Sex Toy Materials Info Page
Something that’s really important when it comes to toys is considering what material it’s made of and why it matters.
On this page I’m going to talk about common sex toy materials and give you a bit of info about them, such as safety, cleaning, and care.
Obviously this list is currently incomplete, but it is in the process of being updated. Check back soon.
Glass is non-porous and a great body safe option. Though you may think of glass as fragile, the glass used for toys is borocillate glass (you may know it as Pyrex) and it’s incredibly strong and resilient. Many people here the glass and worry about it breaking, but please trust me when I tell you that glass can stand up to a lot. Glass toys are often smooth, but can also be found in a variety of textures, such a nubbed, ridged, and swirled.
Glass is weighty and feels solid in your hand, but it’s not as heavy as steel. If you are new to glass toys, start slow, glass is totally rigid and it is possible to bruise yourself if you (or a partner) get too carried away. If you’re using this toy with a partner, make sure to communicate to them if something is uncomfortable. Glass is great material for G-spot toys because the firmness allows you to place a lot of controlled pressure right where you want it. Glass can also be chilled or warmed and is great for temperature play.
Glass is compatible with any kind of lube.
You can use toy cleaner, soap and water, toy wipes or even throw it in the dishwasher or use boiling water to sanitize it.
Be sure to store your toys in a safe place where they won’t be knocked around or have the potential to fall. Glass is very hard and resilient, but it can be chipped if it is hit or falls. Be careful when cleaning your glass toys because they get slippery when wet and are easy to drop. Always check your glass toys for cracks or chips before you use them because you don’t want broken glass cutting your most sensitive areas.
Jelly is literally the worst. Jelly is a porous material that is unfortunately used all too often in the sex toy industry. Porous means that the material has little tiny holes that you can’t see with the naked eye. Lubricant, bodily fluids, germs and bacteria can easily get into those little holes and become trapped there. Porous toys cannot be fully cleaned or sterilize, and the bacteria trapped in the material can cause problems, especially for users that are prone to UTIs and vaginal infections.
Jelly is usually clear and squishy, and it is often used in inexpensive toys. Jelly usually has a strong chemical or plastic odor that often never goes away. Jelly also is not a very stable material and it can, and will, leech harmful chemicals over time. If you have a jelly toy, you may notice that sometimes it looks or feels either oily or soapy, these are the chemicals that are coming out of it. These chemicals are known to cause irritation, rashes, allergic reactions and even chemical burns. This is very bad, especially considering these toys are made to go in some of the most sensitive areas of our bodies. The mucous membranes that line these areas of our bodies are very good at absorbing whatever is put on them, so it’s of the upmost importance that we take care what we put down there.
Jelly can often contain harmful plasticizers, like phthalates which has been linked to cancer development, birth defects, hormone disruption and many other issues. Because of the dangers of phthalates, they have been banned from children’s toys by the FDA.
Jelly toys will also degrade and break down over time, it will practically look like it’s melting. Jelly toys cannot be stored together because they will chemically accelerate the break-down process it they touch one another. If you want to see pictures of melted jelly toys and read about why they’re not good for your body, check out Dangerous Lilly’s post here. Click here to see a great video of Jennifer Pritchett of Smitten Kitten share about her experience and knowledge of toxic toys.
The sex toy industry is not regulated and companies don’t have to disclose that their toys are indeed toxic. Many people who are new to sex toys don’t know about the dangers of these materials pose, and often wind up buying them because they are inexpensive compared to toys made out of body safe materials.
I highly recommend avoiding sex toys made out of this material.
Toys made out of plastic, or more correctly ABS plastic, are quite common. ABS plastic is considered non-porous and can come in multiple finishes, shiny and velvet are 2 of the most common.
Plastic is often incorporated in many toys, ranging from low end to high end. It’s common to find lower end toys, especially vibrators, that are made entirely out of ABS plastic. Higher end toys often incorporate plastic, even if it’s only around the control portion of a vibrator, or to provide a rigid form that ends up getting covered by silicone.
Plastic is compatible with any kind of lube.
Plastic can be easy to clean, but how you clean it will depend on the kind of toy you have, and if that toy is waterproof. Plastic can be cleaned with soap and water, toy cleaner, or toy wipes if you prefer.
Rubbing alcohol is generally fine to use on shiny ABS plastic, though I would be careful with plastics with velvety finishes.
PVC/Vinyl are porous materials that are often be found in lower end sex toys. Porous means that the material has little tiny holes that you can’t see with the naked eye. Lubricant, bodily fluids, germs and bacteria can easily get into those little holes and become trapped there. Porous toys cannot be fully cleaned or sterilize, and the bacteria trapped in the material can cause reoccurring problems, especially for users that are prone to UTIs and vaginal infections.
They usually have a strong plastic smell, like a vinyl shower curtain, that never goes away. PVC/vinyl are considered toxic, along with jelly, because they often contain phthalates, leads and other harmful chemicals can leech out of the toys and get absorbed by our bodies.
Phthalates have been linked to the development of cancer, birth defects, endocrine disruption and many other issues. Because of the dangers of phthalates, the FDA has been banned from children’s toys.
I recommend steering clear of sex toys made out of this material.
Silicone comes in a variety of densities (hardness/softness) and finishes (shiny, matte, velvet, etc). And some silicone can have a lot of drag when you run your fingers over it, and some will have virtually none and will glide effortlessly over skin.
Silicone is my favorite sex toy material and that’s because it is one of the safest materials available. Silicone is 100% body safe while also being latex and phthalate free. Since silicone is non-porous it won’t absorb or hang onto any germs and it won’t harbor any harmful bacteria.
Silicone is also great due to its ability to be sterilized which is important if you are either sharing your toys with a partner, or if you like to use a certain toy both vaginally and anally. Silicone, being non-porous and sterilizable, is also great for females prone to UTIs or any vaginal irritations/infections. Good toy cleaning habits (and a good material, of course) go a long way in preventing exasperating these issues.
A note about silicone toys and lube:
When using a silicone toy it’s often recommended to use only water-based lubricants with it. Silicone-based lube can potentially have a chemical reaction with the “silicone” in your toy. This reaction is a bonding between the two different “silicones” in the toy and lube which can make your toy sticky or look like its melting. This reaction can result in your toy being ruined and unusable. The thing is 100% pure, premium silicones, like those used in Tantus and Vixen Creations products, are usually immune to this crazy reaction. Because the industry is not regulated sometimes toys that are marketed as “silicone” are actually composites and not pure silicone and are prone to this issue. I have been told that the softer silicone that Tantus and Vixen Creations use in the out layer of their dual density toys is a little less chemically stable; so caution should be used when using a silicone lube with them. I also figure the reaction might depend on the silicone content in the specific lube as well, so I usually avoid using them just to be safe and so I don’t have to worry about it.
If there’s a silicone lubricant you want to use with a silicone toy, I recommend doing a spot test first. Dab a bit of the lube on a small area on part of the toy that won’t be inserted, and if you see any change in texture or stickiness develops, do not use that lube.
You can use a toy cleaner, soap and water, or toy wipes to clean your silicone toys. If you have a solid, non-motorized silicone toy, like a dildo or butt plug, they can be put in boiling water for around 5 minutes to completely sterilize them. Alternatively, you can soak your toys in a solution of 10% bleach in water for approximately 15 minutes; this method is good for vibrators that can’t be boiled. Just make sure to hold the handle of a vibe out of the solution if it’s not a waterproof toy.
Stainless steel is another non porous and body safe material. It’s shiny, rigid, and very heavy. Steel is great for temperature play and can be chilled by placing the toy in the fridge or in ice water. And it can be heated by using warm water, just make sure not to get it too hot so as to avoid burns. Stainless steel, like glass, it great for G-spot toys because it’s so rigid and can provide a lot of precise pressure and stimulation. Because stainless steel is heavy, it can be tiring on the wrists.
Stainless steel is compatible with any type of lubricant.
Cleaning stainless steel:
Stainless steel can be cleaned with soap and water, toy cleaner or toy wipes. You can also polish it with a soft cloth to remove fingerprints. You can use a 10% bleach solution for sterilizing purposes.
I would think that it could also be sterilized by boiling, but I would be mindful of two things. First, that its finish could get scuffed by rubbing on the inside of the pot. And two, I would exercise a lot of caution to avoid burns because a stainless steel toys will retain heat.