Roomies Sharing Vibrators Is Apparently A Trend Now

Photographed by Ashley Armitage.
If three makes a trend, then we might have a friends-sharing-vibrators trend going on right now — at least on TV. In one scene in the new Netflix movie Someone Great, Erin (DeWanda Wise) reveals that she borrowed her friend and roommate Blair’s (Brittany Snow) vibrator. “I tried to use your Rabbit the other day. That shit is dusty and the batteries are dead,” Erin says.
A similar plot point occurs in a season 3 episode of the Bold Type that aired less the week before Someone Great premiered. As Sutton (Meghann Fahy) packs to move out of the apartment she shares with Jane (Katie Stevens), Jane notices a familiar-looking pink vibe in Sutton’s box of belongings and accuses her of stealing it… until they realize that they have accidentally been sharing the same vibrator, which they each bought at the Pink Pussycat on Bleecker St. and stored in a bathroom drawer.
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A third roomies-sharing-vibrators incident occurs in a quick moment in the Crazy Ex-Girlfriend season finale, which aired earlier this month. When Josh (Vincent Rodriguez III) moves out of Rebecca’s (Rachel Bloom) house and Rebecca’s friend AJ (Clark Moore) moves in, Rebecca tells AJ, “We're going to have so much fun, I'm a great roommate. Question: Do you own a vibrator?” AJ looks horrified and responds, “You will never know.”
While friends sharing vibrators may sound like a sitcom plot, it does sometimes happen in real life. At a 2011 press conference promoting the vibrator history movie Hysteria, Maggie Gyllenhaal revealed that she has an extensive vibrator collection that she shares with her friends. “I have this incredible collection, and I actually use like one or two of them. I lend them to my friends, and they'll take them for six months at a time,” she said.
And when I asked my Twitter and Instagram followers if they had ever shared a vibrator with a platonic friend, I got a couple affirmative responses… including from one woman who had borrowed a vibrator from her male roommate. She and her roommate often talk about sex, she says. “I said I wanted to try the Hitachi Magic Wand. He said, ‘I have one, do you want to borrow it?’ and I said, ‘yes,’ and then I used it,” she says. “I gave it back after a couple months.” She adds that she cleaned it before using it, and she’d be up for sharing vibrators with other friends, too. “I’ll borrow whatever. But not butt plugs, that’s where I draw the line. Vibrators, yes. I f*ck girls all the time, I don’t care about vagina juice.”
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So, while it might be rare, some people really do share sex toys with roommates and platonic friends. But should you share your favorite vibrator with your roomie? Elise Schuster, MPH, co-founder of sex education company OkaySo, says, “Any time there are bodily fluids on a sex toy, there is a risk." Some sexually transmitted infections, including gonorrhea and chlamydia, can be transferred via sex toy.
However, there are precautions you can take to make sharing sex toys safer — whether you’re borrowing a vibrator from a friend, or you're dating two different people and want to use your favorite vibrator with both of them.
First, you’ll want to make sure that the sex toy is made of a high-quality, non-porous material, like silicone, glass, pyrex, or metal. These toys are “much easier to either sterilize or disinfect” than sex toys made out of jelly rubber, says Schuster. “People often find these at lower-quality sex toy shops or online, and they’re really porous, so you can never really get them totally disenfected,” they explain. “The traditional, Sex and the City-style Rabbit is a jelly toy,” Schuster points out, so if this is the toy Blair and Erin share in Someone Great, they should really stop doing so. However, there are other Rabbit-style vibrators that are made from higher-grade materials, such as silicone, which would be safer to share.
If your high-quality, non-porous sex toy has a battery component, or any other feature that can’t be submerged in water or heated, then you can simply wash it with a gentle soap and warm water. “A lot of people think you need a fancy cleaner, but you really just need a soap that you would use on your body,” Schuster says. And for toys that are made out of solid pyrex, solid silicone, or solid stainless steel, you can boil the toy to disinfect it. Just make sure you let it dry out — storing it while wet could lead to mildew, which you do not want near your genitals.
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Leather sex toys and accessories — such as strap-on harnesses — can also be cleaned. “Leather is a porous material, so it can’t be fully disinfected and it will still have a little bit of risk, but the safest way to share them is to rub it down with rubbing alcohol in between uses,” Schuster explains.
If it works with the sex toy's shape, another option is to use a condom. Skip the self-lubricated condoms and use a lube of your own to make sure the lube is compatible with the toy. “Just pop a condom over it, then take it off when you’re done, and put a new one on it for the other person, and you’re all set to go,” Schuster says.
The cleaning method you decide on should depend on both the situation and the sex toy itself, says Schuster. “If you’re going to be sharing it in the same session, then using condoms is the safest way. If you’re going a few days or weeks between sharing, then washing is totally fine. Using condoms or boiling, if it’s that kind of material, are the safest way.”
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