Love Slave

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Question

What's the best way to sterilize your toys? I've heard you can boil them. Or use bleach. But isn't bleach really toxic? What's the solution?

Answer

The proper technique for cleaning sex toys varies depending on what they are made out of and what you are trying to kill. Sex toys are made out of silicone, latex, several types of plastic, glass, steel, and myriad other substances these days. Each material has its own limitations in terms of how it can be cleaned without damaging it. If you are buying a sex toy and you're not sure how it should be cleaned, check with the retailer for advice! Most on-line sources for sex toys have a section on how to clean their merchandise.

The organisms that cause Chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, AIDS, herpes, genital warts, and hepatitis differ a great deal in their ability to survive outside of the human body. HIV, the virus that causes AIDS no matter what certain very fucked-up people will try to tell you, is pretty fragile. It doesn't last very long on a dry surface and can be killed with hydrogen peroxide, rubbing alcohol, a 10% solution of bleach and water (one part of bleach per ten parts of water), several other disinfectants such as betadine or nonoxynol-9, and heat. Hepatitis is really hard to kill without an autoclave which sterilizes objects with extremely high heat. You obviously don't want to put your dildos in one of those.

Who has used the toys, and who will use them next? If you are the only one who is using insertable sex toys, you can get away with a simple soap-and-water scrub and a good rinse. If you are in doubt, follow the manufacturer's directions. Silicone toys can be briefly boiled (ten minutes max) or put in the top rack of the dishwasher. Pyrex toys can also be boiled or put in the dishwasher, but glass toys can't tolerate high temperatures. Jelly rubber or cyberskin toys are fragile — you should only wash them in warm, sudsy water and then let them air dry. Some cyberskin toy manufacturers recommend dusting their product with cornstarch after washing to keep the toy from getting sticky. Use condoms on these toys; wash them off and change condoms between use; don't let them go from the anus to the vagina. Unless you are using a silicone, glass, Pyrex, or stainless steel insertable toy, you should absolutely use a condom — in part because there may be toxic chemicals in the toy such as toluene.

But if you were, for example, a carrier of hepatitis B, you should probably have your own set of insertable sex toys.

Don't immerse electrical toys in water unless they are sold as being safe to use in that environment! Remove batteries beforehand. Clean the part that touches your genitals with a damp, soapy cloth, then be sure to wipe off the soap with a cloth that contains water only. Water-safe vibrators have a rubber O-ring that protects the battery and terminals. Be sure it is in place, keeping the electrical workings waterproof, before you take it back to the hot tub!

What fluids will the toys be exposed to? Blood is more potentially dangerous than semen or vaginal moisture. A toy that gets blood on it, like a piercing needle, should be pre-sterilized and disposed of after one use. Dispose of any skin-puncturing or cutting toys like needles or scalpels in a sharps container. If you are going to whip someone hard enough to draw blood, I suggest using toys that are not made out of leather