Buzzy and Clean! Over 30 Essential Tips on How to Clean Sex Toys

Ever see black spots 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, it’s quite possible to have an active sex-toy life while maintaining a level of cleanliness that even the CDC would be proud of.

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  • Am I using my toy on myself only?
  • Am I sharing my toy with a trusted partner?
  • Am I sharing my toys with someone I know/don’t know?
  • Which of my toys are porous and which are not?
  • Do I have a yeast infection? (For the ladies)
  • Do I have an STI? Does my partner have an STI?
  • Am I using it just for anal play or am I switching?

Your answers will affect how you clean your toys.

NOTE: If you want specific tips on how to clean your Lovense toy, click here.  

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These terms can be confusing as hell, 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

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DISINFECTING = Removes/reduces MOST forms of harmful microorganisms or organisms

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SANITIZING = Reduces the number of bacteria (by cleaning or disinfecting) to 99.9% but viruses and fungus can still be present

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STERILIZING = Removing ALL organisms (all forms of life), including viruses, bacteria, fungi, and spores

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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.
  • You skip the water and just dump an entire bottle of bleach on it. It’s disinfected but not clean.
  • 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.

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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.

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.

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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.

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Want to know which materials are safe? Check out:

G-Spot Vibrators Guide & Reviews (safety section)

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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 …

  • Your 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)
  • You’re sharing toys with someone you don’t know well (P or NP doesn’t matter)

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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.

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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 them down” means you don’t put them directly in water, just use a clean damp cloth.

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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, dangerouslillyfor the tip!)

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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).

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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.

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RUBBING ALCOHOL – Another option for the extreme-clean sort of person. Just wipe it down with a clean cloth.

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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.

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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).

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Learn more about sex toy cleaner…

15 Sex Toy Cleaners – The Good, The Bad, The Suspect

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Credit: Lovense

  • Porosity = Green (non-porous), Blue (slightly porous), Red (very porous)
  • Condom? = N (don’t need a condom), Y (need a condom). Individual use only.
  • “Check” in a 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!

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  • Always dry your toy well.
  • Store in a cool, dry, place.
  • Store them separately.
  • Take out your batteries after every use (or you’ll drain them).
  • Be careful with rechargeable batteries (read toy instructions).
  • Store them in satin/organza/silk/cotton bags.
  • If the toy is porous, wrap it in undyed cotton as well.
  • No bags? Use a clean cloth.
  • Make sure the drawers or box you keep them in is clean as well.
  • Do not store them in Tupperware (leeching chemicals).
  • Sex toy storage boxes are a good investment if you have many toys.

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  • AMBI, EDGE, HUSH, and LUSH can all be cleaned with mild soap or sex toy cleaner and warm water. They can be submerged in water should you choose.
  • NORA, OSCI, and DOMI 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 is our special boy 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 out with water, but make sure the bottom section doesn’t get wet and that the air vent is closed.
  • Always wash your sex toys BEFORE and AFTER each use.
  • Dry thoroughly before storage.
  • Keep them away from extreme hot or cold temperatures.
  • NEVER boil any toy that has a battery, including Lovense products. 

NOTE: You can also find reminders about cleaning in the instruction manual (included with your toy) or online here

Also, if you’ve jumped straight to this section, no worries! But, I would still recommend that you read the rest of the article for more useful information about how to clean your other sex toys.

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Add a Smartphone-controlled Sex Toy!

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:

Anything you want to add? Share in the comments!

Lovense blog has one, passionate drive - to bring everyone valuable content revolving around sex toys, sex education, safe kink practices, and even a bit of entertainment just to make you smile.

It's this drive that proudly earned us the title "Best Sex Blog in the World" in 2020. But we haven't stopped there. We're always on the hunt for new material and ways to help you learn, grow, and stay safe in the world of sex.

So jump in and start reading. There's tons to discover!


Take a Quick Quiz


There are many sex toys out there.
This quiz will help you narrow down the best choice for you.

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Leave a Comment


Annie 11/24/2020 - 12:00 am

So is there a way to sterilize the Nora?

EmbarrassingLamb 08/14/2020 - 12:00 am

Hi i clean my edge with toy cleaners, soap and alcohol swipes but the smell persist what should I do

Kevin 09/10/2021 - 11:54 am

depends on what smell it is I suppose .. if it is a chemical (plastic smell) .. then probably can’t do much about it. If it is a body-based smell, then a good wash with hot or warm water and plenty of non-secnted and body-friendly soap should do the trick ( some people can be sensitive to heavily perfumed , or certain chemicals in cleaning products, especially when that will be going internal .. .. If it is an ongoing problem Id recommend using a condom anytime you use the toy, as this will protect ( mostly ) from chemical, biological , bacteriological smells and be a bit safer, as well as help to prevent future orders from developing with use,, .. if the toy is really badly smelling for either reason, consider recycling it and buying a new one .. its well worth the money to invest in a high-quality toy that does not come with or pick up odurs easily 🙂

Swann82 07/04/2020 - 12:00 am

Surely there has to be a way to disinfect the sleeve?

Parker 03/24/2020 - 12:00 am

Just got a Lovense Max 2 and a bit confused how to properly clean. If not to use soap, is there a proper way to disinfect, sanitize, and/or sterilize? Perhaps in a similar vein, is a condom necessary?

robyn256 03/25/2020 - 12:00 am

The handy-dandy instruction guide (physical booklet or online version) will have all the cleaning details for Max 2 🙂

Parker 03/25/2020 - 12:00 am

All the guide says: Clean with warm water. Do NOT use soap on the inner sleeve, as it may degrade the material. Your article helpfully points out that there is a difference between cleaning (esp w/o soap) vs disinfect/sterilize and cleaning still leaves harmful stuff behind. What else can we do?

Mark 12/20/2020 - 12:00 am

Cusomer support told me:

If you need deeper cleaning, you can clean the sleeve and the main unit with mild soap and warm water. Mild soaps are those with less chemical content like Dove and Cetaphil. These kinds of soaps are usually unscented as well. Do not use harsh soap on the inner sleeve…

Mark 12/20/2020 - 12:00 am

Cusomer support told me:

If you need deeper cleaning, you can clean the sleeve and the main unit with mild soap and warm water. Mild soaps are those with less chemical content like Dove and Cetaphil. These kinds of soaps are usually unscented as well. Do not use harsh soap on the inner sleeve…

Karyn 04/27/2020 - 12:00 am

I have the same toy, and all the instructions say is not to use soap, just warm water- but if not soap then how can you disinfect/sanitize it? theres no way warm water alone is sufficient to clean it

Jason 10/13/2019 - 12:00 am

Very thorough and detailed! Will be sure to refer to this regularly

Heather Harris 04/05/2019 - 12:00 am

Any reccomendations for a sex toy cleaner for the Lush? I might be sharing my Lush with a friend for cam shows…

robyn256 04/07/2019 - 12:00 am

I’ve written an article in this blog about sex toy cleaners (with ingredient reviews) – there’s a few there that will work well (even some white brands that are acceptable).

moragan 12/28/2019 - 12:00 am

i once used a toy that i thought was clean.. and then a couple of days later i had a swollen gland that required treatment with azithromycin

i too have a lush that i want to get completely clean before use again but do not feel like soap is enough i wish i knew what damage bleach would do to it

robyn256 12/30/2019 - 12:00 am

Silicone isn’t porous, which means it will clean much easier and won’t have embedded nasties. You can try a sex toy cleaner as well. Thorough washing in very warm before and after will be plenty for that material.

MaxCapades 06/11/2018 - 12:00 am

Incredible information here. Thank you, Robyn.

robyn256 07/09/2018 - 12:00 am

You’re very welcome, Max 🙂