Should you be concerned with what’s in your sex toy?

Everything you need to know to pick the right sex toy for you

This content was paid for by Twisted Beast, separate from Xtra’s editorial staff.

As a whole, we’ve gotten a lot better about thinking critically about what goes into our body. What we eat and what we put on our skin tends to go through at least some level of subconscious scrutiny. But when it comes to sex toys – maybe not so much. Should we be more concerned though?

Unfortunately, not all sex toys are created equal. Until very recently, there were flat out no regulations on the production of sex toys. While rules have been brought in over the past few years, they’re still not air tight, and sex toys from abroad can still cut corners to maintain a lower price. So, what should you look out for when it comes to picking your next dildo, buttplug or fleshlight.

Pores equal bacteria

The material that your sex toy is made out of is vitally important. Porous materials provide the perfect hiding place for all sorts of nasty germs while you’re sanitizing your toys. Bacteria that take sanctuary in these tiny holes can then grow and multiply once you’re done cleaning, causing a multitude of issues. Best case scenario, these pores can lead to bad smells and decolourisation. Worst case, the germs could make the next person to use the toy sick, and pass on potential STIs.

Keep an eye on plastic sex toys, these tend to be the worst offenders, including those made from TPR. While you can use a condom with these toys to make them safer, it’s still not ideal. You may find some of these naturally porous toys are treated with special chemicals to make them safer e.g. (polyurethane) – more on this later.

Can you boil the toy?

While we’re talking about bacteria, let’s move onto sanitizing your toys. While yes, soap is important, being able to submerge your toy in boiling water is also important. You’ll find with a lot of plastic toys that boiling water could lead to deformations or melting. Even if your toy is non-porous, you may struggle to properly sanitize it completely without boiling water.

Does the toy have a proper base?

You’ve probably never given any real thought to the base of your toy. The flared bit that tends to keep your dildos standing upright on a shelf if you’re particularly boastful of your accomplishments. And why would you think about it for more than a split second, it’s the least interesting part of a toy. But it does serve an important purpose – and it’s vital that your dildos and butt plugs do have them.

You might have predicted where this is going. In 2018 a Swedish hospital reported that almost half of cases they were seeing of objects stuck in the body were sex toys. Toys without a proper flared base, or without one at all, were essentially getting fully sucked in by the human body and wouldn’t come out. In extreme cases the patient required surgery to have the toy removed.

Always check that your dildos and butt plugs are properly designed with a flared base.

Could this burn me?

This one’s a bit rarer, but still important. Quite often toys made with plastic come with chemicals to soften the material, to make it more ‘user friendly’. Occasionally, for any number of reasons, these plastic toys can start to break down and leak chemicals. These can result in irritation or a burning reaction. If you feel either of these while playing with a toy, stop immediately and flush the area with water. 

What is safe to use – the holy trinity

So, if we’re wanting to avoid porous toys that trap bacteria, can’t be boiled and may even burn me – what should I look for?

Metal, glass and ceramics are all solid options that come in a range of price points. All of these materials can be properly boiled and cleaned, and avoid trapping any bacteria in microscopic holes. Generally, you can’t go wrong with anything made out of these materials. However, they might not necessarily be the most comfortable option, in which case…

Platinum silicone to the rescue

As of late, the industry has been coalescing around a material called platinum cure silicone. It fits the bill in terms of all the safety concerns raised above, but with the added bonus of feeling enjoyably fleshy to the touch.

The ‘platinum cure’ part of the name refers to the use of platinum as a catalyst, as opposed to anything with the actual finished product. As such, platinum silicone tends to be more on the premium end of the toy spectrum, but is certainly worth the investment. Its properties also lend itself pretty nicely to all sorts of shapes and sizes; dragon dicks, monster toys, even a dog dildo.

A small warning with platinum silicone – oil based lubes, that’s silicone-based and things like Bator balm, can disfigure the toys due to a chemical reaction. You’re best to stick to common water-based lubes with toys like these.

There’s a whole lot more toys out there than there used to be. We’re spoiled for choice, really. That can make it almost overwhelming when trying to make a choice. Not only is there size and shape to consider, but also your own health. Now though, you’re fully equipped with the right knowledge to make informed toy decisions going forward. So go enjoy yourself.