Start with a Quality Product
When it comes to your sex life (and products that are going in or around your vagina), it's not exactly the time to be frugal. "New toys of high quality can last for years," says Babeland co-founder Claire Cavanah, and co-author of Moregasm: Babeland’s Guide to Mind-Blowing Sex. "If you buy an extremely cheap toy from a no-reputation retailer, you may find they give out very quickly." But that doesn't mean all your gadgets will have a hefty price tag. Some simpler products without all the bells and whistles—like a small bullet vibrator—can be both reliable and affordable. That said, you usually get what you pay for, says Brandon Bartling, district manager of The Pleasure Chest in New York City. "Some people like spending more on something that will last a number of years," says Bartling. "Whereas others prefer to not spend as much and just replace their toys periodically."
Clean them Often
You always want to be as hygienic as possible when it comes to the care of your sex toys. You can risk the growth of bacteria if they aren't properly cleaned and dried, says Bartling. Unless the manufacturer's instructions say otherwise, make sure to clean them before and after each use with gentle antibacterial soap and water until all soap is removed. Air drying is the best way to maintain your toys to avoid lint or residue from other objects from sticking to it.
Most products can also be cleaned with a body-safe toy cleaner found in adult stores, like Babeland's own toy cleaner. "Anything non-porous such as silicone, stainless steel, borosilicate glass are easy to clean and usually a toy cleaner wipe is all you need," says Bartling. But there are other factors to keep in mind. "Toys like the Magic Wand that function with electricity should be wiped down, taking care not to get the cord wet," says Cavanah. "Toys that aren't waterproof shouldn't be submerged during washing and the batteries should always be removed before cleaning." If you're looking for something with less upkeep, stay away from porous toys, which are the hardest to clean because of their sponge-like texture.
Use the Right Lube
Lube is normally recommended with certain sex toys, but knowing the right one to use is key. "Silicone lube is great and latex friendly, but [it] reacts to the material of silicone toys and can melt them," says Bartling. "Only use water-based lubricants with silicone toys." He also recommends avoiding any lubes made with glycerin (eek, yeast infection central) and parabens, as they may negatively affect your hormones.
Be Wary of Sharing
While you should never share your sex toys, you may be doing just that if you're using them with a partner. In this case, the cleaning process is even more crucial, says Bartling. "It is possible to transmit various STDs if it is not cleaned and shared properly. Always sterilize your toy before sharing it with someone else," he advises. This can include washing it in boiling water or washing it in the top rack of the dishwasher—but take note that only certain toys can be handled this way. "These methods are obviously only okay with toys that don't have any mechanical/electric parts," he explains. The bottom-line: When sharing a toy with your male or female partner, the same rules of safe sex apply. If you're worried about STDs, be sure to use a condom on the toy—just make sure you use a new one before trading off.
Extend Their Life with Little Tricks
Knowing how to care for your sex toy in between uses is key to extending its life expectancy. "It's always a good idea to remove the batteries from a toy between uses, because leaving the batteries in tends to decrease the lifespan of the toy's motor," says Bartling. "If it's a rechargeable toy, it's best not to leave it plugged in longer than it needs to be—much like a cellphone." Another thing to note: Save your receipts and warranty information in case there is a defect and it needs replacing.
Know When to Toss It
Depending on the toy, you might start to notice signs of wear and tear that mean it’s time to throw it out. For example, lower-quality toy motors can get too hot over time, toys made out of glass or wood may start chipping, and porous, soft plastic toys can discolor over time, says Cavanah. "General signs of wear and tear or a lingering odor are signs it's time to get a new toy, but also anything that could pose as a safety risk such as a frayed cord." In general, always use your best judgment, and don't get too attached—we're sure you can find another one that suits all your needs