If you are new to the world of sex toys it may surprise you just how important the materials are when choosing a product. Sadly sex toys aren’t regulated very well so not all are made with body-safe materials, and despite blogger’s best efforts to educate consumers about this many toxic toys are still sold. Furthermore, body-safe sex toy materials are very varied and will offer different experiences depending on which type you use and what your preferences are. I’ve put together this guide for consulting when making sex toy purchases to ensure you are not only spending your money wisely and getting a longer lasting product, but most importantly that you are not putting your health at risk.
Silicone | Metal | Glass | Wood | Stone / Crystal / Ceramic | ABS Plastic
Non Body-Safe Toys
Jelly / PVC / Rubber | TPE / TPR | ‘Realistic Skin’
Safe materials are those that are not porous, meaning they can be hygienically cleaned, and those that do not contain any harmful chemicals. Any great sex store will exclusively stock these types of toys, and I only review this type at my blog. I also only accept sponsorship and affiliation from stores whose products are primarily body-safe and feature warnings on my Favourite Stores page for those who have any porous materials stocked on their website, no matter how few. This is so you can feel safe when clicking any of my links or reading my posts, as you are only seeing high quality products.
Silicone is the best, most common and generally cheapest body-safe sex toy material. It is non-porous, latex-free, phthalate-free and hypoallergenic. Generally companies will label their toys with things such as 100% body-safe silicone, premium silicone or medical grade silicone, all which are good things to look out for. Some companies try to label their toys as silicone when this is not true, or as a silicone blend which is likely to not be body-safe, so check for reviews online before buying from lesser known manufacturers or retailers. Silicone toys are never clear and at most are ‘cloudy’, so if you see a clear toy labeled as silicone it likely is not.
Silicone is particularly great since it is so versatile. Depending on what shore durometerThe measure of its firmness. the manufacturer uses it can be completely firm, super soft or even both! This allows for it to be used for all sorts of different toys and can even feel quite realistic when done well. The only downside is that some silicone toys can attract dust and lint, meaning you may need to clean it before use. This will again depend on the manufacturer and these points are all noted on my reviews. Most silicone toys are not compatible with silicone based lubricant, but if you really want to use it first attempt a patch test and if this fails you can instead use coconut oil as a substitute.
Metal is another safe material, particularly medical grade stainless steel and aluminium. These are generally more on the luxurious and pricey-side of things and so there isn’t a huge range of them, however they are very popular and will last you a long time.
The main thing to remember when thinking of getting metal toys is how heavy they are, although this is one of the reasons they make such good G-spotting dildos and anal plugs.
Glass is also a safe material. Borosillicate glass is the most common to see sex toys being made out of, but there are other kinds too such as soda-lime. Glass products can range from rather cheap to very expensive and make beautiful works of art as well as good sex toys. While any glass is very unlikely to break or chip, some glass products are made to a higher quality than others depending on the manufacturing process, so be wary when purchasing glass toys and read reviews first to ensure you’re getting your moneys worth.
Glass is particularly good for temperature play, and placing it in a warm or cold bowl of water before play can really enhance its use.
Wooden sex toys with a medical grade finish are safe for use. They are generally fairly pricey and due to the wood grain can all look very unique. Their weight depends on the type of wood that is used, while the safety of the wood will depend on how it’s coated, since this is what ensures it stays waterproof and non-porous. Good wooden sex toy manufacturers will have this information listed on their website. If you notice cracks or white spots on your wooden dildo it probably hasn’t been coated properly.
These materials, while fairly uncommon, are all safe for use. Stone and crystals cannot be sealed like wood, but they can be polished. They are fairly heavy luxury type items that are good for temperature play. Ceramic toys are body-safe after being glazed and kiln-fired, and also lean on the luxury side of toys. These types of toys generally come from more independent style sex toy manufacturers.
ABS Plastic is body-safe and non-porous. It is generally used on external toys such as clit vibes or the handles of vibrators. This is the same hard plastic that LEGO is made out of.
How To Clean
Always check with the instructions and manufacturer on how best to clean your toy. The below are just recommendations that work with most toys, not all. If it isn’t waterproof special care may be required to ensure it does not break.
For general cleaning on all of the above toys just washing it with some regular hand soap or dishwashing liquid and then thoroughly rinsing with warm water will do the job. If it is heavily textured then using a spare toothbrush to scrub it will help as well. After this it can be left to air dry and then returned to storage. I recommend a zip lock bag for silicone toys to stop dust getting on them, although they will be fine if stored together without a bag.
Toys should be sterilised when used for anal play, when switching between anal and vaginal use, or when switching between partners. For silicone, ABS plastic, wood, ceramic, and metal you can dip them in a 10% bleach solution and then rinse thoroughly afterwards. Glass, metal and silicone can be boiled for 3-5 minutes, or put through a sanitise cycle without any detergent and by themselves in the dishwasher. Lastly, metal, ABS plastic, glass, wood and silicone can be wiped down with rubbing alcohol. Once again I reiterate to check with the first manufacturer that these sterilisation methods are safe.
There is two main factors that make toy materials nasty: when they are porous and / or contain phthalates. All toys that contain phthalates are porous, while not all porous toys contain phthalates. A porous toy means that no matter what you do it can never be 100% cleaned since bacteria can live inside it. From this mildew and fungus can grow inside or on the dildo which isn’t the sort of thing you really want to be putting inside you. Phthalates are chemicals that cheap sex toy companies use to soften toys and can be toxic for your body. They have been found to cause headaches, cramps and nausea, and have even been linked to cancer and chemical burns. They are banned in children’s toys yet continue to be used in sex toys, things we are suppose to put in our bodies! Furthermore, if stored together these toys can break down and melt. I have gotten sick from using toys like this before and educating people about their dangers is what inspired me to start this blog. You should avoid these toys as much as possible, and if you have one I highly recommend throwing it out if you suspect it may be made from the below materials.
Jelly, PVC, and rubber are very common, particularly in dildos. Jelly usually comes in bright fluro colours and is generally transparent, while PVC and rubber usually come in the form of realistic toys that feature a unnatural looking shine or gleam to them. They generally have a tacky or sticky feeling to them and often have a strong smell. Since they are cheap to work with a lot of manufacturers use them, but the fact is they are not body-safe and instead are porous and contain phthalates. I would highly recommend avoiding jelly, PVC and rubber toys and throwing away any you already have.
While this material is also porous, it is usually latex- and phthalate-free making it slightly better than jelly, PVC or rubber. These toys generally look like a mix between jelly and silicone and are also quite common. Since they are porous you’ll still have issues cleaning them, plus they will break down over time due to the material’s unstable nature. Make sure to throw them out after around 6-12 months, or sooner if you notice any changes to their material such as black spots or discolourations. When using internally polyurethane or nitrile condoms can potentially be used over the top of the toy for protection, but personally I would recommend just avoiding these toys altogether and saving your money. The cost of buying the specific condoms and the fact that they need replacing every few months will easily exceed the price of just buying a good quality silicone toy to begin with. Furthermore, do not share these toys, since some can retain things like HPV.
Some TPE / TPR toys are designed for non-internal use such as male masturbators and massager wand heads, and while these should have extra care and attention put their way, they can be used without too much concern and are the exception to these rules.
A lot of companies just label their toys as having a ‘Real-Feel’ or some other cool sounding names that contain words like ‘Skin’ or ‘Flesh’, and don’t even mention what the actual material is made out of. This is generally a warning sign and mostly used on highly realistic looking dildos. These toys are similar to TPE / TPR as they are porous but phthalate-free, although painted versions of these toys may have the colours come off during use. These types of toys should also be stored separately as they can melt or fuse onto other toys. Generally I would just recommend throwing these toys out and investing in a proper silicone dildo.
Want More Info?
Contact me and I’ll get back to you ASAP. I might even add your question to this post or make a whole new post on it!
Not Sure Where To Start?
Check out my Favourites Stores page to find reputable retailers who sell body-safe sex toys in an inclusive and ethical environment.
Plus, check out Miss Ruby Review’s own guide for further reading!