Non-Porous Materials and Safe Sex: What to Know When Using Adult Toys

If you compare sex toys, you'll undoubtedly come across the terms "porous" and "non-porous" in product descriptions. Porosity, the existence of tiny, microscopic holes, can be a significant issue, especially if you share your sex toy, or you pee frequently. Pores are small openings, and if a sex toy is porous, body fluids and lubrication can penetrate its surface and carry viruses, bacteria, and other microorganisms along with it. As a result, your sexual health may be jeopardized because you'll be exposed to these microorganisms the next time you use the toy. So before we go into the hygienic features of specific materials, it's a good idea to determine which materials are necessary and which are porous. Solid, non-porous materials include:

  • ABS Plastic
  • Pure Silicone
  • Borosilicate Glass
  • Steel and Other Metals
  • Ceramics
  • Acrylics

Please keep in mind that only "pure" silicone makes the list, rather than silicone blends containing rubbers, plastics, or other non-porous materials. Also, ABS plastic is generally regarded as the standard material for sex toys, although some softer plastics may not be non-porous. Although the following materials are porous, they aren't always dangerous; they need extensive cleaning after each use, and health professionals usually advise against sharing them unless you use a condom or a dental dam, which we'll discuss in a moment. The following materials are porous:

  • Silicone Blends
  • Jelly and Soft Thermoplastic Materials (TPR)
  • Cyberskin, UR3, and Other Ultra-Realistic Materials
  • Rubber

If you're unsure if your toy is porous or non-porous, you can check the packaging, but if it's made of rubbers or plastics, you might not get a straightforward answer. When feasible, our website lists if a toy is non-porous under the "safety" section of the product details.

Porous Sex Toys and Sexually Transmitted Infections

So, can porous sex toys cause health issues? They may not be hazardous to your health, but they do require some extra attention, particularly if you're sharing them. According to a study by the Indiana University School of Medicine, 40% of sex toys tested positive for human papillomavirus (HPV) 24 hours after cleaning. While the study had a small sample and the actual transmission of infections between people was not tested, it is recommended not to take any risks. If you plan on sharing your sex toys, then consider either using condoms or sanitizing them thoroughly by cleaning with a toy cleaner or boiling them after each use (provided that the toy material can withstand boiling heat without damage). Unfortunately, porous toys can't be sanitized in this manner; thus, your choices are limited: use a condom or don't share the toy at all.

Can Porous Sex Toy Materials Cause Yeast Infections or UTIs?

Even if you don't intend to share your toy, porosity may still be crucial. While there is little scientific research on the topic, it is possible that if viruses can thrive in small spores, bacteria and fungi can do likewise. Using a porous sex toy without cleaning it thoroughly can result in yeast infections, urinary tract infections, and other related conditions. Regardless of your toy's material, you should clean it after each use, following the manufacturer's instructions to protect yourself. A dedicated sex toy cleaner can make the process easier and safer because some soaps can degrade specific materials. They can also significantly reduce your cleaning time, as you can usually apply the cleaner, rub your toy down, dry it, and store it. After cleaning, select a cool and dry location for storage, and protect your toy from dust and other contaminants by placing it in a case or box. Finally, use appropriate lubricant with your toys. Oil-based lubricants can harm some materials, and silicone lubricants can destroy silicone toys by creating small holes that make the toys unsafe. Silicone can also break down and create a sticky mess that can ruin your toy. With proper care, you can keep yourself safe with any high-quality toy, regardless of its material.