Are you sick of your sex toys? 3 Important Safety Tips to Remember
Given that sex toys are sex toys, you’d expect that the materials used to make them would be scrutinized more closely. It turns out that the industry is subjected to remarkably few regulations: The FDA isn’t concerned with adult items unless they’re classified as “medical devices,” which most aren’t, and phthalates, which can disrupt hormones and cause reproductive and neurological damage, as well as infertility, are banned in children’s toys but not in sex toys in the United States.
According to a recent Swedish Chemical Agency investigation, three sex toys had phthalates, and one contained forbidden compounds known as chlorinated paraffin, which have been linked to cancer.
When Liz Klinger, co-founder, and CEO of the sex-toy company Lioness, sold sex toys for another company, she witnessed the consequences of poor quality control. “Once, in my product bag at room temperature, I had six vibrators touching,” she recalls. “When I returned to check on them, they had begun to heat up on their own, fuse together, and emit an unpleasant chemical odor. I stopped selling those things and became much more suspicious of what was available.”
Because manufacturers aren’t always diligent about how their sex toys are made, here’s how you can protect yourself as a buyer.
Purchase toys made of nonporous, easy-to-clean materials.
According to Klinger, more holes equal more places for bacteria to infiltrate. Silicone, glass, and metal are your best chances because they’re not porous and can be cleaned if bacteria get inside. Anything branded “silicone” is suspect, as it could be a mix of silicone and a variety of other materials or something altogether different—which is why you should check out the company’s reputation (see #2) before you buy.
Check if the firm that produces your toy is legitimate.
“Because sex toys are largely unregulated, and many products—for example, on Amazon, where there are over 80,000 listings of different vibrators—are direct from factories looking to sell cheap products to make a quick profit,” Klinger says, “it can be difficult to tell whether a product’s listing is accurate at face value.” That means you, the client, are the one who is pushing you to conduct some study. Don’t settle for the first or cheapest toy in your Google search results. Examine the company’s history, including how long it’s been in business, how its products have been received, and what type of relationship it has with its customers and expert reviewers. If the price appears too best to be true, it most likely is.
Always clean your sex toys after each use. Simply. Do. It.
Clean your toys after each usage to prevent bacteria and all the ugly things that come with them from gathering. “Imagine never washing your bedsheets,” Klinger says. “You run the danger of irritated skin, acne, and infection. It’s the same thing as not cleaning your sex toys but with your genitals. It’s not enjoyable.” If you have roommates or family, Klinger suggests bringing them into the shower with you to wash. Specialty wipes or a light (but disinfecting) soap and water can be used—make sure you do it. If the toy is constructed entirely of silicone, glass, or metal and does not require batteries, put it in the dishwasher. Otherwise, she explains, “the dishwasher warms up, which may damage the hardware or other heat-sensitive components to melt or break down.” “Even if the water never reaches inside the product, the heat may be enough to destroy it.” (Remember Broad City’s pegging episode?)
In brief, please pay attention to the materials used in your toys and where the information comes from, and keep them clean. You don’t want to end up with vibrators that have melted.