Good news – ESSENCE’s “Ask An OB-GYN” series is back to bring you very public answers to some of your most private questions. When sexual and vaginal health concerns arise, renowned Obstetrics and Gynecology physician Dr. Tosha Rogers wants to ensure you have the answers you need to feel at ease. If you have a sexual health concern or question you want to swing her way, we’ve got you covered.  Email relationships@essence.comwith “Ask An OB-GYN” in the subject line and ask away!

Q: What is the best way to clean and sanitize my sex toys and vibrators? I know as women, we must be careful with the types of soaps we use down there, so when it comes to toys, I want to be sure I’m using the right cleaning agents to protect my “gina.”

A: One size does not fit all when it comes to cleaning sex toys. In fact, it varies widely.

Let’s separate the toys by material:

Glass/Pyrex/Silicon/Stainless Steel (non-motorized)
If the toys are being shared, they should be boiled in hot water. Bacteria can linger and be passed along. STI’s can also be spread via dirty sex toys. If the toy is non-motorized, immerse it for a few minutes in boiling water and mild soap. Dry very thoroughly before storing it away. If the toy is motorized/battery operated, place it under hot running water, but don’t submerge it. Use mild soap as a cleansing agent. Rinse well and store.

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Leather Toys
These should be wiped down thoroughly with mild soap and water. Sanitize with Isopropyl Alcohol to disinfect before storing it away.

Rubber/Jelly Toys
A. These toys are a little more complex. They have pores just like your skin. Bacteria hides in those pores, making it difficult to clean thoroughly. It’s recommended to use a condom with this type of toy.

It’s also important to clean the apparatus prior to use as well as after! There are spray cleansers that are designed for disinfecting as well. I recommend if using the spray cleaners, use warm water prior to use to decrease the risk of vaginal irritation or vaginitis.

As a general rule of thumb: A mild soap will always work great. Stay away from perfumed, deodorized soaps.

Dr. Tosha Rogers