Keeping your sex toys clean is always important, but with the coronavirus outbreak, there are new issues to consider. From whether it’s safe to share them with a partner now, to how to clean toys easily when you’re living in a crowded houseshare. Here’s our quick guide.
If you live alone and are in lockdown or isolation, transmission of Covid-19 via sexual contact should be less of an issue for you. You could check out our guide on how sex tech can help you deal with social isolation, especially if you’re keen to stay close to lovers you can’t see while you’re locked down. And see our general tips below on cleaning your sex toys, because you still need to do that regularly.
If you’re isolated with other people, then the following tips should help to ensure you keep your sex toys in good condition without putting anyone else at risk.
Cleaning your sex toys – general tips
The best way to clean a sex toy – whether during the coronavirus pandemic or beyond – always depends on the type of toy, how it is used, and its material. The easiest materials to clean are non-porous ones like glass, metal, ABS plastic and medical-grade silicone (most of our sex toys are made of this latter material, and most are waterproof too so you can easily submerge the toys in water to give them a good clean).
For these toys, all you need to do is ensure that you use a good antibacterial soap and clean them well with this and warm water.
Other materials, which may be porous, are more difficult to clean and even with careful scrubbing you may still not be able to clean them thoroughly. It is never advisable to share these with partners unless you can use a condom on them. There is more information on these in our general sex toy cleaning guide. For now, though, we want to focus on…
Cleaning in the age of coronavirus
The most important thing to note about coronavirus, and the reason it is so different from other viruses like the flu, is that it has a much higher infection rate. The virus is easily ‘shed’ by those who have it, it’s transmittable even when someone is symptomless, and it can live on surfaces for a long time after someone carrying the virus has touched them. New information is constantly coming in, but at time of writing coronavirus research suggests the virus can survive for up to 72 hours on some surfaces – although there is one report that traces of Covid-19 survived 17 days on an abandoned cruise ship.
So first thing to note, no matter what environment you’re isolating in, is that in order to minimise transmission you must clean surfaces thoroughly – including door handles, kitchen countertops, toilet flushes, and anywhere you regularly touch. You should also catch coughs and sneezes in a tissue and bin them, wash your hands regularly, and follow all the other tips on the NHS Coronavirus page.
The NHS website has some great advice on cleaning your home generally, including tips on using disposable sponges and cloths where possible, and the kind of surfaces you should pay extra attention to if you want to stop the spread of germs and disease.
If you are isolating from someone who shares a home with you, for instance if you live with someone who is showing coronavirus symptoms (predominantly fever/high temperature and dry cough) or someone who is especially vulnerable should they catch the disease, then you need to remain two metres away from them where possible, avoid sharing a bed and make sure to thoroughly clean any shared surfaces as soon as possible. Shared bathrooms in particular need close attention.
Sex toy cleaning and coronavirus
As you can probably work out for yourself, if you’re isolating from someone physically then you should also refrain from sharing sex toys with them. Some people advise using condoms to avoid potentially passing on STIs to partners, but in the case of coronavirus we would not recommend even this step as a means of protection. The virus is spread so easily that a condom will not necessarily protect you or your partner from transmission, so we advise you avoid sharing any sex toys, full-stop. If you’re keen to maintain intimacy, how about sending some photos to them of you using the toy, or a short audio clip of you playing with it? That should help entertain them during lockdown and keep both of you safe from transmitting the virus.
Where you’re cleaning sex toys in shared spaces (whether that’s the kitchen that you share with your partner, or a bathroom you share with family members or housemates) right now you need to pay particular care to cleaning the surfaces before and after you’ve washed and dried your sex toys. Remember: you can still spread coronavirus even if you are not currently displaying symptoms, so follow the government advice to ‘act like you have it.’
Drying your sex toys
Once you’ve washed your sex toys thoroughly with antibacterial soap, you’ll need to dry them somewhere. Generally we don’t recommend drying your sex toys with cloths or towels because lint from those can attach to the material making them uncomfortable to use (and potentially transferring lint to your genitals). Understandably if you’re isolating with housemates or family you don’t want to leave them drying in the bathroom though, so we’d recommend setting up a drying station in your bedroom or private space, so they can air dry somewhere away from others in your home. Then pop back to the sink and make sure to clean all the surrounding surfaces.
The truth is that cleaning sex toys in the age of coronavirus is the same as any of our other activities during these troubled times: we still need to pay attention to the basics (washing with soap and water), but now there are a few extra precautions we can all take to help minimise the risk of transmission, and do our best to flatten the curve.