The manufacturing of sex toys is not regulated in the United States. While the vast majority of manufacturers use body-safe materials, not all do. Furthermore, there are many different opinions about what constitutes a body-safe or skin-safe material. Additionally, sex toy manufacturers can make false claims about their products with limited legal repercussions. This is especially true for manufacturers that are not based in the United States.
As a sex toy retailer, we firmly believe we have a responsibility to provide information that will help our customers make smart buying decisions. While we will never sell products containing phthalates, we do sell products that some in the industry do not consider body-safe. These products are often called realistics. With proper care and responsible usage, we believe realistics can be enjoyed safely.
This is our guide to the materials used to manufacture sex toys. As stated above, there is limited scientific research available for many of these materials. Therefore, we have collected data from a variety of sources to present what we believe is the most accurate information currently available. This list does not include all materials used in manufacturing sex toys; but, it does include materials used in the toys we sell.
Silicone is widely regarded as the best material for sex toys. Silicone is a super-smooth, odorless and tasteless material. Since silicone is non-porous, products made with silicone are safe for your body and extremely hygienic.
The problem with a porous material is the pores (minuscule holes) can collect and hold onto dirt, bacteria, lubricant, bodily fluids, etc. Silicone toys can be washed with warm to hot water with antibacterial soap after each use and you are assured the toy is not harboring any nastiness. You can also use a good toy cleaner to sanitize silicone toys. We recommend that you follow your toy manufacturer cleaning instructions. Some people advocate cleaning your non-electric silicone toys in the dishwasher. In our opinion, a thorough hand-cleaning (with warm water or a toy cleaner) will do the job.
Silicone is an inert substance, which means that it doesn’t easily react with other chemicals, including the natural chemicals in your body or on the surface of your skin. For some crazy reason, silicone will react with itself. When silicone comes into contact with another silicone object or substance, it can melt. You should always store your silicone toys in a manner that prevents them from touching each other. Silicone-based lubricants are a big no no with silicone toys. Water-based lubricants are the best choice for use with silicone toys.
In summary, silicone toys are:
- Odorless & Tasteless
- Temperature receptive
On the downside, silicone toys must be stored separately from other silicone products and you can’t use a silicone-based lubricant.
Glass (also known as borosilicate or pyrex)
From a body-safe perspective, glass sex toys are awesome. They are non-porous, odorless, tasteless, and hypoallergenic. Glass toys are easy to clean using warm to hot water with antibacterial soap or with a good toy cleaner. You can also boil glass toys.
Of course, glass toys are not soft or flexible. The extra firm and super-precise texture of glass dildos, plugs, and massagers make them ideal for intense spot stimulation, such as g-spot and prostate play.
Any lubricant (water-based, silicone-based, hybrid, oil-based, and organic) can be used with a glass dildo, plug, or massager.
The positives of glass toys are:
- Can be boiled/bleached
- Compatible with any lubricant
- Temperature receptive
- Odorless & tasteless
Stainless steel, unpainted steel, and aluminum toys are non-porous and generally safe for all skin types. Some people may have specific allergic reactions to nickel, so look for nickel-free toys.
Avoid any metal toy that has been painted or coated. The paint may contain harmful chemicals that can rub off during use.
Cleaning metal toys is a breeze. Use warm to hot water with antibacterial soap or with a good toy cleaner after each use.
Like glass toys, metal dildos, plugs, and massagers are not soft or flexible. Most metal toys are designed for intense spot stimulation, such as g-spot and prostate play.
Any quality personal lubricant can be used with metal toys.
The advantages of stainless steel and aluminum toys are:
- Temperature receptive
- Can be used with any lubricant
- Generally odorless and tasteless
ABS plastic is a common material in many bullet vibrators. It’s also used for trim and handles with many silicone and TPR/TPE toys.
Since plastic and acrylic has a smooth surface, it tends to resist bacteria, fluids, and dirt. Some plastic toys are slightly porous though. It is not recommended to share plastic toys.
Always clean plastic toys thoroughly with warm or hot water and a good antibacterial soap. We recommend also spraying a plastic toy with a toy cleaner such as Before & After.
Any quality personal lubricant can be used with ABS plastic and acrylic toys.
In summary, ABS plastic and acrylic toys are:
- Generally non-porous; but, not to the degree of silicone, glass, or metal
- Easy to clean
- Compatible with all lubricants
Thermoplastic Rubber (TPR) & Thermoplastic Elastomer (TPE)
Thanks to advances in manufacturing processes, most TPR and TPE sex toys are now phthalate free. In the old days, chemical softeners (phthalates) were used to relax the texture and make the rubber or plastic easier to work with. These substances are considered generally unsafe and probably toxic. The chemicals can react with skin and worse, can ‘leech’ or bleed out from a toy’s surface.
Make absolutely certain you only purchase toys that are phthalate free.
Even though a toy made from TPR and TPE is phthalate free, it is still very porous. Even after cleaning TPR and TPE toys with warm water and a antibacterial soap (or with a toy cleaner), the porous nature of the material leaves open the possibility of bacteria and fluids to remain. For that reason, TPR and TPE toys should not be shared.
After cleaning your toy, make sure it is nice and dry before storing it. As with silicone toys, you should store TPR and TPE toys separately and without them touching other toys.
We suggest only using water-based lubricants with TPR and TPE toys. Some toy manufacturers say you can use silicone-based lubricants.
TPR and TPE sex toys are:
- Soft and pliable
- Have a realistic look and feel
- Usually are phthalate and latex free
Many dildos, masturbators, and dolls are made from a blend of materials to make the product look and feel as realistic and life-like as possible. Using brand names like, ULTRASKYN, UR3, and Cyberskin, these propriety materials generally contain TPR, TPE, silicone, possibly latex, and sometimes PVC. These materials are very porous and should not be shared.
Due to the porous nature and the often closely guarded blend formula, many sex toys reviewers and bloggers consider realistic products not body and skin safe. Without scientific research and documented cases of problems with these products, we believe realistics are safe if used responsibly. This means always cleaning the toys very well before and after using it. Use a good antibacterial soap, warm or hot water, and follow up with a toy cleaner. Always let your realistic toy dry fully before storage. Most importantly, never share a realistic toy.
Water-based lubricants are best with any realistic toy. Some realistic toys are safe to use with silicone lubes; but, we believe water-based lubricants are best in terms of maintaining the realistic properties of the toy.
If you have questions about a material, please contact us.