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How to Use Sex Toys: Safely Using, Cleaning, and Storing Your Toys

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If you use, clean, and store them the right ways, it can be safe and tons of fun to use sex toys.

Sex toys are toys that are used in sex or masturbation. There are all sorts of them, from vibrators to masturbation sleeves to dildos. Once you choose sex toys you want to use, it’s important to know how to use sex toys safely, and how to clean and store them.

Is it safe to use sex toys?

There’s a risk for giving or getting STIs (sexually transmitted infections) when you share sex toys with a partner. You can lower this risk by using sex toys with a condom or dental dam. A dental dam is a thin sheet of latex you hold between the toy and the vulva, anus, or mouth. Dental dams are good for toys that don’t involve penetration. You can put condoms over toys that do.

If you use sex toys by yourself, you can’t give yourself an STI that you don’t already have. There’s still a risk if you use a toy on more than one part of yourself without sterilizing the toy or replacing any protection, like switching to a new condom.

If you have an STI on one part of you body and you do this, you can move that STI to other parts of your body where you use the toy. You can also transfer bacteria that aren’t considered STIs. Many of these can cause issues when they get to different parts of your body. This is especially true if you’re going from the anus to another area.

Cleaning sex toys

Cleaning them with soap and water helps, but toys made of porous materials like jelly, latex, PVC, or vinyl can trap and grow bacteria. Unfortunately, if you’re the only one that uses them, they have a risk for infections like UTIs. It helps to follow the cleaning instructions that come with your sex toy and clean it often. Using barriers like condoms and dental dams with porous toys can help make them safer, and prevent infections and skin irritation.

You can sterilize many non-porous toys by boiling them or putting them in some dishwashers. Non-porous toys are usually made of silicone, metal or glass.

A handful of toys, like Fleshlight masturbation sleeves, can only be cleaned with water. You can usually find special instructions for toys like this on its packaging.

After you use a sex toy, it helps to clean it by following the instructions it came with, and let it fully air dry after. For more information, check out Babeland’s guide on cleaning sex toys.

Storing sex toys

Some sex toys need to be stored in specific ways. This helps them last longer and helps keep them safer for your body.

Toys that are real, 100% medical-grade silicone or high-quality plastic don’t need any special storage. Toys made of other materials, like latex or PVC, can break down when you store them next to each other. This is caused by chemical reactions between the toys. For these toys, you help them last longer by by storing them in separate ziploc bags, or at least making sure they don’t touch.

To help keep their charge when you’re not using them, it helps to “lock” any rechargeable vibrators that have a “lock” setting. Similarly, it helps to store battery-powered vibrators with the batteries removed.

Silicone toys and lube

Silicone is body-safe and easy to clean, making it an ideal material for sex toys. However, sex toys aren’t strictly regulated. So, some toys that say they’re silicone may actually be a blend of different materials. Because of this, many sex toy manufacturers and sex shops don’t recommend using silicone lube with silicone toys.

But, medical-grade silicone stores well and it’s typically safe to use with silicone-based lube. High-end toy manufacturers like Fun Factory even used to sell silicone lube with their silicone toys.

However, it’s always a good idea to do a “spot test” with a new toy to see if it’s ok to use with silicone lube. Choose a small area of the toy that wouldn’t go into your body. Then, rub a small amount of silicone lube on the area with a finger and see what happens. If the lube breaks down the toy, you can see it get sticky or gummy within a few minutes.

If you’re worried about keeping your silicone toy at its best, you can use a water-based lube instead of silicone. While coconut oil might be another option, it’s best to do a spot test with that too. Oils can also irritate some people’s vaginas.

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