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Sex Toy Safety

What Every Buyer Should Know About Jelly Sex Toys

If you’ve researched sex toys, you’ve probably seen blogs warning against jelly (and no, not the type of jelly that you put onto your sandwiches). Jelly is a type of material made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and rubber, and as its name implies, it can be very soft. It’s compatible with all water-based lubes. It’s also relatively inexpensive, so it’s a popular choice for consumers.

Of course, you should understand exactly what you’re buying before picking up any new toy. Here’s what you need to know about jelly and other soft rubber materials.

Are Jelly Sex Toys Safe?

The biggest question is whether jelly is safe. Because a number of different substances can be added to jelly toys to create a soft, realistic feel, it’s difficult to make assumptions.

First of all, it’s important to note that “inexpensive” doesn’t necessarily mean “unsafe.” Many materials are both cheap and effective – latex is a notable example. You shouldn’t let the price of a toy dissuade you from making a purchase. With that being said, it’s true that some jelly toys are porous, meaning that they’re covered in microscopic holes; this makes them impossible to sterilize. Bacteriafungi, and viruses can grow in the pores, and even if you use a high-quality cleaner, you can’t be sure that you’ve eliminated all of the contaminants.

However, this isn’t always the case. The term “jelly” refers to a wide range of products, and reputable manufacturers tend to use high-quality plasticizers that prevent those tiny holes from forming. Even if your jelly toy is slightly porous, there’s currently no evidence that moderate toy usage could increase your chances of infections, provided that you clean your toy thoroughly after every use (check out the last section of this article for cleaning tips).

If you’re using a sex toy made from a porous material and you’re worried about infections, you can use a condom to protect yourself. This also allows for easy cleanup, so you might consider picking up a pack of condoms to use with your toys – of course, if you forego the added protection, you’ll probably be fine as long as you buy your products from a well-known manufacturer.

A potentially bigger cause for concern is the presence of phthalates, which are a class of chemical used to soften hard rubbers and plastics. Phthalates may affect testosterone production, and while they’re used in thousands of different products, it’s unclear whether they’re completely safe for internal use. Some jelly toys don’t use phthalates; to find these products, look for a phthalate free feature when browsing our site.

If I Decide to Buy a Jelly Toy, How Can I Keep It Clean?

One of the big reasons that jelly sex toys are popular is that they feel great. They can be soft and flexible, which allows the user to target erogenous areas effectively. They transmit body heat very well, and they’re inexpensive enough that you can buy toys in a few different styles without breaking the bank. However, like all sex toys, they require some upkeep.

While some sites say that you can’t disinfect jelly toys – and this is probably true for especially porous materials – regular cleaning will certainly limit the chances of an infection. For the best possible results, we recommend a water-based sex toy cleaner. Toy cleaners spray onto the surface of your toy, and you can wipe them away with a clean, lint-free towel to get rid of potentially harmful microorganisms. Alternately, you can use a mild antibacterial soap, but be careful to choose a cleaner that won’t break down the jelly. Always store your toy in a cool, dry, and clean place.

We carefully evaluate the toys that we offer in our store, but if you experience irritation after using a product or if you see the symptoms of infection, talk to your doctor. Don’t continue to use a toy that seems to have a harmful effect on your body.

Non-Porous Materials and Safe Sex: What to Know When Using Adult Toys

When comparing sex toys, you’ll likely see the words “porous” and “non-porous” in product feature lists. Porosity – the presence if tiny, microscopic pores – can be important, particularly if you share sex toys or if you’re especially prone to urinary tract infections.

Pores are tiny holes, and if a sex toy is porous, small amounts of liquid (including body fluids and lubrication) can infiltrate the pores, carrying viruses, bacteria, and other microorganisms. Obviously, this isn’t ideal for your sexual health, since you’ll be exposed to those microorganisms the next time you use the toy.

Before we get into the hygienic benefits of different materials, it’s helpful to consider which materials are porous and which aren’t. Non-porous materials are solid to the touch, although they’re not necessarily hard. Some common non-porous materials include:

ABS Plastic

Pure Silicone

Borosilicate Glass

Steel and Other Metals

Ceramics

Acrylics

Note that silicone has to be “pure” silicone in order to make this list. Some companies produce silicone blends, which include rubbers, plastics, and other substances that aren’t necessarily non-porous. Likewise, ABS plastic is generally considered the standard for sex toy materials, and some softer plastics might not qualify.

While the following materials are considered porous, they’re not necessarily unsafe; they simply require thorough cleaning after each use, and many health professionals discourage sharing them unless you’re using a condom or dental dam (more on this in a minute).

Porous materials include:

Silicone Blends

Jelly and Soft Thermoplastic Materials (TPR)

Cyberskin, UR3, and Other Ultra-Realistic Materials

Rubber

If you have doubts about whether your toy is porous or non-porous, you can check the packaging, but you might not get a clear answer if it’s made from rubbers or plastics. When possible, our site posts whether or not a toy is non-porous under “safety features” section of each product listing.

Porous Sex Toys and Sexually Transmitted Infections

So, can porous sex toys really cause health issues?

They’re not necessarily dangerous, but they certainly require a little extra care – especially if you’re sharing. A study from the Indiana University School of Medicine found that 40 percent of sex toys tested positive for human papillomavirus (HPV) 24 hours after cleaning; while the study had a small sample size, it’s clear that some infections can be transferred, and there’s certainly no reason to take risks.

If you’re planning on sharing your toys, you should either use condoms or sanitize them completely by cleaning with a toy cleaner or by boiling them after each individual use (provided that the toy material can withstand a boiling pot of water, of course). Porous toys can’t be sanitized in this manner, so your choices are more limited; use a condom or don’t share at all.

Can Porous Sex Toy Materials Cause Yeast Infections or UTIs?

Even if you don’t plan on sharing your toy, porosity can be an important factor. While there’s not much scientific research on the subject, it stands to reason that if viruses can live in microscopic pores, bacteria and fungi can also flourish, and using a porous sex toy without carefully cleaning it could result in urinary tract infectionsyeast infections, and related conditions.

Regardless of your toy’s material, clean it after every use, following the manufacturer’s instructions to protect yourself. Dedicated sex toy cleaner make the process much easier and potentially safer, since some soaps can degrade certain materials. They can also cut your cleaning time significantly, since in most cases, you simply apply the cleaner, rub your toy down, dry it, and store it. Choose a cool, dry place for storage, and put your toy in a case or box to prevent dust and other contaminants from settling on it.

Finally, be sure to use an appropriate lube with your toys. Oil-based lubes can break down some materials, and silicone lubricants can damage silicone toys, creating tiny holes that make the toy unsafe. Silicone can also break down into a gummy mess, ruining your toy. With a little care, you can stay safe with any high-quality toy, regardless of its material.

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