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For your vagina's sake, don't be lazy—skipping this step can set you up for an infection or STD.

July 17, 2017

After getting down and dirty in the bedroom, the last thing you probably want to deal with is cleaning off your sex toy. But here's the case for why you need to.

If you put your vibrator or other toy away without washing it properly first, bacteria left behind from bodily fluids can breed out of control. Next time you use your pleasure pal, the bacterial buildup could trigger a vaginal infection like bacterial vaginosis. This can happen even if you're the only one using it.

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STDs are also a possibility. If you use your sex toy with a partner who has herpes or HPV and then touch it to your own body without washing, the risk of contracting these viruses is low—but it exists.

And though it's true you could wait to wash it until you bring the toy into the bedroom again, it's better to drag yourself out of bed and get into the habit of cleansing it after sex. This way you can be spontaneous, and the device is ready to go whenever you're in the mood again. 

“When it comes to your vagina, you don’t get to be lazy,” says Alyssa Dweck, MD, a Westchester, New York–based ob-gyn and coauthor of The Complete A to Z for Your V. So what's the right way to give your toy a good scrubbing? Read Dr. Dweck's advice on the easiest way to get the job done.

 

According to Dr. Dweck, the material of the toy and whether it has a motor determines how it should be washed. “The label on the toy should tell you what it's made from,” she says. “If the label is long gone, you can also search the manufacturer’s website.”

If your toy is metal, glass, or wood and isn’t motorized, submerge it in mild, unscented soap and water and wipe it clean. Placing it in boiling water for about 10 minutes will also do the trick. If it's glass, it can even go in the dishwasher, says Dr. Dweck.

The key to cleaning motorized toys made out of silicone, metal, glass, or wood is still unscented soap and water—just be sure not to immerse your buzzy buddy in water and accidentally ruin the motor. “All you need to do is wet a paper towel and wash it thoroughly,” explains Dr. Dweck.

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For toys made of plastic, jelly, or other porous materials, you have to clean them more carefully, since germs love to sneak into tiny grooves that can form in these after a little wear and tear. Soap the toy up with warm water, but rinse it thoroughly to make sure you clean the surface as well as any grooves, which can be extremely small.

Once your toy is squeaky clean, dry it off with a paper towel or clean cloth towel and store it in a cool place out of the sun, like a desk drawer. Sure you could just toss it aside on the floor, but that won't prevent household bacteria and other yucky things like dust, lint, and pet hair from settling on it . . . and possibly landing you a vaginal infection next time.