safer for your body compared to sex toys that are made of potentially hazardous materials like jelly rubber or vinyl.

Some sex toys that are labeled as being made with medical-grade silicones, however, are actually manufactured using lower-quality materials.

As has been found among silicone baking mats, lower-grade materials may be used to reduce costs.

Platinum-catalyzed curing systems are almost always used for the process of creating medical-grade silicone, and general body-safe silicone can also be tin-cured using less-expensive molds.

Since the sex toy industry is relatively unregulated in the United States, it’s up to each company to be honest and ethical about what their toys are made of — and that doesn’t always happen.

Unfortunately, you can’t accurately gauge the chemical composition of a sex toy’s material based on appearance or touch alone, and a “silicone” toy may be pure silicone, a blend, or not silicone at all.

For this reason, water-based lubricants are the best choice — they won’t react to the elastomer and are generally safe for all sex toys, regardless of material.

How Can You Tell When A Sex Toy’s Material Breaks Down?

photograph of gloved hands stretching a brown silicone gear toy after its been soaking in silicone personal lubricant to demonstrate its stretchy material and its degradation

As a sex toy degrades, it can become increasingly porous — even if the surface looks “fine” to the naked eye — but over time, there can be more obvious physical signs that may include:

  • The color is fading in spots, or across the entire surface
  • The feel of the material’s surface has changed compared to when it was new (i.e., it isn’t as smooth, it feels tackier or has other noticeable differences)
  • There are cracks, fissures, divots, scratches, holes, or other permanent blemishes appearing along the surface
  • The toy’s seams are pulling apart or deteriorating
  • The overall shape of the toy has warped or changed from when it was new
  • There is an odor associated with the material that wasn’t there before (and despite proper cleaning)
  • You notice irritation or signs of an allergic reaction after using a toy you’ve used regularly or often in the past (although it’s important to note that new allergies can occur at any point during your lifetime)

Sex toys that are made with low-quality materials are likely to degrade over time on their own, anyway.

Still, the addition of silicone or oil-based lubricants can cause even high-quality silicone toys to break down.

Even if you’re using water-based lubricants with your silicone toys religiously, it’s smart to be aware of the signs of sex toy material degradation so you know when it’s time to replace it.

Top Recommended Lubes For Silicone Sex Toys

Generally universally compatible with ALL sex toys, water-based lubes are the best option to reach for when using a silicone toy.

After researching hundreds of personal lubricants — and personally testing dozens of them ourselves — we have found the very best ones, vetted by our team and recommended for their safety and performance.

Best Overall
Also Good
Runner Up
$11.95 (2.5 oz)
$27.99 (5.1 oz)
$14.00 (4.2 oz)
Description:

Bottom Line: This lube is one of our team’s favorites because it's easy to use, lightweight, highly versatile, made with 95% food-grade NSF Certified organic aloe vera, and comes in 18 delicious flavors. [Full Review + Video]

Description:

Bottom Line: This water-based lube is our team’s top pick for those looking for a thick, incredibly long-lasting lube for sensitive skin made with 96% organic aloe, and no added fragrance, flavor, or dyes. [Full Review + Video]

Description:

Bottom Line: A tried-and-true favorite from Sliquid, our testing team loved this lubricant's silky-smooth (and truly liquid-like) texture that doesn’t drip or run, yet lasts for an incredibly long time and cleans up easily. [Full Review]

Best Overall
$11.95 (2.5 oz)
Description:

Bottom Line: This lube is one of our team’s favorites because it's easy to use, lightweight, highly versatile, made with 95% food-grade NSF Certified organic aloe vera, and comes in 18 delicious flavors. [Full Review + Video]

Also Good
$27.99 (5.1 oz)
Description:

Bottom Line: This water-based lube is our team’s top pick for those looking for a thick, incredibly long-lasting lube for sensitive skin made with 96% organic aloe, and no added fragrance, flavor, or dyes. [Full Review + Video]

Runner Up
$14.00 (4.2 oz)
Description:

Bottom Line: A tried-and-true favorite from Sliquid, our testing team loved this lubricant's silky-smooth (and truly liquid-like) texture that doesn’t drip or run, yet lasts for an incredibly long time and cleans up easily. [Full Review]

→ For more, read: The Best Water-Based Lubes

That said, water-based lubes have a lighter texture and don’t provide quite as much cushion as oil-based or silicone-based lubricants do, which can be problematic when it comes to penetrative toys for anal play.

Depending on your personal comfort, water-based lubricants may be too mild for this activity, not to mention they generally do not have an anal-safe pH level or osmolality.

If your favorite anal toys are made from silicone, you may opt to cover the toy with a condom before using the silicone anal lubricant of your choice.

(Note: Oil-based lubricants are only compatible with condoms that are not made from latex or polyisoprene.)

Closing Thoughts

Using a personal lubricant can make sex more enjoyable, and using sex toys can add excitement and fun to your sex life, whether you’re with a partner or by yourself.

However, it’s essential to make sure you select a lubricant that’s compatible with the toys you’re using, especially when it comes to sex toys made from silicone.

Ultimately, knowing what types of lubes work best with specific types of sex toy materials will not only ensure your safety in the bedroom but also protect your investment, too.

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

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