NOTE: This article has been updated
Have you ever seen a black spot on your toy? Unless you’ve bought something with sparkles, chances are it’s mold. Use anything for anal play? Yep, you know what that persistent smell is. However, you can still have an active sex-toy life while maintaining a level of cleanliness that even the CDC would be proud of. That’s why we’re going to look at different ways on how to clean sex toys plus other useful tips.
Questions to Ask Yourself
- Am I using my toy on myself only?
- Or, am I sharing my toy with a trusted partner?
- Will my toys be used by someone I know or don’t know?
- Which of my toys are porous and which are not?
- Do I have a yeast infection? (For the ladies)
- Am I dealing with an STI or does my partner have one?
- Is there anal play involved or will I be “switching”?
Your answers will affect how you clean your toys. However, if you’re here because you want want specific tips on how to clean your Lovense toy, jump to this part of the article. But I would STRONGLY RECCOMEND reading the entire thing. You might find something valuable.
How to Clean Sex Toys – Terminology
These terms can be very confusing at times, but you’ll hear them everywhere. Therefore, it’s important to understand the distinction. We’re also going to look at them from just a sex toy point of view (as opposed to the extreme way a hospital would care for things e.g. sterilizing after every use.)
CLEANING = Removes material from the surface – but can still leave behind harmful stuff
DISINFECTING = Removes/reduces MOST forms of harmful microorganisms or organisms
SANITIZING = Reduces the number of bacteria (by cleaning or disinfecting) to 99.9% but viruses and fungus can still be present
STERILIZING = Removing ALL organisms (all forms of life), including viruses, bacteria, fungi, and spores
Think of it this way: You have a metal tray that has three-day-old uncooked chicken juice all over it. YIKES!
- You wipe it down with soap and water. It’s clean, but it’s not disinfected.
- Or you skip the water and just dump an entire bottle of bleach on it. It’s disinfected but not clean.
- But you wash it with warm water, throw on a 10% bleach solution, rinse it, and dry it properly. It’s sterilized and clean. (Hint: A hospital needs to sterilize its tools)
You can clean your sex toys, but if you’ve shared your toys with someone who has an STI (or if you do), it might not be enough.
When should you clean your toys? Before AND after every use.
When should you sterilize your toys? After anal use. If you’ve had a yeast infection. If you share your toy with a partner. If they are for vaginal use, and you don’t have any infections, it’s still a good idea to sterilize them sometimes.
Porous Versus Non-Porous – The Great Battle
If the toy is non-porous (NP), it means that bacteria, viruses, and other bad things will only stay on the surface and are easily cleaned away. But if the toy is porous (P), it means substances will be absorbed and stay within the material. It doesn’t matter how much you clean it, they are impossible to sterilize.
Something like body-safe or medical-grade silicone is non-porous and a wonderful option. TPE is body-safe but porous and often used becuase of how soft it is – and a far superior choice over something like jelly (which is horrible).
Inspecting Your Sex Toys – Starting at the Store
Maintenance begins right at the store – before you’ve even whipped out your credit card and scampered away with the discrete paper bag under your arm.
- What material is it?
- Is it porous on non-porous?
- Are there gaps or crevices that will be hard to get into and clean?
- Does the toy smell weird and chemically?
- Are there any cracks, rips, pockmarks, or any imperfections that wave red flags?
- Does the salesperson actually know what they are talking about and are willing to honestly educate you? Or, are they just there to run out the clock and go home?
Another thing to remember is that regular inspections are important for the toys you already own. You don’t check your car the first time and never again, do you? The same goes for our little friends.
Listen to the motor, check for tears, strange discolorations, black spots (mold or mildew), etc. My poor vibrator started to sound like killer bees were in a rugby match with a bunch of marbles. Yeah, don’t want that between my legs if things start sparking.
Using Condoms as Barriers
It’s no secret that I’m a huge advocate of sticking to the safe materials … and burning the rest. Although condoms are tested to keep out certain substances, they aren’t really tested for the chemicals found in many sex toys.
I’m aware that either budget or individual persistence will sometimes win out. If that’s the case, a condom is definitely better than nothing. Put a condom over it if …
- The toy is porous
- You have an infection (P or NP doesn’t matter)
- You’re switching from anal to vaginal in one play session (P or NP doesn’t matter)
- There is sharing toys with someone you don’t know well (P or NP doesn’t matter)
How to Clean Sex Toys – Different Methods
If your toys have batteries or mechanical parts and aren’t waterproof, don’t submerge them in water, and be careful that nothing gets into battery compartments, etc. It can cause corrosion.
SOAP AND WATER – This is the most common way to clean most toys. It works best for NON-POROUS toys. Water should be warm, not hot, and the soap should be mild and unscented.
WIPING DOWN – Means you don’t put them directly in water, just use a clean damp cloth.
BOILING – Usually for 3/5/10 minutes (no one can seem to agree on a time). I go for somewhere in the middle. Put a tea towel inside the bottom of the pot just to be on the safe side (thank you, dangerouslilly, for the tip!) Reserved for things like solide metal toys. Careful, cheap ones can just have a metalic coating and flake off.
DISHWASHER – If you decide to go this route, make sure your machine has a sterilize setting. Otherwise, it’s pointless and you might as well just wash with soap and water. Do not add soap or other dishes to this cycle (I don’t care what they show in the movies).
BLEACH – Follow the 10% rule (10 parts water and 1 part bleach). Soak for 5 minutes and rinse very VERY well after, especially for metal toys like your Njoy. Use cold/cool water only.
RUBBING ALCOHOL – Another option for the extreme-clean sort of person. Just wipe it down with a clean cloth and then rinse.
CORN FLOUR DUSTING – This method is ONLY usable with Cyberskin toys or Fleshlights. Wash, dry thoroughly, then dust with organic cornflour or the store brand that comes with the toy. Don’t use talc. It’s not the same.
TOY CLEANER – You would figure this would be at the top, but, honestly, the other ways are much better before you resort to this option. Sex toy cleaner is used more for emergencies when you have to switch toys with a partner (no condom) and you need to clean it fast. I tend to use this before a soap and water rinse if my toys been tucked away for a while (but I’m a bit of a germaphobe). Learn more about sex toy cleaners in this article.
Handy Cheat Sheet on How to Clean Sex Toys
- Porosity = Green (non-porous), Blue (slightly porous), Red (very porous)
- Condom? Individual use only = N (don’t need a condom), Y (need a condom)
- Check box = Conflicting information, preferable to wash in a different way, if possible
- Wood* needs a proper finish to be considered NP. Talk to the manufacturer to see if it’s a permanent finish (safe)or just a wax that will wear off after a while.
- Ceramic* needs to be kiln fired and have the proper finish to be considered NP
- Fleshlights are special – you only clean them with water. NO soap!
Other Useful Advice You Should Ingrain Into Your Soul
- Always dry your toy completly before putting it away
- Store in a cool, dry, place as well as keep them as separate as possible
- Take out your batteries after every use (or you’ll drain them)
- Be careful with rechargeable batteries – recharge every 6 months when not in use
- Store them in satin/organza/silk/cotton bags.
- If the toy is porous, wrap it in undyed cotton as well (or something similar)
- No bags? Use a clean cloth
- Make sure the drawers or box you keep them in is clean too
- Do not store them in Tupperware – leeching chemicals
- Sex toy storage boxes are a good investment if you have many toys
- Always wash your sex toys BEFORE and AFTER each use
- Keep them away from extreme hot or cold temperatures
- NEVER boil any toy that has a battery, including Lovense products
How to Clean a LOVENSE Sex Toy
You’ll find most toys fall under three groups – except the sex machine, which is an entirely different beast to clean.
AMBI, EDGE/2, HUSH (all), CALOR, DIAMO, DOLCE. EXOMOON, FERRI, GEMINI, GRAVITY, GUSH, HYPHY. MISSION, NORA, OSCI 2, TENERA, and LUSH 1/2/3 can all be cleaned with mild soap or sex toy cleaner and warm water. They can be submerged in water should you choose.
NORA (pre upgrade with an explosed charging port), OSCI 1, and DOMI 2 are also washed with mild soap and warm water. However, they cannot be submerged. Make sure to keep water away from any buttons or charging ports.
MAX and MAX 2 are our special boys and needs to be cleaned differently. First, remove the sleeve and wash it separately with warm water. Do not use any soap as it may degrade the sleeve material. The casing can be rinsed with water, but make sure the bottom section doesn’t get wet and that the air vent is closed.
Here are the image instructions from each manual (Max and Max 2)
LOVENSE SEX MACHINE
- Clean Lovense Sex Machine before and after each use.
- Control Box, Main Body, Power Supply and the Power Plug can be only cleaned with a cloth.
- Clean the Dildo and all other parts with warm water and mild soap (or sex toy cleaner).
- Make sure the water doesn’t go inside the hole on the back side of the Dildo.
- Dry thoroughly before storing or turning on the machine.
- Make sure to oil the sliding rails and rod insertion holes every 2-3 months (or wherever you feel that the thrusting is not as smooth as before) with mechanical grease – any high-temperature wheel bearing grease is fine. Steps: 1) Use a screwdriver (not included) to remove the 4 screws. 2) Remove the cover. 3) Apply the oil on the 6 marked spots.
NOTE: You can also find reminders about cleaning in the instruction manual (included with your toy) or online here – it starts with AMBI, you’ll see a list of toys on the lefthand side of the screen or at the top on mobile under the “Toys” dropdown menu.
Final Thoughts on Sex Toy Cleanliness
It seems like quite a lot, but if you invest in a couple good quality toys, cleaning will be less of a hassle. Then, you can focus on the fun, not if there are unwanted passengers on your love buddies.
Also, if you liked this article, you might enjoy these:
- New to Sex Toys? Learn How to Buy Your First Vibrator
- Sex Toys 101 – A Positive and Detailed Beginner’s Guide
- G-Spot Vibrators Guide & Reviews (safety section on materials)
Anything you want to add about how to clean sex toys? Share in the comments!