Chlamydia on sex toys

Originally Published: May 12, 2006 - Last Updated / Reviewed On: July 30, 2013
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Alice,

I have looked through your archives but have not found an answer to my question. I was diagnosed and treated for Chlamydia about a month and a half ago. Do I need to get rid of any sex toys I have? Is it possible to become reinfected by using a sex toy that you used while you were infected if you wash it before using it? Please help me find the answer to my question. I really need to know ASAP! Thank you in advance.

~Confused

Dear Confused, 

While diseases and bacteria can remain on the surface or in the pores of sex toys if not cleaned properly, have no fear — you can take precautions so that restocking your sex toys will not be necessary.  Re-infection with a sexually transmitted infection via a sex toy is possible, but the chances of this decrease over time because the lifespan of Chlamydia (and most other STIs) is relatively short outside of the body.  Cleaning sex toys regularly before and after each use can decrease your risk of infection and disease significantly (and actually increases the life expectancy of your toys).

But, just like you wouldn't wash all of your clothes the same way, sex toys need to be cared for differently based on what they are made of.  Sex toys usually have cleaning instructions on the packaging that you can follow.  The staff at stores like Babeland and Eve's Garden in NYC can give you tips on the care of your toy. Most toys can be cleaned with a light bleach solution (bleach heavily diluted with water), antibacterial sex toy cleaners (available in many sex toy stores), or mild soap and water to kill any diseases or germs.  To help prevent the growth of bacteria, be sure to dry your sex toy thoroughly after cleaning.

Below, you will find a list of ways you can clean your sex toy, depending on what material they are made of.

  • When applicable, ALWAYS take out the batteries, unplug, and/or remove electronic attachments before washing, and try to avoid getting electrical areas of sex toys wet
  • Avoid using harsh abrasives or rubbing alcohol on porous materials
  • Toys made of silicone or glass may be boiled or run through the dishwasher according to the product's cleaning instructions
  • For Cyberskin, use cleaners specially designed for the product and apply a light dusting of talcum powder after drying thoroughly
  • Store toys in a dry cool place and avoid direct sunlight

Another good method of protection (especially when you are not sure about how porous your sex toy may be) is to use a condom during sex play with your toy(s).  This is particularly advisable if you share your sex toy with a partner, because diseases and infections can be passed between sex partners when using the same sex toys.  As with sexual partners, do not reuse condoms with your sex toys - a new condom should be used for each person each time.  If you are a Columbia student, check out the safer sex supplies map for details on where to find condoms, dental dams, and more around the Columbia campus.

Alice