The best and worst materials in adult toys

What your future erotic toy is made of is much more important than you might think. It matters not only for your pleasure, but also for your health. It is not worth risking your own health in order to seek cheap pleasure. Therefore, in the following text I will describe the materials that are used for erotic toys and present their advantages and disadvantages.


What’s worth knowing to get started?

Before I go on to describe the different materials I think it is worth first outlining some important points about materials when it comes to erotic toys:

Unfortunately, the erotic toy market is almost completely unregulated in terms of materials. I am not aware of any country or organization that has regulated or standardized the use of materials in erotic toys. Only the ISO organization has been working for 2 years on ISO/PC 325 on “Sex toys – Design and safety requirements for products in direct contact with genitalia, the anus, or both“.

This means that both manufacturers from the United States, Europe and especially, China have no government or industry body responsible for ensuring that sex toys are safe. This lack of regulation has resulted in the erotic toy market being flooded with cheap materials over the years. Also ones, that are banned in other types of products, such as children’s toys and products for pregnant women. This is disturbing to say the least, but it is the truth.

Cleaning and hygiene – porosity of materials

One of the most important divisions for erotic toys is between porous and non-porous materials. Porosity is the amount of empty space in a material. For adult products, this is an extremely important characteristic. The more porous the material is, the harder it is to clean it thoroughly. In fact, it is quite common to come across the opinion that all porous materials should be avoided when it comes to erotic toys.

Porous materials have microscopic holes where dirt, mold and bacteria can accumulate. They are difficult to clean properly, which means that over time they can cause infection or other skin irritations. Porous materials are also much more likely to transmit STD-causing bacteria, viruses and parasites. Porous materials are usually soft and are considered low-quality materials. They cannot be thrown into boiling water, washed with alcohol, and even the use of a toy cleaner is not guaranteed to get rid of all the dirt.

Special cleaner for erotic toys

Non-porous materials, on the other hand, are much easier to clean because they have a smooth and water-resistant surface. Any dirt and bacteria can only reside on their surface without being able to hide in any nooks and crannies. Non-porous materials are more expensive, but they are definitely more practical and you can use them for much longer.

Phthalates – toxic chemicals

As I mentioned at the beginning, there are no regulations relating to materials when it comes to erotic toys. This makes it unfortunate that phthalates are still found in some products. There is a whole list of complications that phthalates can cause, and new studies are coming out all the time that add more items to that list. Recently Dr. Shanna Swan described their negative effects on penile size in newborns.

Phthalates are toxic plasticizers added to many plastics to make them more malleable and flexible. Only porous materials can potentially contain phthalates. The use of phthalates has been banned for most industries for many years. Unfortunately, the lack of regulation makes it solely up to the manufacturer whether or not they use phthalates.

How do you recognize low quality material?

It is not a simple task to determine whether a particular toy is made of good and safe material or of low-quality material imitating a decent product. However, there are a few things you can look out for:

Low price

If the price of a toy seems too low to be true, there is probably something wrong here. Of course, there are good lines and brands of cheap products and you can simply hit on an exceptional promotion, but this leads directly to the next point…

Unnamed manufacturer or vendor

Decent manufacturers proudly display their logo and brand. If the product is of unknown origin, its composition will also most likely be unknown. However, this does not mean that you should only buy from the biggest manufacturers. Lesser known companies also produce very good and safe toys for adults, but even smaller manufacturers can easily be checked on the internet.

The same is true for the vendors. Large sex shop chains and popular online stores usually make sure that their goods are certified, high quality and safe. Buying from strange unknown places can result in a low quality product with poor materials or even dangerous to health.

Odor and oily discharge

Hazardous substances used in various materials have a tendency to volatilize. If a product smells bad (although sometimes even silicone products should be given a few minutes after unpacking) or feels sticky to the touch, or worse, is covered with an oily film, it should be thrown away immediately.

Putting a condom on a sex toy?

A fairly popular solution for materials that are difficult to clean is to put a condom on the product before use. This is indeed a solution that increases the life of the products but… In my opinion, it is completely senseless. The amount of money wasted on condoms in such a case very quickly outweighs the difference in price between a cheap toy and one made of a good, safe material. In addition, what about when you run out of condoms? Are you sure you will want to go to the store to have safe sex with your dildo?

Just because you can, doesn’t mean it’s worth it

The best and safest materials

Below are materials that are safe for the body and that are easy to clean. These are non-porous materials and when choosing an erotic toy, it is best to choose one of these.

Silicon

Most recommended material. If you are looking for something safe, durable and easy to clean then silicone is a firm favorite. Silicone is a body safe non-porous material that is very easy to clean. Moreover, this material is hypoallergenic and does not absorb odors. To the touch, silicone is very smooth and pleasant. Silicone toys vary in density – some are softer, some are more rigid, but all are flexible. This depends on the exact composition used by the manufacturer. There is also what is called medical silicone, which is a higher quality silicone that has been tested for biocompatibility with bodily fluids.

It is important with silicone toys to use only water-based lubes. Silicone-based lubes can react with the silicone the product is made of and damage it. Silicone is a more expensive material, but the number of advantages it offers makes it a worthwhile investment. With proper use and care, silicone toys can last for many years.

Advantages:

  • Safe for the body
  • Easy to clean
  • Does not absorb odors
  • Hypoallergenic

Disadvantages:

  • Price
  • Cannot use silicone-based lubricants

ABS

ABS is a well-known plastic, which is used for example for Lego. It is used in “mid-range” toys as well as in high-end ones. ABS can often be found in classic vibrators and bullets. Like silicone, ABS is non-porous and easy to clean. The main difference is that ABS is a hard material that is a little less smooth than silicone. In its case, it is a good idea to use more lube to ensure perfect glide.

ABS toys can be a little noisier because of the way the vibrations spread through the hard material, but also a lot of people like this material because it makes the vibrations feel more intense. This is a good alternative for people who are looking for a safe, inexpensive material.

Advantages:

  • Safe for the body
  • Easy to clean
  • Conducts vibrations very well
  • Does not absorb odors
  • Can be used with all types of lubricants

Disadvantages:

  • Not everyone enjoys hard adult toys
  • ABS vibrators are usually noisy

Glass

Glass toys are made of borosilicate glass such as Pyrex, or sometimes soda-lime glass. Both materials are extremely resistant to pressure, temperature, and breakage. Any type of lube can be used with them. Additionally, glass is also great for playing with temperature, if you place the toy in the refrigerator or in warm water, then after not long the toy will change its temperature.

Glass is considered the safest material used in adult toys. It is completely safe for the body and skin, non-porous, and its smooth surface, even with a small amount of lube, allows for easy insertion into the body. Additionally, cleaning glass toys is trivially easy. Exactly like glass kitchenware, glass toys can be washed with soap and water, cleaned with a toy cleaner, washed in boiling water, or even put in the dishwasher.

One of the greatest benefits of glass toys is their gorgeous, often artistic appearance. However, here you must always pay attention to the design, and it is best to avoid toys that are too thin or have large constrictions. If the toy is not made properly these are the areas that can be potential cracking points. It is also important to pay attention to scratches and nicks, it does not often happen, but if they appear then the toy should be thrown away, because it will no longer be safe.

Advantages:

  • Very safe for the body
  • Any type of lubricant can be used
  • Easy to clean
  • Appearance
  • Temperature play

Disadvantages:

  • They weigh a little more than silicone or ABS toys
  • Not everyone likes hard adult toys
  • It’s hard to find a vibrator made of glass

Metal

Metal has all the characteristics of a good material. It is non-porous, hypoallergenic, waterproof, safe for the skin, does not absorb odors, can be used with all types of lube, and is extremely durable. A metal toy will actually be with you for a lifetime. Additionally, like ABS, metal toys conduct vibration very well and like glass they conduct temperature very well. This makes them capable of providing very intense and varied stimulation.

Steel and aluminum are the most popular metals, but you can also find toys made of gold or silver. While it is rare to find completely stainless steel in erotic toys, most steel toys contain chrome, which greatly increases their resistance to rust. They are very easy to clean whether with soap and water, cleaners or even in the dishwasher.

While metal looks like the best material at first glance, it also has its drawbacks. Metal toys are noticeably heavier than others and are very hard. People who are allergic to nickel should also pay special attention to the composition, as it can be found here as well. Metal toys are not as common as those made from other materials and usually have simple shapes. Their price, usually, is quite high. But it is worth remembering here that a good quality metal toy will last you a lifetime.

Advantages:

  • Easy to clean
  • Safe for the body
  • Conducts vibration and temperature very well
  • Any type of lubricant can be used
  • Hypoallergenic

Disadvantages:

  • Heavy weight
  • Hard material may not appeal to everyone
  • Price
  • Small variety of products, only simple shapes

Rare materials

These are safe materials for the body, yet not many manufacturers use them. Usually, products made from these materials are purchased precisely because of the material and not other product features.

Wood

Wood is a very interesting alternative to glass and metal products. Wooden toys are completely safe as long as they are coated with multiple layers of body safe varnish. Good wooden toy manufacturers state on their website how and with what they varnish their products. For this reason, wooden toys are non-porous and you should not be afraid of splinters, their smoothness and hardness is comparable to glass and metal products.

What makes wooden toys stand out is their amazing appearance. Very often wooden toys look like small erotic works of art and this is an important reason for choosing them. Depending on the type of wood used, the products vary in weight and appearance. Since it is a natural material, it is also environmentally friendly as it does not emit chemicals. Usually, any type of lube can be used with them, but it is best to check the instructions for both lube and cleaning to be sure.

Wooden toys are not cheap. They are also more susceptible to damage than glass or metal, so they need to be treated with more care. If there is any damage or signs of wear and tear, throw the toy away as continued use can be dangerous… splinters.

Advantages:

  • Great appearance
  • Safe for the body
  • Natural material environmentally friendly

Disadvantages:

  • Price
  • Not everyone enjoys the hard material
  • Wood is not as durable as other hard materials

Stones, Crystals & Ceramics

These types of materials usually come from independent manufacturers. Natural stones and crystals are both beautiful and completely safe for the body. Unlike wood, they are not coated with varnish, but rather very carefully polished until they are perfectly smooth. Similarly, ceramic sex toys are safe for the body, provided they have been glazed with a non-porous glaze and fired in a kiln. They are usually made into dildos or eggs with “miraculous spiritual properties”.

All types of lube can be used with them and they can be cleaned with both soapy water and toy cleaners. These materials, like glass, offer the ability to play with temperature. Additionally, in the case of stones and crystals, manufacturers often claim that they possess various energies and powers to help deal with a range of problems and ailments. I don’t believe it, but I also don’t know anything about spiritualism, so here you have to choose what you think about it.

These are strong, hard and heavy materials that have a low probability of being damaged. However, it is a good idea to check for chips and cracks before using them. These are definitely luxury toys, the price of which can scare off more than one person.

Advantages:

  • Safe for the body
  • Can be used with any type of lubricant
  • Easy to clean
  • Temperature play
  • Luxurious appearance

Disadvantages:

  • Price
  • Weight
  • Very small quantity of products

Materials to be careful about

These are materials that can be dangerous to the body or because they cannot be cleaned properly their life span is very short. When choosing the following materials you need to do it consciously and know that there is a high probability that the product made from them will be quite quickly suitable for throwing away. In their case, any damage and bad smell means that the toy should not be used anymore.

TPR/TPE

TPR/TPE also known as elastomer, was one of the most popular materials a couple years ago. Today, most manufacturers claim that their products are phthalate-free and latex-free, but in the past it was very common to find phthalates in these materials. While TPR/TPE is safe for the body, it is a mildly porous material. What this means is that mold and bacteria can very quickly find a home in them if not properly cleaned and dried.

This material is most often found in masturbators, rings and cheap dildos. You can use any kind of lube with it and wash it in soapy water. However, it is very difficult to clean it thoroughly. To extend the life of the product, it is best to use a special cleaner for erotic toys before and after use.

Advantages:

  • Low price
  • Soft and flexible material
  • Best among porous materials

Disadvantages:

  • Slightly porous – can become home to mold and bacteria
  • Difficult to clean

Latex

Latex is on this list for 2 reasons, first a lot of people are allergic to latex. Secondly, cleaning latex toys takes a lot of work. If you are not allergic to latex, which can be easily checked with latex condoms, then this material will be safe for you. However, it is worth noting here that the number of people who are allergic to latex is steadily increasing.

Latex is a very flexible material. It is very often used for inflatable toys and clothes. Unfortunately latex products require special care and will not be suitable for people who do not want to spend too much time caring for them. Latex products should be sprayed with erotic toy cleaner and wiped gently after each use. Then, give them a brief moment to dry before sprinkling them with a cornstarch-based resurfacing powder or talcum powder. This way, the products will retain their elasticity and softness.

Advantages:

  • Elastic material
  • Beautiful shiny look

Disadvantages:

  • Many people are allergic to latex
  • Mild rubber smell and taste
  • Requires proper cleaning

The worst materials to avoid

Here you will find materials that have a high probability of having hazardous and toxic compounds, or are virtually impossible to clean. It is best to steer clear of them.

Jelly

If you are considering buying a gel product, I suggest you do a little experiment first. Buy a gel toy, put it in a jar, seal it and put it by the window for a few months. What you see inside later will probably convince you never to buy gel toys.

Gel toys were extremely popular several years ago because of their flexibility and softness. It is one of the cheapest materials available. To date, gel is very popular because of its low price and pleasant feel to the touch. However, there is a very high possibility that your gel toy will contain phthalates. Additionally, gel is highly porous and can react with other gel products. There are known manufacturers who make gel toys and claim that they are safe for the body. However, even in such a case, cleaning the gel is virtually impossible and rather such products must be considered disposable.

PVC

Another old-school material that lost its popularity after phthalates were discovered to be harmful to the human body. PVC products almost always contain phthalates as they are needed to make the material soft and malleable. There are several varieties of PVC that do not contain phthalates, but it is safer to avoid this material.

PVC is characterized by its flexible form, stretchability, and strong plastic smell. Its rigid version is non-porous, while the flexible PVC version is porous and hard to clean. As with gel, it should also be avoided from coming into contact with other toys as they may react.

Cyberskin/all imitations of “real skin”

Here, probably not everyone will agree with me, because this material, especially among men, is very popular. While I must admit that materials that imitate “real skin” are really amazing to the touch, they are also very porous. A lot of people choose products made from this material because of the very nice feeling when you handle them. Unfortunately, the difficulty of cleaning this material properly is often a reason to regret this choice.

The most common material imitating real skin can be found in masturbators and anatomical dildos. It is in these products that manufacturers usually try to achieve the effect of “real sex”. If a toy made of this type of material starts to smell bad, stains appear on it or it starts to emit a strange ooze it should be thrown away immediately. In order to prolong their life, they should be cleaned very carefully according to the instructions (some “real skins” cannot be cleaned with soap) and, as in the case of latex, sprinkled with cornstarch-based restorative powder or talc.

The worst thing about these materials is that it is very often unclear exactly what they are made of. It is usually a softer variety of TPE, but different manufacturers add different compounds to ensure the most natural experience possible. Despite the usually high price, products made from this material do not have a long lifespan.

Don’t buy a pig in a poke

No matter what material you choose, it is always best to check exactly what it says on the packaging or the manufacturer’s website. As long as the materials used in making erotic toys are not regulated in any way, this is the safest option.

For me, material is the part of an erotic toy that is not worth saving on. Good and safe materials carry a lot of benefits that completely justify their price. Cheap materials, on the other hand, often end up costing more in the long run or are simply dangerous to your health.

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