In almost all cases, the answer is: "for the love of God, no".

You see, a sex toy cleaner is an easy upsell for customers who don't know how to care for their sex toys (but want to ensure they're doing it "right"). It's also an easy way for manufacturers to say "care for our toys by using our sex toy cleaner" for an additional item for you to buy – consider it the checkout "candy splurge" of the sex toy industry. However, sex toy cleaners do clean sex toys, especially when a manufacturer wants to ensure that a cleanser is 100% compatible with their unique sex toy materials.

It's a nice, easy, one-stop-shop for customers – buy the toy, buy the lube, buy the sex toy cleaner – and boom, you're done all in one easy package. But guess what else works just as well for cleaning sex toys? It's likely the soap you already have at home, at 1/4th the price. With sex toy companies releasing new cleaners, it's important to remember that you DON'T need this upsell, and you don't need to stress about ensuring you have a "specialized" sex toy cleaner on hand for almost every single sex toy on the market.

As long as your soap is safe for the sex toy material you're buying, you can use the soap you have at home. However, any soap you use on your sex toy may potentially end up inside of your body. Therefore, you should avoid dish soap, soaps with bleach, and soaps that irritate your external skin already. And for good measure, use a soap with minimal fragrance and no oils/lotions in it. (Your hands could probably use the skin-softening lotion. Your dildo? Not so much.)

What Soap to Use for Cleaning Sex Toys?

While household hand soap will work to clean sex toys, avoid using Pine-Sol or any other harsh cleanser you wouldn't spray in your body as sex toys enter sensitive membranes. Hand soaps tend to be the best option for cleaning sex toys since they are mild and designed for use on skin. Dish soap is generally too harsh since we don't need to remove oils, food, or grease from a sex toy.

Most household hand soaps will work to clean sex toys; foaming hand soap is particularly effective. The author has used Dial Foaming Soap for the last five years to clean all sex toys (except Fleshlights) with zero issues. To reduce unnecessary contaminants, choose a non-scented soap, or at least a minimally scented one. If you can still smell the soap on the toy after it dries, it's probably not suitable for vaginal use. However, using a slightly scented Dial Foaming Soap has not caused vaginal issues for the author, though this may vary depending on individual chemistry.

If a hand soap is marketed for its collectible scent rather than cleaning purposes, it may not be suitable for sex toy cleaning. Some health and safety organizations have noted the potential danger of Benzalkonium chloride on vaginal health, so if you want to minimize any safety concerns, do further research. Dial Foaming Soap contains this chemical, but natural options such as Meyer's Hand Soap and other health-focused cleansers do not.

Most Important Sex Toy Cleaning Tip

While getting the appropriate soap for your sex toy material is necessary, being thorough during cleaning is actually the most important aspect of all.

Unfortunately, I have seen some pretty horrific ways people clean their sex toys, such as simply rinsing them under water between anal to vaginal use. It's not a pretty sight.

Therefore, cleaning thoroughly like washing your hands is essential, and you must wash the surface of the sex toy with your hands and fingers for at least 20 seconds.

Even if you have just orgasmed intensely, using soap without a scrubbing motion helps but not as much as thorough cleaning.

When cleaning your sex toys, you don't need a wire bristle scrub brush, as this can damage your sex toy. However, both your hands must be involved in the process, and you can use a washcloth or soft toothbrush if necessary.

Scrub the areas with curves, textures, and crevices, particularly those that come into contact with bodily fluids.

When cleaning air suction toys, ensure that you clean the air-suction tip.

For penis strokers, clean out the entire internal chamber.

For rabbit vibes, ensure that you clean the in-between area where the clitoral arm meets the shaft.

For dildos, ensure that you clean every inch, including the base.

When cleaning ridges on any toy, ensure that you clean the ridge itself and the flat surfaces around it.

In essence, any sex toy surface that contacts your body must be thoroughly cleaned to avoid any health issues.

It's a lot easier to clean a waterproof sex toy. You can simply rinse the toy under the water, apply soap, and finger-scrub the whole toy outside the water, and then finger-scrub it again under the water to rinse off the soap. After letting it dry, you can do an in-depth cleaning later if necessary.

Proper sex toy cleaning may require you to use a toothbrush or a toothpick to remove gunk from some of the toy's seams. This is not the toothbrush you use for your teeth or the one you use to clean grout, please!

Sex toy cleaning is not luxurious, but it's an important part of overall health and extends the toy's longevity.

Sex Toys that Need Sex Toy Cleaner

Despite my previous rant, there are still a few sex toys that require sex toy cleaner. While they are rare, they do exist.

If your sex toy requires a cleaner, it will be stated in the cleaning instructions. If the instructions warn you not to use household soap specifically, then you will need a cleaner. Companies that offer their own-brand cleaning sprays as the complete cleaning instructions for your toy are not what we're talking about here.

Currently, there are only a few penis stroking toys on the market that require a specific cleaner. For example, Fleshlight's FleshSkin material contains a combination of ingredients that can break down if you use household soap.

In such cases, Fleshlight recommends that you rinse and hand-scrub the internals of your toy as best as possible to remove the lube and cum, using hot water that your skin can tolerate. Fleshlight also sells FleshWash to clean your Fleshlight.

When shopping for a toy you insert into your body, always double-check the cleaning instructions before purchasing, especially if a household cleaner should be avoided. Although there are no known toys that require a specific cleaner other than the few aforementioned penis stroking toys, it's better to be cautious.

While penis strokers can be cleaned effectively with elbow grease and water, the vagina and anus have flora and bacteria balance that makes them more susceptible to bacteria that may remain on an uncleaned sex toy. Therefore, it's crucial to thoroughly clean any sex toy that comes into contact with those areas for your overall health.

When Should I Use Sex Toy Cleaner?

Although sex toy cleaners are an upsell in most cases, there are instances where using them makes sense.

Specifically, sex toy cleaners are useful for bedside use, kink events, and travel.

For example, we keep a sex toy cleaner bottle at our bedside and spray it on a toy after use. This allows us to fall asleep without worrying about thoroughly cleaning it, and we do the full, thorough clean with hand soap when we wake up.

A sex toy cleaner is also useful for travel as an additional line of defense in my cleaning routine when I don't have access to my preferred soap. Many hotels provide only hand soap, which may not provide a complete clean for sex toys. So, I partner the bar of hand soap with a bottle of sex toy cleaner to ensure nothing is missed.

For those who regularly attend kink events and use sex toys in public spaces, a sex toy cleaner is essential. I spray it onto the toy after use for a preliminary clean, put it into a grocery bag, wrap it up, and toss it into my purse to wash it in private later. The sex toy cleaner helps keep the toy from becoming an absolute mess when I head to bed after the event and forget to clean it until the next day.

In summary, sex toy cleaners serve a useful purpose in specific situations, such as bedside use, travel, and using toys in public spaces. While soap and water will suffice in most cases, using a sex toy cleaner provides an extra layer of cleanliness and convenience.

Do I Need a UV Sex Toy Cleaner?

My answer is simple: nope.

However, if you’re someone who's worried about absolute cleanliness, or you share your non-porous sex toys frequently, and you want to ensure everything is as sterile as possible before letting someone else use your toys, a UV sex toy cleaner can be a pretty good solution. For instance, it could be useful for someone with a public dungeon or someone in a polyamorous household.

On the other hand, a UV sex toy cleaner will NOT eliminate the need to clean your toy regularly. Unfortunately, it won’t be able to remove caked-on lube, bodily fluids, or poop. Therefore, you must do a thorough clean with hand soap as well.

Nevertheless, especially when you don’t trust the soap you're using (like when traveling), a UV sex toy cleaner can be a second cleaning step to guarantee a super-duper clean after you’ve finished the regular clean. Moreover, many full-size UV sex toy cleaners can sanitize various household objects. Your cell phone is a hotbed for germs. Hence, it could probably benefit from the sanitizing properties of a UV sex toy cleaner.

Sex Toy Cleaning: Final Thoughts

Remember, the primary purpose of cleaning your sex toy is to get rid of any bacteria and contaminants while protecting its material and ensuring it doesn't interfere with your usage. For many people, this can be easily achieved by using a hand soap that’s already available at home.

If you're doing that, you don't need to overthink it. So, do you need a sex toy cleaner? No, you don't need to.