Be Smart, Choose Safe & NOT Unsafe Sex Toy Materials

Quick Navigation: Key Takeaways | Safe Materials | Not Toxic But Not Great Either | Porous Materials | Avoid These Chemicals | Material Testing | Novelty Label | Condoms & Sex Toys | Lubes & Sex Toys | Cleaning Sex Toys | FAQ

Picture this – you’re online, horny, and desperately looking for the perfect sex toy to fuck. You know the feeling, you’ve been there before, right?

But, regardless of how horny or adventurous you are, you shouldn’t be too quick to click on that ‘Add to Cart’ button. 

That’s a lesson I learned the hard way.

After developing a yeast infection from a dildo I used several years ago, I knew I needed to be extra careful about what goes into my vagina (and anus). I strongly believe sex toys should be fun and safe; they shouldn’t make your coochie smell like expired tuna. 

That’s exactly why I came up with this list of safe and unsafe sex toy materials – to help people like you make the right decisions when shopping for the perfect toy.

After six months of reviewing over 20 sex toys made from 13 different materials, I discovered that some weren’t what they claimed to be.

I then interviewed sex experts (including our own Sexologist Robert Thomas) and dildo enthusiasts and added a mix of personal experiences to bring you the best and the worst of sex toy materials as far as sexual health and safety are concerned.

So without further ado, let’s dive into the details.

This article is co-written by Sexologist Robert Thomas.

Key Takeaways

  • Safe sex toy materials are ABS plastic, aluminum, ceramic, glass, silicone, stone & wood.
  • Not toxic materials but not great either are jelly, rubber, PVC & Vinyl, CyberSkin,
  • Porous materials are TPR, elastomer, and SEBS.
  • Chemicals you should avoid are phthalates, timethytin chloride, admium, phenol, carbon disulfide, and toluene.

Safe Sex Toys Materials

You shouldn’t expect a sex toy manufacturer to tell you that their sex toy is unsafe – that’s bad for business. Similarly, you shouldn’t wait to learn the hard way – that’s bad for your sexual health and hygiene. Not to mention your sex life…

Based on my own research, the following materials are generally safe:

ABS Plastic

Also known as Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene, this plastic is used to make common household items such as kitchen utensils, faxes, musical instruments, and toys. And by ‘toys’, I mean sex toys as well. 

Sex toy manufacturers use ABS plastic because it:

  • has a low melting point;
  • is highly resistant to physical impacts;
  • can withstand adverse environmental conditions; and
  • can resist chemical corrosion.

Most importantly, I also discovered that this material suits sex toys because it has no known carcinogens, making it safe. Carcinogens are substances that are known to cause cancer in living tissue. 

Aluminum 

The last thing you want when shopping for a sex toy is to settle for one that contains chemicals. Luckily, you shouldn’t be worried about that when using an aluminum sex toy. 

These adult sex toys are safe to fuck because they don’t contain phthalates, a group of chemicals used to make certain personal care products (soap, shampoo, deodorants, etc.) and to make plastic products more durable.

Ceramic

Ceramic sex toys come in different shapes, sizes, and designs. Generally, they are safe, but only if glazed and kiln-fired. The glazing keeps the ceramic non-porous, meaning it doesn’t allow liquid and air to move through it. 

Remember, liquid and air provide the perfect breeding ground for bacteria, and that’s how people get yeast infections. 

Glass

You’d be lying if you said you’ve never watched a porn video of a hottie masturbating with a glass dildo. Glass is actually one of the safest materials used to manufacture dildos because it is non-porous. 

I own a couple of glass dildos, and I love them because they are easy to sterilize and clean. 

My favorite is the beaded sensual glass dildo 7 inch from Lovehoney. If you’d like to try one, here’s a list of 9 of the most recommended glass dildos on the market. 

Silicone

And behold, here comes my personal favorite, and I think everyone at Sextopedia agrees. Our in-house research on how we test dildos classifies silicone among the safest sex toy materials we’ve come across. 

But here’s one thing you need to remember before clicking on the Checkout button: only opt for body-safe silicone dildos.

This is because body-safe dildos (& other sex toys) are proven to be hypoallergenic and free from toxins. In addition, they’re inert, meaning they won’t degrade or change after a couple of years. 

“Silicone sex toys tend to be expensive, but they also usually last longer and are better made. Silicone is a nonporous material, which means that it is easily sterilized and can be used without condoms.”

By Laura Erickson-Schroth & Jennifer Finney Boylan Oxford University Press, 2014 
From Trans Bodies, Trans Selves: A Resource for the Transgender Community

I love stainless steel sex toys because of the feeling of fullness they provide. I also love that they’re steadier, making it easier to hit the right places.

When it comes to safety, you’ll love a stainless steel toy because it has zero pores, meaning it can’t store or hide bacteria like other flesh-like materials. 

Stone

Like ceramic sex toys, glazed and kiln-dried stone dildos don’t allow the buildup of air and water, making them safe to use for penetration.

The only safety issue you might be worried about when using a stone sex toy is the possibility of encountering cracks and chips. But this mostly happens when you don’t handle it with care or store it in a safe place.

Read More | Make Your Sex Toys Last Longer

Wood

If you’re planning on getting some ‘wood,’ a wooden sex toy, preferably a dildo, would be great. But it’s important to ensure that the wooden plaything has been sealed with the right sealing materials. This is because wood, in its natural form, is porous. 

To prevent porousness, sealing materials such as natural oils, mineral spirits, wax, and salad bowl finish are commonly used. So if you find a wood toy sealed with any of these materials, it’s more likely safe than not. 

Not Toxic Sex Toy Materials But Not Great Either

In my research, I also discovered several non-toxic sex toy materials that aren’t as great for various reasons. Here’s everything you need to know:

Jelly

It’s safe to say that sex toys made from jelly have outlived their popularity. This is primarily because they’re porous, making them difficult to clean. And because they’re difficult to clean, it’s quite easy for bacteria to hide in them, waiting to cause an infection. 

Here’s my simple advice: if you’re not ready to spend considerable time cleaning them, stay away from jelly sex toys.

Rubber

You’d think a rubber toy would be a great candidate for the safety list because of its versatility. Safety aside, they actually feel good and are more realistic than most adult sex toys made with glass, stone, wood, or even stainless steel. 

But what if I told you that rubber dildos are mostly made from latex, a porous material? By now, you probably know that any sex toy made with a porous material isn’t good for your sexual health and hygiene

PVC & Vinyl

PVC is safe in its original form (also known as polyvinyl chloride). This is the material used to make plastic pipes among other things. But when used to make dildos, manufacturers add chemicals such as phthalates to soften the plastic, making it unsafe for penetration.

Several studies have linked phthalates to reproductive health problems, such as sterility, birth defects, and ovarian cancer. 

CyberSkin

I didn’t know much about Cyberskin sex toys until a few years ago when I bumped into an ad on a porn website I frequently visit when I need some inspiration to pleasure myself. The ad screamed, “Life-like sensations! Better than your ex!”

I knew I wanted to try it out after doing a little bit of research about it. Here’s a detailed guide on Cyberskin dildos worth checking out. 

Although they feel much like the real thing, I found out they’re actually porous, which is a no for me. The same applies to other materials that promise a ‘realistic’ feel, such as 

  • Fanta Sil-a-gel, 
  • NeoSkin, 
  • FauxFlesh, 
  • UR3, and
  • Fututoric. 

Common Porous Sex Toy Materials

I was beginning to develop more interest in porous sex toy materials (just to make sure I avoid them completely). I discovered that the following are among the most notorious:

Thermoplastic rubber or TPR

Although TPR pleasure toys are body-safe and look almost like silicone toys (my personal favorites), most of them are porous. This is because they contain both plastic and rubber, stretched out to soften them.

While the finished product undoubtedly feels good, it harbors bacteria if not cleaned properly, making it a serious sexual health hazard. 

Elastomer

Don’t get me wrong; elastomer dongs are not as porous as TPRs, but they’re still not 100% safe. This is because elastomer needs hardening, unlike most materials that often need softening. A high vacuum is then used to remove the hardening agent, making the final toy less porous (but still porous to some extent). 

Styrene-ethylene-butylene-styrene or SEBS 

SEBs materials are usually soft and feel life-like. These two characteristics can be tempting for anyone who doesn’t know much about safe sex toys. The only problem with SEBs is that they tend to dry out, crack or peel if not well taken care of. 

That, right there, makes SEBS dongs porous. 

Chemicals To Look Out For In Sex Toys

As mentioned, sex toy manufacturers won’t tell you that some of the ingredients used in their products may be considered unsafe. One of the best ways to protect your vagina or anus is by avoiding products that contain any of the following chemicals:

Phthalates

Phthalates are chemicals used to make certain products durable. But when used on sex toys, they can cause various reproductive health problems, as mentioned earlier. So no matter how horny you are, dobbers that contain this chemical are never worth the risk.

Timethytin chloride

Avoid any product that contains timethytin chlorides if you want a healthy pink vagina or anus. This chemical can damage the central nervous system, including an unborn child if absorbed into the skin. And since your inner walls have thinner layers than your actual skin, you don’t want such a chemical anywhere close to your pussy.

Admium

Like timethytin chloride, admium can also damage the central nervous system and affect a woman’s reproductive health. 

Phenol

This chemical is mostly used to manufacture nylon and synthetic fibers. But what sex toys manufacturers won’t tell you is that this chemical also denatures proteins from the body, leading to cell death and necrosis (the death of body tissues). It does this by restricting blood flow into the tissues. 

Carbon disulfide

You’ll find this chemical in most rubber toys because it’s mostly used to manufacture rubber. I came across this report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention explaining exactly how dangerous this chemical is when introduced into the human body.

Toluene

Toluene helps manufacture glues – it’s one of the chemicals that help hold together different materials in a sex toy. Kidney and liver damage are some of the most common signs of exposure to toluene via an adult plaything. 

How To Test Your Sex Toy Material?

I hate to tell you this, but some sex toys don’t contain the materials they claim to. That’s a lesson I learned the hard way, as I mentioned earlier in this article. 

Even worse is that the government doesn’t regulate the sex toy industry. That means manufacturers can lie about the quality of their products just to make a few extra bucks. 

For this reason, Sextopedia’s team spent 3 weeks conducting 4 key tests on different sex toys to determine whether they contain the materials they claim to. Unsurprisingly, I found that at least 2 out of 5 toys I tested weren’t what they claimed to be.

Here’s an overview of each of these tests:

Flame Test

The primary purpose of this test is to determine whether a particular sex toy is made from silicone. One thing you need to know about silicone is that it requires a very high temperature to burn. And when it burns, it leaves an ashy gray spot.

So to find out whether the toy is made with silicone, place it over a lighter. If it turns black and stinks, get rid of it. 

Lead Test

Sex toys that contain lead aren’t generally safe. To find out if that particular toy contains lead, you’ll need a lead testing kit like this one I found on Amazon

To test for lead using this testing kit, follow these steps:

  • Wet the swab tip with water,
  • Shake off any excess liquid from the swab tip,
  • Rub the swab tip on the surface of the sex toy for at least 30 seconds,
  • If the swab tip remains mustard yellow, then there’s no lead detected,
  • If the swab tip turns red, pink, or purple, then it means there’s lead detected.

Lick test

This is my least favorite testing technique but is especially ideal if you’re on a budget and horny at the same time. To test for chemicals, just lick a small part of the toy. If it has an alkaline taste or makes your tongue numb, throw it in the trash immediately. 

Polariscope test

A polariscope helps detect materials such as synthetic resins and plastics, especially in jewelry. But you can use this device to test for the same materials, or even more, in sex toys.

Place the toy on the testing panel and observe it through the lens. If it appears stressed on the surface, you’re better off finger-fucking yourself.

Here’s the polariscope testing kit I found on eBay. 

Sex Toys & the Novelty Label

When I ordered my first sex toy, I noticed it came with a novelty label. I’ll explain if you don’t know what this label is or what it means.

Since the sex toy industry is highly unregulated, manufacturers sometimes try to ‘play safe’ by adding novelty labels on the product’s packaging. 

These labels help sex toy sellers act like they’re not selling you a sex toy when they know that’s exactly what that particular product is used for. 

In other words, it’s a manufacturer’s way of saying:

“Hi there, this sex toy will give you endless orgasms, but we don’t take responsibility if you get a yeast infection from using it.”

Don’t get me wrong, though; not every phallic object comes with this label. Most reputable sex toy shops don’t even need this sticker because they manufacture top-quality toys. 

It’s also important to note that not every sex toy with this label is substandard. In fact, it could be one of the many tactics manufacturers use to avoid violating Food and Drug Administration requirements. 

For instance, since certain sex toys, such as vibrators, are considered medical devices, placing a novelty label on them is the manufacturer’s way of saying:

“I don’t know what this product is even though I just manufactured it moments ago, but I’m sending it to the buyer, hoping they’ll figure it out.”

Remember when we used to hide liquor in a coffee mug back in high school? Yeah, something like that. 

Is It Safe To Use a Sex Toy Without a Condom?

Yes, you can use a sex toy without a condom. However, to stay safe, make sure you know your partner’s health status (that is if you’re going to share this toy with them). 

Additionally, if you’re using a sex toy that isn’t body-safe or unsure of what materials it comprises, don’t take the risk. A condom will save you from contracting infections

Safe Lubes To Use With Sex Toys

I hate to be the bearer of this news, but not every lube you see online or at a local sex shop is worth using on your glory holes. Some lubes can mess with your PH, causing yeast infections. Others will sting and burn. 

Read More | Safe Lubes For Sex Toys

How To Clean Sex Toys?

There’s no one-fits-all approach to cleaning sex toys. The exact procedure for cleaning a sex toy will depend on several factors, such as the type, material, size, and even design of the sex toy. 

We’ve discussed everything you need to know about cleaning sex toys here.

Where To Buy Safe Sex Toys Online?

Not every online sex store you come across sells safe toys. When it comes matters sexual health, safety should be a priority. 

Sex Toy Material FAQs

Are toxic sex toy materials usually porous?

Toxic sex toys are not necessarily porous, although most of them are. If the toy contains any of the toxic materials I discussed earlier in this article, the best thing to do is to get rid of it. The second-best thing (if you’re too horny to get rid of it) is to use a condom always. 

Why are porous sex toy materials dangerous?

Porous sex toy materials are dangerous because you can’t sterilize them. As a result, they allow air and liquids to pass through them, creating the perfect breeding environment for bacteria that cause infections. 

Where to find non-toxic dildos?

Since the sex toy industry is highly unregulated, I wouldn’t recommend any specific store or guarantee that they sell 100% non-toxic dildos. 

Instead, it’s better to listen to experts from reputable sites like us Sextopedia who’ve tried and tested these dongs, making it easier for users like you to make the right choices when shopping for the best anal or pussy pounder. 

Where to find body-safe dildos?

Body-safe dildos are all over the internet; you just need to know where to find them. Sextopedia reviews different types of dildos, helping you pick only those that are safe for you, your partner or both. 

To find out how we test dildos, click here.

Are 3D-printed sex toys safe?

3D-printed sex toys aren’t 100% safe. This is because the final products usually have ridges on them. Therefore, they need polishing and smoothening to prevent them from trapping bacteria.

Is there such thing as the safest sex toy material?

Yes, materials such as silicone are safer than most in the sex toy industry. 

Are PVC sex toys safe?

As I mentioned earlier, PVCs are not so safe. This is because they usually contain phthalates, which can cause infections. 

Are jelly sex toys safe?

Jelly sex toys contain tiny pores, which act as a breeding ground for bacteria. Unless you’re ready to spend a considerable amount of time cleaning them, don’t opt for jelly toys. Or, if you really have to use them, add a condom to the equation. 

Are crystal sex toys safe?

Crystal sex toys (like dildos) are safe but only if glazed and kiln-dried. Additionally, you’ll need to ensure they’re stored correctly because they can easily crack. 

Authors

  • I love all “things” that can be played with, especially sex toys that are curvey and realistic at the same time. Jokes aside, I have great instincts when it comes to picking out a new dildo or vibrator or any other sex toy that can actually make you orgasm. Sextopedia has been my sweet-sweet home for about 3 years and I absolutely ENJOY TESTING & reviewing new sex toys. In my reviews, I’ll always tell you what I think, and how it feels, and I don’t sugarcoat anything. Learn more.

  • Robert Thomas is a sexologist, researcher, and writer who loves to explore and investigate everything that is related to bedroom action. He strives to improve couples' sex life by challenging the advice given in research papers, books, magazines, and on the internet in general. Robert loves to write about sex, BDSM, as well as tips & tricks on how couples can introduce new sex toys to their relationship. He has been proudly featured in Healthline, Bustle, Cosmopolitan, Self, AskMen, MelMagazine, Kinkly, Jack&Jill Adult, and in many other publications. Learn more. LinkedIn

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.