Body-Safe Sex Toys

Discovering body-safe sex toys has been the single best thing to happen to me in the last decade. But I didn’t always know about body-safe dildos! If you’re like me, when you bought your first sex toy, you were anxious and didn’t know what the flying fuck you were looking for. 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 smelled weird and leached god knows what into my system. Since then I’ve learned that quality sex toys and body-safe dildos are NOT just for users with “sensitive skin.” They’re for everyone who values their sexual well-being. And body-safe sex toys don’t have to be super-pricey either: every year they get more affordable, for every budget. 

Why Material Safety Matters

Sex toys are unregulated, so they can be either or both: (1) porous and (2) toxic. The first term means that microorganisms—bacteria, yeast, and fungi—can penetrate at a cellular level and begin to grow. Moisture, heat, and light will accelerate this process. “Toxic” toys are an even worse category: they’re porous plus they can leach potentially harmful chemicals. PVC/jelly is the worst material here.

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

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 toys, and Pipedream does with its Dillio dildos (made of PVC!), etc., etc.

Even if they don’t contain phthalates, porous sex toys can still cause problems for many. Antibacterial cleaners cannot fully clean these unsafe materials; they’ll never penetrate deep enough.2 That’s why I only use, recommend, and review body-safe sex toys.

Side note: I see people finding my site by googling “homemade dildo.” Please, please, for your health & safety, do not try to create a homemade dildo. Safe sex toys are specifically made from nonporous materials, and using a DIY dildo exposes you god knows what kind of germs.

So What Is Safe?

Body-safe sex toys are functionally nonporous. Their surfaces are hard, impenetrable, and/or hydrophobic3 plus sanitizable. That means you can kill any nastiness living on their surface whenever you want! (More on how to sanitize toys in the next section, below.)

These materials are safe for long-term contact with mucous membranes (genitals & rectum) and skin:

  • Silicone (usually platinum-cured)
  • ABS plastic (with or without a PU cote)
  • Certain metals, like stainless steel, aluminum, and titanium, when finished properly
  • Glass, wood, stone, and ceramic under certain conditions4

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 discreet sex toy vendors with curated collections.

Sex Toy Cleaning

Sex toy cleaners won’t harm your body-safe toys, but they also won’t sanitize (kill bacteria and microorganisms) any more than a good scrub with soap and water will. They just don’t penetrate the surface of the material.

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,5 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 to sanitize (sometimes called “sterilize”) a body-safe sex toy:

  • 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, ideally 70% isopropyl. Be sure to wash before and definitely afterward to remove the cleaning agent.
  • If the toy is not fully waterproof submersible 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.

Why Silicone?

Silicone is my favorite 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.) If you want a body-safe dildo that feels comfortable and as realistic as possible, 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 accessories (not toys) on Amazon: like if you want a Liberator Wing toy mount STAT.

Platinum-cured (platinum, for short) silicone is body-safe because it’s the most chemically stable silicone. Specific blends are certified as being “skin-safe,” meaning that they’re guaranteed not to harm your skin (or any sensitive membranes) even if they’re worn/used for extended periods of time. Silicone is also safe because it’s hydrophobic: its molecules repel water, which bacteria can thrive in.6

Silicone toys don’t usually have a smell, at least in the strong way that porous PVC toys do. Anyone with a sensitive nose may notice a slight smell on a new toy (especially if it’s been sitting in its plastic packaging for a while). If there is a smell, it should fade when the toy is sanitized and left to dry.

Silicone dildos are made by blending two parts of platinum silicone (one of which includes the catalyst, platinum) to form a thick liquid. It’s degassed (put in a vacuum chamber) to remove air bubbles. Then it’s poured or injected into a mold. After this, the silicone sets (“cures” or “vulcanizes”) for a specific period of time. Afterward, voilĂ !, a body-safe sex toy is ready for the world.

Until very recently in sex toy history, silicone dildos and other 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 $500 RealCock2 dildos! 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:

Another way to save is to watch for sex toy sales, which are always going on. Certain holidays, like early February (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 with Pjur silicone lube. 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.)

I recommend bookmarking this lube compatibility chart by Smitten Kitten, for easy reference! They also have a lube guide that provides more scientific detail and sources.

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.

Silicone dildos store together 1800px

Here’s one of my dildo bins!

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.7

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.8

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!

* * *

  1. 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.
  2. See Dangerous Lilly’s assertion that antibacterial toy cleaners are “worthless” overall.
  3. Skin-safe platinum silicone repels water on a microscopic level—since bacteria breed in water, this is crucial.
  4. 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.
  5. That is, you’re not switching from anal to vaginal use.
  6. See Tantus’ page on its “100% premium” silicone. Silicone’s “low surface energy” or viscosity is another factor that makes it safe.
  7. Also check out Lilly’s silicone-on-silicone experiment here.
  8. Always wash your toy well before use!

One thought on “Body-Safe Sex Toys

  1. Susanne

    September 5, 2018 at 12:09am

    Something compelled me to give this article a read even though I’ve already been using toys for a little while and felt like I knew enough to do things “right”. I was wrong. The part on lubricants really helped me because I realised mine actually has propylene glycol in it. I’m going to replace that now with a healthier alternative.

    Thank you!

  2. Bees

    May 5, 2019 at 8:27pm

    I didn’t know the part about super squishy toys making their neighbors tacky!

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