If sex toys could talk...
1. Clean me!
That means washing toys with antibacterial soap both before and after use. "Don't forget all the folds, nooks, and crannies," says Kat Van Kirk ("Dr. Kat"), an AASECT certified sex therapist and the resident sex expert for Adam & Eve. "A more thorough cleaning via soaking or a trip to the dishwasher is in order after every several uses." Just remember to take the batteries out first. The Adam & Eve Pure and Clean Misting Toy Cleaner is a safe bet when you want to sanitize.
2. Use the right lube.
Not all lubes are the same, and depending on the type of material your toys are made of, you'll need to choose the correct one. "Certain kinds may not be compatible with the material you've chosen and will wear them down," says Dr. Kat. Use a water-based lube with silicone toys, not a silicone-based lube, which will break down the material faster.
3. Keep me cool and dark.
Make sure your sex toys are completely dry after cleaning before putting them away. "Treat your toys like you would an herb," says Dr. Kat. "Keep them cool, dry, and in a dark place."
She also cautions not to throw all your toys together in your dresser drawer. Instead, choose a special storage bag like the Sugar Sak to inhibit the growth of any yucky stuff and keep your toys in good condition.
4. You can pass us around.
Sharing is caring and yes, it's ok to share sex toys with different partners — as long as you wash them in between turns. And never transfer toys (even on yourself) between the anus and the vagina without a thorough washing due to potential infections, cautions Dr. Kat.
5. Know what we're made of.
How you clean and use your adult toy is largely dependent on what material it's made of. Nonporous sex toys are made of materials such as glass, silicone, or stainless steel. Porous toys are made of plastic, jelly rubber, or nylon, for example. It's not a mystery to figure out what you've got—most toys will tell you right there on the box.
6. Wrap us up.
Having safer sex with your sex toys can include using a condom on them (just be sure your toys are latex-friendly). This is particularly key if you want to use the toy in multiple orifices or with multiple people without sterilizing it in between. "Just be aware that body fluids can and do move beyond the placement of the condom," says Dr. Kat.
7. Replace me!
Be sure to watch for signs of disrepair. "Once batteries leak, surfaces peel or become jagged, or there is discoloration, the toy should be replaced," says Dr. Kat.
This article was originally published at Prevention. Reprinted with permission from the author.