Jun 27, 2023
14% Of People Never Wash Their Vibrators. Here’s How To Clean Your Toys
Unwashed sex toys can put you at risk for serious health complications. After
Unwashed sex toys can put you at risk for serious health complications.
After ‘doing the dirty,’ some people leave their sex toys ... well, dirty.
In March of 2023, BedBible published the results of a survey asking respondents about sex toys. BedBible is a digital platform that posts educational information and reviews about sex toys. The study includes data from around 30,000 respondents. The survey is one of the first large-scale polls that collects information about Americans’ sex toy habits. Study participants revealed how often they use sex toys; what kinds and how many sex toys they own; how they use sex toys with (or without) sexual partners; etc.
Among these survey questions, the respondents reported how often they clean their sex toys. According to the study, "22% [of survey participants] only clean their vibrator after use" and "14% [of survey participants] have never cleaned their vibrator."
These hygiene habits are worrying for many gynecologists and sexual health experts.
Whether you use a sex toy solo or with other people, you should regularly clean it. Sexologist Amanda Morgan explains the potential hazards of using dirty sex toys in an article for NYT's Wirecutter: "Using unclean sex toys can potentially introduce unwanted bacteria or other pathogens—like fungi—into the vulvar-vaginal environment that can lead to the overgrowth of bacteria known as bacterial vaginosis or cause a urinary tract infection."
Genital areas can be warm and moist: an ideal environment for fungi like Candida albicans to grow. Most of the time, your body regulates these fungi, bacteria, and other organisms that live naturally on your skin. However, Candida albicans can cause thrush and genital yeast infections if the fungus overgrows. When you wear underwear, menstrual pads, or use sex toys, some of those organisms (including Candida albicans) can transfer onto those items. If you use dirty sex toys (or wear unwashed undies), you might increase your risk of developing a bacterial or fungal infection.
Besides yeast infections, you may experience more serious complications — like STIs and unplanned pregnancy — if you don't clean your sex toys. "While some STIs die once the fluid they live in dries, others (such as hepatitis and scabies) can live for weeks or months outside of the body. If you want to prevent pregnancy, it is also important to be remove sperm that may be on the sex toy before using near or in the vagina," according to Brown University's student health program. When you clean your sex toys, you remove body fluids and the sperm, fungi, or bacteria that those fluids might leave behind.
Washing your sex toys may seem time-consuming, but it's a vital way to protect your sexual health.
Before and after being intimate, surface clean your sex toys. Many toys are made with metal, glass, or silicone: smooth, easy-to-wash materials. Opt for unscented soap, warm water, and a clean washcloth to gently scrub your dildo, vibrator, or plug. Make sure you wash the parts of the toy that can come into contact with your skin. Depending on the manufacturer's instructions, you may want to remove the batteries and avoid submerging your sex toys entirely in water.
Let your sex toys dry completely before you use them again.