The following article gives care and cleaning instructions for a variety of sex toy materials.
100% silicone toys are non-porous (meaning the material doesn't have pores that can harbor bacteria), free of phthalates*, hypoallergenic, scent-free, taste-free, very chemically stable, and easy to clean. To ensure these qualities, look for toys made of 100% silicone from a reputable manufacturer.
For everyday cleaning of silicone toys, wash with warm soapy water, taking care not to wet electronic components. You can sanitize silicone by boiling in water for 5-10 minutes, or by placing on the top rack of your dishwasher (if the toy has no electronic components). Silicone can also be sanitized using a 10% bleach solution-- just be sure to wash and rinse well with clean water after.
Avoid silicone lubricants with silicone toys. Silicone lubricants are one of the few substances that can harm the surface of silicone toys, causing a gummy residue. Take care not to cut or nick the surface of silicone, as a
small nick can turn into a large tear. Do not store silicone toys with other kinds of soft toy materials, as the chemicals found in other soft toys can leach.
VixSkin is the trade name for a unique kind of silicone toy made by Vixen Creations. VixSkin toys are made from 100% silicone; they are cast with a firm inner layer and a soft, outer skin-like layer to create a life-like feel.
All material qualities and care/cleaning instructions for VixSkin are the same as for 100% silicone toys (see above).
ELASTOMER/TPE and TPR
Thermoplastic elastomer (TPE) and thermoplastic rubber (TPR) are generic terms that refer to soft, stretchy materials having the elastic properties of rubber. TPE and TPR toys are usually phthalate-free* and latex-free. Most are porous materials (meaning they have pores that can harbor bacteria), so if you share a TPE or TPR toy with someone else, use a condom over the toy.
Wash with warm soapy water, taking care not to wet electronic components. TPE and TPR cannot be fully sanitized.
Water-based lubricants are best with TPE/TPR toys. Avoid oil-based lubricants, as oils will usually damage TPE/TPR. Silicone lubricants are often difficult to wash off of TPE/TPR, so avoid silicone lubricants unless otherwise approved by the toy's manufacturer. Do not store TPE/TPR toys with other soft toys, as the chemicals found in other soft toys can leach. Because most TPE/TPR toys are porous and soft, they will show signs of wear and will dull over time.
Hard plastic toys can be made from a variety of different kinds of materials, but they are are usually phthalate-free,* and some are
recyclable. Hard plastic toys are easy to clean, but they cannot be fully sanitized, so if you share a hard plastic toy with someone else, use a condom over the toy.
Wash with warm soapy water, taking care not to wet electronic components. Hard plastic cannot be fully sanitized.
Hard plastic toys are safe with most kinds of lubricant. Do not store hard plastic toys with soft toys, as the chemicals found in some soft toys can leach.
Glass toys feature an ultra-smooth, nonporous surface (the surface doesn't have pores that can harbor bacteria).
Wash with warm soapy water, or place on the top rack of your dishwasher.
Glass toys are compatible with all lubricants. They are very durable, but avoid dropping them or banging them against any hard surface. Even a small chip in the surface of a glass toy means it is no longer safe to use. Store carefully in a padded bag.
Properly-glazed ceramic toys feature an ultra-smooth, non-porous surface (the surface doesn't have pores that can harbor bacteria).
Wash with warm soapy water, taking care not to wet electronic components.
Ceramic toys are safe with all lubricants. They are very durable, but avoid dropping them or banging them against any hard surface. Even a small chip in the surface of a ceramic toy means it is no longer safe to use. Store carefully in a padded bag.
Wood toys that have been sealed properly with body-compatible coatings are non-porous (as long as the sealed finish remains undamaged)
and can remain in contact with the body for hours at a time.
Wash with warm soapy water. Dry with a lint-free cloth.
Properly sealed wooden toys are safe to use with any kind of lubricant. Avoid impact with hard surfaces. If you feel or see a crack in the toy's
surface, test the area by immersing it in water for a few seconds. Remove from the water and wipe off the surface to inspect. If the area in question darkens in response to water and remains damp when the surrounding area is wiped dry, then your toy should be retired. Store carefully in a padded bag to avoid scratches and dents.
STAINLESS STEEL and ALUMINUM
Stainless steel and aluminum toys have an ultra-smooth, non-porous surface (the surface doesn't have pores that can harbor bacteria).
Wash with warm soapy water. To sanitize, boil in water for 5-10 minutes, or place on the top rack of your dishwasher.
Stainless steel and aluminum toys are safe to use with any kind of lubricant. Avoid scratching with abrasive cleaners or against rough surfaces. Store in a padded bag to avoid scratches.
LEATHER and VEGAN LEATHER
Wipe down with a damp cloth immediately after use as needed to keep clean, but do not soak in water. Allow to fully line dry before storing in a cool, dry place.
NYLON and SPANDEX
Hand or machine wash gently in cold water, line dry.
NEOPRENE and RUBBER
Hand wash in warm water with a gentle soap, rinse thoroughly, and line dry. Do not expose to intense heat or store in sunlight.
METAL SNAPS and HARDWARE
Prevent metal snaps/buckles on your harnesses and restraints from tarnishing by applying a coat of clear nail polish to areas where they
come into contact with your skin.
TIPS FOR LONGER TOY LIFE
Be sure to insert batteries as directed by the manufacturer, and to charge rechargeable toys according to instruction booklets. Remove batteries when storing toys.
If your toy is labeled as "waterproof," make sure any rubber gaskets and O-rings remain tight and in place, or the toy will no longer be water resistant. Do not submerge your toy unless it is specifically rated for underwater use.
Take care not to bend or pull on cords. If you are using an insertable bullet vibe internally, put the bullet in a condom and pull on the condom, not the power cord, to remove.
*Phthalates are chemical softeners that have been linked in some studies to endocrine disruption and cancer. Because of this, The Tool Shed avoids carrying products containing phthalates.