Sex Toys, Lube and cleaning toys

Q: What Sex Toys are Made of? How do i clean them? What kind of lube do i use with them?

“You do online submissive web camming and use sex toys during sessions as a profession. Over the last year i’ve seen many articles on sex toys being dangerous for my health. What do you know about this? Do you have recommendations of “safe” toys? What are your recommendations for cleaning sex toys?”


The short version:

If you don’t know what your sex toy is made of, cover it with a condom that you like and is healthy for you. If you do know what your sex toy is made of and it contains phthalates, cover it with a condom that you like and is healthy for you or throw it away. If you are latex intolerant use Avanti condoms (and you may use Avanti because you simply like them ;-D )

Convenient links to quality online sex toy shopping:

Spectrum Boutique

Adam and Eve


Good Vibrations

Regarding Lube:

Don’t use lube that contains sugar or Nonoxynol-9. Some people have skin that is sensitive to glycerin, I recommend reading the ingredients listing before you buy a product.

Water based Lube:

Liquid Silk: Ingredients: Water, propylene glycol, dimethicone, cellulose polymer, Ppolysorbate 60, sorbitan stearate, cetearyl alcohol, glyceryl stearate NSE, BNPD, disodium EDTA, phenoxyethanol, methyl paraben, butyl paraben, ethyl paraben, propyl paraben, BHT. Liquid Silk contains no glycerin, no scents, and no nonoxynol-9.

Swiss Navy:  Ingredients: Water, Glycerin, Propylene Glycol, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Sodium Benzoate, Diazolidinyl Urea, Acesulfame Potassium, Potassium Sorbate and Citric Acid.

Silicone Lube:

Pjur Eros Original Bodyglide: Ingredients: Dimethicone, Dimethiconol, Cyclomethicone.

Wet Platinum Premium Body Glide: Ingredients: Dimethicone, Cyclomethicone, Dimethiconol.

Swiss Navy: Ingredients: Cyclopentasiloxane, Dimethicone, Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E). 

Do NOT use silicone Lube with silicone toys, it can damage them. Silicone Lube is harder to clean up than water based Lube. Silicone Lube does stay very slippery and lasts a long time.

I only feel a ever so slight difference between these two products and one costs about four times as much as the other.  The water based lube is easier to clean, will absorb into your skin and will need to be reapplied, especially for anal sex.  Silicone lube is better if your going to be into that anal sex for a while, as you won’t need to stop and add lube.

The long version:

Sex toys are a fun gateway to an incredible sex life. These toys, whether little or big or bizarre things, can lead to hours of orgasmic exploration, self-discovery, sexual self-reliance and a deeper intimacy between couples.

Unfortunately there is very little scientific data on the safety of sex toys. What I have found is:




Scientists often leave sex out of their research, with the obvious exception of sexually transmitted disease research. Here are a few things to consider…

The vast majority of sex toy manufacturers do not disclose what they put in their toys. This “mystery material” may pose health risks, but we have no way of knowing for sure. Sex toys marked as “novelties” are not approved, tested, or regulated by the FDA. They are sold as novelty items, not medical devices. A lot of sex toys (and products) that you’ll find in retail sex toys stores are created, marketed and sold “for novelty use only”.  Upgrade Sex Stores stock toys made of body safe materials that cost more than “novelties”.  Safe for your body sex toys are worth the money you spend for them.

The sex toys made for sex that come from independent manufacturers are created with the consumer’s pleasure as their express purpose. There are a growing number of high-quality sex toy companies in the United States and the U.K. that prize sexual health and pleasure as the key building blocks of both their businesses and their products, including Bad Dragon, Tantus, Vixen Creations, Fun Factory, d.vice (Lelo), Vibratex and Sportsheets online and in sex toy boutiques that hand-pick their product selections to reflect conscious healthy choices.

Many soft rubber toys are made using phthalates, which have been linked to several environmental and individual health issues, in a variety of other consumer products. The most common sex toys that are made with phthalates are called jelly rubber but many other kinds of soft rubber toys also contain phthalates.

Many manufacturers often add an artificial scent (to mask the smell of phthalate off gassing), and these scents, along with the dyes they use, and the material itself, could be something people have allergic reactions to.

As with any other safe sex issue the important thing is for you to understand and make informed choices, which you can only do by getting as much information as you can, before the heat of the moment.

There is no doubt that higher quality, hypoallergenic, materials, such as silicone, and elastomers, are the better choice. But they are expensive and out of reach for some. Using a latex or polyurethane condom on an inexpensive toy will reduce the risk of reacting to it, but may not eliminate risk entirely.

Do phthalates make sex toys toxic?

There have been a number of news items and blogs about “toxic sex toys,” specifically related to the use of phthalates, in sex toys. Unfortunately, there isn’t a specific study over any length of time to quote and say “it is so”. Here is some basic information about phthalates and their use in sex toy manufacturing.

What are phthalates?

Phthalates — pronounded “thal-ates” — are a family of chemicals used to soften hard plastics to make them more flexible. Derived from phthalic acid, and often called a plasticizer for its plastic-softening properties, phthalates have been produced since the 1920s and have been used in everything from perfumes to pesticides and medical instruments to sex toys.

Why are phthalates used to manufacture sex toys?

Phthalates soften the rubbers and make sex toys have a soft cushy feel to them. They are used in a wide range of sex toys, but there are many other toys that are phthalate-free.

Do phthalates in sex toys pose a health risk?

The information regarding safety of phthalates in general is instructive.

A variety of individuals and research institutions have weighed in and expressed concern ranging from mild to serious. There is a growing body of research that suggests phthalates have a toxic effect, particularly on the male reproductive system. Most organizations (with the notable exception of the chemical industry) agree that phthalates pose some risk to health and reproduction, both directly and indirectly through the impact on the environment.

Studies on rodents have revealed that when exposed to very large doses, phthalates can cause damage to the liver, lungs, kidneys, testes and can cause hormonal disruption. Preliminary studies on humans (where they have measured phthalate levels in the body and compared them to other health markers) have suggested a relationship between phthalates and poor semen quality and a relationship between phthalates and genital development.

In 2002, the FDA issued a warning that infant males who were ill and undergoing treatment, as well as other “vulnerable patients,” could be harmed by phthalate exposure from vinyl medical devices.

In 2006, the National Toxicology Program reviewed the science and concluded that:

“There is serious concern that certain intensive medical treatments of male infants may result in DEHP exposures levels that affect development of the male reproductive tract.”

“There is concern for adverse effects on development of the reproductive tract in male offspring of pregnant and breastfeeding women undergoing certain medical procedures that may result in exposure to high levels of DEHP.”

Phthalate molecules are not chemically bound to the plastics they soften, and as such, phthalates can “break free” from plastic fairly easily, causing rubber and jelly toys to deteriorate over time. Some studies have reported that phthalates may mimic the female hormone estrogen.

Most recently, the Danish Environmental Protection Agency released a report on the safety of phthalates in sex toys. According to the report, titled Survey and Health Assessment of Chemical Substances in Sex Toys, using sex toys with phthalates for one hour a day or less poses no health risks unless you are pregnant or nursing.

At the same time, there is a move on the part of healthcare leaders in the U.S. and Europe to prefer products that don’t contain phthalates in the interest of both patient and practitioner safety.

It seems reasonable to say that it would be better if nothing were made with phthalates. If you are able to afford sex toys that are phthalate-free, I would certainly recommend them over toys that contain phthalates.

The industry magazine Adult Novelty Business produced an excellent profile about phthalates in sex toys, which included quotes from several manufacturers who have said they will move to eliminate phthalates from their products.

How can you tell if your sex toy has phthalates?

READ THE LABEL. When you shop at a store, ask them which sex toys are phthalate-free. When you shop online, write and ask before purchasing the sex toy.

As a general rule, the more that a toy smells like rubber, the more phthalates it contains. Use the “plastic shower curtain” test. If you take a toy out of the package and it has a strong “chemically smell,” like a new shower curtain, it probably has phthalates in it. Sex toys made of the following materials do not contain phthalates:

• Silicone rubber

• Hard plastic/Acrylic sex toys

• Glass sex toys

• Metal sex toys

• Elastomers sex toys


What are jelly rubber sex toys made from?:

• Jelly rubber is made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) that has softeners (called phthalates) added to it.

• these toys should be used with condoms.

• Jelly rubber sex toys are inexpensive, soft, and usually come in translucent colors. They feel a bit more resilient than the older rubber mixes used to make sex toys.

How to take care of jelly rubber sex toys:

• Jelly rubber is porous, so there are places for bacterial to hide, making washing your jelly rubber sex toys very important.

• Use a very mild anti-bacterial hand soap to clean. Using alcohol or bleach, or even dish soap will lead to the breaking down of the rubber.

• Only use a water based lube with jelly rubber.

What are silicone sex toys made from?:

• Toys that are 100% silicone are soft, chemically inert and hypoallergenic.

• This material does not contain phthalates,

• Private companies make silicone toys from medical-grade silicone, so you should never be able to see through a silicone toy; real silicone is always opaque.

Benefits of silicone sex toys:

• Silicone is an ideal material for sex toys for penetration. Ask about “how hard” the toy is before buying because a silicone toy can range from very firm to floppy-soft.

• It warms up to body temperature, can retain heat for a long time, transmits vibrations well, is non-porous, easy to clean, and much more durable.

• Silicone is recommended for people concerned about having allergic reactions to sex toys materials.

• The surface is 100% pore-free, and these toys have a silky-smooth surface.

• It is available in a wide variety of densities, and an unbelievable range of shapes and colors.

Taking care of silicone sex toys:

• You can use soap, rubbing alcohol, or bleach to clean silicone sex toys (if you are using alcohol or bleach, be careful to rinse thoroughly).

• Providing there are no moving parts (vibrators), you can boil silicone sex toys in water, or put them on the top shelf of your dishwasher to clean. Different manufacturers suggest different lengths of time, usually between 3-5 minutes for boiling.

• You can use a water based lube. DO NOT use silicone based lubricants (e.g. Eros, Wet Platinum, ID Millennium) with silicone sex toys.

• Silicone is very durable, but can tear easily. Keep sharp edges away from your silicone toys.

Be careful of toys that are silicone/rubber mixes. These are not the same as toys that are made of 100% (or near 100%) silicone. Manufacturers may call their products silicone even if they contain only a small percentage of silicone. These products do not have the same benefits. If you aren’t sure ask before you buy.

What are elastomers sex toys made of?:

• Elastomers are very different from the inexpensive PVC used for most sex toys. They contain no phthalates, are hypoallergenic and durable. No solvents are used in the process of manufacturing.

• Elastomers are usually suitable for people concerned with allergic reactions or chemical sensitivities.

Taking care of elastomers sex toys:

• Elastomers are slightly porous so care should be taken to clean them properly.

• They can be cleaned with mild anti-bacterial soap and water.

• Only use a water based lube with silicone and rubber mixed sex toys.

What are silicone “mixed” sex toys made of?:

• Several manufacturers are putting small amounts of silicone in their toys to make them more durable and elastic and to cash in on the increased interest in better quality silicone sex toys.

• These products do not have the same properties as 100% silicone toys, and have an unknown composition.

• These products may contain phthalates, and should be treated as if they do.

Taking care of silicone and rubber mixed sex toys :

• Treat these toys as if they are jelly rubber sex toys.

• They are porous, with places for bacterial to hide, so the best way to keep them clean is to use a condom.

• Only use a mild anti-bacterial hand soap to clean.

• Only use water based lubricant.

What are hard plastic sex toys made of?:

• There are a variety of hard plastics used to make sex toys. They are non-porous materials.

• This means they are easier to keep clean, and people are less likely to react to them.

• These materials do not contain phthalates,

• These toys are usually suitable for people concerned with allergic reactions or chemical sensitivities.

Taking care of hard plastic sex toys:

• To clean hard plastic sex toys you can use soap, rubbing alcohol, or bleach (if you are using alcohol or bleach, be careful to rinse thoroughly).

• Care should be taken to avoid dropping hard plastic sex toys , as they may crack. Even if the motor is still functioning, a cracked vibrator should not be used as the edges could be sharp.

• You can use any water based or silicone based lube with hard plastic toys.

Regarding Nonoxynol-9:

• Nonoxynol-9 removes skin. Avoid any and all lube, condoms and “toy cleaner” with Nonoxynol-9. Nonoxynol-9is a detergent that has been shown to cause cervical abrasions, strips away rectal lining, and only kills HIV/AIDS in clinical settings. Look for the article, “The Nonoxynol-9 Scandal: How ‘AIDS Prevention’ Put Women and Gay Men at Risk by Patrick Califia” and, “The Scandal of Nonoxynol-9”.