PSA: Your Unwashed Sex Toys Can Give You Salmonella

This is not a drill.
Javier Sánchez Mingorance / EyeEm via Getty Images

Be honest, I know you have a box of sex toys hiding away in the back of your cupboard. The stigma towards using toys during sex is slowly started to fade but we don’t want them out on display for everyone to see. Even though they’re incognito, they don’t have to be a dirty little secret.

Yes, sex toys are used to get dirty, but that doesn’t mean that they should be filthy. Sex toys can be a breeding ground for bacteria, viruses, dirt, and dust. This is why it might be time to give your sex toys are nice good old wash. have collaborated with Dr Deborah Lee of Dr Fox Online Pharmacy to share why and how we should keep our sex toys clean.

“Good hygiene is paramount in terms of putting objects inside the vagina or the rectum. Bacteria such as salmonella, shigella, E. Coli, and campylobacter can all be spread via the use of sex toys, as can hepatitis A, B, and C, chlamydia, and gonorrhoea,” Dr. Lee says.

I know it seems like a bit of a faff but you should really be cleaning your toys after use according to If not, you’re risking getting bacteria on it which you don’t want anywhere near your genitals. How you clean them depends on the type of toy but here’s a step-by-step guide.

Take a photo of your sex toy’s instructions before throwing the box out

This isn’t sexy I know but, it’s important to prevent the lifespan of toy.

Check what type of sex toy you have

Several people are unsure how to wash their sex toys, especially vibrators, given that water will destroy the vibrator mechanism. Firstly, you should check whether your vibrator is waterproof, which can be discovered via your vibrator’s instructions, however, if you don’t have them, you can always Google your vibrator to find out more information on a product page.

Products marked as “water-resistant” or “splash-proof” aren’t fully waterproof, however, it will still be able to handle a tiny bit of water given that its sole purpose is to make you wet. Comparatively, “waterproof” vibrators, which are usually made of silicone, can be cleaned with water for longer.

How to clean your sex toy depending on the type

For basic toy care, you should remove any batteries before you begin to wash your vibrator.

If you have a “water-resistant” or “splash-proof” vibrator, you can use a damp, soapy washcloth to clean it. Simply apply some antibacterial soap to the dishcloth, submerge it in water, drain the washcloth and then scrub for 20 seconds.

Just make sure to pick a mild, unscented soap so that you don’t mess with your vagina’s PH balance and cause an infection. And also make sure to never place the vibrator under the tap or fully submerge it in water, as you should only ever use the amount of water that the washcloth can retain.

Don’t put your sex toy in a dishwasher

If your sex toy needs a deeper clean, some people suggested putting it in the dishwasher, however, you should not do this.

For a start, anything with electrical components will be ruined, plus the dishwasher leaves a residue that is not meant to end up inside the vagina and could, therefore, cause an infection. Instead, you can boil any silicone, glass, or metal toys (without electrical parts) for 1-3 minutes.

Always let your sex toys air dry

Once you’ve cleaned your sex toy, place it on a clean paper towel and allow it to air dry. This is the best way of preventing lint from getting stuck to the toy and causing potential infections, whilst also allowing the nooks and crannies to fully fry. If your toy is battery-operated, make sure to leave the battery case open when air drying.

Keep your sex toys in a clean bag

Once you’ve cleaned your toys, it’s important to store them properly so they stay clean until their next use. Many sex toys come with a fabric pouch, case, or box but if it didn’t, you should use a sealable pouch to prevent the build-up of dust.

Hold off using it for another 24 hours

Some studies show that even if a sex toy is washed, some viruses can remain on them for up to 24 hours after cleaning. With this in mind, please exercise caution when using a toy and not use it for 24 hours after it was last cleaned.