Guides
September 28, 2022

How To Clean Sex Toys

Learn how to clean a vibrator and the other pleasure products in your special drawer.
Written by
O.team
Published on
September 28, 2022
Updated on
November 28, 2022
What's changed?
We updated this article to include a table noting how to clean sex toys by material
We updated this article to include a table noting how to clean sex toys by material

If you’ve never used a sex toy before, or are just starting to experiment, you might be wondering about how to take care of them or keep them clean. Educating yourself on how to be safe when using sex toys is the best way to decrease the risk of infection and treat your body kindly. Here are the safest sex toy materials, how to clean them, cleaning products we recommend, and how to store pleasure products so they last. 

How to clean sex toys

Because pleasure products come directly in contact with our bodies, there’s an increased risk of health issues (i.e., bacterial or yeast infection, STIs) when they’re not properly cleaned. But it only takes a few minutes to manually clean them, and it requires very few cleaning agents. 

Generally, pleasure products can be cleaned with mild soap and warm water. However, different types of toys are cleaned differently, and it’s necessary to check cleaning instructions for individual toys. You might find that your toy is waterproof, or it’s water-resistant. Waterproof toys can be submerged, but non-waterproof or water-resistant ones should be dry around buttons and batteries.

Our instructions primarily apply to nonporous sex toys, including silicone, glass, and metal toys. If yours contains porous material, it’s best to be extra careful with cleaning, and it’s important to wash all the crevices and grooves as porous materials absorb quite a bit of bacteria.

The easiest sex toy materials to clean

Unfortunately, the FDA does not regulate the sex toy industry, and as a result, many sex toys are made from cheap, porous, potentially harmful materials. Some of these materials, specifically ones that contain phthalates, hold bacteria and cannot be easily sterilized. When finding a toy, look for these body-safe materials: 

  • Medical-grade silicone: Silicone is a high-quality, bendable material. Because of its durability, it can handle extreme temperature and last a long time. 
  • Borosilicate glass: Glass toys vary in design — some have bumps and ridges to add stimulation, others are more simple and smooth. Glass can easily adapt to the body’s temperature, and its extra weight can enhance pressure.
  • Metal (stainless steel): Stainless steel is not only highly resistant to corrosion, but it’s also hypoallergenic. More so than any other material, metal is extremely sturdy and very hard to break. 

To ensure your toy is made up of safe, nonporous material, make sure to read the package label. It’s best to avoid the following chemicals: phthalates, carbon disulfide, bisphenol A, Glycerin, parabens, and polyvinyl chloride. 

How to clean your sex toys, by material 

Considering the wide variety of sex toys, It can be tough to keep track of specific cleaning protocols. That’s why we created a reference guide to help you quickly identify how you should clean your toy, based on its material. Note that nonporous material tends to be safer for the body as it can be cleaned more easily. 

😡= porous

😃= nonporous

Material Cleaning Method Boil/Dishwasher-safe Storage Additional notes
😃 Pure silicone Wash with mild liquid soap + warm water If non-motorized + 100% waterproof Silicone toys can be stored together or kept in separate bags Not compatible with silicone-based lube
😃 ABS plastic & pyrex Wash with mild liquid soap + warm water Store away from extreme temperatures Compatible with most lubes
😃 Stainless steel & glass Wash with mild liquid soap + warm water If non-motorized + 100% waterproof Keep inside a storage bag, pouch, container, etc. Sensitive to touch when very hot or very cold
😡 PVC, Jelly, Rubber & Latex Wash thoroughly with antibacterial liquid soap + warm water Store enclosed in a cool and dry place

Keep separate from other sex toys

Requires frequent deep cleans

Should be used with a condom, especially when shared

Types of soap to use for sex toys

When looking for a soap, opt for one that contains antibacterial properties and can cut through residue. You might also consider an unscented soap to limit skin irritation. While it’s not totally necessary to choose a specialized sex toy cleaner, it may be more convenient for quick and easy usage — especially if you leave them in the same place you store and use your pleasure products. We recommend the following body-safe soap and cleaners:

How to clean a vibrator 

The first step in deciding how to clean a vibrator is to find out if your vibrator is waterproof or water-resistant. While most vibrators can be submerged under water, some vibrators — specially ones that have an open battery port — can only tolerate a modest amount of water. For water-resistant vibrators, keep the battery port and surrounding area dry, even if the seal appears closed.

If you opt for a toy cleaner, spray the product directly on the vibrator and run it under warm water. If you choose to use liquid soap, squeeze some product onto a damp cloth and scrub. Both methods should be followed with thorough drying. Unfortunately, given that vibrators are motorized, it is not safe to boil them for sterilization. We recommend you clean your vibrator, as well as your other pleasure products, after each use.

How to clean a dildo 

Given that dildos vary in size, shape, and material, it’s important to know what your dildo contains. If it’s made from porous materials (i.e., latex, rubber, leather), we suggest you be extra careful with cleaning. Porous materials cannot be submerged in boiling water and should be washed very gently. With nonporous materials, on the other hand, there’s more opportunity for a deep clean. 

Like you would a vibrator, apply toy spray or liquid soap to a damp cloth and gently scrub your dildo. Alternatively, if your dildo is made of glass or medical-grade silicone, you can likely put it in the dishwasher or boil it — though make sure to read the package instructions before doing either. If your dildo is battery-powered, it’s best to stick with manual washing. 

How to clean a butt plug 

If kept dirty, butt plugs pose an increased risk of infection. This is because inserting a butt plug into the anal canal can cause a tear in the skin, and subsequently, bleeding. To limit discomfort and damage, apply a generous amount of lube before using the product, and make sure to clean it before and after each use. 

Similar to vibrators and dildos, there are a range of butt plug types and materials. And again, we recommend using sex toys made from nonporous materials. Because there’s often more residue on butt plugs, given that there tends to be more lubricant used, it’s worth scrubbing and rinsing them twice. If your butt plug is made from medical-grade silicone or glass, you might consider building it or throwing it in the dishwasher. Otherwise, you can scrub with your hands and dry with a towel. 

How to store sex toys 

Sex toys should be stored somewhere clean and dry. For convenience, you might consider storing a few toys in the drawer of a bedside table. Perhaps you can get a dedicated box designed for pleasure product storage. No matter where you store your products, it’s important to separate clean items from dirty items. That’s why it could be helpful to keep each of your toys in a closed bag or container. If you’re concerned about someone finding your sex toys, consider using a box that has a lock and putting it in a discreet place.

The bottom line 

Learning about, and experimenting with, pleasure products can be a lot of fun. They exist to make you feel good, but it’s important to learn how to care for them so that your sexy time can be as safe as it is enjoyable. If you’re interested in adding to your pleasure product collection, explore our curated shop to find pleasure products that are right for you.

Reviewed for Medical Accuracy

The O.school team is here to provide you with the most medically-accurate information around sex, sexual wellness, pleasure, relationships, and dating. Every article we publish is vetted by our medical review board, ensuring that readers are provided with answers you can trust.

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