How To Use The Same Sex Toys With Multiple Partners

Sex toys, especially high-quality ones, can be expensive, and you may want to use the same toys with multiple partners — but what are the risks?

"The only thing you want to get from a sex toy is an orgasm," Planned Parenthood has told Refinery29. "However, anytime semen, vaginal secretions, or fluids from STI sores are transferred to someone else’s body — via vaginas, penises, fingers, and yes, sex toys — STIs can be spread."

No, you don't have to go out and buy a new We-Vibe or Eva every time you start hooking up with someone new. You are, however, obligated to keep your pleasure products squeaky-clean to avoid transmitting bacteria from one partner to another. Read on for our tips on responsible sex-toy sharing.
1 of 5
Photographed By Stephanie Gonot.
1. Your toys should be body-safe to begin with. Because pleasure products are classified as "novelty items," they aren't tested or regulated by the FDA, leaving you responsible for doing your own research on the safety of your purchases and only buying from retailers you trust. Many jelly rubber toys are made using softening agents called phthalates, some of which the Environmental Protection Agency deems "possible human carcinogens." Jelly rubber is also porous, meaning that bacteria can hide in it even after you clean it; the same is true of polyvinyl chloride, or PVC. Stick to sharing toys that can be sanitized, specifically toys made of silicone, glass, Pyrex, or stainless steel, which are non-porous.
2 of 5
Photographed By Stephanie Gonot.
2. Sanitize toys before and after use. You already know it's important to clean your toys directly after use, but while in storage, they might come in contact with more bacteria — bacteria you don't want in your body.
3 of 5
Photographed by Noah Rabinowitz.
3. Use the right cleaning method for the material. There's really no need for sex-toy-specific soaps or cleaners. Just wash your toys with fragrance-free soap and warm water. Claire Cavanah, co-founder of sex-toy shop Babeland, has noted to BuzzFeed that she doesn't recommend antibacterial soap: "It might seem like a good precaution," she explained, "but it can leave a residue." Pyrex and stainless steel are resistant to heat, so you can also place them in boiling water for a few minutes or run them through the dishwasher. Leather (including vegan leather) and hard plastics, which are porous, can be sanitized (as completely as is possible) with a few swipes of isopropyl rubbing alcohol.
4 of 5
Photographed By Stephanie Gonot.
4. For maximum safety, cover your toys with condoms. If you are using porous toys, for example those made of jelly rubber, hard plastic, or elastomer, consider covering them with condoms, because you can't be sure that no bacteria is lurking inside. (Still, wash these toys with soap and water as well.)
5 of 5
Photographed by Amy Lombard.
5. Smart storage means safer sex toys. Make sure to dry toys completely before putting them away to avoid mildew (because how gross would that be?). Store toys in their own separate bags to minimize their contact with other toys and their surroundings. (And bonus pro tip: Remove the batteries from any battery-operated toys before you put them away to extend the batteries' life.)

More from Sex & Relationships


R29 Original Series