Properly caring for your sex toys is vital for preserving their quality and ensuring your personal well-being.
Cleaning, disinfecting, sanitizing, and sterilizing are terms that are often used interchangeably by those not involved in medical, scientific, or food service fields. However, it's essential to understand their differences and how they relate to your sex toys and, ultimately, your safety.
Cleaning is a broad term encompassing the simple act of washing a toy with soap and water to remove surface debris. Cleaning removes lubricants, body fluids, dust, lint, or any dirt picked up from storage. For toys that can't be submerged in water, a damp cloth and a soft toothbrush can effectively clean them.
Disinfecting involves killing germs using chemical agents. Disinfecting doesn't necessarily clean, just as spraying bleach on mud won't remove the mud. In the case of sex toys, we often use a 10% bleach and 90% cold water solution for soaking. Isopropyl alcohol and peroxide are alternatives but are generally costlier. All of these items can usually be found at a dollar store, making it an affordable option.
Sanitizing typically involves using a chemical to reduce germ numbers on a surface in a short period, such as 30 seconds, to levels deemed acceptable by health officials. Most surface sprays that claim to "kill 99% of germs" are sanitizers. While sanitizing doesn't necessarily clean, it provides a safe level of germ reduction. Your dishwasher's "sanitize" setting can also be used to clean toys placed on the top rack.
Sterilizing involves the complete destruction of microorganisms, including bacteria, bacterial spores, viruses, fungus, mold, prions, and more. Sterilization typically involves extreme heat, radiation, special gases, chemicals, or acids. However, most people won't have access to the tools and substances needed for sterilization.
Considering Toy Materials
Understanding the material of your toy is crucial, as some materials are easier to clean than others, and some can withstand certain cleaning methods better than others.
It's worth noting that the majority of individuals won't be able to sterilize their toys due to the lack of necessary equipment or materials that can withstand the required conditions. For most people, sanitizing and disinfecting their toys is sufficient for maintaining good health.
Non-porous materials, like metal (stainless steel or aluminum), glass, wood (if properly sealed), ceramic, stone, and medical-grade TPE, can be sanitized and/or disinfected.
Porous materials, including jelly, latex, PVC, rubber, cyberskin, unsealed woods, ceramics, and others, cannot be sanitized, disinfected, or sterilized effectively. These materials can only be cleaned with soap and water, and using a condom is recommended for safe use.
When and How to Clean Your Toys
You generally won't need to perform an elaborate cleaning process after every use. Washing your toy with soap and warm water is often sufficient. However, you should consider sanitizing and disinfecting your toys in the following situations:
1. If you've been sick recently, it's advisable to sanitize or disinfect your toys to prevent reinfection.
2. When sharing toys with a partner, use a condom or sanitize the toy before and after use.
3. After anal play, thoroughly clean and sanitize your toys to prevent harmful bacteria from lingering.
4. Periodically, perform a thorough cleaning of your toys as part of regular maintenance.
- "Sex toy cleaner" products are often overpriced versions of rubbing alcohol. You can achieve the same results using over-the-counter rubbing alcohol and soap.
- UV light boxes and similar gimmicks are not necessary for cleaning toys and can be more expensive than the toys themselves.
- While condoms can be used on toys for added protection, it's essential to choose the right type of condom to avoid potential issues with toy materials.
Maintaining your sex toys doesn't need to be complicated. Regular cleaning, occasional sanitizing or disinfecting, and responsible material choices will help ensure both the longevity of your toys and your overall well-being.