Body-Safe Sex Toy Materials Guide
Body-Safe Sex Toys Guide
by Phallophile Reviews
When I learned Peepshow Toys only carries body-safe sex toys, I was extremely impressed. This commitment speaks volumes about Peepshow’s concern for customers’ well-being. Why? Because the sex toy industry is unregulated, manufacturers are free to profit from products that are porous (they can’t be fully cleaned!) and may even be toxic, leaching chemicals. These unsafe toys sometimes cause infections and even chemical burns. YIKES! So we as consumers are left to do our own research.
In contrast, Body-Safe sex toys are made of materials that will remain safely usable for many years, and can be 99.9% disinfected.
This quick guide will explain what safe sex toy materials are, and how to clean your pleasure products!
Body-Safe Sex Toy Materials
Peepshow Toys stocks the following materials because they're functionally nonporous. They're safe for internal (vaginal/anal) use, and more stable long-term for external (clitoral/penis) play too. They can be sanitized between uses, a deeper clean. (See the next section of this article for how-to sanitize.)
The best body-safe toy materials:
- Silicone, for vibrators, realistic and non-realistic dildos, plugs & more! Silicone is the only long-term safe material that can be "fleshy" soft,1 like in dual-density silicone dildos or SuperSoft anal toys.
- ABS plastic is a hard plastic that's chemically stable: BPA-free and more durable than plastics like polystyrene. It’s frequently used in body-safe vibrating toys, often together with silicone.
- Metal toys can be safe when they’re made of high-quality metals, like Njoy dildos and plugs, made of 311 medical grade stainless steel. These toys have impact! Aluminum is also used for metal toys after being anodized for stability—and it's lighter-weight than steel.
- Glass sex toys are super-smooth and offer firm pressure. Borosilicate glass like the Chrystalino blue line has been engineered to be resistant to stress, thermal shock, and acidic conditions. Do be careful not to drop your glass toy onto any hard surface from above, since (in that unusual case) its structural integrity may be compromised.
- Some stone and properly finished wood dildos are safe, when carefully made by a knowledgeable manufacturer. Makers must ensure that the finish provides a proper seal on these natural materials.
Cleaning Your Body-Safe Sex Toys
To clean your body-safe toys on a regular basis, all you need to do is:
- Wash them with normal soap and water, running your hands over them in the sink. It's like washing your hands: the soap creates lather, while rubbing your hands creates friction that removes microorganisms.2
- Wash for each toy for 30 seconds to a minute: Or perhaps longer if it's a larger toy, or a toy with more textures / crevices!
That's basic cleaning, to do after each time you use a sex toy. To deeper clean, a.k.a. sanitize, which kills 99.9% of germs3 (viruses, bacteria, fungi, yeast, etc.) on a sex toy, opt for any one of the following choices:
- Fits toys up to 10 inches long: The UV Sterilizer Pouch kills 99.9% of microorganisms in just a few minutes. To Use: First wash your toy with soap and water, by hand. Let it air-dry, or dry with a microfiber cloth. Then stick the toy inside the UV Sterilizer pouch & seal for 3 minutes: Done!
- Non-vibrating toys only: Silicone (with no motor) can be boiled in a normal kitchen pot, submerged with water at a rolling boil, for 3 to 5 minutes per side. Flip the toy(s) over with a silicone kitchen spatula after 3 minutes if the top of the toy isn't covered by water. Be careful: toys will be hot after they’ve been boiled, and remain hot for some time. Do not burn yourself.
- Water-resistant toys can be wiped down with 70% isopropyl alcohol. Thoroughly wash afterward the toy surface, scrubbing with soap and water.
- All body-safe toys that are waterproof submersible can be soaked in a 10%-bleach solution. That means 1 part bleach to 9 parts water, mixed together. Immediately after removing your toys from the bleach solution, be sure to thoroughly wash them with soap and water. Also remember to never boil bleach.
- 100% silicone (nonvibrating) toys can also be baked at around 350°F for up to half an hour. A glass pan, or parchment-lined metal tray, will work.
- Silicone (nonvibrating) and metal toys can be put through the sanitize cycle in a dishwasher (without detergent). However, super-soft silicone will be more subject to abrasion, so that its surface appears duller after dishwashing. Plus, some dishwashers do not have a sanitize cycle.
- Toys with cracks and crevices: For vibrators that have a seam between the ABS plastic and silicone sections, or highly textured petals like the Rose vibrator, you may have to work to remove fluids that try to dry in the crevices. A new, soft-bristled toothbrush is needed to scrub!
- Removing butt odors: Silicone toys can absorb butt odors in some cases. Odor particles are extemely small, tinier than even viruses, and therefore may linger even in a functionally nonporous material. To remove, try (1) rubbing the toy with 100% acetone; and if that's not enough, (2) seal the toy inside a plastic bag with a few sprays of enzymatic pet odor remover.4
When do you need to sanitize a sex toy, instead of just washing with soap and water?
- When you first receive a new toy, if you want to be extra-cautious. A deeper clean will remove any residue from the demolding, curing, and packaging processes.
- Between anal and vaginal use. It's most important to not switch a toy from butt play to vaginal use if it's not well-cleaned and dried. Anal bacteria in the vagina can result in bacterial vaginosis, where the vagina is overtaken by harmful bacteria that disrupt vaginal pH and balance.
- Between use by two different partners who are not already having unprotected sex with each other. This prevents the transmission of common sexually infections—especially important for viral STIs like HPV (which can cause cancer) and herpes (which can recur for life and is not curable).
- After each use *if* you have an active yeast infection, urinary tract infection (UTI), bacterial vaginosis (BV), or any bacterial or other sexually transmitted infection (STI). Be sure to thoroughly sanitize the toys before geting your groove back on with them: You might wait until several days after completing treatment for yeast, UTI, or BV.
Also be aware that lubricant matters. Avoid water-based lubricants with either glycerin/gycerol or propylene glycol for sure if you're prone to yeast infection, UTI, or BV; or if you're taking any new sex partners, from whom you can pick up an STI more easily when your vaginal or anal microbiome is affected by glycerin-containing lube.
To AVOID: Porous & Toxic Materials
We classify these toy materials as unsafe because they’re porous, and some may be toxic.
What’s that mean?
Porous toys are unsuited for long-term use because they will harbor bacteria, yeast or mold (fungus), viruses, and other pathogenic microorganisms for much longer than body-safe toys. These products can’t be sanitized like silicone, ABS, glass, or metal; so the bad microbes can continue to grow, no matter whether or not you use antibacterial toy cleaners or wipes.5
But, not all porous toys are toxic. Toxic toys leach harmful byproducts into the body, including unknown chemical additives6 and phthalates. Phthalates are a special cause for concern because these plasticizers (additives that make PVC and other rubbers softer and more flexible) have been associated with—but not directly linked to—cancer and numerous other health problems.7 Though not all phthalates are the same, at least one, di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate, is “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen.”8 Way back in 2008, research into phthalates led the US Congress to ban certain phthalates in children’s toys and other child-care products that might be sucked on or eaten.9
Yet, the following toy materials are still widely available! Here's what toys to avoid if you're shopping somewhere besides Peepshow Toys, which doesn't carry:
- TPE, TPR, "elastomer": Porous & can be harmful with extended use; not toxic. This class of materials is commonly used in penis masturbators, cock rings, and inexpensive dildos because they are cheaper than silicone, and can be squishy-soft. TPE/TPR toys are softened with oils (which oil depends on the manufacturer's decision) to make them softer and "more lifelike"—also making the TPE material less structurally sound, and more prone to microbial growth. TPE strokers like Fleshlights, for example, will easily grow mold if you leave them wet. Bacteria and fungi breed in water: and soft TPE/TPR molecules don't have the hydrophobic ("water-repellant") that platinum silicone does, so TPE toys will retain the water that allows pathogens to multiply, longer. Heat, humidity, and/or direct sunlight are also known to speed up TPE/TPR toy degradation. Softened TPR and TPE toys are porous, but not toxic like many of the materials further down this list.
- PVC: Overall, PVC is the most unhealthy toy material on the market It (polyvinyl chloride) is a synthetic plastic polymer that has to be softened by a plasticizer in order to be flexible. In the past, PVC toys (besides being porous) always contained phthalates, but recently—due to health and environmental safety concerns—non-phthalate PVC has been developed. For example, the Doxy Massager’s “soft head covering is made from a hypoallergenic medical grade non-porous PVC that is free from latex or undesirable phthalates.” Though PVC can be nontoxic in rare cases, it’s still more porous than silicone, and so it isn’t a good material to use internally (like in any dildo or anal toy).
- “Realistic-feel” products: Often found in male, canister masturbators, these materials are mysterious, in that they made be made up of multiple other porous materials in this list (like PVC or TPR) and softened with petroleum oils—we just don’t know. Some of these materials (Fleshlights) can’t even be cleaned with soap because this causes their material to begin to break down. Over time, realistic-feel products begin to exude oils (and other microorganisms hiding inside) and often become very sticky. "Realistic feel" toys may be labeled with names that obscure what they really are: like "Fantaflesh" or "Cyberskin."
- Rubber: This is a vague term that in the past, some toy makers have used to just not disclose what's in their toy. "Rubber" may be PVC containing phthalates, or TPR thermoplastic rubber—there’s just no way to tell for sure what’s in a "rubber" sex toy without costly chemical analysis. Though body-safe silicone may be called "silicone rubber," no one who makes 100% silicone products will just call them "rubber," because "silicone" is widely respected as a safe material.
- Latex: Latex is best known for its use in condoms. Assuming the user and their partner don’t have latex allergies, latex condoms are safe for a single use. However, latex condoms do have a limited shelf life because they degrade over time.10 Due to this lack of chemical stability, latex sex dildos (just like condoms!) become risky to re-use.
- Jelly: "Jelly" is just another name for either TPE or soft PVC—which might phthalates and other potentially harmful additives. Again, there’s just no way to know what’s really in this type of toy without expensive lab testing. Real-world users do sometimes experience harmful reactions including burning, itching, and pain.11
- "Soft plastic": This is another name that a retailer may call thermoplastic elastomer to hide what it really is.
Summary: If a toy is soft or is meant to be a realistic dildo, but the description does not say it's "silicone," then avoid it!
Stay safe, and have lots of fun doing it!!!
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1. Find a full listing in my Silicone Dildo Firmness post , listing toys from super-soft to hard.↩
2. Read more about the Science of Handwashing, and why soap and water is so useful for preventing infection, on this Centers for Disease Control page. ↩
3. The 0.1% of microbes that cannot be destroyed by UV light, nor by other typical sanitization methods, are bacterial endospores that are super-hardy: this includes anthrax spores and tetanus spores, which are quite unlikely to be currently living in your body. ↩
4. Enzymatic odor-remover cleaner suggestion sourced from SquarePegToys' extensive research with super-soft anal plugs. ↩
5. Antibacterial wipes and cleaners only clean the “absolute surface” of a toy; they can’t penetrate deeper into more porous materials like these softened thermoplastics or PVC.
6. See Joellen Notte (the Redhead Bedhead)’s article “How To Avoid a Toxic Relationship...With Your Dildo” for a list of other potentially harmful additives. ↩
7. The US Environmental Protection Agency notes that “Human health effects from exposure to low levels of phthalates are unknown. Some types of phthalates have affected the reproductive system of laboratory animals. More research is needed to assess the human health effects of exposure to phthalates” (emphasis added). Phthalates have also been tied to (but not proven to be the cause of) increased breast cancer risk, birth defects, preterm birth, and obesity and insulin resistance. ↩
8. This is from a report by the US Department of Health and Human Services’ National Toxicology Program. For more information on phthalates, see this page on the US National Library of Medicine’s website. ↩
9. See this page on the US Consumer Product Safety Commission’s website for more details about the law. ↩
10. See these state guidelines for a list of factors that influence the shelf life of latex condoms. ↩
11. See Dangerous Lilly’s post on the danger of jelly toys for examples of real-life horror stories. ↩