How to clean your sex toys, from an expert - what to keep, what to wash, and what it's definitely time to toss

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If you're Googling 'how to clean your sex toys', chances are, you've finally invested in one of the best sex toys and now have zero clue how – or how often – you need to be rinsing it in hot soapy water.

There's another question - do you rinse them in hot, soapy water, or are they best wiped down, and what products are best to wipe down with to make sure you don't irritate your skin next time you use your toy?

All good questions, which we've put to a sex-pert. Keep reading as Danyell Fima, co-founder of The Thruster, a build-your-own, self-thrusting vibrator, chats the shelf-life of lubes, condoms and so on (read our guides to the best lube and best condoms, here), with tips and tricks for cleaning and her go-to products.

Oh, and read up on our favourite sex positions, eco-friendly sex toys, and bondage for beginners, while you're at it.

How to clean your sex toys: Your complete guide

So, why is it important to clean your sex toys?

First thing's first - have you ever thought about how how much your sex toys might add up too, money wise? The answer is probably more than you'd care to admit. "Your adult pleasure collection is valuable—cleaning them should be a part of your routine to keep them in the best shape," shares Fima.

Long story short, if you don't clean your toys regularly, she explains that certain bacterias could build up, ultimately leading to infections. "Harm or infection are nearly certain if you are using degraded pleasure products," she explains.

How to clean your sex toys

How often should I clean my sex toys?

In an ideal world - after every use.

While that may sound laborious, it makes sense. Every time you use, you're risking getting bacteria on it, which ultimately, you don't want anywhere near your genitals.

Also note here - it's important to store them in a clean, dry, dust-free environment post-cleaning.

Your step-by-step cleaning guide

Not sure where to start with cleaning your sex toys or what products to use?

Let the expert help. "To clean most sex toys, you simply have to wash them with warm water and soap," shares Fima. Alternatively, you can opt for a quality sex toy cleaning fluid, she adds.

"As always, the best way to clean your sex toy is with an antibacterial agent, whether that be soap or spray," she recommends.

Buzz Fresh Toy Cleaner Foam 160ML, £8.00

Buzz Fresh Toy Cleaner Foam 160ML, £8.00

Lovehoney Fresh Toy Cleaner 250ml, £12.99

Lovehoney Fresh Toy Cleaner 250ml, £12.99

Dettol Anti-Bacterial Original Soap 100g, £1.29

Dettol Anti-Bacterial Original Soap 100g, £1.29

Studies suggest that even if a sex toy is washed, some viruses can remain on them for up to 24 hours after cleaning. "Please exercise caution when using any intimate pleasure product", Fima warns. "Be sure to clean new toys before using them, and clean them before and after each use."

Still not sure? Let the below guidelines covering how to clean your sex toys help. It's written specifically with the Thruster in mind, but applies to most toys.

How to clean your sex toys: A step-by-step guide

How do you know which sex toys to throw away and which to keep?

Good question. In short, how do you know when a toy is too old and, ultimately, past its sell-by date?

"Quality sex toys should last for several years, so if you have one you love, keep it," Fima recommends.

When considering what to throw away, look for the following:

Surface degradation

Any surface degradation is a no-no, she warns. "Those defects are where bacteria will settle and grow first," she explains.

Old batteries

Similarly, battery operated toys that you’ve left the batteries in a long time must go, she reckons. "Most adult pleasure products have a battery and it's important to remove batteries before storing them. This will avoid corrosion and other issues.

Shop our favourite sex toy deals, now

Orange rust 

Does your toy either need batteries or charging pre-use? Check for any orange rust colour in those areas, she advises. "It’s a sign of corrosion, and means water has got inside, or the toy has been left damp for too long," she explains. In any case, it's time to replace them.

If you've any doubt they might be a touch on the old side? "Don’t be afraid to throw them out and buy some new ones," she shares. Ultimately, she says that this will be doing you a favour, as it's best to use sex toys that offer both medical grade materials and excellent product warranty.

If you want to invest in a sex toy that's going to last the long run - Fima has two top tips for you. "Opt for steel or glass pleasure products," she advises. "They always keep well, plus, they're easy to both clean and store, making them a great investment." Shop our favourite eco-friendly sex toys or read our guide to pegging, now.

How to clean your sex toys

Do lubes and condoms have sell by dates?

They sure do. "These are limited life items, like milk," shares Fima.

If your lube or condom is past its sell by date - which should be indicated on the packet - then you risk them being either harmful or ineffective.

As a rough guidelines, most lubes and condoms should be good for about three years, but do always check the sell by date on the packet pre-using.

3 simple hacks for cleaning your sex toys

1. Make a habit of it

Don’t wait, Fima stresses. "If you make a habit of cleaning it right away, it'll become routine. It only takes a moment to clean and then you're done," she shares.

Top tip: if you have the luxury of privacy, keep a lint free towel handy to lay out your items to dry. "It’s a reminder to do the work and when you're ready, to tuck them away in a clean dry place," she explains.

2. Keep it simple

Warm water and soap are all that’s required for most products, shares the sex-pert. No excuses.

3. Remember to dry them off

Final tip: don't do the hard work and wash your toy, only to leave it in a dirty box or by a window. Store in a clean, dry, dust-free environment, too.

Ally Head
Senior Health, Sustainability and Relationships Editor

Ally Head is Marie Claire UK's Senior Health, Sustainability, and Relationships Editor, nine-time marathoner, and Boston Qualifying runner. Day-to-day, she works across site strategy, features, and e-commerce, reporting on the latest health updates, writing the must-read health and wellness content, and rounding up the genuinely sustainable and squat-proof gym leggings worth *adding to basket*. She's won a BSME for her sustainability work, regularly hosts panels and presents for events like the Sustainability Awards, and saw nine million total impressions on the January 2023 Wellness Issue she oversaw. Follow Ally on Instagram for more or get in touch.