Why Your Most Intimate Toys Should Be Part Of Your Spring Cleaning Routine

Oh, spring cleaning — that wonderful time of year when we rip apart our closets to toss what we don't need or want, then take to the rest of the rooms in the house to give everything a proper scrub. Couch cushion crevices and that nasty little space behind the toilet never look as good as they do during spring cleaning season.

According to a 2021 survey by YouGov America, 77% of Americans spring clean every year, with March and April being the most popular months for people to do so at 31% and 28%, respectively. At 51%, closets get the most attention when it comes to cleaning out and organizing, with windows and then floors and carpets rounding out the top three spots that get a heavy dose of the spic-and-span treatment.

But while the survey had a long list of what Americans clean every spring, there's no mention of sex toys. Considering that they might be getting more action than that sequin gown you vow to get rid of every spring and that they're used in the most intimate of places, skipping spring cleaning your stash of sex toys is doing both you and your toys a disservice. Just because you wash them before and after you use them doesn't mean they shouldn't also get the same type of overhaul your closet gets in March and April. Here's how and why you should be spring cleaning your goodie drawer.

Why you should spring clean your sex toys

As much as our culture puts an emphasis on sex, we sometimes leave out the fact that with toy-induced pleasure comes upkeep. Even external toys can become a breeding ground for bacteria if they're not properly cleaned both before and after use — which many of us may be guilty of skipping because it's easier to just toss our toy(s) in the drawer before going about our day.

But the problem with this is that bacteria left behind can cause infections like UTIs, bacterial vaginosis (BV), and yeast infections, and if you share your toys with someone who has an STI, you can possibly contract that from them. Some STIs can remain on surfaces for a few hours to up to a couple days, depending on what the infection is. For example, HPV has been found to live on surfaces for up to 24 hours after a basic washing that doesn't involve antibacterial soap or cleaner, according to a study published in the journal of Sexually Transmitted Infections, while chlamydia can live up to a few hours on surfaces in humid conditions, per Pathogen Safety Data Sheets of Canada.

Because we do use our sex toys in some pretty intimate (read: orgasm-inducing) spots, taking the time to give them all a thorough spring cleaning doesn't just prolong the life of the toy — it keeps our sexual health on the up and up.

How to properly clean them

When it comes to a deep clean, the name of the game is disinfecting. If your toys are made of glass, steel, or silicone and aren't just waterproof but can be submerged, then you can drop them in a pot of boiling water for a few minutes or run them through the dishwasher on the disinfectant setting. If they have batteries, make sure to remove those first.

Products that aren't waterproof, like any type of wand vibrator, should be washed with hot water and antibacterial soaps. But what's important to remember here is making sure your toys are thoroughly rinsed in case you have a sensitivity to soaps. Aggravating your nether regions when you could have avoided it is never fun.

If you want to use sex toy cleaner — which isn't necessary, but some people like the idea of them after a surface wash — you'll want to find a spray or wipes that are free of irritants like fragrance, parabens, glycerin, and alcohol. Glycerin is actually a type of sugar, and sugar can cause yeast infections; alcohol is extremely drying (and the last place you want to be dry is inside your vagina); parabens are man-made preservatives that can mess with hormones (per the Environmental Working Group); and fragrance ... well, there's simply no need for your sex toys to smell like artificial lavender.

Once everything is clean, let your toys air-dry or wipe them down with a lint-free cloth.

Pare down your sex toy collection

Just as you would when spring cleaning your closet, look over your toys and decide what you should keep and what you should ditch. Anything that's made of PVC plastic (vinyl) should be tossed or, ideally, recycled if possible. Not only is plastic horrible for the environment, but when it comes to the body, they contain phthalates — which studies have shown are toxic to the reproductive organs. When it comes to sex toys, you want to stick to body-friendly materials like steel, silicone, and glass.

"If you're a toy aficionado, it might be time to look through your collection and edit it down," CEO and Founder of Le Wand Massager Alicia Sinclair tells Glam. "First, separate your toys. Organize them by the categories: 'love,' 'like,' and 'this isn't for me.' Anything you love, you obviously keep ... If you're unsure about a toy, make sure to try it three times, three different ways before throwing in the towel. If you're still not feeling it after that, it's time to get rid of it."

A good rule of thumb is to let go of the toys you haven't used in a year, but if you haven't used something during that time simply because it was under the pile, then move it to the top and give it some attention. Any broken or mangled toys — like the one your dog destroyed — need to be let go no matter how much you love them. Pleasure product innovation is constantly evolving, so something you have to throw out can likely be replaced by something you just might love even more.

Check for expired lubricants and condoms

As you pare down your sex toy collection, don't forget to check out any lubes or condoms you have. Anything that's expired should absolutely be thrown out. If you've never paid attention to the ingredients in the lubes you've purchased, then spring cleaning is the perfect time to do that too. Just as you would with toy cleaners, you want to get rid of any lubrications that contain fragrance, parabens, glycerin, alcohol, or any additional substances you've never heard of or can't pronounce. 

If you have a bunch of silicone lube, but only silicone toys, then you can toss that too — silicone lube breaks down silicone toys over time, shortening their lifespan. While the kind of lube you use is up to you, your body's preference, and what type of toys you have, you can never go wrong with a water-based, all-natural, 100% vegan lube that's safe for both your toys and your body.

Organize your stash

You know that amazing feeling that comes with opening a very organized closet and knowing exactly where everything is? You can also experience that with your sex toy collection!

First, decide how you want to organize your goodies — do you want to sort by color, brand, type, or by how much you love them? Whichever way your brain processes organization best is what you want to go with. If you have a lot of lubes to go with all those toys, give them their own section with their own order. (You don't want lube falling over onto your toys and creating a mess.)

Last but not least, store all these wonderful delights in a cool, dry space. A nightstand drawer, a cloth storage bin that can easily slide under the bed, or even a shoe organizing rack that can be kept on your door or in the closet are all fantastic options. If your toys came with cotton storage bags, keep them in their bags while also in your newly organized arsenal of goodies.

When it comes to spring cleaning, we shouldn't limit ourselves. If we're going to take a whole afternoon to clean and rearrange the spice cabinet, then we should do the same for everything else. The quality of sex toys that are on the market today have come a long way, and each one we buy is an investment in our sexual wellness — so don't they deserve the same love and care as your collection of lava sea salts? Yes.