You Should Be Cleaning Your Sex Toys After Every Use—Here Are 11 Cleaners That Experts Recommend
Experts can’t stress enough that you should be cleaning your sex toys before using them again. Seriously—We're not asking you to deep-clean them like you would your baseboards or toilet, but please give them a basic scrub after getting down n' dirty with them. Even a quick spritz with a sex toy cleaner can do the trick.
“If it's been a bit since you used a toy, you should clean it before using it,” says sexologist and pleasure activist, Carol Queen, PhD. “A used and then not-cleaned toy will not only harbor whatever skin cells, bodily fluids, and microbes [you] accumulated during your fun time, [but] in some cases, it will attract or grow more of them before you use it again.” Read: Since you’re putting these toys in your most sensitive areas, you want to keep them as clean as possible.
If it's time to clean up your act, keep scrolling for the best, most convenient sex toy cleaners to keep handy, so you're always ready for Round 2.
Shopping for a sex toy cleaner: What to look for
Just like personal lubricants, some sex toy cleaners aren't compatible with certain sex toys. Cindy Luquin, queer sex educator and founder of Pleasure to People makes it simple and says to avoid any wash or cleanser made with silicone: “Water-based cleaners are best for silicone toys, so long as they have other ingredients in addition to water.” So, a cleansing agent, although preferably not one with alcohol, as Luquin says this can break down latex or silicone and dry your toys out.
Justin Lehmiller, PhD, a social psychologist, sex researcher, and scientific researcher for sexual wellness retailer, Lovehoney, adds that you should also consider “any skin allergies you might have. If the cleaner is going to be coming into contact with your body, it’s important to make sure it’s safe for your body.”
What to avoid
In order for a sex toy cleaner to manifest its intended use, it has to have antibacterial ingredients, says Queen—but there are some agents that users should caution. Let’s take triclosan, a chlorinated antibacterial compound, as an example: “Triclosan may be linked to cancer, many people are sensitive to it, [and] it's thought to be associated with hormonal toxicity,” says Queen. “You do not need this ingredient to get your toys clean.”
In addition to triclosan, sexologists typically recommend staying away from fragrances and parabens, though Queen notes that “different people will have different concerns, preferences,” and reactions.
How to effectively clean your sex toys
1. Make sure you’re getting all the nooks and crannies
“I think any kind of cleaner—wipes, spray, foam—is fine as long as you mindfully get the agent onto the surfaces that it comes into contact with,” says Queen. Of course, you want to pay special attention to the areas of the toy that actually go inside you, but it’s good practice to get the whole toy, even if you don’t think certain areas are actually dirty.
2. Wipe off the sex toy
When you’re using a sex toy cleaner, the product packaging typically advises leaving the solution on your toy for at least one minute so that the cleaning agent can get to work. By wiping off the sex toy, you’re getting a good portion of that gunk off your toy, but not all of it—which brings us to step three.
3. Rinse it for good measure
“Most of the ingredients in toy cleaners aren't ones we'd put into our orifices and just leave there,” says Queen. “I'd recommend always rinsing your toy after it's been cleaned," adds Queen.
4. Let the toy dry completely before storing it
Similar to how wearing a wet bathing suit can cause bacteria to multiply, so, too, can storing your clean sex toy before it’s fully dry. You don’t necessarily have to let it sit out the entire time—as you can also dry it with a towel—but you'll always want to make sure it's dry before throwing it back into your bedside table or underwear drawer.
11 sex toy cleaners that will keep your playthings in top shape
Many sex toy cleaners are made with chemical compositions to kill off unwanted bacteria. “The more chemical ingredients, the greater the risk someone might be sensitive to it,” says Queen. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, though. “If you use and rinse off, that is a different story,” Queen says.
All of that said, this is my go-to sex toy cleaner from a brand I’ve really come to enjoy. I love the gray bottle it comes in because it’s translucent enough to see when I’m running out of product. I do make a point to rinse it off after I wipe it, though, so maybe that’s why the fragrance and chemicals in this product haven’t bothered me at all. Full transparency, my skin hardly reacts to anything, so if you know your skin doesn’t fall in that same camp, steer clear from sex toy cleaners that contain fragrance—which will be evident in the ingredient list, says Queen.
Again, you don’t have to go out and buy a product that’s marketed as a sex toy cleaner (though it may be good to have one handy if you’re someone who likes each product to have its own use). “If all else fails, a good antibacterial soap, like unscented Dial, with some water works well,” says Luquin. “Just make sure to get all the crevices and handles and dry it off well.”
Since this product is unscented, you’re avoiding any potentially irritating fragrances, which is sure to make the experts happy. The cool thing about using soap as a sex toy cleaner is that it’s just as practical for regular hand-washing and personal hygiene. Not to mention it’s as discreet as it can be, considering that it’s hiding in plain sight!
According to the brand, the best way to use this sex toy cleaner (which is compatible with silicone toys!) is to soak your toy in the spray for 60 seconds, then give it a good rinse before letting it fully dry out. Hello Cake also says this product is safe to use on your skin, but Queen would warn you to think twice about that, noting that “this is one that should definitely be rinsed off.” She points to cocamidopropyl betaine, a synthetic detergent, as the culprit. According to the Skin Deep Database, the ingredient “has been associated with irritation and allergic contact dermatitis,” but remember: this isn’t an issue so long as you rinse your toy off.
To be sure, people who have purchased Hello Cake consider it money well spent. Take Steve B.’s review, straight from their website: This product “does an awesome job cleaning toys. Used it on my vibrating ring, my girlfriend’s butt plug, and other toys. All came out super clean and ready for use the next time we needed them. Highly recommend this product.”
“I’d use it,” says Queen of this sex toy cleaner. She also points out that the ethanol and coconut oil in this product makes it antimicrobial. Its ingredients list is quite simple, really, at just four ingredients: ethyl alcohol, water, glycerin, and fractionated coconut oil. This option is also paraben- and fragrance-free, so it’s made for folks with sensitive skin.
Maude’s sex toy cleaner also doubles as a hand sanitizer, in case you love multi-use products. To use Clean No. 0 to clean your toys, though, the brand recommends liberally spraying your buddy (two to three times is the sweet spot) once you’re done using it. Then, wipe the toy down with a wet towel and let dry before storing.
If you’re looking for a product to give you the best (no pun intended) bang for your buck, I’d go with this one. It’s a full 8.5 ounces and it’s less than $20. “This is a great all-around choice,” says Lehmiller. “The water-based formula means it’s going to be compatible with a wide range of toys, which means you won’t need different cleaners for different toys.”
Out of 657 reviews, the product has a 4.8-star rating on Lovehoney. The common thread in all of them is that this is a great sex toy cleaner that smells awesome and goes a long way. That said, the ingredients list contains some of those ingredients that need to be rinsed off, like cocamidopropyl betaine.
One thing to know about Intimate Earth is that their motto is “love naturally,” which means that you can expect good-for-you products with fewer chemicals. This foaming cleanser is infused with tea tree oil and lavender oil, which are both natural cleaning agents. This is another great option if you know you’d rather play it safe when it comes to substances that may irritate your skin.
You’ll also notice that this is a foaming cleaner instead of the sprays we’ve shopped so far, but that doesn’t mean they’re harder to use. In fact, you’ll still want to cover the toy in the cleaner and leave it on for about a minute, or until the foam settles. After that, rinse it off to make sure you’re saying bye-bye to the bacteria.
On Amazon, this product has more than 12,000 ratings averaging 4.7 stars. That makes sense when you look at the ingredients list and notice that it’s free of parabens, sulfates, and alcohol—and makes even more sense when you consider that you get 8 ounces for $10.
While it doesn’t contain parabens, sulfates, or alcohol, this is still a product you 100 percent must rinse off after using. Sure, it makes it a bit more tedious, but #ToyLife contains fragrance and cocamidopropyl betaine, so it’s worth the extra effort.
“This is nice if you’re someone that likes a good visual,” says Luquin. “When the foam disappears, you know that the toy is clean.” Since the primary ingredient on this list is water, it’s safe to use on all your toys regardless of material—like silicone, rubber, stainless steel, and glass.
Note: One reviewer says that their partner applies it directly onto his penis, but Queen strongly cautions against that. While it doesn’t contain cocamidopropyl betaine, it’s not quite as natural as other products—like Maude’s Clean No. 1—so it may cause a physical reaction. On your toys though? It works wonders and visibly removes evidence of your usage.
Lelo is known for its aesthetic toys, and its sex toy cleaner is no exception. Looks aside, its paraben- and alcohol-free formula keeps your sex toys clean after each use. This spray is highly rated, too, with more than 200 users giving it four or more stars on the product page.
One shopper says that they love “the peace of mind this toy cleaning spray gives me. I know it won’t harm the silicone because it’s made especially for it, and because it doesn’t contain alcohol, but I also know it will still sanitize my toys for safety. Worth the extra cost.” Noted.
This is Queen’s favorite sex toy cleaner. “It has all-organic and plant-based ingredients,” she says. Sliquid’s sex toy cleaner is also aloe based and hypoallergenic, thanks to the burst of tea tree and castor oil. Just note:“Tea tree oil is a pretty powerful ingredient, with a higher likelihood of irritation and allergies,” says Queen. “Rinse it off!”
If you’re looking for something with no harsh chemicals at all, though, this is your best bet right here. In addition to being organic, it’s free of fragrance, parabens, alcohol, triclosan, and contains 95 percent organic ingredients. It’s also safe for most toy materials.
And, finally, we have Playboy’s foaming toy cleaner—which, in my Y2K-loving opinion, is the most aesthetically pleasing of the bunch. The formula, which comes in a shiny, reflective uses chemicals to clean your toy, making it key to rinse it off after using the product.
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