Sexual Health

The best ways to keep your vibrators squeaky clean

Much like cleaning our houses, cleaning sex toys definitely isn’t the high point of our week. But it’s a massively important part of owning a vibrator—we can't overstate how important cleaning is.

If you’ve ever wondered if you clean your sex toys correctly, or if you’ve never cleaned them at all, don’t despair. You’re about to learn everything there is to know about how to clean your vibrator.

Why do you need to clean your sex toys?

 

We enjoy using our sex toys in all sorts of fabulous ways, but post-use our vibes can get a bit icky.

Sex toys can collect dust, bodily fluids, lube, dirt, and invisible harmful bacteria—and unless we clean and store our favourite vibes after use, all of this can then be transferred back to our own body when we use them again.

This can lead to a bacterial infection like bacterial vaginosis, yeast infections, or even STIs, which can be passed between partners who share the same sex toys but don’t clean them before swapping.

Many STIs are curable if not treatable, but they can still be uncomfortable and can have a negative impact on our sexual health if not treated quickly.

So, put simply, we wouldn’t want to touch our genitals with dirty hands or dirty underwear—so we shouldn’t touch them with dirty sex toys, either.

different types of sex toys
It's recommended you clean your sex toys after every use.



A step-by-step guide to cleaning your vibrator the right way

 

So, you want to know how to clean your sex toys? Here’s everything you need to know.

1. Find out what material your vibe is made of

Toys that are made of stainless steel or Pyrex, like some dildos and butt plugs, can be cleaned by submerging them in boiling water for a few minutes, but you should never put your favourite toy in water unless the manufacturer’s instructions specifically say that you can.

Many vibes, including NORMAL's own range of toys, are made of body-safe silicone: this is a high-quality material and we recommend looking for it when shopping for new toys.

2. Check the manufacturer’s instructions

It might sound obvious, but some vibrators have special instructions for how they should be cleaned. Vibrators or other objects made of lifelike material that replicates human skin may need to be dusted with cornflour after cleaning, for example.

3. Wipe it down

Most vibrators—including our range of body-safe silicone toys—can be cleaned by wiping them down with an anti-bacterial cleaning product. This is the most common way to clean a toy, and we recommend it if you don't know what material yours is made of.

We actually made our own cleaning spray because we were so obsessed with getting the perfect one, but in general, you want to look for a product that is labelled as body-safe and doesn’t contain any fragrances or dyes.

If you can’t find something like this, you can wipe your toy down with basic antibacterial soap and warm water. Get a damp cloth nice and soapy then give the toy a scrub for about a minute, then give the cloth a quick rinse and wipe the toy down again to get all the suds off.

4. Store toys the right way

Store your clean sex toys in a dry, clean environment. Don't just leave them out to collect bacteria! If your toy came with a storage bag, like ours do, you can keep it in there—it’s an excellent way to keep your vibrator clean.

Otherwise, a clean box or fabric cosmetic bag can be a good choice to keep your toys stored in.

Make sure you dry off your vibes with a clean towel before you put them away, as damp toys can grow mould—and don't leave them next to your deodorant stick, fake tan bottle, or any other germ-carrying things.

5. Breathe easy

Relax in the knowledge that your clean sex toys are stored safely! You might want to keep an extra bottle of cleaning spray on hand so you can quickly give your vibrators a spritz before you use them again.

types of sex toys
Cleaning your sex toy is an important part of maintaining a healthy sex life.

 

Mistakes to avoid when cleaning your sex toy

 

One of the most common mistakes you can make when cleaning a sex toy is thinking that a quick wipe-down with a tissue, towel, or make-up wipe will be enough to keep it clean.

We now know that this isn’t the case—but even if you’re regularly giving your vibe a good scrub, there are a few more errors you can make.

Mistake #1: Buying cheap materials.

Some sex toy materials—like stainless steel, Pyrex, body-safe silicone, and glass—can be on the expensive side, but are hardy and long-lasting. Other materials, like jelly rubber, hard plastic, and cheap silicones, can be super affordable but won’t last a very long time and can be difficult to clean.

Cheaper silicone toys can degrade over time, and jelly rubber and plastic are porous materials (meaning they're covered in microscopic holes that can trap bacteria even after a thorough clean).

Nonporous materials don't trap bacteria this way. We all understand the allure of a cheapie sex toy, but we recommend investing in a longer-lasting toy made of high-quality materials.

It’ll be easier to clean, better to use, and may last years when taken care of properly.

Mistake #2: Using the wrong type of cleaner.

A general rule for cleaning your sex toys is that you shouldn’t clean them with anything you wouldn’t use for hand washing. Some cleaning agents can contain dyes and fragrances that can remain on the vibe in trace amounts—putting these into your body can upset your natural bacteria and cause infections like bacterial vaginosis.

Look for a mild antibacterial soap or spray, or an unscented soap to use with warm water, and make sure the labelling says it's body-safe.

Mistake #3: Storing all of your toys together.

If you keep all your vibrators stored in one box or bag, you might be unknowingly damaging them. Some materials, like plastic and rubber, can degrade over time if they’re stored next to other toys—a quick Google search for ‘melted sex toys’ brings up plenty of horror stories!

We recommend wrapping each vibe in a clean hand towel or storage bag prior to packing them away.

Mistake #4: Not removing your batteries.

If your vibrator is battery-powered, it’s a good idea to remove the batteries before storage. Some batteries can leak over time, and the stuff that comes out—battery acid—can damage your vibe and even your skin if it touches you.

Remove your batteries after each use and keep them somewhere cool and dry, or consider investing in something that's USB rechargeable.

Mistake #5: Putting them away wet.

Damp toys can grow mould, and nobody wants a mouldy vibrator! Grab a clean towel and dry off your toys before putting them away.

sex toy on bedside table
Store sex toys in individual boxes or within a clean, fabric bag. 

Waterproof, or water-resistant?

 

Wouldn’t it be great if we could just chuck our vibrators in the dishwasher for a good wash and be done with it? Before you make room among the dishes, wait—not all sex toys can be submerged in water, even the ones you can use in the shower!

There’s a big difference between waterproof vibrators and water-resistant vibrators.

A waterproof toy can be submerged in water and left there for an extended amount of time. A toy without a motor—like a butt plug, dildo, or anal beads—is generally considered to be waterproof, although you should always check the manufacturer’s instructions to make sure the material can be submerged in water.

In general, motorised toys—like vibrators—should not be submerged in water even for a quick rinse, as this can permanently damage the motor.

But some waterproof toys (take a steel butt plug, for example) can be cleaned by putting them in boiling water for a quick wash or leaving them on the top rack of the dishwasher (without adding any liquids or soaps).

Side note: you should always wait before taking them out, as they can be hot to touch immediately after being exposed to extreme temperatures.

Water-resistant toys are toys that can be used around water, but can’t be submerged directly in it. A vibrator that’s safe to use in the shower is a good example of this: it will keep working if it’s sprayed with water, but it may break if it’s submerged in the bathtub or left on the shower floor.

These kinds of toys can be cleaned by wiping them down with mild soap and water, or an antibacterial spray, but they can’t be left to sit in water.

If you’re not sure whether your toy is waterproof or water-resistant, it’s best to play it safe and treat it as though it can’t be used around water at all. Clean it with a mild antibacterial spray or wipe it down with a soapy washcloth—just don’t put it under the tap.

Of course, any toy that needs to be plugged into an electrical outlet should never, ever be used around water while plugged in.

How often should you clean your sex toys?

 

It is recommended you clean our vibrators after absolutely every use. Each time we use our sex toys, we can transfer microscopic bacteria onto them from our body and hands—so even if your favourite toy doesn’t look ‘dirty’, it could be covered in bacteria by the time you’re finished with it.

Not only that, but if you put your vibe away while it still has lube or other fluids on it, it can collect dust and dirt from wherever it’s stored. This dirt and dust could later end up on or even in your body—yuck!

Although it's tempting to just bask in the afterglow when you're done using your vibe, we recommend ignoring those post-O hormones for a few minutes and making sure your vibe is squeaky clean.

You should also consider cleaning your toys after each use if you’re sharing them with someone else. If you and your partner swap vibes during partnered play, you should clean it before giving it to them so that none of your bacteria or bodily fluids gets accidentally transferred to their body, as this can have the potential to harm their sexual health.

There is also a chance that semen can be transferred into the vagina by swapping sex toys, even if your partner hasn’t climaxed, so if you’re trying to avoid falling pregnant, it’s super important to be aware of this as well.

Another option for those who like to share toys is to cover the toy with a condom before use, and then change condoms before giving it to your partner.

This means you don’t have to worry about cleaning the toy between partners, but you should still make sure you give it a final clean with toy cleaner or soap and water once you’re both done with it. 

Don't forget: clean your toy before using it for the first time!

 

We know the feeling: your new toy has just arrived and you can’t wait to use it! Before you power it up straight out of the box, give it a once-over with your cleaner of choice. Why? Simply, you just can’t guarantee that it’s as clean as you’d like it to be.

Prior to being boxed up, it may have been handled at the manufacturer or exposed to dirt and dust—and you don’t want that in your body.

A quick clean with soap and warm water will make sure that the only thing on your mind after using your new toy is when you’ll get to play with it again. 

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