How to Clean Sex Toys
(The *Right* Way!)

It’s time to clean up your toy care act!

Unless you’re the Monica Geller type, cleaning probably isn’t on your list of fun activities to pull from in your free time. But if you’ve reached this guide, then playing with sex toys probably is on that list! And if you want to experience the joys of toys (sans infection), you gotta keep things fresh! (By “things,” we, of course, mean your sex toys.)

Properly washing your toys before and after every use can prevent infections and extend the longevity of your beloved orgasm providers. Failing to clean your sex toys or using the wrong method can result in, well, the opposite of that good stuff we just mentioned.

Unfortunately, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution for keeping sex toys fresh; proper cleaning methods differ based on each toy’s materials and style. But no need to fret - we're covering it allll in this guide. So bust out your yellow rubber gloves and get ready to learn!

How Toy Materials and Styles Impact Proper Cleaning Protocol

Sex toys are a bit like people: each unique in their own way and requiring different conditions to flourish. Okay, not exactly, but there are a ton of sex toy materials and styles that will play into how you should care for them.

Broadly, sex toy materials can be categorized as either porous or nonporous. In the context of sex toys, a toy being porous or not mainly refers to whether it can be fully sterilized. Porous toys have microscopic holes in them that harbor bacteria, no matter how thoroughly you clean them. Sex toy materials that are porous include TPE, jelly rubber, TPR, latex, PVC, vinyl, and leather. Nonporous toys, on the other hand, can be sterilized, making them a far more hygienic option than porous toys. Nonporous sex toy materials include silicone, ABS plastic, stainless steel, glass, aluminum, and Pyrex.

Beyond materials, another major factor that can impact proper cleaning protocol for your sex toys is what style or category they fall under. Fleshlights and similar stroker styles, for instance, should undergo a different cleaning process (you can find step-by-step instructions in our How to Clean a Fleshlight guide) than other toys made from the same materials. Another good example is ejaculating dildos, which have very specific cleaning needs that vary depending on what type of ejaculating dildo you own; you can find instructions for each in our extensive Ejaculating Dildos Guide. And leather toys (commonly seen in items like strap-on harnesses and impact play tools) are a whole other ballgame. All of that to say, when in cleaning doubt, defer to your toy manufacturer’s care instructions and reach out to their customer service team if you have any questions.

Sex Toy Sanitization Methods

Sanitization refers to surface-level cleaning that removes most, but not all, bacteria from your toys. While that may not sound the most hygienic, disinfection is actually a thorough-enough cleaning method for most sex toy purposes.

Toy Cleaners

As their name implies, sex toy cleaners are a great option for keeping your pleasure products spick and span. Toy cleaners are specially formulated to disinfect toys without ruining their materials – though they aren’t all crafted equally, so opt for cleaners free from parabens and alcohol. Sex toy cleaner is a particularly fab choice for non-waterproof toys as it can diminish or eliminate the amount of time your toy needs to come into contact with water for sufficient cleaning.

Because there are a variety of toy cleaner types on the market (such as foaming, sprays, and *wipes), the proper way to use them will differ. That said, you’d be hard-pressed to find a sex toy cleaner that’s complicated to understand or utilize, so just follow the directions yours provides!

*Sex toy wipes are great in a pinch, but you should follow up with a more thorough toy-cleaning method as soon as you’re able to.

Toys you can clean with sex toy cleaner:

  • All!

Best-Selling Toy Cleaners

Soap and Water

Prefer to keep things simple? Lucky for you, soap and water are generally a fine choice for sex toy cleaning! But before we get into the “how,” we gotta cover the “what” - as in what type of soap to use, in case that wasn’t clear (it wasn’t; I know). Avoid anything with harsh chemicals like dishwasher soap and instead opt for gentle, fragrance-free liquid soap. Now that we’ve got that out of the way, it’s time to learn the proper way to clean sex toys using soap and water!

While the steps will vary depending on how water-resistant your toy is, one thing remains true in all cases: if your toy has any nooks and crannies, be sure to get in there! You can use a small soft toothbrush (that you only use for this express purpose) to clean any hard-to-reach spots.

How to clean waterproof toys with soap and water:

  1. Wet your toy, then lather it with soap, doing so for at least 30 seconds.

  2. Rinse with warm water, dry, and store!

How to clean toys that aren’t water-resistant with soap and water:

  1. If your toy is battery-operated, remove the batteries before cleaning and close the battery compartment. For rechargeable toys, be mindful to avoid getting soap or water in or on the charging hole during the cleaning process.

  2. Wet a clean washcloth with warm water, apply soap, then work it into a lather.

  3. Rub the washcloth all over your toy (except for the charging hole, if there is one) for at least 30 seconds.

  4. Grab another clean washcloth, saturate it with warm water, and wipe all the soap off your sex toy.

  5. As usual, dry and store!

Toys you can clean with soap and water:

  • Almost any. The main exception is toys with manuals that expressly direct you to avoid all water (which is rare, but does happen).

Sex Toy Sterilization Methods

Where standard surface-level cleaning will get rid of most bacteria on sex toys, sterilization will destroy ALL bacteria! Sanitization is generally clean enough for most sex toy purposes, but sterilization can give peace of mind to clean freaks whose skin crawls at the thought of even the slightest bit of bacteria lingering somewhere. Those who plan to share their sex toys may also want to consider sterilization.

It should be noted that effective sterilization can only take place after you’ve sanitized your toys and is only a possibility when using nonporous toys.

UV Light

UV pouches can be a great post-cleaning sex toy tool to offer more peace of mind without putting much effort into sterilization. If we’re being honest (and we always are!), sex toy UV pouches won’t provide FULL sterilization due to:

  • 99.9% germ destruction ability (leaving a mere .1% of bacteria unaccounted for).

  • They only clean areas the UV light touches, so if your toy casts any shadows, the portions that rest in those shadows won’t be sterilized.

That said, UV pouches are a high-impact, low-effort way to give your toys a much more thorough clean than using soap and water or toy cleaners alone, which is nothing to scoff at! UV pouches can even be beneficial in cleaning (but not sterilizing) clear porous toys!

How to use a sex toy UV pouch:

  1. Place your clean, dry toy inside the UV sterilization pouch. Close the pouch, ensuring no portion of your toy is sticking outside.

  2. Activate the pouch’s UV sterilization and leave your toy inside for the duration directed by your pouch’s instructions (typically around 3 minutes).

  3. Remove your toy and store it!

Toys you can use a sex toy UV pouch for:

  • Nonporous toys small enough to fit their entirety within the pouch.
  • Clear porous toys small enough to fit their entirety within the pouch (for cleaning only – not sterilization.)

Recommended UV Toy Cleaner

Lovehoney Super Fresh UV Sex Toy Cleaning Pouch

Simplify disinfecting your toys with this amazingly convenient pouch. It's easy as one, two, three: pop your toy inside, plug in the pouch, and press the button on the front. In just three minutes, you'll have a freshly sanitized toy.

What customers say: "A great idea for those people who like to make sure their toys stay extra safe and fresh. Which I hope is most of us! I was really surprised by how simple this is to use, I'd say a must for any toy box!"

Buy Now


If you want your toys to be the cleanest of clean, you can boil them in a pot of water for sterilization.

Here’s how to use boiling water to sterilize your sex toys:

  1. Fill a large clean pot with water, filling it to a level that will fully submerge your sex toy. Place your pot on a stove and bring the water to or slightly above boiling temperature (212°F).

  2. Carefully place your toy in the pot (we don’t want any water splashes burning us, do we?), ensuring the entirety of your toy is submerged in the water.

  3. Leave your toy in the pot for 3-5 minutes, then remove it using tongs (again, let’s avoid burns!)

  4. Place your toy on a clean, lint-free towel or washcloth and let it air dry until the temperature is safe to touch. You can then use that same towel or washcloth to fully dry your toy before storing it.

Toys safe to boil:

  • Non-motorized sex toys made of stainless steel, borosilicate glass (commonly known as Pyrex), or 100% silicone

Smart Storage

It’s not just how you clean your toys that matters, but how you store them, too! Improper storage can make sanitization and sterilization efforts moot and decrease your sex toys’ lifespans.

First things first, your toys should be 100% dry before you store them, as bacteria thrive in moist areas.

The best place to store sex toys is somewhere cool, dry, and away from direct sunlight. You’ll also want to make sure none of your porous sex toys are touching while in their storage area; designated sex toy storage bags and cases can be super helpful for this purpose. Porous toys, particularly those made of soft materials, can adhere together.

And though it should go without saying, we’ll say it anyways: wherever you store your toys should be CLEAN! If you place recently cleaned toys in a dirty storage area, they’ll pick up dirt and grime and become unclean again in a jiffy.

Stellar Sex Toy Storage

The Lovehoney Forum
The best place on the internet to discuss all things sex and sex toys
Lovehoney Blog
Home of our famous Position of the Week series and more musings on sex and sexual happiness
Lovehoney on YouTube
Discover hundreds of videos on dozens of different subjects, all presented by our in-house sexperts