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It’s 2020, times are hard, and a lot of us are still following strict guidelines for social distancing. Whether you’re at home with a significant other, riding solo, or in an isolation pod with a sexual partner, sex toys can play an important part in our wellness and self-care routines. But toys that make us feel good can also hurt our bodies if we aren’t taking proper care of them. Being mindful of communication, finding the right toys for you and your partner, and following proper guidance for hygiene can improve the experience and keep your body healthy. 

Talk about your toys

Like any other aspect of physically intimate experiences, sex toys should be talked about with your partner before, during, and after. Consent includes consenting to the kinds of sex you’re having, and that includes whether or not you’re using toys together. 

Initiating a conversation about something new that you want to try with your partner can feel awkward or intimidating, but it can also help build trust and allow you and your partner the opportunity to speak comfortably about your wants and needs. Incorporating toys into sex does not mean that you or your partner are lacking anything, but instead is a way to experience different types of sensation and activites together. 

Just like you should be open to listening to your partner, you should also be open to listening to your own body. Not all toys are enjoyable for all people and there’s a lot of variation within different styles of toys. Your body will let you know if the toys you’re using are right for you in the way it responds. 

Find the right type of toys

It might take a couple of tries to find the right toys for you. But trying out a lot of different kinds of toys can be expensive, so thinking about how your body responds to different types of sensation or stimulation can help lead you in the right direction. 

If you’re a person with a clitoris and enjoy stimulation on that body part, vibrators and suction toys may be a good place to start. Penile penetration can be simulated by dildos and some vibrating wands. Other smaller penetrative toys can stimulate specific erogenous zones, like the prostate or the anterior fornix erogenous zones, which can be helpful for people who feel discomfort with vaginal or anal penetration. 

Some toys might be more enjoyable by yourself or with a partner, and some might be more fun to use as either a giver or receiver of stimulation. Trying different toys and openly communicating with your partner can help you find the right sensations. 

Taking care of your body and your sex toys

Treat your sex toys like you would any body part you would engage during sex. First and foremost, keep your sex toys clean. Wash them thoroughly after every use, specifically with a mild and unscented dish or hand soap. Some toys can be washed in the dishwasher, depending on the material they’re made from. Silicone, pyrex, or stainless steel are dishwasher safe. Other materials should not be exposed to such high temperatures to avoid warping or other damage. 

It’s totally normal, and often encouraged, to use barriers like internal and external condoms or dental dams when incorporating sex toys into physically intimate interactions. If you’re using the same toys with different partners, or if you and your partner are sharing toys, barriers can help keep your bodies healthy. Toys should still be washed between use when barrier methods are used. 

Using lubricant can also be helpful in conjunction with sex toys. Different materials of toys require different types of lube. Silicone toys should not be used with silicone or oil based lubricants, and should be used with water or hybrid-style lubricants instead. 

Planned Parenthood has more detailed information about safely incorporating sex toys into your routines available here.