Monday, December 24, 2012

Time to break up The Toy Box?

In response to my blog post about choosing materials, caring for your toys, and ultimately disposing of them the other day, someone on twitter asked me what should be done with a toy or toys when you've just ended a relationship.

As then mentioned by another person on twitter, it's kind of a sticky situation (they intended the pun).

In terms of who gets what, if you had bought the toys together or as presents for one another, is kind of between you and your partner(s)- or your lawyers. I suppose some people go that route during a divorce. I'm sure it gets more complicated when we're talking about Lelo's $3900 gold-plated Yva (which, by the by, I have seen in real life. It isn't better at its job than the hard plastic or silicone versions, the Nea and the Lily; but I'm sure people buy them because either a. they have way too much money on their hands or b. they have an obsession with feeling like they're King Midas) than when we're talking about a string of $4 anal beads.

When it comes to "should I keep this or should I dispose of it?" I can really only give answers in terms of sanitation. It really comes down to whether or not the toy or toys had been used by your partner and was porous. So, that jelly-rubber butt plug? Send it to be recycled. The stainless steel butt plug? You can boil that for complete sanitation and hold on to it, if you want. Here's a roundup of what materials you should keep and which you should at least consider throwing out.

Keepers: Basically, anything that's non-porous as they can be sanitized.

  • Hard Plastic
  • 100% Pure Silicone (you can test this using the flame test, which is demonstrated beautifully here)
  • Metal, such as Aluminum or Stainless Steel 
  • Glass
  • Ceramic
  • Stone 
Toss 'Em: porous toys that had been used by or on your partner, which may contain bacteria. 
  • Jelly Rubber, TPR, TPE, Silagel, Real Skin, Cyberskin, etc- any soft porous material used to make sex toys. 
  • Leather and Pleather items- more specifically, any toy that has been inserted or frequently touching the exterior of the anus or vagina, been salivated on, been bled on. I wouldn't suggest keeping a harness that can't be machine washed. 
  • Clothing that can't be washed- some lingerie is too delicate to sterilize. One way to gently sterilize non-bleachable items is to soak them with a vinegar/water solution (maybe 1:10 ratio vinegar to water) and then hand wash them. 
  • Miscellaneous play toys that are hard to clean- this can be pretty much anything. It could even be something that's non-porous, but difficult to sterilize completely. If it has been used anally, vaginally, been near either, bled on, or salivated on (essentially, if any bodily fluids have touched the item, though urine isn't as big a deal since it's sterile)- you should think for awhile about whether or not you think it's clean or can be completely cleaned. 
The reason I'm so serious about bodily fluids touching or being trapped in toys here is that it can pass on bacterial and yeast infections (Everyone has their own micro-environment inside of them- in your gut, underarms, on your skin, everywhere- and if you're female-bodied, in your vagina, there are little groups of symbiotic bacteria that help you digest food and keep your body healthy. We couldn't survive without them, but depending on where you live, where your parents are from, and a lot of other factors, your bacteria are tailored to you. Swapping bacteria with other people can be harmful, though adding new bacteria to your gut through eating fermented foods can be really good for you. It's a really complex system). If your partner had an STD or STI, it could be transferred through contact with the toy. It's really better to be safe than sorry when it comes to sharing toys (if they're porous, it is generally recommended you use a condom, if they're non-porous, you should sterilize them if they're being used between more than one person or even more than one orifice on the same person), and if you have a porous item that came in contact with any of a previous partner's bodily fluids, it's just a better idea to get rid of them. 

I have no answers in terms of the emotional aspects sex toys can have- for many people, toys that they've used with a partner are irrevocably associated with them. It's really up to you- maybe put the toys that are safe to keep away for awhile and re-visit them after you feel you've moved on. If they still don't feel 'right' consider handing them off to a consenting friend (only with non-porous, sterilized toys, please! Let them know that the toy has been used but can be completely sterilized before you try to give it to them) or sending them to be recycled. A bunch of different options are outlined in my previous post about materials, care, and disposal

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