If you’re like me, when you bought your first sex toy, you were anxious and probably didn’t know what the flying fuck you were looking for. (You certainly had no idea about body-safe dildos.) If you’re like me, you just headed over to Amazon, read whatever reviews were there, and then based your purchase on those. Or maybe you trolled around Adam & Eve and finally worked up the nerve to buy that 2″-thick (PVC!) cock because it had such great reviews! Sadly, many people end up with toxic, unsafe sex toys because they buy without knowing anything about sex toy material safety.
I was there once; I’ve bought PVC and jelly dildos. That’s why I’ve written this short guide to body-safe sex toys, which I hope will help you navigate the maze of conflicting info!
Why Material Safety Matters
Sex toys are unregulated, so they can be porous and even toxic. Most big-brand sex toy manufacturers have no qualms about selling potentially harmful products—like PVC and and jelly dildos—to consumers. It’s big business! Likewise, on Amazon there’s very little oversight; products aren’t tested, and sellers can claim that a very, very cheap dildo (say, $8 for an average size) is “medical grade silicone.”1
It’s pretty obvious why toxic sex toys—which contain often contain phthalates and always contain lots of other chemical additives2—are bad, but other “realistic feel”3 dildos and plugs toys might not seem so dangerous at first glance. Many porous toys are now labeled with buzzwords like “phthalate-free,” “hypoallergenic,” and even “body-safe” itself to keep up appearances. For example, Doc Johnson calls its Ultraskyn (UR3) “body-safe,” as NS Novelties does with its TPE toys4 and Pipedream does with its Dillio dildos (made of PVC!).
But the problem is: these toys can never be fully sanitized. Sure, maybe they don’t have phthalates in ’em, but the porous materials they’re made of will allow bacteria and other microorganisms to start growing as soon as you begin using these toys. And it only gets worse with time (and with heat and sunlight). Antibacterial cleaners can’t fully clean these unsafe materials.5
So What Is Safe?
The abundance of porous and toxic toys on the market means that it’s super important for us, the buyers, to know about material safety and reputable sex toy vendors before we make a purchase—before we use a porous PVC toy that leaches chemicals (and chlorine!) into our bodies or gives us a persistent itch where we least want it.
These materials are considered safe for internal use:
- Silicone (usually platinum cure)
- ABS plastic
- Certain metals, like stainless steel, aluminum, and titanium, when coated properly
- Glass, wood, stone, and ceramic under certain conditions6
Sex Toy Cleaning
Sex toy cleaners won’t harm your body-safe toys, but they also won’t sanitize (kill bacteria and microorganisms) much more than a good scrub with soap and water will. They just don’t penetrate the surface.
The safest practice is to sanitize your body-safe sex toys when you first get them, to clean off mold release agents and other junk from the manufacturing, packaging, and shipping processes. If you’re the only person using a toy, and you’re only using it in one hole,7 you can wash with soap and water for everyday use. You may want to sanitize every month or two to be especially safe. Here’s how:
- Wash with a gentle soap and water before sanitizing.
- If there are no mechanical parts (i.e., it doesn’t vibrate or pulsate), then boil in a cooking pot for three to five minutes and rinse with water after cooling.
- Also if there are no mechanical parts, instead of boiling, you can put toys through the “sanitize” cycle in your dishwasher—with no detergent.
- If there is a motor and the toy is waterproof: soak in a 10%-bleach solution (10% bleach, 90% tap water); or in rubbing alcohol, like 70% isopropyl. Be sure to wash before and definitely afterward to remove the cleaning agent.
- If the toy is not fully waterproof and has a motor, then wipe down the section that’s going to touch your parts with a 10% bleach solution or isopropyl alcohol, being careful to not get liquid in the motor, charging port, or battery compartment.
- Here are a few other methods to remove odors, like using a baking-soda rinse.
Silicone is my preferred body-safe dildo material because it’s the only one that doesn’t have to be really hard! Not all silicone is the same: higher shore durometers of silicone can still be pretty damn firm. (Check out my Silicone Dildo Firmness Guide for more info.) Want a body-safe dildo that feels (somewhat) like a penis? Then dual-density silicone it is.
While there are many different grades and qualities of silicone, toys labeled “silicone” and sold by reputable online sex shops and independent toy makers—not by some random Amazon seller—will be body-safe. I do think it’s OK to buy some sex-related stuff on Amazon: if you need more Sliquid Sassy STAT, for example; or if you want a Liberator Wing cheaper, or an impact toy (leather whip, anyone?).
A quality body-safe toy can last you a lifetime.8 Until recently, though, body-safe toys were prohibitively expensive for a lot of folks. I’m glad to say that’s changing—fast!
But the Cost?!
There’s no doubt that some body-safe sex toys are pretty damn expensive: look at the Fun Factory Stronic G, for one. But every year, you can find more and more safe toys—especially silicone dildos, smaller vibes, and butt plugs—for under $50. Here are some ideas for where to find inexpensive and safe options:
- My “Affordable AF” articles (on toys under $40) discuss: First, silicone dildos, and second, bullet vibes, wand vibes, impact toys, and cock rings. Plus I take a more in-depth look at quality bullet vibes for under $50 in this comparison.
- SheVibe has very useful search options in the site’s left sidebar: first, a “Phthalate-free – Non-porous” checkbox under the “Body-Safe” section a ways down; and above that, a “Price” tool where you enter your upper budget limit. Here are silicone dildos under $50, for example. Check out all sex toy categories here.
- I’ve separated out the less-expensive toys I’ve reviewed here. For your cheapest dildo options, I recommend: (1) realistic: the ColourSoft dildos if you want softer stimulation (review here), or the Blush Ruse dildos for firmer; (2) the abstract Funkit Toys NoFrillDos (review here); (3) dual-density: the Blush Real Nude dildos (review here). All these toys except the NoFrillDos are mass-produced in China, so if you want to support manufacturers who you can be sure pay a living wage,9 check out these $50-or-less silicone dildos from Vixen Creations, Tantus, BS Is Nice, Funkit Toys, Godemiche, Fuze Silicone, Fun Factory, and Split Peaches. There are also less-expensive options from some Etsy shops/fantasy makers of platinum silicone dongs.
Another way to save is to watch for sex toy sales, which are always going on. Certain holidays, like before Valentine’s Day and especially on Black Friday-Cyber Monday, are the best time to find the absolute lowest prices. (If you can stand waiting!)
So What Lube Can I Use with These Sex Toys?
Just like there are unsafe sex toys, there are unsafe lubes. With water-based lubes, glycerin and propylene glycol have been associated with vaginal infections (especially with people who are prone to infection already) and may cause rectal damage because they make lubes “hyperosmolar.” Parabens may also be a source of concern.
That’s why it’s safest to stick to glycerin-free, paraben-free, and propylene-glycol-free water-based lubes. Sliquid is the biggest name: Sassy is marketed as “booty gel,” but I and many others think it’s great for vaginal play too because it’s thicker than the typical water-based lube. Silicone lubes, hybrid silicone-plus-water-based lubes, and oil-based lubes (including virgin coconut oil, available in many grocery stores) are options too, especially if you want something that lasts or is really slick (like for anal). I’m also a fan of Sliquid Silk, a hybrid, with my draggier silicone dildos.
But back to my main point: toys and lube. Most body-safe toys play well with most safe lubes—with one possible exception. In some cases, silicone lube may degrade silicone toys. This isn’t always the case: for example, Tantus says their platinum silicone plays well Pjur silicone lube but not with other silicone lubes. If you love silicone lube and you want to be sure your quality platinum silicone toys stay safe, just do a patch test! Put a spot of silicone lube on the base of the toy, then wipe it off after about an hour. If the surface looks normal, you’re good to use the two together.
Finally, please note that oil-based lubes will degrade latex condoms and cause them to tear. (Silicone, hybrid, and water-based lubes are all good with any condom, luckily.)
And Finally, Sex Toy Storage
Body-safe sex toys can be stored together. Body-safe sex toys can be stored together. Body-safe sex toys can be stored together.
It bears repeating, because many people still believe that silicone toys shouldn’t be allowed to touch other silicone toys—that one will cause the others to degrade. This myth likely got started because people weren’t buying actual, skin-safe platinum silicone toys, but instead some sort of mystery-meat toys labeled as silicone. (Jelly toys can harm platinum silicone, for example.) But I can guarantee—through my own dildos-all-clumped-together storage bins—that none of the toys listed in my Silicone Firmness Guide will harm the others.10
In some cases, very soft silicones (like Real Nude dildos) may make their neighbors a little tacky. Vixen Creations recommends storing VixSkin separately for this reason, plus upright (to avoid warping, because Johnny’s balls will start to bend upward). The stickiness should wash off when you scrub your toys with soap and water. Overall, it may be easier to keep very soft silicones in separate storage bags; even gallon freezer bags will work.11
Apart from this, the only reason to separate your truly body-safe sex toys is for convenience, especially if you have a big collection like I do! Separate compartments, and drawstring bags for toys with remotes, help me locate any given toy more easily. I also have a dish-drying rack that I put my freshly washed dildos on. Silicone may be hydrophobic (water-repelling) and functionally nonporous, but it’s good to not close it in a tight space when it’s wet.
I hope this helps answer any questions you may have. Let’s put these sex toy myths to bed!
If you found this guide useful, please consider making your next sex toy purchase through my affiliate links: I strongly recommend Peepshow Toys, SheVibe, Vibrant, and Tantus. (Lovehoney also carries a wide range of options, though make sure you read the materials and stay body-safe.) With any affiliate link, you pay the same price as you would normally—or 10% less at some of my affiliates like Peepshow and Vibrant when you use my discount code: FELICITY—and I earn a few bucks so I can justify all the time I spend trying to write quality sex toy reviews and keeping the Silicone Dildo Guide totally up-to-date!
- Dildos are never approved by the FDA. Anyone who says so is lying to/misleading you. The silicone used in a dildo may be certified as “skin-safe,” “food-grade,” or even “Class VI,” which means it’s a good quality for a toy. Please don’t buy that $20 dual-density “liquid silicone” dildo on Amazon, no matter how good the reviews are—there’s really no telling what it’s made out of.
- JoEllen Notte (the Redhead Bedhead)’s article “How To Avoid a Toxic Relationship…With Your Dildo” has a complete listing of harmful additives used in sex toys.
- Usually either TPR/TPE, or “Ultraskyn,” or “Fantaflesh,” etc.
- Like the Firefly Smooth dildos, not to be confused with the platinum silicone Firefly Pleasures toys. *sigh*
- See Dangerous Lilly’s assertion that antibacterial toy cleaners are “worthless” overall.
- See the section “Which Sex Toy Materials Are Safe?” in Dangerous Lilly’s Toxic Toys guide. This is the most expansive out there about sex toy material safety.
- That is, you’re not switching from anal to vaginal use.
- Though some vibrators, like the We-Vibe Tango, do have a tendency to die after a year or two, depending on how frequently you use them.
- Or own their own business, in the case of indie makers like Funkit and Godemiche.
- Also check out Lilly’s silicone-on-silicone experiment here.
- Always wash your toy well before use!