Cleaning Sex Toys With a Dishwasher: Does It Actually Work?

By Kevin Foley / June 08, 2022

Yes, cleaning sex toys with a dishwasher does work (and it’s actually quite simple!).

After your toy has been cleaned off, you simply place your sex toy(s) in the dishwasher, turn it to “sanitize”, and run it through the cycle.

Easy enough, right?

Well, while this method might work fine for you, there’s also a chance that you’ll completely ruin your sex toy…

No good!

Keep reading to learn:

  • How to tell if your toy is dishwasher-safe
  • If using the dishwasher is worth it, &
  • Methods for effectively clean any type of sex toy!

Different Types of Toys

There are many different types of sex toys. Consequently, there are many different types of materials used to make these toys. When trying to figure out whether you can clean your favorite toys in the dishwasher, you’ll first need to determine what materials your toy is made of. The sections below will help you categorize your toy.

Non-Porous

Non-porous materials are dishwasher-safe. The term “non-porous” means that these materials don’t have pores in them (unlike porous toys). Since they don’t have any pores for bacteria to hide in, they can be sanitized and even completely sterilized with the right methods! This makes them ideal materials for internal-use sex toys like dildos or anal beads.

For better or for worse, there aren’t many non-porous sex toy materials. This somewhat limits your options when shopping, but it also makes it easy to remember which materials are non-porous! Your sex toy is non-porous if it’s made from:

Porous

If your sex toy is made from any material other than the ones that are listed above, chances are, it’s porous! Common porous sex toy materials include TPE, PVC, “Jelly”, leather, and “silicone blends”. Porous materials are generally cheaper, making them popular for budget-friendly sex toys. However, these savings come at a price: you can’t sanitize or sterilize porous materials!

Not all is lost though: porous toys can still be safe to use. If safety is your top concern then we’d recommend using a condom with your porous sex toys. This will help protect you from any bacteria hiding within the pores of the material. To use (or not use) a condom is up to you, but you should always try to avoid toys with phthalates. If it’s not labeled “phthalate-free”, it’s not body-safe!

A Dishwasher-safe Sex Toy Will Be…

Non-porous

Completely waterproof

Free of electrical components

“Waterproof” Vs. “Splashproof”

The dishwasher method only works with non-porous materials. If you’ve determined that your toy is non-porous, you’ll next need to figure out its water resistance level. There are three common levels: not waterproof, “splashproof”, and “waterproof”. The first level is self-explanatory, but the latter two can be confusing!

Splashproof toys can be briefly exposed to water. However, they’re not designed for complete immersion and will likely fail if held underwater. These toys aren’t even shower-safe: keep them out of the dishwasher!

Waterproof toys are just that: waterproof! Since they’re are designed to be used underwater, meaning they’re just as effective in the bathtub as they are in bed. Some shower toys are manually operated, meaning they don’t rely on internal electronics (like a regular dildo). Those types of toys can be washed in the dishwasher! 

However, if your toy contains internal electronics (like a vibrating dildo), you should keep it out of the dishwasher. Sure, the silicone exterior might survive the heat of the dishwasher, but the internal electrical components likely won’t fare as well. Skip the dishwasher, and try one of the methods mentioned below instead.

Using the Dishwasher

  1. Make sure your toy(s) are dishwasher-safe.
  2. Remove any other items that are currently in your dishwasher (you’ll be washing the sex toys alone).
  3. Skip adding soap, since this will leave unnecessary and potentially harmful residue.
  4. Place your toys on the top rack in your dishwasher.
  5. Set the dishwasher to “Sanitize” (or similar mode with water temperatures exceeding 150º F).
  6. Remove your toy(s) after 10 minutes.
  7. Make sure your toys are properly dried before storing them away.

Alternatives to Cleaning Sex Toys With a Dishwasher

Realized the dishwasher won’t work? Not to worry—there are plenty of other options! Let’s start simple first, beginning with a method that works on pretty much any toy (regardless of the type of material used!).

Washing Your Toys by Hand

Handwashing is the basis of dildo cleaning. Requiring only some warm water, a bit of antibacterial soap, and about 2-3 minutes, there’s no excuse to skip this step. Both porous and nonporous toys can be hand washed! Even if you’re going to use the dishwasher, it’s important to always handwash your sex toy(s) first. We recommend washing your toy once using soap and water, then again using only water. This will remove any soap residue, leaving your toy clean!

Toy cleaners are an alternative to using antibacterial soap. Which method you use is a matter of personal preference. However, if you opt for the toy cleaner, make sure to read the instructions first. The label should tell you the recommended application method for that particular product!

Boiling

Boiling is a method that only works with non-porous, non-electronic sex toys. Metal and glass toys will nearly always be fine to boil, but some silicone toys may not be. It depends: is your toy made of 100% silicone or a “silicone blend”? If it’s the latter then you should avoid boiling it since the toy may melt! 

After hand washing a toy, you can boil it to sterilize the surface. Simply boil a pot of water, insert the toy into the boiling water, and leave it in there for a minimum of three minutes!

Using UV Lights

Ultraviolet Light sanitization is an expensive option that’s likely not worth your money. It requires purchasing a dedicated UV light sanitation box large enough to house your toy. Unfortunately, the UV box can only sanitize the parts of the toy reached by the light. As such, this method may not be effective in sanitizing more textured toys. Considering the additional cost and low effectiveness, we’d recommend sticking to the boiling method instead.

Cleaning Vs. Sterilizing Vs. Sanitizing

So far, we’ve gone over three different terms: cleaning, sanitizing, and sterilizing. Do they all mean the same thing? Of course not! Here’s a quick reference guide to help you tell the differences.

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  • Cleaning refers to the physical removal of liquids, oils, dirt, and other foreign materials.
  • Sanitizing is a process that removes most—but not all—of the bacteria present on a sex toy. It does not include the physical removal of foreign substances.
  • Sterilizing a toy completely removes all bacteria and viruses from the surface. Like sanitizing, it does not include the physical removal of foreign substances.

Still Not Sure Whether You Should Be Cleaning Sex Toys With a Dishwasher?

Well, the dishwasher is actually for “sanitizing” your toys, not cleaning them! If your dishwasher doesn’t have a “sanitize” mode then you don’t need to worry, as putting your toys in there won’t do much. However, if it can “sanitize” then it might be a possibility, but if you’re unsure what type of material your toy is made from, just stick to handwashing. While this won’t completely remove all foreign substances from your toy, handwashing alone is normally sufficient (assuming you do it on a routine basis). 

It’s better to play it safe than to end up sorry!