Between vibrators and air-suction toys and dildos and stokers and plugs and beads, the search for the right sex toy can be challenging. But if you’re going to invest the time in finding the right one (and spend the money to buy it), you’re going to want to invest (a little more) in supplies to properly clean it. “Not cleaning your sex toys properly leaves you at risk of yeast infections, bacterial vaginosis, or even an STI if you are sharing them,” explains registered nurse Dominique D’Vita, who also works as an intimacy and Tantra coach. The good news? Proper sex-toy cleaners don’t have to be expensive — in fact, one of the most effective is something you’re probably buying already. To find the best sex-toy cleaners, we asked D’Vita and six more experts for their recommendations. Read on for the five cleaners they swear by, which include sprays, wipes, and a UV sanitizing system that can clean toys in bulk.
Best overall sex-toy cleaner
The experts we spoke to are all in agreement that the best — and the first — thing you should use to clean your sex toys is some good old-fashioned soap (and water). “Just squeeze a drop or two on the dirty toy, give it a good massage with your hands, and rinse it with warm water,” says sexuality doula and sex educator Ev’Yan Whitney. Once the toys are washed, air-drying is best “to prevent any cross-contamination with reusable towels,” according to sexologist Marla Renee Stewart, co-author of The Ultimate Guide to Seduction & Foreplay. (And once they’re dried, D’Vita suggests “storing them in a silk bag or a sealable box” to keep them from collecting dust.) While our experts also agreed that any mild soap you have on your sink for handwashing should do the job, Samantha Bard, a co-owner of Williamsburg’s Shag, says “an unscented soap would be preferable if you have sensitive skin.” If you’re looking for one our experts have used, D’Vita’s “favorite is Dr. Bronner’s unscented Castile soap.” She adds that you should clean any toy before you even use it: “Just because you’re opening it brand-new from the package doesn’t mean it is clean.” And if you want to more deeply clean nonmotorized toys made of medical-grade silicone, stainless steel, or glass, these can be boiled, according to sex educator Kenneth Play, the creator of the Sex Hacker Pro Series and a co-founder of Hacienda Villa, an intentional sex-positive community.
Best spray sex-toy cleaner
Soap and water should always be your first method of cleaning toys before and after use. But our experts say some sex-toy-specific cleaners can be used as a second line of defense for the ultrasanitary or in a pinch. One is LELO’s spray, which two of our experts told us about. “While not meant to replace soap and water, it is designed to inhibit fungal and bacterial growth while a toy is not being used,” explains Bard. If you want to try it, she recommends spraying the cleaner on a toy after washing it with soap and water and before you store it. “This is a good habit to get into, as your toys will attract dirt and dust if sitting in a drawer, which can have an adverse effect on your vaginal pH,” she says. Play also recommends this cleaner “because it’s easy to carry, quick, and elegant looking,” should you accidentally leave the bottle out on the nightstand. The product is free of silicone and alcohol, making it safe to use on silicone toys. “It has the same luxurious feel as the rest of LELO’s products,” Play promises.
Best UV light for cleaning sex toys
If you have a sizable toy collection, two of our experts suggest investing in the UVee Homeplay, a discreet gadget that sanitizes, stores, and even charges toys. “It kills up to 99 percent of all infection-causing germs associated with the use of adult toys and, more importantly, it can sanitize and charge several toys at the same time,” explains erotic educator Taylor Sparks, the founder of the Black-owned online intimacy shop Organic Loven. Emily Morse, Ph.D., a sex educator, a relationship expert, and the host of the Sex With Emily podcast, also recommends the UVee Homeplay, noting that “it’s very easy for harmful bacteria to grow in your toy’s nooks and crannies.” This device, she says, ensures that those nooks and crannies are sanitized. “Plus, your sock drawer isn’t going to magically charge your arsenal of toys,” adds Morse. Before placing any toys inside the sanitizer, however, she says you should gently rinse them. As far as charging goes, this device has three internal USB ports to plug chargers into; once you plug in the Homeplay itself and close and lock the lid, it will begin to charge any toys inside it. After ten minutes, your toy will be sanitized and should have enough juice for your next self-love session.
Best foaming sex-toy cleaner
“If I am looking for a quick scrub, this foam is really nice,” says sex educator Jimanekia Eborn. The anti-bacterial cleaner comes from sex-toy maker Wicked and is free of fragrances, paraben, and silicone. Again, it’s not meant to replace soap and water, but as Eborn suggests, it can be used to quickly cleanse a toy before (or after) you use it.
Best wipes for cleaning sex toys
“If you don’t have access to running water, or you just want to avoid waking up to a mess after conking out following a particularly exhausting session,” Play recommends Promescent’s Before and After Wipes. He says they’re great for “a quick cleanup to remove any visible residue before you can get your hands on soap and warm water.” Each box contains 40 wipes, which are pH balanced, alcohol free, and 100 percent biodegradable.
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