How to Clean a Dildo: The Dishwasher, and Other Stories

The fun part of owning a dildo is, of course, using it. But, cleaning it? Not so much.

Too many of us neglect this aspect of owning sex toys, and it can do some serious harm. Using an unclean dildo can lead to all kinds of unpleasantness, including bacterial and yeast infections, and cleaning it wrong can result in damage to your toy or even yourself!

But worry not – here is your guide on how to clean a dildo correctly, thoroughly, and with the least amount of annoyance possible…

What is Your Dildo Made Out Of?

Not all dildos are created equal, and the material that yours is made of will affect how you should approach cleaning it.

The material that your dildo is made out of will fall into one of two categories: porous or non-porous.

Porous materials are, in short, bad, and aren’t particularly safe for your body. They contain microscopic holes that can harbour dirt and germs like bacteria, fungi and more, which are definitely not things that should be going anywhere near your genitals. Some porous dildos even contain toxic substances that can do some serious damage to your body, like phthalates, which have been linked to cancer [cite].

The tiny holes in porous materials mean that even your best dildo cleaning efforts won’t be that effective. You’re also limited in the ways that you can clean them, as they can’t be exposed to high temperatures or they’ll break down.

Some of the porous materials you’re most likely to come across include:

  • PVC
  • TPE/TPR
  • Vinyl
  • Jelly
  • Rubber
  • Latex
  • Silicone ‘blends’ (i.e. materials that aren’t 100% silicone)

When you’re searching for your new dildo, you should always try to go for a non-porous material, like silicone, glass, stainless steel, or even wood (as long it’s been sealed with a body-safe sealant). These are completely microscopic-hole-free, and can be cleaned and sterilized in a number of different ways, which we’ll go over next!

How to Clean a Dildo

Soap and Water

Luckily for most of us, finding out how to clean a dildo properly doesn’t require anything more than what you already have in your bathroom.

The easiest way to clean a dildo is with good old soap and water. Take a mild and unscented soap and lather up your dildo with it. Once you’ve got into all the grooves and crevices, rinse it off thoroughly with water, pat dry with a clean towel and you’re done!

However, don’t reach for that super creamy, lovely lavender hand soap just yet. You should really avoid using scented soaps, or ones with additives like moisturizers or exfoliants in them, as they can affect the pH balance of your genitals (especially if you have a vagina). This can lead to problems like bacterial or yeast infections – and I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that those aren’t worth the trip to the Dollar Store you saved.

Of course, if your dildo isn’t waterproof, you should keep it away from water, which can be the case if it vibrates or thrusts. As an alternative, you can apply some soap to a damp cloth and wipe down your dildo well, before wiping it again with a clean cloth and drying it thoroughly.

Sex Toy Cleaner

The other way to clean a dildo that you may have heard of is by using a sex toy cleaner. These come in many different forms, including sprays, gels, foams and even wipes.

If you’re lucky, your new dildo may come with its own little packet of branded sex toy cleaner, but as a general rule, dildos can be cleaned with any good quality sex toy cleaner. Some of our favorites include Lovehoney’s Fresh Toy Cleaner, and the organic Sliquid Shine Intimate Toy Cleaner.

Using one is pretty similar to using soap and water. All you need to do it apply it to your dildo, leave it on for as long is it says on the packaging, and then rinse or wipe off the excess.

There is but one potential hitch: there’s some debate as to how effective sex toy cleaners can be if they’re not rinsed off properly. They may not catch absolutely all the nasty stuff, so it can be a good idea to use them as a ‘sometimes’ solution to cleaning your dildo, alongside washing them thoroughly with soap and water.

The Dishwasher!

It’s time for the namesake of this blog post: how to clean your dildo in the dishwasher!

Let me preface this by saying that you can only put dildos in the dishwasher that are made of non-porous materials and do not contain any electrical parts! Subjecting a dildo made of PVC, jelly or any other porous-material to the high temperatures of a dishwasher will destroy it, no questions asked. You should also avoid putting natural stone dildos into the dishwasher, as they can contain tiny fissures that may cause them to explode!

To clean your dildos in the dishwasher, place them on the top rack of your otherwise empty dishwasher. Don’t add any detergent or soap, as it can leave a residue and harm your genitals.

If your dishwasher has a ‘sanitize’ function, select that to make sure that all bacteria remaining on your dildos are killed. Otherwise, use a cycle that lasts for 5-10 minutes and reaches at least 150ºF – though not longer, as your dildos aren’t dishes and don’t need it.

Sex Toy Soup

Sounds gross, I know, but this soup is definitely not for consumption.

‘Sex toy soup’ is a phrase used a lot to describe the method of boiling your sex toys in a pot of water to clean them. This is a quick and easy alternative to putting them in the dishwasher, and achieves the same goal of sanitizing them.

Simply boil a large pot of water (in a clean pot), with no soap or other additives, and then submerge your dildos for 1-3 minutes. If you’re boiling dildos made from stainless steel or borosilicate glass, you can place a washcloth in the pot first, or place them in a mesh laundry bag to protect them and the pot as they bounce around in the boiling water.

This can be a great solution for sanitizing some kinds of dildos, but you should be sure to take the same precautions and avoid boiling some materials as with the dishwasher method.

How NOT to Clean a Dildo

It doesn’t take much Googling to find a lot of contradictory, or just plain confusing advice on how to clean a dildo or any other sex toy. You can find a huge number of articles recommending all kinds of ways to clean and disinfect sex toys, but don’t be fooled – many of them are inadvisable, even down right dangerous!

Here’s a simple rule to keep in mind: don’t use anything to clean a sex toy that you wouldn’t put inside your body.

That includes, but is definitely not limited to, bleach, alcohol, Windex, hydrogen peroxide, or any scrubbing products with abrasives in them. All of these could cause some serious damage to your skin and/or your insides, and you should keep them well away from your dildos.

How Often Should You Clean Your Dildo?

I know that the last thing you feel like doing after a satisfying session with your dildo is hauling off to the bathroom to clean it, but it really is a necessary evil.

Cleaning your dildo right after you use it, not an hour or two, is the easiest way to ensure that it stays fresh, hygienic and ready for its next use.

It can also be a good idea to give your dildo a quick clean before you use it, too. Nothing too fancy – just a rinse to get rid of anything you may have missed before or that your dildo has picked up in the meantime.

How to Store Your Dildo

An often overlooked part of keeping any sex toy clean is by storing it correctly.

First off, please don’t just throw it in your nightstand or sock draw! Without anything protecting or isolating it, your dildo will pick up every speck of dirt, dust, hair and more, which will all end up in your genitals when you go to use it next. Gross.

Storing multiple dildos together also poses a problem, as they can damage each other as they collide around. In the case of PVC, TPR and other plastic dildos, storing them together can even lead to the sticking together and becoming permanently ruined.

However, storing your dildos doesn’t have to be an expensive or labor-intensive process. Here are some ideas…

Bags

The first is to put them in individual bags made of silky or satiny material. Thankfully, many dildos come packaged with one of these, which makes things a lot easier, but you can also salvage them from other products around your house. For example, one of mine was originally a drawstring bag for my boyfriend’s electric razor!

If that fails, they can also be bought from most sex toy stores. Lovehoney stock several sizes of their satin drawstring bag, all for under $5, as well as this fancier lace bag that’s perfect for gifting.

In a pinch, you can stick a vibrator in a clean sock or something similar to keep it away from germs, but it’s not a great long-term solution. The fibers and lint from those kinds of materials can stick to your vibrator, which is really what you’re trying to avoid.

Boxes

You can also store your sex toys in boxes or cases. If you’re into organization and want to keep them all together and orderly, this can be a good option, whether you opt for smaller stackable plastic boxes, or one large case with compartments, like a toolbox!

One big advantage of storing your sex toys this way is that many boxes and cases can be locked – perfect for keeping your treasures away from prying eyes and sticky fingers.

There are also several brands that produce specially-designed sex toy storage cases. Some of my favorites include this inexpensive lockable case with antibacterial lining, the Joyboxx, which has a combination lock, ventilation holes and an easy-open top compartment for fuss-free access to your toys, and the Tallulah from Liberator, which is beautiful and looks right at home in full view!

If you really want to push the boat out, you can even find storage cases that use UV light to kill bacteria on your sex toys! I wouldn’t recommend this as a replacement for cleaning your vibrators by hand, though – think of it as a supplement to your usual cleaning routine.

Learning how to clean a dildo the right way may feel a little overwhelming or annoying at first, but aren’t so many things that are ultimately good for us?

If you find ways to incorporate cleaning your dildo into your post-sex or masturbation routines, soon enough you won’t even think twice about giving them a quick scrub with a little soap and water. And your sex toys, and your genitals, will be grateful.

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