It goes pretty much without saying that there’s a lot to love about sex toys. They’re great ways to not only enhance your solo pleasure sessions, but to turn up the dial on partnered sex. They can teach you more about your body, as well as make you a better lover. They can introduce you to exciting new sensations you never even knew you were into before as well.

However, sex toys become a lot less awesome when you’re not well-versed in sex toy safety. Here we’ll go over some of the most important things to keep in mind when it comes to using and sharing sex toys safely. We’ll go over a few tips for washing and maintaining your toys as well.

  1. Make sure the toys you choose are non-toxic.

Society is getting better at opening and maintaining an informative dialogue when it comes to sex. However, sex toys still occupy a grey area. They’re definitely out there and people absolutely use them. However, public leaders and the education system still largely refuse to acknowledge them. Not only do very few sex education classes cover sex toy safety, but the general mindset out there also keeps the toy industry largely unregulated.

For that reason, it’s important to know how to avoid potentially toxic sex toys, especially if you have sensitive skin. Prioritize toys that are made from non-toxic, body-safe materials like medical grade silicone, glass, or stainless steel. You may also want to avoid toys that contain phthalates, chemicals sometimes used to soften rubber but that have also been linked to various health issues. Last but certainly not least, always buy your toys from brands and merchants you know you can trust to deliver a safe, high quality product.

  1. Be careful with toys that are porous.

Some sex toys have one very important thing in common with your skin – they’re porous in nature, meaning they contain tiny openings that can potentially hide bacteria or dirt. This makes them particularly challenging to clean and take care of. (In fact, you can never be 100% certain that they’re clean on a microscopic level at all.) While this may not be a huge deal if you’re only going to be using the toy in question on yourself, you’ll definitely want to think twice before sharing a porous sex toy with someone else.

You’ll also want to make sure that you not only wash your porous sex toys (i.e. toys made of rubber, vinyl, leather, wood, jelly, or thermoplastics) thoroughly, but that you let them dry thoroughly before putting them away. Otherwise, there’s a chance they could become sanctuaries for mold or mildew and nobody wants a moldy vibrator or dildo in their life, right?

  1. Understand that sharing isn’t necessarily caring.

As touched on above, it’s definitely possible for a sex toy to transmit bacteria and viruses, so it’s important to share responsibly. Porous sex toys pose a particular risk for obvious reasons, as they can harbor and transmit human papilloma virus (HPV) among other things. (This is the case even if they’ve just been cleaned.) For that reason, you’ll want to avoid sharing porous vibrators, dildos, or other toys with any sex partner you wouldn’t also feel comfortable having unprotected sex with (i.e. a spouse or a very long-term partner you trust).

Of course, this hardly means you can’t ever enjoy a toy with a one-night stand or a more casual partner. Just stick to non-porous materials like glass, stainless steel, or non-porous silicone for absolute safety. Also make sure you’re cleaning your toys thoroughly after each use.

  1. Use a condom when sharing insertable sex toys.

In case you don’t already know, condoms can just as easily be used on insertable toys like dildos and penetrative vibrators as they can flesh and blood penises. That said, they’re a great way to make communal sex toy use a lot more hygienic. Just make sure you’re using the right condoms on your toys, as not all of your options are created equally.

Avoid condoms that are lubricated, especially if you’re using a silicone sex toy. The type of lube that’s on these condoms doesn’t mesh well with silicone and can damage it, especially over time. Use latex condoms with your silicone toys instead. If you’d like to use a condom to safely protect and share a porous sex toy, you’ll want to use polyurethane condoms in particular. Otherwise, you risk harming the integrity of your toy.

  1. Don’t mix anal and vaginal use.

Passing a sex toy from person to person isn’t the only way you can expose yourself to infection. It can just as easily happen when you mix anal and vaginal play. Going from vaginal to anal stimulation isn’t as big a deal, but you never want to go from anal to vaginal. Anal bacteria can easily lead to very nasty, very serious infections when allowed to migrate to other areas of the body.

Yes, stopping to clean your toy first is a possible solution. If you’re like most people though, you’re either unlikely to want to stop in the heat of the moment or to do a rush job when it comes to cleaning. For that reason, you might want to consider using a different toy for each hole. Then you can play to your heart’s content without ruining the moment and take care of clean-up later.

  1. Establish a solid cleaning routine for your toys.

We’ve touched on the importance of washing your sex toys after every use when you’re using them with other people. However, it’s just as important to keep things clean and hygienic when you use a toy only on yourself. Sex toys that are washed frequently aren’t just less likely to spread disease. They actually last longer and maintain their integrity better as well.

Always wash every toy after every use. If you want to be extra safe, it’s a good idea to wash a toy before each use as well, especially if it’s been a while since you used it last. It’s easier than you think for your toys to pick up pet hair or lint, especially if you store yours under a mattress or in a bedside table drawer.

  1. Make sure you’re using the right soaps.

Yes, there actually is a “right” type of soap to use when it comes to sex toys. Also, it’s not the antibacterial soap you might think it is. While antibacterial soaps might seem like they make sense, especially if you’re worried about spreading disease, they actually leave a residue behind. Go for mild, unscented dish soap instead. It’s safe enough to trust with the plates you eat from and it’s ideal for cleaning anything that makes contact with your most intimate body parts as well.

You may also want to consider keeping some dedicated sex toy cleaner on hand. It’s simple and convenient to use, as you simply spray it on and wipe it off again. Perfect for remaining discreet if you live with roommates, children, or other family members you don’t necessarily want knowing about your extensive dildo collection! It’s ideal for people that simply don’t like the idea of toting a toy into the bathroom or the kitchen every single time they enjoy a quickie in the middle of the day as well.

  1. Using the right lube is important as well.

Remember when we talked about the importance of not using lubricated condoms on your sex toys? That rule of thumb applies to standard personal lubes as well. Lubes that are silicone-based or oil-based are phenomenal choices for sex that only involves flesh because of the excellent staying power they deliver. However, they’re not good for most of your sex toys.

Lubes that are silicone-based or oil-based lubes actually cling to toys that are made of silicone, jelly, rubber, or similar materials and can break down the surface over time. Go for water-based lubes or hybrid lubes instead. Just be sure to wash your toys all the more thoroughly after use.

  1. Make sure you’re using the right toys for anal play.

While many sex toys are more versatile than you probably realize, it’s especially important to make sure you’re careful when it comes to anal use. The wrong toys can damage the delicate tissue in and around your anal area. It’s also not unheard of for toys to become lost inside you or your partner if you use the wrong options.

Naturally, you don’t want your play sessions to end in tears, an embarrassing emergency room visit, or both, so always make sure you’re using toys that are designed for anal use. They include important safety features (i.e. flared ends) that will prevent them from becoming lost inside the body. They’re usually specially designed to maximize anal pleasure as well, so really, they’re too good to miss out on.

At the end of the day, you want your toy collection to enhance your sex life and make it better in exciting new ways. Making sure to stay safe, smart, and informed is the absolutely best way to do that.