Sterilizing or Disinfecting toys

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Sterilizing or Disinfecting toys

NuMe NuMe
Ok so I have a question that I've been thinking about for a while.

Why can't you sterilize plastic toys? So long as they would be dishwasher safe, I would think that you can. Baby bottles are made of plastic and can go in boiling water or a dishwasher for sterilizing.

Now I know you can't put a vibrator in the dishwasher. But what about other toys? And I wonder what materials are and are not dishwasher safe.

Another thing I'm curious about is disinfecting. Almost anything can be cleaned with a 10% bleach solution or rubbing alcohol. Done properly, does this make the toy germ free? And can this be done to any and all materials?
01/03/2010
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Sir Sir
I'm honestly not sure and have wondered about this for a long time. Thank you for the post!
01/03/2010
Alan & Michele Alan & Michele
All the plastic toys we have include motors so I haven't used the dishwasher, but when the kiddo was little I used to throw his Legos in (in a net bag) and they were made of the same type of plastic (ABS) so I'm sure it wouldn't hurt non-motorized sex toys either.

I can't answer your other questions, but I've often wondered if I'm too paranoid about toys being "germ free." I mean, I'm fluid bonded with my partner, so we don't use condoms for vag sex. You can't sterilize human skin, which is porous, so is a freshly-bathed cock really any cleaner than a toy I've scrubbed with just antibacterial soap and water? The only time this logic doesn't work for me is with toys that go from ass to vag, and everything gets a condom in that case.
01/03/2010
EffinSara EffinSara
The only thing I can think of is that toys that are considered non-sterilizable are porous... microbes can get inside the material itself, and a wipedown with bleach or rubbing alcohol isn't going to get the toy completely clean.

As for plastic plates, cups, baby bottles, etc... have you ever smelled them after they came out of the dishwasher? They still smell like dishwater. It's gross. I can't stand it. Aside from that, the microbes that get picked up through food use aren't the same as the microbes that could be picked up through sexual contact, and the former may be less resistant to heat than the latter.

Just guesses, though.
01/03/2010
EffinSara EffinSara
Quote:
Originally posted by Alan & Michele
All the plastic toys we have include motors so I haven't used the dishwasher, but when the kiddo was little I used to throw his Legos in (in a net bag) and they were made of the same type of plastic (ABS) so I'm sure it wouldn't hurt ...
Human skin is constantly sloughing off, so the skin you came in contact with that one time you were on the brink of a yeast infection isn't the same skin you're coming into contact with today. Additionally, unlike with porous toys, once germs get inside the skin, the body has a whole immune system to take care of them. Once they get inside of a porous toy, they can just sit in there and breed.
01/03/2010
ScottA ScottA
Porous toys can't be chemically sterilized, since there is no way to guarantee that the sterilizing solution can get everywhere.

There's another reason why toys might not "be able to be sterilized" - the sensitivity of the material to means of sterilization.

The two main methods are heat and chemicals. Heat that is sufficient to sterilize can cause toys to melt or break down - Acrylic and Delrin are in the break down category. You can do it a few times, but after a while your toy falls apart.

The same thing can happen with bleach or other chemical solutions. Bleach works to kill germs because it's very reactive, and it can react with your toys in ways you don't want. Dilute solutions put on for short times won't do much damage, but a strong enough solution put on long enough to guarantee sterility can cause problems, not only with plastic but also with things like stanless steel.

Disinfecting is a different ball of wax, and most toys can be successfully disinfected with things like alcohol, spray-and-rinse with a bleach solution, or a good antibacterial soap such as Hibiclens. The reason why disinfecting is not really brought up is that it only takes a few nasties (such as hepatitis or the bacteria that cause syphilis) to make your life very unpleasant, so if you're sharing toys sterility is important. Talking about disinfecting makes it sound like you might be able to share the toy safely, but really disinfecting is only applicable to your private toys or toys shared in a known-safe relationship. Again, porous toys can't be really disinfected, but in general hard plastic is nonporous.
01/04/2010
ScottA ScottA
Also, FWIW, few dishwashers can be said to really sterilize.
01/04/2010
Carrie Ann Carrie Ann
EF lists plastic as non porous yet only an 8 on the safety meter. This confuses me!
01/04/2010
NuMe NuMe
ScottA,

Thank you so much for taking the time to write out all of that information! That is so helpful to all of us who don't really know about this stuff in detail.
01/04/2010
Luscious Lily Luscious Lily
Thanks, ScottA! A lot of people don't know that disinfecting and sterilizing aren't the same thing, and it's an important distinction to make. Also, plastic tends to vary. If I remember correctly, ABS plastic is ABS plastic is ABS plastic, but not all plastic sex toys are made of the same kind of plastic. For instance, Aneros toys are made of a medical grade plastic that can be safely sterilized. Rubbing alcohol is generally safe for most plastics, though.
01/04/2010
Sammi Sammi
Quote:
Originally posted by ScottA
Also, FWIW, few dishwashers can be said to really sterilize.
Now I'm wondering about that. I've got a setting on mine that says "sanitize", but I'm not sure that it really sterilizes, or what it does.
01/04/2010
Luscious Lily Luscious Lily
Quote:
Originally posted by Sammi
Now I'm wondering about that. I've got a setting on mine that says "sanitize", but I'm not sure that it really sterilizes, or what it does.
I wasn't sure on this one, so I wandered over to Ye Olde Wikipedia:

"Dishwashers do not sterilize the utensils, as proper sterilization requires autoclaving at 121 °C with pressurized wet steam for at least 15 minutes. Commercial dishwashers can use one of two types of sanitizing methods: hot water sanitizing (using final rinse water at a temperature of at least 83 °C (180 °F)), or chemical sanitizing (by injecting chlorine in the final rinse water). Not all dishwashers are capable of reaching the high temperature required for hot water sanitizing."
link

It goes on to say that home dishwashers that sanitize use a slightly lower temperature (75°C). Neither the commercial nor the consumer dishwashers can truly be said to sterilize, but they get as close as most people ever need from a dishwasher. Since this is not sterilization, choose another method if you need your toys to be truly sterile. For toys restricted to one person, or within a fluid-bonded relationship, a sanitize cycle is probably sufficient.

Or, yanno, you could shell out way upwards of $1,000 for your own personal autoclave. Because autoclaves are seriously cool. I mean hot.
01/05/2010
Sammi Sammi
Quote:
Originally posted by Luscious Lily
I wasn't sure on this one, so I wandered over to Ye Olde Wikipedia:

"Dishwashers do not sterilize the utensils, as proper sterilization requires autoclaving at 121 °C with pressurized wet steam for at least 15 minutes. Commercial ...
That's good to know - thanks for looking that up!

Nah, I'll pass on an autoclave . The dishwasher is fine for me.
01/05/2010
Luscious Lily Luscious Lily
Quote:
Originally posted by Sammi
That's good to know - thanks for looking that up!

Nah, I'll pass on an autoclave . The dishwasher is fine for me.
Aw, really? They DO have small tabletop options. Seriously, we have a little 2-foot wide, 2-foot tall number in the lab, just the right size for toys (surgical and otherwise). Unfortunately I can't put my dildos in there, they might get annoyed... hahah.
01/05/2010
ScottA ScottA
For those who really want to sterilize their jelly toys there is a third option that I remembered as I was putting on a bandage after slashing my finger.

High-intensity gamma rays.

It's the way many companies sterilize porous and other difficult-to-sterilize materials.

Probably would work on most sex-toy materials, and since gamma rays are not particulate radiation it won't leave you with a radioactive/glowing toy.

Not generally practical, though.
01/07/2010
Adriana Ravenlust Adriana Ravenlust
So um.. is sanitizing akin to disinfecting?
01/07/2010
Carrie Ann Carrie Ann
Quote:
Originally posted by Adriana Ravenlust
So um.. is sanitizing akin to disinfecting?
Yup. Nothing can truly be sterilized by boiling or bleach. There are some "bugs" that are resistant to all but heat we can't attain with boiling water and harsh chemicals.

I tend to try to use "sanitize" rather than "sterilize" due to this.

I used to have a page saved from the CDC or somewhere explaining it all but I lost it when I got a new computer.
01/07/2010
NuMe NuMe
This is all super interesting! I'm glad to be finding all this out. Especially about the gamma rays. LOL!
01/07/2010
Total posts: 18
Unique posters: 9