If you take the time to treat your sex toys as well as they treat you, then there's no reason why your relationship with them shouldn't continue for years to come. But it's not always as easy as it sounds when it comes to cleaning and maintaining your sex toys, so we've put this information together to help you care for your toys as much as they care for you.
Silicone is one of our favourite materials at Ann Summers. It's soft, smooth, safe, supple and very sexy, and a lot of our favourite sex toys are made primarily from it. It's one of the easiest materials to look after because it's so resilient, but it does need special consideration.
Before we look at how we look after it though, let's quickly cover exactly what it is and get rid of any confusion.
Silicone is different from silicon. Silicon is a constituent part of silicone. Silicon is a semi-metallic chemical element which is an ingredient in silicone, but the two things are very different. The silicone that we're talking about is also known as 'silicone rubber,' and that's a slightly more descriptive name for it, even though it's not really rubber.
WHAT IS SILICONE
Silicone is a relatively new material, invented in the 40s and beginning mass production in the 50s. Today, there are a handful of silicone manufacturers, and the best silicone is found in America, Germany and Japan. Silicone rubber, the material from which our silicone sex toys are made, is pretty remarkable stuff. It can survive temperatures from -55 degrees centigrade to more than 300 degrees with no noticeable changes in performance. This means that if you want to clean your silicone sex toy, you can just drop it into a pan of boiling water (providing it's completely waterproof, of course).
TAKING CARE OF SILICONE
You don't need to go to such extreme lengths. Investing in some Buzz Fresh wipes are a quick and easy way to keep your silicone toys safe and well.
As the production of silicone becomes easier and less expensive, the popularity of 'jelly rubber' as a material is waning. But if you open the wardrobe doors or peer under the bed of anyone who has a sex toy collection, like most of us do, you're still to this day more than likely discover a vibrator, dildo or plug made of Jelly Rubber. So what is it, exactly?
WHAT IS JELLY RUBBER
The term 'jelly rubber' is kind of a catch-all word in the adult industry, and it can refer to a number of different materials with similar properties (flexibility and translucence, for example). In fact, it's used so broadly that it has become used to describe almost any soft, bendy material that isn't silicone. When we use the term, we're generally talking about PVC that's been treated with plastic softening chemicals to make it more flexible and more pleasurable to use. However, this softening process also means that jelly rubber sex toys need more care and maintenance compared with, say, glass or silicone.
LOOKING AFTER JELLY
The softening process makes jelly rubber porous, which basically means that bacteria can get under the surface of the toy and thrive there. There are two course of action you can take: prevention, and maintenance.
Jelly rubber can't be sterilised, so it's a good idea to spend extra time cleaning it. Avoid bleach and harsh cleaning products. As a general rule, if you wouldn't use it on your clothes, then don't use it on your sex toy.
The plastic softeners (otherwise known as 'plasticisers') used in sex toys are called 'phthalates,' and they've been the subject of increasing scrutiny by health organisations over the last few years. While the research is not yet absolutely definitive, it seems likely that phthalates might pose a risk to health and to the environment. That's why none of our newer sex toys at Ann Summers contain jelly rubber. If you're worried about the phthalate content of your sex toys, or you have sensitive skin, or you're susceptible to yeast infections, you might want to consider an elastomer sex toy, or silicone. Most of the toys at Ann Summers are made from these two materials, unless otherwise marked.
Glass is an incredibly luxurious material from which to make a sex toy. It's smooth, hard and beautiful. It's also very safe and resilient, so it's easy to look after. But it does require some special precautions.
CARING FOR GLASS
The glass used in sex toys is incredibly strong. It's usually thick and heavy and therefore very hard to break; unlike other glass objects like windows, which are thin and brittle. However, it can, in rare circumstances, develop cracks, scratches and chips that can harbour harmful bacteria, amongst much else.
Among the concerns of glass is that even a small nick or crack in the surface of the glass can be very sharp, and therefore very unpleasant - so inspect your glass toy thoroughly and regularly.
Don't use your glass toy over hard surfaces. Stick to the bed when you use it, or to carpeted areas, because once you slip a little lube over your glass sex toy it's going to be hard to hold onto it. You might drop it and if you drop it onto a hard surface you could really damage it.
CLEANING GLASS TOYS
Glass is non-porous, which means that it can be sterilised safely and quickly.
The safest way to keep your glass sex toys clean is to wipe them with and antibacterial wipe before and after every use.
Metal sex toys, as you might expect, require the least maintenance of all the materials from which a sex toy can be made. They're strong, hard, nonporous, smooth and virtually indestructible.
Therefore, all we can do is recommend that you wipe them down before and after every use with an antibacterial wipe (such as Buzz Fresh), and cover them with condoms if you're sharing them.