Let's be real. There is almost nothing worse than the idea of jumping up right after a solo sesh to thoroughly clean and store your sex toys... on the list of things on the #adulting list they're likely at the VERY bottom (if there at all).
This week we chatted with sex educator Eleni Gabrielides for all things related to the cleaning and storage of your sex toys!
Why is cleaning toys important?
Sex Educator Eleni Gabrielides says that, "Bacteria can upset your vaginal microbiome, it can cause things like BV (bacterial vaginosis). Sex toys for penis’ and bums also need to be cleaned because the body juices that can be there can get particularly nasty if not cleaned away."
Just like your cell phone (which at any given moment can be home to 25,127 bacteria per square inch), sex toys can harbour lots of bacteria. Unlike the skin on the side of your face, however, your genitals are pretty much the ideal home for bacteria... wet, moist, dark... basically all the words that make you squirm.
Different toys are riskier than others...
Porous toys are riskier than non-porous toys because porous toys have small holes that can trap moisture... the environment that our little microscopic frenemies really seem to love!
How do you know if your toy is porous or non-porous?
The best way to know what your toy is made of is to check the item description or product box before purchasing. Whether you're buying online or IRL, the person or shop assisting you should be able to answer your questions about materials... if they don't know, shop elsewhere.
- Porous materials include: PCV (Polyvinyl Chloride), latex, thermoplastics, TPE (thermoplastic elastomer), TPR (thermoplastic elastomer), TPR (thermoplastic rubber), silicone blends, jelly, rubber, Cyberskin, and ultra realistic materials.
- Nonporous materials include: 100% body-safe or medical grade silicone which includes metal, borosilicate glass, ABS hard plastic, speciality treated wood, 100% pure silicone, ceramic, wood, stone.
*Important note: because the sex toy industry around the world is heavily unregulated, product quality cannot always be guaranteed. Don't always trust "body safe" labels - make sure to do your research with the brand or store you're shopping at!
Examples of harmful bacteria that are more likely to stick around on porous toys:
Bacteria: Gardnerella vaginalis — Potential outcome: bacterial vaginosis
Bacteria: Candida albicans — Potential outcome: yeast infections
Bacteria: Gastrointestinal bacteria such as E. coli transmitted from the anus to the vagina — Potential outcome: urinary tract infections (UTI).
Before you start to panic about needing to clean toys thoroughly every single time, remember that there are a lot of factors at play and it's unlikely that forgetting to clean your toy once or twice will leave you at a major risk.
Regardless of material - cleaning is a must! Here's how:
"Give them a wash with warm water and a mild, fragrance-free soap, (something like Castile Soap). Don’t submerge anything that’s motorised, just splash them under running water or wipe them down well. Use clean towels to dry them off before storing. I recommend washing them before and after each use," says Eleni.
Once clean, tuck them in to a safe storage spot!
It's about time we started giving our toys the respect and treatment they deserve. Even though they're inanimate objects, let's all agree they're pretty high on the list of this that make us feel good.
Once you have clean, dry toy – "Give them their own space. It could be in the box that it came in, or a sex-toy only case or bag. A clean makeup/bathroom bag could also work. If you’ve got more than one in your collection and want to keep them together, keep them in their own little drawstring bag so they stay a bit more separate but still contained in the same overall case."
- Sex toys can host bacteria!
- Cleaning is super important because...
- Certain types of bacteria can cause things like BV (bacterial vaginosis) and yeast infections
- Sex toy material matters! Opt for nonporous toys only (aka everything we stock at flossy.)
- Clean with warm water and mild fragrance free soap. Don't submerge motorised toys just splash gently or wipe down well. Gold standard? Doing this before and after use.
- Give every toy a proper home! Box, case or bag - as long as it's contained after cleaning.
Questions about anything sex toy related? Send us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org — we're always happy to help.