Body-Safe Sex Toy Materials Guide

Body-Safe Sex Toy Materials

The materials in this category are the ones Dear Rabbits stocks, because they’re safe for internal use and can be sanitized between uses and between partners.

Silicone is the only body-safe material that can be soft and flexible. Silicone sex toys come in all different firmnesses, varying from super-soft to fairly firm. Plus, dual-density toys are a happy compromise between silicone firmnesses: a squishier outer layer of silicone poured over a firm inner core, so that the toy feels soft externally but isn’t floppy in use.

ABS plastic is a type of hard plastic that’s very chemically stable. It’s commonly used in body-safe vibrating toys, often together with silicone.

Metal toys can be safe when they’re made of high-quality, properly finished metals.

Glass sex toys are nonporous, easy to clean, and can be heated in warm water or cooled for temperature play. Borosilicate glass, which has been engineered to be resistant to pressure, thermal shock, and acidic conditions, is the type most commonly used in sex toy manufacturing.However, some independent brands also use “soda-lime” glass, which is treated to make the glass resistant to pressure, more heat-resistant, and less likely to break. It is very important to note that once a glass toy has been chipped, it should no longer be used as a sex toy, as its structure has been compromised.

Cleaning Your Body-Safe Sex Toys

Body-safe toys should be sanitized when you first purchase them, between vaginal and anal use, between uses by non-fluid-bonded partners, and after each use if you have an active yeast or bacterial infection. To be extra safe, it’s wise to sanitize toys frequently after anal use, and regularly (once every couple weeks) with vaginal use only.

How to sanitize your toy depends on which materials it’s made of. For all methods, wash the toy with soap and water after sanitizing (and after the toy has cooled down, in the case of boiling and baking).

Silicone (nonvibrating), glass, and metal toys can be boiled in a normal kitchen pot, completely submerged with water, for 3 to 5 minutes. Be careful: glass and metal in particular, and silicone to some degree, are hot after they’ve been boiled, and stay hot for some time.

Nearly all body-safe toys can be soaked in a 10%-bleach solution: the exception is some types of wooden dildos. Immediately after removing your toys from the bleach solution, be sure to thoroughly wash them with soap and water. Also remember to never boil bleach. For vibrators that have a seam between the ABS plastic and silicone sections, it’s important to pay special attention to this crack. An unused toothbrush may be useful in cleaning the area.

All toys can be wiped down with rubbing alcohol (and of course thoroughly washed afterward).

Silicone (nonvibrating), wood, and metal toys can be put through the “sanitize” cycle in a dishwasher (without detergent). If your dishwasher doesn’t have a sanitize cycle, consider boiling or bleaching instead.

Porous and Potentially Toxic Materials

We classify toys as unsafe because they’re porous and also because—in certain cases—they may be toxic.

Porous toys are unsuited for long-term use because the materials they’re made from will harbor bacteria, mold, and other harmful microorganisms. These toys can’t be sanitized, so these microorganisms continue to grow, no matter whether or not you use antibacterial toy cleaners or wipes. All the materials listed later in this section are porous.

But, not all porous toys are toxic. Toxic toys leach harmful byproducts into your body, including unknown chemical additives and phthalates. Phthalates are a special cause for concern because these plasticizers (additives that make PVC and other rubbers softer and more flexible) have been associated with—but not directly linked to—cancer and numerous other health problems. Though not all phthalates are the same, at least one, di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate, is “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen.” In 2008, research into the potentially harmful effects of ingested phthalates led the US Congress to ban certain phthalates in children’s toys and other child-care products that might be sucked on or eaten.

TPR, TPE, and elastomer: TPR is a synthetic rubber, while TPE is an elastomer (a stretchy polymer). These materials are commonly used in masturbators, cock rings, and inexpensive dildos. Though chemically different, both TPR and TPE are both porous enough that mold and bacteria can flourish in toys made from them within a short period of time, especially if the toys aren’t dried properly and are exposed to warmth (like from sunlight). Though porous, TPR and TPE aren’t toxic like many of the materials further down this list.

“Realistic-feel” products: Often found in male, canister masturbators, these materials are mysterious, in that they made be made up of multiple other porous materials in this list (like rubber, PVC, and TPR) as well as mineral oils—we just don’t know. Some of these materials can’t even be cleaned with soap because this causes their material to begin to break down—so forget trying to sanitize them without using harsh chemicals. Over time, realistic-feel products begin to exude oils (and other microorganisms hiding inside) and often become very sticky.

Rubber: This is another porous material that often contains phthalates; there’s no way to tell for sure what’s in it without chemical analysis. Note that though body-safe silicone is technically “silicone rubber,” toys labeled as simply “rubber” are most definitely not silicone and are not body-safe.

Latex: Latex is best known for its use in condoms. Assuming the user and their partner don’t have latex allergies, latex condoms are safe. However, latex condoms do have a limited shelf life because they degrade over time. Due to this lack of chemical stability, latex sex toys are generally unsafe.

PVC: PVC (polyvinyl chloride) is a synthetic plastic polymer that has to be softened by some time of “plasticizer” in order to be flexible. In the past, PVC toys (besides being porous) always contained phthalates, but recently—due to health and environmental safety concerns—non-phthalate PVC has been developed. Though PVC can be nontoxic in some cases, it’s still porous, and so it isn’t a good material to use internally (like in any dildo or anal toy).

Jelly: “Jelly” rubber sex toys—like rubber and PVC—often contain phthalates and other potentially harmful additives. Again, there’s just no way to know what’s really in this type of toy without expensive lab testing, and users do sometimes experience harmful reactions.

Stay safe, and have lots of fun doing it!!!