Your Guide to Body Safe Sex Toys

Your Guide to Body Safe Sex Toys

With approximately 65% of American women now owning a sex toy and an annual worldwide revenue in excess of $28billion (and growing!), one would assume that this booming industry is closely monitored, regulated and safe.  What if we told you that couldn’t be further from the truth?

Safety Regulations

Did you know that there are NO safety regulations or legislation in the sex toy industry?  That’s right – none! 

The FDA’s (Food and Drug Administration) testing and financial requirements for sex toys to be classified as medical devices, are very extensive. Manufacturers therefore take the easier option to label and sell sex toys as “novelty items”.

A classification as a novelty item basically means that the manufacturers do not need to adhere to regulations for reporting the chemicals or materials used in their products.  The listed ingredients do not have to be accurate in chemical composition or percentage of ingredients used, and the products are allowed to contain known toxins such as phthalates.  It is terrifying that no-one needs to be accountable or even truthful for the content accuracy of something that is in close contact with body tissue.

By labelling their sex toys as Novelties, the manufacturer is not responsible if their toys are used for any other purpose other than being a novelty, even though they know that’s not what they are being sold and marketed as.

REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals) is a European Union regulation from 2006.  It addresses the production and use of different chemicals and their potential impacts.

With the increase in awareness (and adverse reactions) some sex toy manufacturers are now making more effort to be body safe and comply with REACH but there still remains no obligation for them to do so.

What are Body Safe Adult Toys?

Body Safe sex toys are made of materials that are non-allergenic, non-toxic, non-porous (will not harbor bacteria) and can be thoroughly and hygienically cleaned.

Some sex toy manufacturers now only produce entirely body safe sex toys. Brands like We-Vibe, Jimmyjane and Tantus, are all entirely body safe with no Phthalates or toxins. They now favor the use of silicone and other non-porous materials as their main component. That doesn’t mean that other brands are not safe, but some manufacture both “safe” and “unsafe” products so we always suggest you do a little research first.

Some manufacturers have even taken to making up their own descriptions – Sil-A-Gel, ‘silicone-rubber’, ‘skin-safe’ and many more.  These can be misleading so always double check!

What are Phthalates?

Phthalates are chemical plasticizers that are added as softeners, to create the malleable, soft and life-like feel that many look for in sex toys.  However, the use of some Phthalates in children’s toys was banned in 2009 due to their potential dangers.

A 2006 study conducted by Greenpeace Netherlands office found high level of phthalates in seven out of eight plastic sex toys tested.  Thankfully this was over 10 years ago and we have learned a lot since then.  More toys are now Body-safe and manufacturers are much more aware, but even today some toys are still found to include these dangerous chemicals.

Although some studies claim that exposure to phthalates “are a likely carcinogen” the most common side-effects are rashes, itchiness and irritation to the locations of use … not ideal for the intimate areas!

Take Extra Care

Before using any sex toy you should always check for tears, rough seams or cracks that could harm the inside of your body. It is suggested that condoms be used on porous toys and sex toys that are being shared between two or more partners. Check your lubricants too and make sure you use the correct one; silicone lube will break down silicone toys, and oil-based lubes will break down latex condoms.

Keeping your toy clean is also very important for sexual health and sex toy safety. Cleaning them will avoid the potential of bacterial infection, transmission of STIs (if shared), or pregnancy (if sperm is present on the toy). Porous sex toys (ridged, flexible, soft and squishy) are difficult to clean and can hide bacterial that multiply and harm the human body. Non-porous toys are easier to clean and therefor less harmful. When cleaning sex toys, always use warm water and unscented anti-bacterial soap.


Material Summary

Body safe, Non-porous toys

  • Glass
    • Glass toys are not only beautiful but very durable, non-porous and body safe.  They can be cleaned and sterilised in the dishwasher or washed with soap and hot water.
  • Metall
    • Metal toys are growing in popularity and are non-porous and body safe (if it can be used as hip replacement then it surely can be used to make a dildo!).  High quality metals such as stainless steel, titanium and aluminium anre safe and exciting choices.  Beware of cheaper toys if you have a Nickel allergy.  They can be boiled or soaked in 1:10 bleach-water solution for ten minutes, put it on the top shelf of the dishwasher, or use soap and hot water.
  • ABS/Hard plastic
    • Some people like the firmness of ABS which is a hard plastic.  Commonly used in vibrators, it is cheaper than silicone so can be a good option if you’re looking to watch your budge.  ABS Plastic can be washed with mild soap and hot water.
  • Silicone
    • Probably the most popular choice for body safe sex toys now.  Silicone is non-porous and non-toxic and can vary in density, colour and texture.  Most silicone toys can be put on the top shelf of the dishwasher, boiled for 5–10 minutes or wash with water and soap (be careful of vibrating components!)
  • Wood
    • These toys are rapidly growing in popularity do the unique nature and feel.  You should always follow the manufacturer instruction for specific care details depending on how the toy is finished.

Porous/non-safe toys

  • Rubber/Jelly
    • Anything labelled as Rubber/Jelly is a big NO-NO!  They generally cannot be properly cleaned because the material doesn’t stand up to heat or chemicals.  Bacteria is therefore absorbed into the material and they will start to degrade.  If you do have any of these toys, it is always recommended that you use them with a condom.
  • Cyberskin and Vinyl
    • These are a popular choice in masturbators but they need to be cleaned with warm water, air dry, and sprinkle it with a small amount of cornstarch (to keep them dry and not sticky). They will breakdown over time however as they are not “inserted” into the body they kind of sit on the fence for safety.
    • These toys are generally not seen as “toxic” but the materials are porous.  A TPR/TPE toy will probably need to be replaced after 6-12 months to avoid bacteria growth and possible infection.
  • Latex
    • Not only are an increasing amount of people allergic to latex products, they also lack chemical stability and will degrade.


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