Toys can be a fun addition to the bedroom, especially when paired with a high-quality lube.

However, there are a few important things to keep in mind when using toys with lubricants. Material composition is by far the most important; if you don’t pay attention to ingredients, you could accidentally ruin your toy or put yourself at risk. Here’s what you need to know.

Water-Based Lubricants – While water-based lubes don’t last quite as long as oil and silicone products, they’re fairly inexpensive and very easy to clean up, and they’re an excellent option for toys. You can safely use water-based lubricants with any type of sex toy including common materials like silicone, glass, cyberskin, and latex.

Silicone-Based Lubricants – You can use these lubes with any non-silicone materials, and they’re completely safe for vaginal and anal use. Silicone works especially well with leather and adds a nice protective shine.

However, silicone lube can wear down most silicone or jelly rubber toys, causing a gummy effect that will eventually make your toy unusable. This is also true for silicone-water hybrid lubes. You should also be careful when using silicone lubricants with glass or ceramic products, as your toy will get very slippery.

Oil-Based Lubricants – Many types of oil can break down silicone and latex. If you want to put a condom on your toy, use polyurethane. Some oil-based lubricants can ruin also ruin leather and other materials, so do a spot check before using your lube with harnesses, lingerie, and fabric-covered toys.

If you’re not sure what to buy, water-based lubes are usually the best choice since they’re safe with all materials. Some manufacturers also offer specially formulated lubes made with sex toys in mind; these have a slightly thicker consistency from general-use products, which allows you to evenly cover your entire toy.
To limit your chances of pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, you should always use condoms or dental dams when sharing. Condoms can also make cleanup much easier, especially if your toy is made from rubber or other porous materials.

Cleaning Up: Keeping Your Toys Safe

Most lubricants contain preservatives that stop microorganisms from growing, but you’ll still need to clean your toys to keep them hygienic. For silicone, cyberskin and plastic toys, you can use a mild antibacterial soap and warm water. You can also boil silicone or Pyrex toys, but never boil glass or other heat-sensitive materials.

Don’t submerge your battery-powered toys; wash them with a soft, clean towel. Water-based lubricants should wash off fairly easily, and you can use a gentle scrubbing motion to remove silicone and oil.

Leather and vinyl toys require a bit more care. Gently hand-clean leather toys with warm water and soap, adding a small amount of leather conditioner. You can do the same thing with vinyl, but instead of leather conditioner, use a small amount of cornstarch. This will stop your toy from developing an unpleasant residue. The cornstarch trick also works on cyberskin.

If you’re having trouble cleaning off an oil or silicone-based lube, consider using a specialized sex toy cleaner. These products can cut cleanup time in half, and they often contain antifungal/antibacterial substances like triclosan. They’re a worthwhile investment if you use toys on a regular basis.

After you’re done cleaning, dry your toys completely and store them in a safe, clean place. Many sex toys come with cases or pouches, which provide excellent protection from dust. By devoting some time to cleaning and by picking out appropriate lubricants, you’ll enjoy peace of mind while keeping your toys in great condition.