How to Clean Sex Toys – The Ultimate Guide to Keeping Adult Toys Safe for Play

A few months ago, I got a UTI (Urinary Tract Infection) because I didn’t wash my sex toys properly. According to one survey, 28% of people never clean sex toys, despite the possibility of yeast infections, bacteria buildups, and STIs (if sharing with a partner). This applies to both men and women!

Even if you do clean your sex toys, are you doing it properly? Different materials harbor germs in different ways, so your toy could be full of nasties despite your best cleaning efforts. In this article, I’m going to show you how I keep my sex toys squeaky clean and safe for use.

Trust me – when you give yourself a UTI, you learn A LOT about sex toy hygiene.

Sex toys can be made from various different materials, including wood, stainless steel, and ABS plastic. In this article, I’m going to focus on the more common sex toy materials and show you how to clean:

- Vibrators (Waterproof and Non-Waterproof)
- PVC, TPE, and Jelly Rubber Dildos
- Silicone Sex Toys
- Glass Sex Toys
- Fleshlights (and similar male sex toys)


I’ll also give you some general tips for how to clean your sex toys and keep them germ-free before putting them in/around your genitals. Let’s get into it!

How to Clean a Vibrator

If you’ve got a motorized electronic toy like a vibrator, you first need to find out whether it’s waterproof or not. Some motorized sex products, like the famous Hitachi Magic Wand vibrator, cannot be submerged due to their electronics.

On the other hand, products like the Lelo Nea 2 are 100% waterproof, so you’re able to submerge them without damaging the electronics. This also applies to some vibrating men’s toys like the Aneros Vice 2.

Do some Googling, check the manual, or call the manufacturer to find out if your sex toy is waterproof. Below I’ve made a section for waterproof and non-waterproof vibrators.

Some vibrators advertise themselves as “splashproof” which basically means that you could use them in the shower if they aren’t getting too wet. DO NOT submerge “splashproof” toys, as they’ll probably become damaged.

Cleaning waterproof vibrators

If your vibrator is 100% waterproof, it’s much easier to clean. Pretty much every material that your vibrator is made from should be totally fine with mild soap. Personally, I’d suggest this:

1. Fill your sink with warm, soapy water (mild non-scented antibacterial soap)
2. Place your waterproof vibrator in the sink
3. Use a clean cloth (or your hands) to massage the soap into the toy and get it clean
4. Empty the sink and rinse the toy off
5. Pat with a towel and allow to air dry


There are additional products such as sex toy wipes and sex toy cleaner which can help to keep your toys bacteria-free between uses, but a proper wash with soap is always going to be the best.

Although there are other sex toy cleaning methods such as bleaching and boiling, vibrators need to be treated with care due to their mechanical components. Just because a vibrator is waterproof doesn’t mean that it’s boiling-waterproof!

Some products advertise themselves as dishwasher safe, but I personally wouldn’t wash sex toys in a dishwasher. It can work, but I’ve also heard many horror stories about melted dildos. Check this sex toy dishwasher guide for more info.

Cleaning Non-Waterproof Vibrators

If your vibrating toy can’t be submerged in water, you need to be very careful when you clean it. Usually, the best cleaning advice is:

1. Take a clean cloth and soak it in warm, soapy water (mild non-scented antibacterial soap)
2. Wipe down the toy with the damp cloth thoroughly (avoid buttons/electrical ports etc.)
3. Pat dry with a towel and allow to air dry


Sex toy wipes can be used for this as well, but a damp cloth soaked with antibacterial soap will be just as good, if not better (and a damn sight cheaper!).

Try to use non-scented antibacterial mild soap when cleaning your sex toys. Basically, you usually want the gentlest, mildest soap which is also antibacterial.

If part of the toy appears to be waterproof, such as a silicone dildo vibrator with electronic buttons on the base, you might be able to carefully rinse the body of the toy under a tap if you make sure to keep the water away from any exposed electronics.

Cleaning PVC, TPE, and Jelly Rubber Dildos

If you’ve got a cheaper dildo, it might be made from a material such as PVC, TPE, TPR, or “Jelly Rubber”. Although these products have slightly different properties, they all have one thing in common – they’re made from porous materials. Porous materials are filled with little holes (pores) that bacteria can crawl into and flourish.

Dildos and sex toys made from PVC, TPE, and Jelly Rubber are near-impossible to clean thoroughly. They often contain harmful phthalates too. In general, I would recommend that you avoid buying these products.

There’s no way to thoroughly sanitize these toys – we can wash the surface, but their porous nature means that bacteria and mildew can be nestled deep inside the core of the toy. The easiest way to avoid health risks from these toys is to use them with condoms, but using condoms on sex toys has some caveats too.

If you’re willing to risk using porous sex products, I would suggest cleaning them like this:

1. Fill your sink with warm, soapy water (mild non-scented antibacterial soap)
2. Place your toy in the sink
3. Use a clean cloth (or your hands) to massage the soap into the toy
4. Empty the sink and rinse the toy off
5. Pat with a towel and allow to air dry

Sadly, toys made from these materials are not suitable for bleaching or boiling, so you’re stuck with a surface-level soap wash. If you can afford it, I’d recommend getting a dildo made from high-quality silicone – it’s much more hygienic.

Be careful how you store sex toys made from cheaper materials – these toys often "melt" and leak oils if stored improperly.

How to clean Silicone Sex Toys

Silicone is the holy grail of sex toy materials – it’s non-porous and non-toxic so it’s incredibly body-safe and easy to keep clean. Silicone can be made into various different shapes, colors, styles, and densities, so it’s a favorite material with many sexual toy manufacturers at the mid-tier and higher-tier levels.

Assuming that your silicone toy isn’t motorized (see the vibrators section above if that’s the case), you have several potential cleaning methods at your disposal. You don’t need to sanitize your silicone sex toy to death every time you use it, but you should consider doing it every now and then (in addition to regular cleaning).

All sex toys are made slightly differently, so it’s always best to check the manufacturer’s guidelines for cleaning your specific product. If in doubt, stick to less-risky cleaning methods.

Soap and water

For regular cleaning before/after use, mild soap will do the job just fine. Any germs living on your sex toy are probably on the surface, so this simple cleaning method should suffice:

1. Fill a sink with warm soapy water (mild non-scented antibacterial soap)
2. Submerge your silicone toy
3. Use a clean cloth (or your hands) to scrub the toy with soap
4. Rinse the toy off
5. Allow it to air dry in a well-ventilated room

Boiling

Silicone isn’t porous, but it is micro-porous, which basically means that it won’t harbor germs, but it may harbor smells. This is especially true if you’re using a silicone sex toy anally – it might be clean and germ-free, but start to smell like ass. It would be safe to use, but who wants a toy that smells like shit?

When I used coconut oil on the Aneros Helix Syn Trident silicone prostate massager, I found that the micro-pores would cling onto nasty butt smells AND crystallized coconut oil. I had to boil the toy to get rid of these problems. Sex toy maintenance is hard.

If you wanna get that silicone toy as good as new, here’s how to boil your sex toy:

1. Fill a large pan of water on your hob and bring it to the boil
2. Carefully drop your silicone toy into the boiling pan
3. Leave for around 10 minutes (keep the heat on)
4. Occasionally turn the toy with a wooden spoon (or similar) so all the surface is exposed
5. After 10 minutes, drain the pan and carefully take the toy out (it may be hot!)
6. Rinse the toy in cool water
7. Consider giving the toy an additional soap and water wash (optional)
8. Allow to air dry in a well-ventilated room


Some sources suggest 3-4 minutes boiling time, but I think 10 minutes gives the toy plenty of time to be thoroughly sanitized. Although I wash my silicone toys after every use, I tend to boil them once every 4-5 uses to keep them fresh and smelling nice. This also works for toys made from medical grade hard plastic such as ABS plastic.

If a germ can survive for 10 minutes at 212 degrees, then frankly it deserves to live.

Bleaching

Bleaching is another method for sanitizing silicone sex toys. Bleaching is especially helpful if you’re sharing sex toys with a partner – bacteria and STIs can thrive on the surface on toys if they aren’t sanitized properly. For bleaching, I would recommend a 10% bleach solution as follows:

1. Fill a large cup/pan/bowl with lukewarm water
2. Pour in a small amount of bleach – 1 part bleach to 10 parts water (roughly)
3. Use the silicone toy or a metal spoon to “stir” the mixture together
4. Submerge the toy in the 10% bleach solution for around 15 minutes
5. Take the toy out, rinse it, and wash it with soap and water like normal
6. Leave to air dry

Although it’s great at sanitizing things, you do NOT want bleach anywhere near your genitals. Be sure to thoroughly rinse and wash your silicone sex toy after it’s been bleached. You only need to bleach your silicone toy every now and then (I do it every 4-5 uses) in addition to regular cleaning with soapy water.

You might never need to bleach your silicone toys, but I personally enjoy massacring every last inkling of a germ. No mercy. Fuck 'em all to death.

Cleaning Glass Sex Toys

If you’ve bought a high-quality glass sex toy, it’s probably made from medical grade borosilicate glass – a tempered glass similar to the stuff used for Pyrex dishes. This means that it won’t shatter or crack as easily as the soda-lime glass used in many bottles, lightbulbs, and windows.

Some sextoy manufacturers “anneal” their borosilicate glass toys. The annealing process basically makes the glass stronger and better able to withstand heat/pressure. However, not all companies anneal their toys, and those that do can have different processes with different results.

There’s a reason I’m going into the science of glass… stay with me.

Cheaper glass sex toys are likely to be less stable at high temperatures, so boiling them is risky. On the other hand, more expensive high-quality annealed glass dildos and toys should be able to withstand extreme temperatures, so boiling would be fine. Do some research into your toys if you’re not sure how stable they are.

If they aren’t cracked or chipped, all glass sex toys are non-porous, so bacteria can only live on the surface. This makes them easy to disinfect with the “soapy water” and bleaching methods as follows:

Mild soap

Glass toys are usually temperature-responsive, so make sure the water isn’t too hot!

1. Fill your sink with warm, soapy water (use antibacterial soap)
2. Put your glass dildo/toy in the sink and cover the surface in soap
3. Rub the soap into the toy with your hands or a clean cloth
4. Rinse the toy off
5. Allow the toy to air-dry

Bleaching

To sanitize the glass more thoroughly, try this 10% bleaching method:

1. Get a large cup/pan/bowl and fill it with lukewarm water
2. Pour in bleach – around 1 part bleach to 10 parts water
3. Stir the solution
4. Submerge the glass toy for around 10-15 minutes
5. Take the toy out, rinse it, wash it with antibacterial soap, rinse again
6. Leave the toy to air dry

Boiling

If you think your glass toy is strong enough to withstand the temperature, boiling water is a great way to thoroughly prevent bacteria. Remember that glass is temperature-responsive so it will be EXTREMELY hot after you’ve boiled it.

1. Fill a large pan with warm water
2. Line the pan with a clean cloth (to stop the glass cracking on the metal)
3. Boil the water and very carefully place your glass toy into the pan
4. Leave for around 10 minutes (keep the heat on)
5. Occasionally turn the toy with a wooden spoon so all the surface is exposed
6. After 10 minutes, carefully drain the pan
7. Leave the toy to cool down in the pan for a few minutes (maybe put cool water in)
8. When it’s cool enough to hold, give the toy an additional clean with soap and rinse
9. Allow to air dry in a well-ventilated room

If you notice any chips or cracks in the glass when cleaning your toy, throw it away. A cracked glass toy poses several health risks that aren’t worth rolling the dice on.

How to Clean a Fleshlight

Cleaning male sex toys like Fleshlights is a bit of a pain in the arse… I’m not going to lie. The skin-like material used for Fleshlight toys is a patented material called SuperSkin. While it feels amazing on your Johnson, it’s incredibly sensitive stuff and it HATES soap.

Other male strokers and pocket pussies use similar materials like Cyberskin and special blends of TPE to recreate the feeling of human skin. You can usually clean these materials with mild soap, but that’s a big no-no with Fleshlight SuperSkin.

Fleshlight cleaning

Here is the easiest way to clean your Fleshlight toy without destroying the sensitive materials it’s made from:

1. First, remove the SuperSkin sleeve from the hard plastic case
2. Wash the plastic case with warm soapy water, cleaning both the inside and exterior
3. Use a towel to dry the plastic case, making sure no moisture is left inside
4. Hold the SuperSkin sleeve under the tap and rinse through it from both sides
5. Fill the sleeve with water, plug the ends with your hands, and shake it around
6. Put your fingers inside the sleeve and dislodge any trapped lube/cum while rinsing
7. Rinse the shit out of it again, just for good luck
8. Spray the official FleshWash Cleaner Spray onto the exterior/interior of the sleeve (optional step)

Fleshlight drying

When it comes to drying your Fleshlight sleeve, that’s a whole other kettle of fish. These things are notoriously awkward to dry, and putting them back in their case when they’re still damp can lead to mold and mildew growing on your favorite sex toy! This is the downside to SuperSkin – it’s not very convenient to maintain.

In an ideal world, you should air-dry your fleshlight sleeve in a well-ventilated room for 24 hours, posing the toy so that air can freely flow through it. Some people do this by standing the toy up on a radiator which isn’t turned on, allowing the water to drip out. Pointing a fan at the toy can help it to dry in closer to 12 hours.


However, I realize that a lot of people can’t leave Fleshlights lying around for a day due to privacy and whatnot. Guys on forums have various Fleshlight drying techniques, such as homemade fleshlight drying racks that hang up in a wardrobe away from prying eyes.

This is my personal technique for drying fleshlight sleeves more quickly:

1. Take a dry, thin tea towel (sometimes called a flour sack towel) and pat the exterior dry
2. Put your towel over a long, thin device like a chopstick or pencil
3. VERY CAREFULLY push the towel-covered chopstick through the sleeve, starting from the orifice end
4. VERY SLOWLY pull the chopstick out the other side of the toy, removing the towel and chopstick completely
5. Repeat if necessary


This is a great way to dry your fleshlight without it taking hours and hours, though I should stress that it’s easy to pierce or damage the SuperSkin with this method. I’ve personally damaged a fleshlight sleeve using this technique, though it was still usable.

Cum-clusion

I hope you enjoyed this guide to sex toy cleaning! Dirty sex toys can transmit chlamydia, herpes, syphilis, bacterial vaginosis and more, so it’s essential to keep your toys clean and buy high-quality products from reputable sex shops like SheVibe. Proper sex toy storage is also essential for keeping things hygienic, so don’t keep toys in a dirty/dusty environment.

If you liked this guide, feel free to leave a comment or share it with your friends. Hopefully you’re now enlightened about the sacred tenets of sex toy cleaning. Have fun, stay safe, and keep it clean!

About The Author ~ J.C. Way


I’ve never been afraid to stick things up my butt or pop my cock into something – why wouldn’t you want to make your sex life better? I aim to smash down stigmas and introduce men and women to sex toys that change their lives.

  • Avatar Johnathan Paul Roy says:

    Your a thoughtful Philanthropist C.J. Way.
    Your kindness in helping us find ways to enjoy safe sex is lubing up a safer future for all of us!

  • >