Bedroom Insider

A blog about relationships, intimacy and sex toys.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Sex Toy Health and Safety

Group of Sex Toys

A high-quality dildo or vibrator can last you years, perhaps even a lifetime, if you properly care for it. That's a countless number of orgasms – hopefully! But there's a dark side to sex toys that many people never consider in their haste to enjoy a deserved orgasm. This might do no harm, or it could lead to recurring infections and sex toys that melt into one.

What Your Sex Toy's Made of Matters

Some sex toys are simply worse for your health than others! Porous materials – including jelly, PVC, rubber and most real-feel skin type with the exception of dual-density silicone – contain tiny holes that can harbor bacteria well after you've washed them because the holes are smaller than water and soap molecules but large enough for bacteria to find a new home in your sex toys.

This is the one reason why so many people recommend upgrading to nonporous materials such as the following:

  •  Silicone
  • Glass
  • Stainless steel
  • Ceramic
  • Wood
  • ABS plastic

The lack of pores means you can use those sex toys almost indefinitely without worrying about what might be hiding out, just waiting to make its next home your body!

You should never swap toys between orifices or partners if they're made of a porous material, even though they may look clean. This means not using a toy vaginally after it's been used anally until you can sterilize it.

The Proper Care and Feeding of Your Sex Toy

All sex toys should be washed before and, ideally, after use. This means scrubbing down that new vibrator as soon as you get it out of the package. There's no telling how many hands have handled your new sex toy at the factory – or what type of residue might be left over from the manufacturing process.

You can simply wash with an antibacterial hand soap and let your toy air dry if you're worried about lint, which can stick to soft materials such as silicone and jelly. Use a non-scented soap that will be gentle, especially if you're prone to bacterial infections. While you can purchased toy cleaners specifically for this purpose, it's usually not beneficial any more than soap.

For nonporous toys, you can boil for three minutes, place dildos and other toys without a motor on the top shelf of your dishwasher or wipe with a 10% bleach solution to effectively sterilize the toy periodically, but you can simply use soap and water for regular cleaning.

The soap-and-water routine won't be enough for sex toys made from porous materials, which can never be fully sterilized, if you intend to share them or swap orifices. Of course, you may be in love with a sex toy that is only available in porous materials. If you're not ready to give your favorite sex toy up just yet, consider this. For insertables, you can use a condom that you can dispose of afterward. Companies even make toy covers specifically for this purpose.

Storage is simple for nonporous toys – they can sit right next to each other after they're fully dry. However, you might want to keep them out of direct sunlight, which can result in natural bleaching, and make sure to test a small patch of silicone toys with silicone lube just in case there might be a reaction that would break down the toy.

Unless you want to have to replace your favorite sex toys, be careful when using silicone lube. The surface of your toy will become sticky if this happens, and it may no longer be nonporous.

For porous toys, you'll want to allow them to fully dry before storing separately. Consider storage solutions with pockets, individual bags for your sex toys or even Ziploc bags to keep them separated.

Because of the chemical softeners used to achieve the desired density, breakdown might happen no matter how you store jelly toys, but it's more likely to happen when your jelly toys touch during storage. Keep an eye on your porous toys, and if you notice any melting or oil leakage, stop using your sex toy and dispose of it right away.

Sharing of BDSM Gear

Organic materials such as leather, which you might use for floggers or cuffs, are porous and difficult if not impossible to cover. It's especially risky with whips or other items that might come into contact with blood, which can transmits STIs and other infections, when used with multiple partners. Many kinksters only use leather goods on a single person because of this.

It's not only good manners to replace toys with new partners, but it could be a serious health risk if you contract an STD such as HIV, or another type of infection from using toys that have previously come in contact with another person's bodily fluids.

It can become costly to have separate toys for every partner, however. Practitioners recommend wiping your leather goods clean and hanging them to dry for at least three weeks to kill viruses such as AIDs and hepatitis. Wiping your flogger or whip with a bleach solution can also prevent transmission of blood, but this could potentially alter the state of your leather goods.

Purchasing nonporous sex toys as often as possible helps to minimize these risks, however. Silicone, for example, comes in a variety of densities, from soft and squishy to nearly rigid. A silicone toy can last an entire lifetime, and you might just want to give it to someone who will appreciate it in your will. That is, after they've properly sterilized it to ensure they remain sexually happy and healthy. 

By: Adriana Ravenlust
Follow on Twitter @adriana_r