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I Tested Five Sex Toy Cleaning Products and There Was a Clear Winner

Illustration for article titled I Tested Five Sex Toy Cleaning Products and There Was a Clear Winner
Image: furbymama (Pixabay)
5 Neat Things5 Neat ThingsJolie Kerr is a cleaning expert, advice columnist and the host of the podcast “Ask a Clean Person.” Each week, she’ll round up five essential cleaning products, tools and organizational systems to help you live your tidiest lives.

Toy Cleaners | $10-$59 | Ella Paradis | 50% Discount Applied in Cart

We’ve been out here testing all kinds of sex toys for you guys and now it’s time to test out products designed to clean all kinds of sex toys! Ella Paradis is offering Inventory readers 50% off its toy cleaners; discounts will be applied to your cart automatically.

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I tested four commercial toy cleaning products—two cleaning sprays, one cleaning wipe, and one UV sterilizer pouch. For comparison purposes, throughout the testing process, which involved cleaning fluids as well as water-based lube, I also washed toys using mild soap and water so I could compare the performance of the commercial products to that of good old soap and water. Here’s what I found!


AfterGlow Cleaning Tissues | $20 ($10 with discount)

The tagline on these cleaning tissues is “for Intimate Fitness” which is a hilarious euphemism that also gives me the perfect entree to say this: These wipes can be used to clean toys, but can also be used to clean body parts and fluids. That can be a very convenient thing! Especially when you’re having one of those nights where, as one sex expert once put it to me when explaining the virtues of sex toy cleaning wipes, “you just can’t get out of bed.”

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The convenience factor is definitely The Thing the AfterGlow wipes have going for them: You can stash the resealable package in a bedside table drawer, easily pack it for use when traveling, and they’re the perfect thing to use for quick cleaning a toy in between uses if you, or if you and a partner, or you and some partners, plan to do a few rounds of play. They have a light citrus scent (the product description tells me it’s bergamot) and are infused with aloe to provide some skin-soothing action. While the wipes aren’t a stand-in for deeper cleaning—you’ll still want to thoroughly wash your toys at some point after use—they’re a very valuable addition to your toy chest and I would highly recommend the investment.

Also, it’ll get Taylor Swift’s “Afterglow” stuck in your head, which is so lucky since “Afterglow” is the best song on “Lover” (yes it is).

Lelo Cleaning Spray | $29 ($15 with discount)

I had high hopes for the Lelo cleaning spray solely because I associate Lelo with the Real Housewives of New Jersey and for me, that’s a happy place. The pump spray worked just fine for cleaning toys, though I did suspect I may have over-sprayed, and the packaging is quite lovely. The design makes the bottle look more like an in-house facial mist you’d purchase at a high-end spa than a dildo cleaning spray.

However, there was a distinct issue, and here’s what it is: The Lelo Cleaning Spray smells like Listerine. OG Listerine. The yellow stuff *shudders*

Pjur We-Vibe Clean | $39 ($20 with discount)

Before I started testing toy cleaning products, I never gave much—any? Probably any—thought to what I would want toy cleaner to smell like. But I now know I don’t want it to smell like OG Listerine, and I can extrapolate from that that I don’t want toy cleaner to smell like a whollllle lot of other stuff. The We-Vibe Clean has no smell, and for that reason alone this is the toy cleaning spray I’d recommend you get.

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Illustration for article titled I Tested Five Sex Toy Cleaning Products and There Was a Clear Winner
Graphic: Gabe Carey

In addition to being fragrance-free, Pjur We-Vibe Clean is also alcohol-free, so it can be safely used on latex, rubber, and silicone without causing degradation of the material, leaving the degradation to you, if that’s your thing.

B-Vibe UV Sterilizer Pouch | $117 ($59 with discount)

UV sterilizer cases, bags, and pouches are a relative newcomer on the toy cleaning scene; the idea is that you put toys in need of cleaning inside, turn the thing on, and let the UV eliminate bacteria—including the bacteria that causes odor, yup—from the toy. According to the manufacturer, the B-Vibe pouch kills 99.99% of bacteria in three minutes, and can accommodate toys up to ten inches. It can also double as a storage or travel pouch.

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The pouch sells itself as a time-saving and more effective alternative to washing toys, “Take the time and hassle out of cleaning your toys by hand” and “washing toys by hand might sound like an easier & cheaper option, but you can’t guarantee that will wash everything off - especially depending on the soap you use.”

The thing is … it just didn’t work.

To test the pouch, I first used it to sterilize a silicone vibrator that I’d already washed by hand but that retained a slight odor, figuring that a literal sniff test would be an excellent way to determine how well the pouch worked to kill odor-causing bacteria. The toy came out smelling the exact same way as it did when it went in. Hmmm. (Washing it a second time took care of the problem.) Then, the big test: I put a visibly dirty toy into the pouch, turned it on, and let it do its three minute sterilizing thing before removing the toy for inspection. I don’t even know what to say here, other than to tell you that the toy came out looking and smelling exactly the same way it did when it went in.

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Without the benefit of having a full testing lab at my disposal, I can’t say this for sure but I do think the UV pouch is a product that would benefit someone who share toys with a partner or partners and who wants to sterilize them between uses to prevent the spread of STIs. But you would still need to clean the toys prior to using the UV pouch, so it will not give you any time back, it will only give you peace of mind.

Good Old Soap & Water

Illustration for article titled I Tested Five Sex Toy Cleaning Products and There Was a Clear Winner
Photo: Clay Banks (Unsplash)
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There are lots of reasons to buy a commercial toy cleaner—especially those wipes, which are great for the convenience factor of being able to quickly clean a toy without having to get out of bed. Toy cleaning sprays are also a nice thing for a lot of people to have, either for travel or because having a special product for cleaning a special item helps you to take special care of that special item.

With all that said, good old soap and water is a perfectly good toy cleaner! It’s what’s been recommended to me by the many sex experts I’ve interviewed over the years, and it’s what I use in my own life (when I’m not testing toy cleaning products, that is!) I like Dr. Bronner’s for cleaning toys because it’s mild, and also because it is quite good at odor elimination, which with intimate toys is an important feature!

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Disclaimer: Ella Paradis provided sample units for this review. Under normal circumstances, these would be returned. For obvious reasons, Ella Paradis probably won’t want these ones back, but this did not factor into the content of this review.


Jolie Kerr is a cleaning expert, advice columnist and the host of the podcast Ask a Clean Person

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