Most sex ed lessons cover the topic of safer sex. However, it’s rare that sex toys get a look-in during the safer sex talk. This is a real worry, because sex toys can be a conduit for STI’s.
Sex toys often get overlooked when we talk about safer sex because they’re not attached to our bodies. They don’t excrete fluids and we don’t really think about their potential to pass along infections and diseases. But the truth is that if you use sex toys with your partners you need to make sure that you’re taking the following things into consideration.
Choose non-porous materials
Many materials used to make sex toys have tiny pores. Bodily fluids, bacteria and lube can live in these pores and breed. Each time you play, you’re re-introducing that bacteria into your body. And if you use the toy with a partner, you’re spreading that bacteria to them. If one of your partners has an STI, then this could potentially pass the infection on to other people you’re sleeping with. A porous toy can also harbour and spread bacteria which can cause yeast infections and irritation.
That’s why it’s so important to choose toys that are made of non-porous materials. Silicone, glass and stainless steel are the gold star materials to look for. Avoid toys made from jelly-plastic, cyberskin, PVC or rubber. Be wary of toys that are made from wood or stone, as these may be porous unless they are sealed with a non-porous coating.
Clean your toys thoroughly after each use
Porous toys can never be thoroughly cleaned, because dirt can become lodged in the pores and live there indefinitely. But if you’ve selected a toy in a non-porous material then you can get it truly clean. And you should take the time to clean it completely each time you use it.
For dildos, plugs and other non-vibrating toys, wash them in the sink in hot water and a specialised toy cleaner. To sterilize these toys, you can boil them in a pot on the stove for several minutes or even put them on the top shelf of your dishwasher.
If your toy has a motor then cleaning it can be a little bit more finicky. If it is waterproof, you can wash your toy in the sink with warm water, toy cleaner or a mild bleach solution. If the toy can’t be submerged, you can still wipe it clean with a cloth and some toy cleaner, being sure to get into any ridges that might collect lube and dirt. Wipe off any residue from cleaning products which may cause skin irritation. Remember to dry your toy completely before storing it.
Wrap it up
Making sex toys safe is easy when you employ one of the oldest safer sex tools on the market: the condom. Putting a condom over a porous toy will prevent fluids or bacteria coming into contact with the toy’s surface. If you are sharing a toy with multiple partners, butting a fresh condom on your toy between partners will keep everyone’s fluids separate and avoid cross-contamination.
Keep them separated
It can be nice to have separate toys for solo use, and toys that you use with your partner. If you play with more than one person, ask each person to bring their own toys to the bedroom. This may not always be feasible, particularly if you use toys during casual encounters or don’t have a lot of cash to splash on separate toys for everyone. But if it works for your personal situation, having separate toy collections can help keep sex safer.
Toys often get overlooked when we discuss disease prevention and STI’s, but they can pose a threat if proper precautions aren’t taken. Make sure that you choose toys carefully and clean them after use. If in doubt, use a condom to keep yourself and all your partners safe from STI’s.