We know you're not following all of these steps to clean your sex toys, but you really should be.

By Renee Cherry and Lauren Mazzo
Updated May 17, 2021
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There are some things in the house you clean without a second thought — the toilet, the stove, even your shower floor. But there are others — like your bed sheets — that go far too long without a good wash. Sex toys fall into the latter category for a lot of people. Take vibrators for example: According to a 2009 study, about 14 percent of women have never cleaned theirs before or after use. Yikes.

That's a problem. Your vibrator goes inside one of the most important areas of your body and, if you're not careful, all that bacteria from your favorite toy can lead to infection. (Side note: Never put these 10 things near your vagina.)

"A lot of women don't understand how important cleaning a vibrator is, and as a result, a number of women are going to the doctor because they have infections like bacterial vaginosis, an overgrowth of bacteria in the vagina, or a yeast infection," says Tyomi Morgan, a sexuality expert and educator. That's why it's not only important to clean your vibrator often, but also to know exactly how to clean sex toys so they don't put your vaginal health at risk.

Yeah, those post-O hormones don't exactly help with productivity, but it's still important to take time to clean your gear. Below, brush up on exactly how to clean sex toys and vibrators, according to Morgan and sex therapist and educator Rachel Wright, to make it easier the next time you need to give things a rinse. (And if you're in the market for a new toy, check out the best sex toys for women available on Amazon.)

1. Choose the right products.

Using a vibrator or toy made from nonporous materials (such as silicone, glass, or even stainless steel) is safest since other materials (like latex and jelly rubber, for example) can collect bacteria in the pores, says Morgan. (More here: How to Buy a Safe and Quality Sex Toy)

When it comes to actually cleaning the toy, you can try a basic antibacterial soap, says Morgan. However, if you're prone to yeast infections or bacterial vaginosis, you may want to proceed with caution. "I'd say a mild, unscented soap is safe, but if you want to ensure you're not going to mess up your vaginal pH, use a toy cleaner meant for that type of toy," says Wright.

Try Lelo Toy Cleaning Spray ($10, lelo.com), Dame Hand + Vibe Cleaner (Buy It, $10, dameproducts.com) or Maude Clean No. 0 (Buy It, $10, getmaude.com) — the latter two even double as hand sanitizer. Wright also loves Sweet Vibes Foami (Buy It, $12, sweetvibes.toys).

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You can also buy easy-to-use wipes — such as Lovehoney's Fresh Wipes (Buy It, $10, lovehoney.com) for when you're too spent to get up and make it to the sink after a particularly great time.

2. Give it a good scrub.

Now you might be wondering exactly how to clean your sex toy or vibrator, especially if it has a motor or seams where water can get in. First of all, it helps to know whether your sex toys are waterproof, submersible, or splash-proof. Products marked with "water-resistant" or "splash-proof" can get wet, but likely can't handle more than a quick rinse during cleaning, whereas waterproof or submersible toys can handle continuous streams of water as well as being dunked completely underneath. (Here are some of the best waterproof sex toys out there.)

Regardless of the type of toy, try to scrub it with your hands or a washcloth and a bit of warm water for about a minute and a half. Afterward, pat it dry with a clean towel. Certain toys — specifically, those made of stainless steel, glass, or silicone (without a motor or any electronics) — can be sanitized by popping them in boiling water for a few minutes or even into the dishwasher, says Wright.

If you want to ensure your toy is as close to clean as possible (because, yes, it is possible for bacteria and other germs to survive a hand washing), you can consider trying a UV light disinfecting tool, such as the UVee Home Play Large UV Cleaner (Buy It, $194 $287, ellaparadis.com), which claims to sanitize over 99.9 percent of harmful bacteria in 10 minutes. (Here's more about how UV light disinfection works.)

UVee Home Play Cleaner - Large
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3. Store it wisely.

Once your sex toy is clean, store it in a clean box or pouch so it's less likely to collect dust. Do your best to keep other objects — like your cell phone or clothes — away from it. (The less interaction it has with other germ-carrying things, the better.)

"It's even more important to separate silicone toys from other silicone toys — just like you're not supposed to used silicone lube on silicone toys," says Wright. That's because when silicone comes in contact with silicone, it can degrade the material. "If that means storing your toys in individual bags, great, and if that means individual plastic containers, fabulous," she says. (Note: If your toy is glass or stainless steel, as long as it's in a temperate place, you're good to go, since those materials won't degrade.)

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And, if you're a total rock star, try to remember to give it a quick rinse with warm water right before its next use, to help rid the toy of any bacteria that may have built up in storage.