Adult Toys 101: How to Choose and Care for Body-Safe Sex Toys

When it comes to choosing a sex toy, the best one is whichever brings you pleasure. However, its also important to focus also important to choose body-safe sex toy materials AND know how to care for them.

Sex toys aren’t regulated

Most sex toys are considered “adult novelties” and as such, they’re not regulated as medical devices by the FDA, barring a few exceptions.

This means they can be made of any material, even ones that aren’t safe for your body. For example, many toys contain chemicals called phthalates. The EPA has been keeping their eye on this chemicals for quite some time because they’re thought to be toxic.

Many toys also are made of porous materials. This means the act like your skin—dust, dirt, bacteria, and even fluids can get stuck in the toy’s tiny little pores. Which means when you use the toy, you put all of that back inside you. No thanks!

Sex toy materials to avoid

You’ll want to avoid toys made of these materials:

  • jelly
  • rubber
  • TPR
  • TPE
  • PVC

These are usually listed on the toy description on a website or on the toy’s packaging.

Visually, these toys are often bright-colored and can be clear or jelly-looking. They also tend to be very cheap. Lastly, they smell chemically when you unbox them due to off-gassing from the not body-safe chemicals used to make them.

There are a number of body-safe sex toy materials

These materials include:

  • medical-grade silicone
  • borosilicate glass
  • ABS plastic
  • stainless steel

Silicone is everyone’s favourite

Clients and sex educators alike adore medical-grade silicone for many reasons.

  1. Safety. Silicone is a nonporous material. This is good for two reasons. First, gunk won’t get all stuck up in it. Secondly, you can both clean and sanitise it.
  2. Ease of cleaning. Speaking of cleaning, silicone can be sterilized in boiling water for three minutes or washed with gentle, non-antibacterial soap and water. No fancy cleansers necessary. Note: If you choose to sterilize a silicone vibe, only submerge the part that does not contain batteries and/or where the charger goes in! Use tongs to hold this end and dip the rest in.
  3. Feel.The feel of silicone toys varies, giving you lots of options for firmness level. Additionally, silicone’s surface feeling is always soft and smooth. They just feel good, plain and simple.
  4. Privacy. Toys made of this also generally super quiet. For example, you can crank our beloved We-Vibe Touch X to max speed and still barely hear it.

Read more: Our Favourite External Vibrators

Other Body-Safe Sex Toy Materials

While silicone is the gold standard of sex toy materials, it’s not the only option. Like silicone, these other materials are body safe, non-porous, and can be sterilized in boiling water.

Borosilicate glass

Let’s address the elephant in the room: borosilicate glass toys will not shatter.

At workshops, we would bang it against the table HARD to demonstrate how strong these toys are. Additionally, because of the process used to make borosilicate glass, if they were to break, they would crack internally.

SO, why glass? It’s smooth, firm, completely non-porous, and so easy to clean and sanitise.

It’s also ideal for temperature play. Pop it in the freezer or a bowl of warm water and have fun.

Oh and they’re so damn pretty, as you can see in Stellar and Gemini, our fave glass g-spot dildos.

ABS Plastic

If you want a vibrator that’s firmer, toys made of hard plastic are the way to go.

While silicone toys range in their firmness, they all have somewhat of a forgiving, squishy, cushy feel. ABS plastic does not.

It also non-porous and can be free of harmful chemicals if you purchase from a reputable company. Plastic body-safe sex toys should have NO seams.

These toys also tend to be less expensive, making them great for exploring what you like and dislike in a vibrator before investing in something longer-term.

The Tango X is powerful, quitet, and great body-safe lipstick style vibrator.

Stainless steel

Like glass, stainless steel is non-porous, hard, easy to clean and sanitise, and wonderful for temperature play. Plus, if you have lingering fears around glass breaking, stainless steel relieves them.

Stainless steel sex toys also have weight to them. This is great for butt plugs as the weight can help the anal sphincters relax. For g-spot stimulation, the weight also allows you to apply more pressure (which many g-spots really like).

This one is a longterm fan favorite.

Read more: 5 Ways to Have a G-Spot Orgasm

Regardless of the toy material, make sure to care for your toys properly.

This includes cleaning and storage.

For cleaning you have a few options:

  1. Toy cleansers (without triclosan): This is my preferred method as its quick and easy and I don’t have to worry about leaving any residue because toy cleansers are made to rinse completely clean. Our favourite cleanser is the Intimate Organics Foaming Tea Tree Oil Cleanser. A bottle lasts forever and tea tree oil naturally disinfects your toys. Want to save the trip to the sink? This spray-on sanitiser from our friends at Dame is made with ease in mind.
  2. Gentle, fragrance-free soap and water. This one can be hit or miss and if you notice any irritation after using toys, try one of the other methods for a bit. Wash your toys like you’d wash your hands – 20 seconds, getting all sides, bends, and logos.
  3. Boil method. If your toy is not a vibrator you drop it into boiling water to completely sterilize it. You have two options here. One: put the toy in a bowl and pour boiling water over it. Let it sit for 3-5 minutes. Two: place the toy in a metal strainer in a pot of boiling water. Let it boil for 3-5 minutes. The five minute limit is super important so set a timer! This is great for anal toys, menstrual cups, and kegel balls. For glass and metal toys, check the toy manual. For vibrators, you’ll need to use tongs to hold the toy in water so that the motor doesn’t get wrecked.

Be sure to clean your toys after you take them out of the box (because: factories, ewwww) as well as after every use.

Be mindful around water

Glass and stainless steel toys are naturally waterproof. As are silicone and ABS plastic dildos. However, when it comes to vibrators it depends.

Silicone and ABS plastic vibrators can be water-proof OR water-resistant. what’s the difference?

Water-proof toys can be submerged. Enjoy them in the shower, tub, pool, wherever! These tend to be more expensive.

Water resistant toys can get wet—like for cleaning–but not be submerged. These tend to be less expensive.

Often brands will offer both types of toys in order to give you a range of price options. Be sure to review the directions in your toy to find out what kind it is.

Keep your luxury sex toys lint-free and hidden (if you want).

The third easy way to make your luxury sex toys last and last is to store them well. A lot of companies send you a bag with the toy. This is great-use it!

If your toy didn’t come with a bag, look for something lint-free. This makes sure you don’t get fuzzles inside of your and helps keep bacteria out. I love the Devine Drawstring Bag because its bigger on the inside (yes, like the Tardis). You can actually stash 3-5 toys. Have an even bigger collection? Check out the Playchest.

The benefit of sex toy storage is that it keeps them organized and hidden. If you have kids, pets, nosy roommates/neighbors/in-laws, this is priceless.

Body-safe sex toy give you the most bang for your buck

For years, you could gauge the quality of a toy by its price (more so than in any other market). Thanks to newer, direct-to-consumer brands like Unbound and Maude, this is shifting. You get all the same benefits of body-safe materials, rechargeable batteries, and long-lasting products (with warranties) with less of a markup.

We only recommend sex toys made of body-safe materials

Your health and safety are of the utmost importance to us at PbK. That’s why we only recommend sex toys made of body-safe materials, from companies who have reputations for centreing consumer safety.

Click here to see a list of our all-time favourite body-safe sex toys!

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