Today I’ll be reviewing an “Adult Toy Cleanser” by ForPlay from PinkCherry.com sex toys. I requested it as a change from straight-up sextoys, and also wanted to try something that I could contrast with the antibacterial dish-soap I’ve been using to clean my toys so far.
I’ll get the banalities out of the way first: using this cleaner is pretty straightforward. The cleaner comes in a 7 oz bottle, which lasts for about 11 washes. You pour 2/3 oz into 3 quarts of warm water and stir it around with your hand to mix the cleaner in. The bottle has lines along the side marking 1 oz so you can measure out the amount easily. According to the description on the bottle and on PinkCherry.com, the cleaner is compatible with pretty much anything, but works better with soft materials like silicone. I tried it out on a few of my toys and it was a relatively straightforward process, although I didn’t find it necessarily more convenient or hygienic than just using soap.
That said, I discovered the problem with this cleaner when I decided to Google the main ingredient so I could contrast it with soap/other cleaners in terms of efficiency and hygiene. The main ingredient, as stated on the bottle and website, is Nonoxynol-9, known to some as N-9. The bottle describes N-9 as a “stabilized aqueous solution” and warns that it may cause irritation if splashed into one’s eyes. Fair enough. I don’t generally let my toys get too close to my eyes anyway.
Some quick research online and a shout out to my Tweeps yielded very different results. Apparently, N-9 is used in spermicides, condoms, cervical barriers and lubes because people thought it guarded against pregnancy and STDs (it can kill microbes in vitro). That would make sense as a sextoy cleaner, because spreading STDs and other germs is always something to guard against when sharing toys, right?
No. Studies have shown that N-9 not only isn’t effective in guarding against STDs, but actually increases the likelihood of contracting them by 50%, to be precise. And this is including HIV and HPV. It irritates the vaginal wall, and several of my Tweeps said that using products with N-9 in them caused itching.
Okay, so the toy cleaner isn’t meant to be applied directly to one’s vagina, just on the toys, so if you rinse the toys thoroughly, you should have nothing to worry about.
N-9 is more effective in killing bacteria, which would make it a more effective cleaner than ordinary soap. But what about, say, bleach solution or rubbing alcohol? I’d be more inclined to use one of those instead of shelling out ~$10 for something that isn’t absolutely body-safe.