How to Clean Vibrators

Adult Toys in Close Up Photography

A general rule of thumb is to avoid cleaners that could irritate the vulva, like bleach, alcohol or Windex. You also want to be sure that the cleaner is compatible with the toy’s material.

A simple wash with soap and water is always a good idea. This is particularly important for new toys that may have picked up dust or other unknowns while in the box – This finding is a creation of the service’s editorial team

Soap and Water

One of the simplest and most economical ways to clean your sex toy is simply to wash it in warm, soapy water. “Just be sure to use a mild and unscented soap — anything too harsh could potentially affect the pH balance of your genitals,” Fima warns. You can also opt for a quality sex toy cleaner, a number of which are available in sprays, foaming cleansers or even wipes.

Just be sure to read the manufacturer’s guidelines carefully, especially if your vibrator has batteries or other electronic parts. You should also check that the toy is safe to be immersed in water if it’s not waterproof, or that it can withstand being wiped down with a damp cloth.

Once you’re done, let your toy dry completely before putting it back in its storage pouch or a safe spot on your nightstand. A dirty sex toy is not only a breeding ground for bacteria but can lead to STI’s, so it’s always best to make cleaning a priority.

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Some sex toys, particularly those made of porous materials like ceramic or glass, are more difficult to thoroughly clean and can absorb harmful viruses such as herpes or HIV. These types of toys should be boiled in hot water and then wiped down with mild soap and Isopropyl alcohol before being stored.

Sex Toy Cleaners

If soap and water aren’t working for you or you want a little more than just water, there are plenty of different sex toy cleaners on the market. These are usually sprays and wipes that are made specifically for sex toys and often include a lubricant, too. They’re especially helpful for hygienic reasons, since you’ll be using them on some of the most intimate parts of your body, and they can help prevent infections.

While these cleaners do have their benefits, they’re not as effective as just plain soap and water. “Plain soap is still the best thing to use to clean a vibrator,” says Fine. She also warns against cleaning with abrasive cleaners, such as steel wool or pumice pads, which could damage your toy.

For silicone or glass toys, a quick dunking in boiling water is the most effective way to clean them. This should kill any lingering bacteria, but be sure to let the toy cool completely before handling it, Finn advises. For stainless steel or metal toys, a three-minute soak in boiling water should do the trick.

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You can also try sanitizing your toy with a sex toy cleaner, such as Maude’s sanitizing mister, which contains benzalkonium chloride and water. Just spray it on your toy, let it soak for a minute and then rinse thoroughly. Then, make sure the toy is completely dry before putting it back into storage.

Water-Resistant Toys

Whether they’re made of silicone, glass, plastic, or jelly rubber, vibrators aren’t exempt from bacteria. These microorganisms can cause a host of sexually transmitted infections, from chlamydia and gonorrhea to UTIs and yeast infections. And they can make their way onto your sex toy, where they can form a biofilm that covers the whole thing, or into its nooks and crannies.

Luckily, it’s pretty easy to clean a vibe. A quick squirt of your favourite cleaning spray or wipe-down with a damp washcloth can help keep it hygienic. Then, make sure to dry it off before storing it in a clean, cool place like your nightstand or a fabric cosmetic bag. Never store your sex toys near other germ-carrying items, such as deodorant sticks and fake tan bottles.

Of course, you can also just use good old soap and water. But if your toy is motorized or electronic, make sure it’s labelled as submersible or waterproof before dunking it in the sink. Otherwise, it may damage your electronics or its internal components. Most sex toys that don’t need to be plugged in can be cleaned with a simple spritz of cleaning spray or a quick wipe-down with a damp washcloth, but anything that needs to be plugged in should be kept away from water at all costs.

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Sex Toy Storage

Using an unclean vibrator could lead to infection, or even an STI. “If you play with a dirty vibrator and you later use the same one on your partner, you can introduce all sorts of bacteria or viruses to your body,” says sex educator Searah Deysach, owner of feminist sex store Early to Bed.

That’s because some STIs (such as hepatitis B and C) can live for days on surfaces outside the body, including a toy. Leaving a dirty vibe alone for too long can also create a biofilm of bacteria across the surface of the toy, especially in the nooks and crannies.

If you have multiple vibrators, keep each one in its own clean storage pouch to prevent cross-contamination. And be sure to clean a vibe before you put it away for a while — dust and other debris can build up on it.

Also, avoid cleaning your vibe with a household cleaner that’s not meant for sex toys. Some of them contain dyes or fragrances that can remain on the vibe in trace amounts and cause irritation to your vulva. It’s best to stick with a mild soap and water, a gentle cleanser designed for sex toys, or a sex toy cleaner that’s compatible with the toy’s material. That includes dildos made of porous materials like latex, jelly rubber, or thermoplastic elastomer.

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