Toys can be a hot and unique addition to any play situation but they also present an issue in regards to the transmission of HIV and other STI's (sexually transmitted infections) therefore, it is a good idea to know how to clean your toys effectively and what materials are better for your toys to be made of to minimize your risks. JUST REMEMBER THE ONLY 100% SURE WAY TO BE RISK FREE IS TO NOT SHARE YOUR SEX TOYS WITH MORE THAN ONE PARTNER! Toys come in a variety of materials this page will look at the most common materials and give you tips on the best way to clean them after the fun is over. TAKE NOTE: Jelly, Latex, Rubber and Cyberskin toys are all porous and bacteria and viruses can hide in them, so it's important to always use a condom with these toys if you share them with your sex partner(s). If you only use these toys on yourself washing them with soap and water is OK but bacteria can still grow, so if you don't want to take any chances - use a condom on them!


This is a translucent (see through) material that is usually soft and flexible. Jelly toys contain latex, PVC and other vinyls. Many dildos are made of jelly as well as cock rings.  Toys made of this material have a porous surface so bacteria and viruses can be trapped within them. They can also get sticky and so sometimes pick up lint and dust as well.

  • clean well with soap and warm water or toy cleaner that you can buy at any adult store.
  • It is impossible to keep jelly toys perfectly clean, so you should really use a condom on them


Latex is a common material for sex toys, but make sure you aren't allergic to latex before using one. Surfaces of these toys is porous like jelly so bacteria and viruses can be trapped in these toys too! Common toys made out of latex are anal beads and butt plugs. Keep in mind that oil based lube on latex toys will make the material break down - use water based or silicone based lube instead. These can be bought at most drug stores.

  • clean with soap and warm water like you would a jelly toy
  • It is a good idea to use a condom on latex toys as well whenever possible


Silicone is a long lasting material that can retain body heat. Toys made of it add another dimension to your play. Dildos, butt plugs and anal probes are commonly made of this surface for several years in Europe and some of the best of the toys of this kind are imported for there. They are however more expensive than most other toys. If you find one that you particularly like, remember that they do have a long lifespan so you will recover their financial cost over time. The surface of toys made of silicone is non-porous and hypo-allergenic (won't irritate the skin), so no bacteria or viruses can be trapped in them!

  • you need to check silicone toys for nicks or cuts which can occur over time as this can provide a place for bacteria and viruses to be trapped
  • you can clean these toys with soap and warm water, boil them in water or even put them in your dishwasher as long as the toys have no mechanical parts that cannot be submerged in water
  • you DON'T want to use silicon-based lube with insertable silicone toys as the silicon will break down these toys


Toys made of this substance have many of the same positives that silicone toys do. Glass is not porous so it does not provide a way for bacteria or viruses to get trapped. Common toys made of glass are dildos and butt plugs, as well as anal probes. However, you must occassionally check toys made of glass by holding them up to a bright light to ensure that there are no little cracks or chips in the surface. They are more pricey than some of the other toys on the market like silicone toys. Make sure to always store your glass toys in a protective case or bag to prevent them from breaking as well.

  • these toys can be cleaned with soap and warm water, boiled in water or placed in the dishwasher


Toys made of this hard material can get brittle over time and with use. This material is not porous but some plastic toys have seams that can trap bacteria and viruses, so they need to be scrubbed properly with a brush.

  • clean with soap and warm water or toy cleaner
  • occasionally they can be soaked in a water and bleach mixture (make sure to rinse really well when you use bleach)
  • for added safety, it is better to use a condom on plastic toys when possible


Toys made of rubber or PVC can be rather firm when first purchased but they get more flexible over time. to soften rubber toys you can leave them for short periods of time in the sun. Common toys made of this substance are dildos, butt plugs and anal probes as well as harnesses.  Rubber is porous, so bacteria and viruses can stay stuck in these toys. The easiest way to keep rubber toys clean is to use a condom.

  • toys are cleaned using soap and warm water or toy cleaner


Cyberskin is made of a mixture of PVC and silicone and is soft and supple to the touch. The most common toys made of this substance are dildos/dongs. It is a relatively new material to be used for toys and over time more variety of toys will become available in this material.  Cyberskin is porous so bacteria and viruses can get trapped within the toy.

  • wash these toys with soap and warm water or toy cleaner

General Toy Tips

Here are some other safety tips to remember about your toys.

  • always rinse your toys well after washing them with soap, bleach or toy cleaner to avoid any irritation that can be caused by these chemicals
  • after washing your toys, let them air dry instead of using a towel or tissue to dry them
  • never put electric or battery operated toys under water, unless they are built for that kind of use (check the package if you are unsure).
  • when storing your toys take the batteries out of your toys to avoid leaks of battery acid - you paid enough for it!
  • Never use silicon lube on silicone toys
  • Never store latex or jelly toys together - if they are touching, the material will start melting

Final words on Toys

There are a variety of toys of all shapes and sizes on the market. Take your time choosing your toys. If you know that you will most likely be using a toy with more than one person you may want to thing about putting in the extra cash and investing in silicone or glass toys - these toys are the most likely NOT to trap bacteria and viruses and they require the least maintenance as well.

Remember though if you are sharing toys use a condom whenever possible to minimize your risks. Have fun exploring the toys 4 boys box!

* The information on this page was taken from a pamphlet by the Canadian HIV/AIDS Information Centre and from ACCKWA's (AIDS Committee of Cambridge, Kitchner, Waterloo and Area) website:

This video offers some great tips and advice on cleaning your toys