So, let’s talk about sex, baby…sex toys, that is. These are wonderful man-made gifts that can provide you with the…ahem…relief you need when you’re alone. You can also use them with a partner or partners for hours of enjoyment.
Now the words “sex toys” could bring a blush to your cheeks, and that’s ok. Unfortunately, sexual health is still a bit stigmatized, particularly aspects of the sexual experience that deviate outside the act of two people consummating their relationship.
But Sex Toys Aren’t Anything to Be Ashamed Of.
In fact, they offer a large handful of benefits, whether you’re using them alone or with someone else.
That being said, education in regard to these toys is pertinent. It’s crucial to know what you’re using and putting inside of your body. All different types of toys are made with all different types of materials. Some are almost 100% safe, while others…not so much.
Luckily, there is endless information out there on this topic and numerous experts who can set you straight on almost any sex toy question you may have.
One Such Expert Is Kimberley Spinney. Spinney is an adult romance party consultant. She was able to help guide me through the must-know information on sex toys, from the best kinds to use to proper cleaning techniques and hygiene.
What Are the Different Sex Toy Materials?
According to Spinney, “There are actually about 25 different materials used to make dildos, not including trademarked materials that may incorporate something else that is on the market already.” Before I go into the most popular materials and their pros and cons, I want to first mention something very important:
Stay Away From Phthalates.
Phthalates are “a group of chemicals used to make plastics more flexible and harder to break. They are often called plasticizers.” Sounds relatively innocent, right?
Phthalates have also been classified as a “probable human carcinogen” by the FDA. If you forgot what the word “carcinogen” means (like I did), it is “an agent with the capacity to cause cancer in humans.” Not exactly something you want anywhere near your nether regions.
Try to memorize the word phthalates (as difficult as that may seem, what with the random consonants strewn haphazardly about in its spelling). If you see that listed on the packaging for a sex toy, I’d heavily advise you to steer yourself towards a different option.
So, Which Material Is the Best?
Now that we have some of the dangerous stuff out of the way, let’s take a look at a material that’s considered to be one of the safest used for insertable sex toys.
I know, I know, the very thought of possibly having something break while inside of your body is horrifying to say the very least. The good news is, however, glass sex toys aren’t made with your every day run-of-the-mill shatterable glass.
Wait, Wait, Wait…
Before I continue in my description of glass toys, I should note that I am referring to the ones that are legitimate, durable, tested, and safe. Unfortunately, there are a lot of seedy people out there trying to make a quick buck so it is possible to buy cheap, poorly-crafted glass sex toys.
Some Red Flags Regarding Glass Sex Toys:
- The word “Pyrex.” This is not a type of glass, it is a brand. According to Lovense.com, Pyrex was a well-trusted American company. Now, that has changed. Most of the products made now are cheaper and not made with sturdy, durable glass as they had been before.
- So, if someone is trying to sell you sex toys made of Pyrex glass, this is false advertising. This could be an honest, innocent mistake on behalf of the seller, but it could be purposely misleading and dangerous. Proceed with caution and contact the seller before you make a purchase, just in case.
- Painted glass sex toys. The danger that tags along with paint of any kind is lead. For even more reassurance, places sell lead testing strips that allow you to test paint or painted objects for lead.
Back to the ‘Good’ Glass Toys
So, I’ve mentioned a few times that “good” glass sex toys are well-made and durable. How can you tell which ones are “good”? Here are a few pointers:
- Look for “annealed” glass. This is the word for glass that has undergone a cooling treatment as a way to improve durability. In other words, it’s a stronger glass.
- Also, keep an eye out for the word “tempered.” Some people confuse tempered glass with annealed glass. The difference is tempering glass means heating it up and then quickly cooling it down to make it stronger and more durable. This type of glass is usually even stronger than annealed glass.
- Borosilicate glass. This is a type of glass that contains boron trioxide which allows for a very low coefficient of thermal expansion. If that sentence means almost nothing to you, as it did for me, here’s the simpler meaning: this glass will not crack under temperature changes. This is great news for a sex toy because the places it will go definitely vary in temperature.
- Soda-lime glass. This is more of the “run-of-the-mill” type glass that I mentioned earlier in the article. Soda-lime glass, though inexpensive and relatively durable, is not as hard or as strong. It also is more susceptible to thermal shock and temperature changes.
- Here are some of the most-recommended glass sex toys.
More Safe Materials
- Silicone sex toys are extremely durable, as well as resistant to bacteria build-up.
- These toys have a lot of range, from very squishy to pretty firm, so you have tons of choices. This is particularly convenient if you’re using them with a partner because you could find one that feels great for both of you.
- Some silicone toys feel almost life-like, which can be pretty fun if you’re using it solo.
- Here are some of the most-recommended silicone sex toys.
- These toys are hypoallergenic, non-toxic, non-porous, and can be used with any sex-lubricant.
- Keep an eye out for painted ABS plastic sex toys.
- Never boil ABS plastic toys.
- Here are some of the most-recommended ABS plastic sex toys.
- One of the best features of metal sex toys is, just like glass, they can be used with temperature play.
- They are extremely easy to clean.
- Here is one of the most-recommended metal sex toys.
- Bioskin is 100% silicone material.
- Some people call this “as close to the human body as possible.”
- It is ecologically safe, hypoallergenic, non-porous, and easily cleaned.
- Here is one of the most-recommended Bioskin sex toys.
Sex Toy Materials To Avoid
- Remember phthalates? Jelly sex toys are known to have a lot of them. In fact, a jelly sex toy could claim to be phthalate-free, but the company could totally be lying (and that’s legal!)
- Although jelly sex toys are usually inexpensive, there are a ton of other chemicals in them and since they are so cheaply made, they can break easily. This means those chemicals can go into you or your partner. Blech.
- These are also materials that have phthalates added to it in order to make them more flexible.
- Not only that, but manufacturers aren’t required to list every single ingredient used to make up these cheaper types of sex toys so you really don’t know what you’re putting into your body.
- This maybe goes without saying, but rubber and latex are very easy to be allergic to.
- Cyberskin sex toys have been referred to as “wishing they could be what Bioskin sex toys are.”
- Like many of the other not-so-safe sex toy materials, Cyberskin is porous (meaning all those little bacterias can live inside it.) Also, these types of toys usually have a plethora of different chemicals that make them up, some of them not listed. It’s best to stay away.
- So, not much research has been done on the safety of stone sex toys, so I would steer clear if I were you until we know a little bit more.
- As for crystal sex toys, they don’t offer a whole lot. Crystal is a porous material, meaning it has lots of tiny holes that can hold bacteria. (I know, so gross).
At the end of the day, however, it’s up to you (or you and your partner[s]) to decide which material of sex toys is best for you. “Everybody is different, therefore this is not a one size fits all situation. However, elastomer is good for anyone who has chemical sensitivities. Medical grade silicone is perhaps the most reliable, safe, health-smart, soft material for any sex toy. Stainless steel is easy to clean. Chrome Alloy is hypo-allergenic and non-toxic, plus when it is sanitized, it makes it so that it is unable to transmit infections.” says Spinney.
Cleaning Your Sex Toys
Now that we know all about the different materials sex toys can be made out of, it’s important to know how to clean them. According to Kimberley Spinney, “There are sex toy cleaners that make it much easier to keep the toys clean. For some toys, such as pyrex glass or stainless steel, they can be cleaned in a dishwasher…Not only do you want to get any bodily fluids off of them after use, but it is important to clean them before use to make sure there is no dust or debris being introduced to the body.”
Important Aspects of Cleaning Your Sex Toy
- Finding the right soap. Don’t get super smelly soap. This could mess with your body’s pH levels.
- You can clean most toys by wiping them down with warm water and soap on a washcloth.
- If you have a toy made of borosilicate glass, silicone, or stainless-steel that doesn’t vibrate, you can boil them for 3 to 4 minutes to fully disinfect them.
- If you need a quick clean, there are also specific sex toy cleaners available. Make sure to read the fine print in regards to the material of your toy and the ingredients of the cleaner, of course.
- If you’re using sex toys with a partner, or partners, it’s especially crucial to make sure you’re cleaning them and taking the correct precautions, particularly if any of the people involved might have an STD or STI. “You absolutely can get an STD from a dildo if you aren’t properly cleaning them and sanitizing them,” says Spinney.
- If you’re sharing sex toys, you can always put a condom over them to prevent any transmittance of disease. Here are some other fun, safe ways to share sex toys.
- Another part of keeping your sex toy clean is properly storing it. The best way to store your sex toy is in the original packaging, a plastic container, or a satin bag.
This is a good deal of information and can seem pretty overwhelming to some, but that’s ok. You may never have tried using sex toys before, and that’s also ok!
Like Kimberley Spinney says, “If you have someone, such as a toy party consultant, ask them for help, and always make sure that the person you ask actually knows what they are talking about. There are plenty of people selling sex toys, who may not be able to guide you, so it is also a good idea to speak to a doctor if you have concerns. They can guide you and hopefully answer your questions and guide you to the product that works best for you. Never be embarrassed to get help and reach out to a sex toy consultant or doctor if you have questions.”