Keep them clean, because sharing is not caring
Posted by TooTimid Staff to How-To Sex Tips Guides
Some people really believe in the precepts they learned in kindergarten. They want to share, and they want to share everything. In fact, these incredibly kind and generous people are why, in the winter, everyone you work with gets sick, since they would never even think about staying home and keeping their germs to themselves. No, they have to come into the office and spread them around like the good, giving people they are. I have something to tell those people, and that is this: sometimes sharing isn't caring. When it comes to germs, it's nicer to keep them to yourself.
When you're dealing with germs in the office, the solution to staying healthy is pretty simple. Wash your hands, and wash them a lot. Then wash them an extra time after touching anything that may have been handled by the sneezing person in the next cubicle. But what about dealing with germs in your private life? How do you clean your sex toys to keep from sharing any germs with your partner… or even with yourself?
Simplicity Is The Key
The easiest way to keep your sex toys clean is to put condoms on them before using them. Then, when you're done with them for the evening (or the afternoon… or the morning) you can simply take off the condom, wipe them down, and put them away. If no body fluids get on the sex toys then the need to clean them is minimal. Condoms are, unquestionably, the safest way to share toys, but people who aren't sharing their toys, or at least not often, may find them to be a bit overly cautious. Also, since for some toys the surface texture is the very thing you want to experience, condoms are not always ideal. In that case, what's the best way to make clean your toys in order to make sure that you don't end up with anything other than a nice orgasm?
In general, for obvious reasons, hard smooth toys are the easiest to clean and soft squishy toys are the hardest. Different materials may be more or less porous and, as such, more or less difficult to clean. When in doubt, particularly if you're sharing a toy, put a condom on it. In fact, I personally believe that you'd need a pretty compelling reason to not use a condom on a shared toy, and I've never heard one that convinced me. Clean your toys as soon as possible after you've finished using them, and don't put them away until they're both clean and dry. Just as when you're trying to get the gunk off the dishes, some studies have found that disinfectants are more effective at killing viruses on surfaces before they have dried out, so why make your life any more difficult than it has to be?
One of the most effective ways to wash your sex toys is to wash your sex toys. Mechanical cleaning, in other words scrubbing, is one of the most efficient ways to remove germs and fluids from a surface. Washing with dish soap and water, not even antibacterial soap, can be a very efficient way to clean your toys, particularly those with smooth surfaces. In some studies, dish soap has actually been shown to be as effective a disinfectant as bleach. Some people also like to boil their (waterproof) toys or put them on the top rack of the dishwasher and run them through a sanitizing cycle. If your toys can take the heat, these can be effective ways to clean them… as long as you remember to empty the rack before your mother comes over and decides to help with the dishes after dinner…
If your toys aren't waterproof, you or your partner has a sexually transmitted disease, or you're really paranoid about germs in general, then disinfectants are going to be your toy cleaning method of choice. For best results, you would wash your toys and then disinfect them, but that may not always be possible. Even if it isn't possible to wash your toys with soap and water, it is always a good idea to clean them as soon as you can, and remember that the physical act of wiping off the toys is, in and of itself, an important part of cleaning.
When looking for a disinfectant, you're going to want to read the label carefully. The best disinfectants will state on their labels that they are rated to kill Hepatitis (may be listed as HBV, HCV, or HAV) and HIV/AIDS, and they should also state that they are bactericidal (i.e. that they kill bacteria) and possibly fungicidal (i.e. that they kill fungi). Instead of listing specific viruses, such as Hepatitis and HIV, some disinfectants may state that they are capable of killing both enveloped and non-enveloped viruses, which is telling you essentially the same thing.
In order to use a disinfectant properly, you need to read the instructions. Some will tell you that you need to leave them on the surface for 30 seconds, while others require a full five minutes. Be careful to only choose disinfectants that are safe for contact with unprotected skin, and remember to always wipe or wash off toys after disinfecting them. Some ingredients that you should look for in your disinfectants include: benzalkonium chloride and povidone-iodine, although cetrimide/chlorhexidine and chloroxylenol are relatively effective as well. Alcohol swabs alone are not terribly effective tools for disinfecting surfaces, and if you're uncertain about a cleanser's ingredients your best bet is to check the label to see what it does, and doesn't, kill.
If you don't share your sex toys, you may wonder why it's so important to clean them. You'd be right that a hospital grade disinfectant is probably overkill, but a good cleaning is simply good sense. Why? You have a lot of bacteria on your skin. Most of the time, they hang out there happily and don't cause any problems, but give them an opportunity and the same bacteria that haven't bothered you for the last 10 years can suddenly make you quite miserable indeed. For the vast majority of people, the vast majority of the time, the worst thing that could happen if you don't clean your sex toys well is that you might continue giving yourself the same yeast infection over and over and over again. Which, if you've ever had a yeast infection, is probably more than motivation enough to pull out the dish soap and start scrubbing away.
Disclaimer: There is very little research on effective ways to clean sex toys. The advice in this article is cobbled together from a combination of peer-reviewed articles on disinfectants to kill STDs, peer-reviewed articles on disinfectants in general, my training as a sex educator, and common sense. If you're sharing sex toys with a partner who has HIV, Herpes, Hepatitis, or any other highly contagious illness, I would strongly advise you to use condoms with any toys or, alternatively, each purchase toys of your own.
TooTimid Recommends: Pjur Med Clean
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