Are sex toys safe?

Yes, if you use them responsibly and keep them clean – otherwise, sex toys can pass on sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and infections passed on through the blood (blood-borne infections).

Avoiding STIs

You can avoid STIs by:

  • keeping sex toys clean – wash them after each use
  • covering penetrative sex toys, such as vibrators, with a new condom each time they’re used
  • not sharing sex toys
  • having a different set of sex toys for each partner

Sex toys can pass on:

  • chlamydia
  • syphilis
  • herpes
  • bacterial vaginosis
  • shigella

There is an increased risk of bacterial vaginosis in women who have sex with women who have a history of sharing sex toys, or whose partners have bacterial vaginosis.


Avoiding blood-borne infections

Do not share any sex toy that may draw blood from the skin, as this type of sex toy can pass on blood borne infections.

Take care when using penetrative sex toys, particularly if there are any cuts or sores around the vagina, anus or penis and blood is present, as there’s an increased risk of passing on infections such as:

  • hepatitis B
  • hepatitis C
  • HIV and AIDS

Cleaning sex toys

How you clean a sex toy depends on:

  • what the sex toy is made of
  • if the sex toy uses batteries and has parts that cannot be washed

Sex toys should come with advice about how to clean and store them. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully.

For reusable sex toys, make sure you wash them thoroughly with warm water and soap after each use.

You should also wash them between:

  • using them on different parts of the body, such as the mouth, vagina and anus
  • 1 person and another

Check sex toys regularly for any scratches or breaks in the surface material where germs could be present and spread, as this can increase the risk of infection.

If you’re allergic to latex, do not use sex toys that are made of, or contain, latex.

Getting advice

If you need advice or think you may have an infection, you can go to:

  • your local sexual health clinic or genitourinary (GUM) clinic
  • a GP