Here we are! Another starting point for another over reaching, super huge topic. Figured it was a good idea to lay some ground work before we really get moving & grooving. Today we’re talking about sex toy safety as a whole – and what the fuck that even is. A primer, so to speak.
Have you heard the term “body-safe” before? Have you ever picked up a dildo and wondered why the fuck it smelled like that? Have you, a friend, or a partner ended up with an infection that you didn’t know you could get? Trust me buddy – I think most of us frequent flyers of the masturbatory nature have. (And if you haven’t – consider yourself lucky! Hopefully this information will be helpful in you continuing to avoid those outcomes!)
So what is “sex toy safety”? We know what safe sex is (hopefully!) aka sex that minimizes any negative effects of enjoying yourselves – how to keep your bodily fluids to yourself, the important of peeing after sex, getting tested, all that good stuff. But how does that topic apply to fucking yourself, or any other sort of fucking involving objects that aren’t attached to a human being?
…It applies in a whole fuck of a lot of ways, actually. I’m breaking this down into sections (“body safe” toys, the importance of cleaning, sharing, & resources) – so feel free to navigate to whatever you need to hear the most, though I’m hoping you’ll soak it all in.
What does “body safe” mean, and why do you keep saying it?
Ah, body-safe. My favorite phrase of them all, music to my ears. Obviously, body-safe means something is relatively safe to stick in your body. But – sex toys are not regulated. They’re considered a “novelty” – and there’s no guidelines on what is and isn’t allowed. Scary, right? A lot of people assume because it’s sold, it must be tested! It must be safe! ….That’s not true. Wishful thinking! This isn’t makeup or medication we’re talking about, and companies aren’t required to tell you what something is made of, or that there could be a risk attached to putting it in your body.
Now, don’t get too scared. There’s plenty of stuff that’s safe to put on and in your body! What I deem as top tier body safe materials are things that are non-porous (and thusly can be sanitized – I don’t deem the Doxy as “fully body safe” without an attachment or cover on the head for this reason – the same is true for hard plastics.) A material being “porous” means it has tiny spaces or “holes” where air, bacteria, and everything else can sneak through – typically without us being able to see them for ourselves.
What makes a “body safe” toy? No mystery meat materials – non-porous materials, no phthalates. (Which should be avoided in general – but for things spending time in sensitive areas? Put me down for a “fuck no”.)
….But, also know that because these things aren’t regulated – plenty of companies will just throw phrases like “high quality” or “phthalate free” on packaging – along with making up names for the materials they use – Mystery Meats. (I’ll be covering where to shop for safe toys, the importance of trusting the companies you buy from & my reasoning for that in this series – but today we’re just covering the baseline of toy safety!)
Everyone starts somewhere – and I’ve owned plenty of not-so-safe (and absolutely horrific) toys in my time – the things that I’ve seen & had happen are exactly why I’m so militant about the subject now. (You never think it could happen to you!) Once upon a time I had what I thought was a Delightful Purple Strap On™. I ignored the awful chemical smell it had, and figured I was okay because it was only ever used with condoms – and the packaging claimed it was phthalate free, and none of the reviews I’d read mentioned it was dangerous! Now imagine my surprise when I was opening my toy box one day, and seeing it was no longer purple – and had 75% melted into another toy I owned at the time. Two birds, one disgusting & immediately thrown out stone.
Off the top of my head – things like hard plastic (which isn’t ideal – but is relatively body safe despite being porous, and should always be marked as phthalate free!) glass, metal, and 100% silicone are what you should be looking for. All safe! All cleanable! The only concern once you’ve got a safe material is cleaning it to keep it safe, making sure toys for anal use have a flared base so there’s no hospital visits, not dropping & breaking glass toys. (You can also read about good and bad types of glass toys here from DangerousLilly – the queen of toy safety!)
Material names and porosity is typically a green flag – but what about red flags? My biggest one to look out for past the material itself is smell. Toys shouldn’t smell like you live inside a raincoat. They also shouldn’t seep anything weird – think sweating oil. If a toy changes in appearance, texture, or smell – it should probably be chucked, and likely wasn’t the safest in the first place so try not to shed any tears over it.
Honestly, I don’t care how great that Mystery Meat toy feels to you – it’s a disaster waiting to happen, and frankly you deserve better. (& The downsides of a non-safe toy? Burning! Infections! All sorts of bad vibes. Just…please don’t. My current toybox includes one toxic toy that should be chucked – because I’m in a world of regret 10 seconds after I pick it up, EVERY time.) I know the level of research I do before I buy a toy is probably a little outside of the norm – but I wish it was the average. You deserve to know what’s in your toys, and what that means for your body!
My toys are safe, how do I keep them that way?
So, now that we’ve got a “safe” toy in hand, we’ve had a great time, I can just wipe this off with a baby wipe, right? Bitch, please don’t be gross. This seems beyond basic. Sure, I won’t shove a dirty toy in me! Sounds great! It’s something that no one feels like they should say – but ultimately should. (Also, you should probably be washing them before you pick them up in the first place! I don’t care how locked-down your storage is, sex toys don’t exist in a bacteria-free bubble!)
I’ll admit that I’ve done it, I think everyone has. Especially from a disability & spoonie standpoint – the last thing I want to do at the end of the night is trudge to the bathroom to wash my toys. But, y’all don’t want a UTI or a yeast infection – or even worse, right? (Especially dangerous if toys are going into more than one orifice – not necessarily in the same sitting, but in general. Also, please don’t stick something in your ass and then into your own or any other vagina without washing them first. I shouldn’t have to tell you that, but I will.)
The main thing I look for with insertable toys is that the material is non-porous (again, hard plastic is porous!) besides not wanting weird chemical combos to seep into my business is that soft, porous toys can’t be fully sanitized. Anyone that knows me in real life knows I’m kind of a germaphobe, and I can definitely vouch that I’m even more meticulous with it when it comes to my sex toys.
Personally – I use a sanitizing toy cleaner (which some people avoid because it can leave a residue! I can’t say what will work best for you.) but usually wash with soap & hot water first. (It doesn’t take as long as I always think it will – though some of my toys did come with booklets specifically about cleaning them in a very specific way and it’s a necessary hassle for some more complicated toys.) You can also wash things with rubbing alcohol, and even boil things like silicone dildos – people even throw them in the dishwasher sometimes!
At the very least, you should be scrubbing things down with hot water & (hopefully unscented) soap after use. Or else. Just saying. (I have resources for entire guides on cleaning linked at the end of this post!)
But what about sharing toys?
So we know how to have safer partnered sex, right? (If not – click here) What about keeping things as safe as possible with another participant? The same rules apply – barriers & condoms are awesome. If you’re already sharing fluids with someone, realistically you can share non-porous toys, but you should still be careful – goddamnit. (You can read this listicle on the topic here for more)
If you’re already buying safer toys, and washing them correctly, this becomes less of an issue. But if you still have jelly toys (like the aforementioned strap on from the first section) or hard plastics that you’re attached to for some godforsaken reason – you should be using barriers. Period. I’m not your mom and can’t tell you what to do – but I don’t care if you’re already drinking each others cum, past the (hopefully obvious) reality that STIs & STDs can be transmitted via toys – no one needs their bodies pH thrown or some mysterious bacteria or chemical from deep within a toys Mystery Meat in their bodies.
That’s great and all, but where can I read more?
Here’s a handful of exhaustive articles, websites, and other fun things written by people that know a hell of a lot more than I do. This post isn’t meant to be the end-all be-all of sex toy safety, please use it as a springboard for continued learning, not the final destination. Now, go forth and read!
- DangerousLilly – The Definitive Guide to Toxic Toys
- DangerousLilly – Guide to Sex Toy Cleaning
- DangerousLilly – Glass Sex Toy Safety
- DangerousLilly – Safe Sharing Guide (aimed at non-monagamous folks, useful info for everyone regardless!)
- HeyEpiphora – The Case Against Toxic Sex Toys
- Kinkly – A Guide To Safe Sex Toy Materials
- Planned Parenthood – Safer Sex
So, what’s the takeaway here? Well, I’ll assume that sex toy safety “common sense” isn’t as common as it should be because as humans, most of us kind of don’t talk about these things when we really should. Just like anything else revolving around your body & sexual health, staying informed, being vigilant, and getting your research on is absolutely vital. Your body deserves things that not only feel good, but are safe for it – damnit!
I hope you learned something, but if you didn’t – kudos on already being informed, I love my research and safety freaks. Have you had any toxic toy nightmares unfold? Do you have any tips on safer toy use? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!
Stay tuned, in the next installment of PSA’s we’ll be talking about the actual process of buying safe toys – and what to look for & look out for in a toy store!