Should You Use a Condom With Your Sex Toys?
7 Reasons to Use a Condom on Your Sex Toys
Why would you use a condom on your sex toys?
Condom use certainly isn't necessary but can be helpful with sex toys, for the 7 reasons we'll name below!
Vibrators and dildos, after all, arrive without STIs and can't cause accidental pregnancy. Especially if you're using "body-safe" nonporous materials, then sex toys are super-low-risk. But sex can be messy, or maybe you'd like it slicker, and it's always good to be cautious when bringing human factors into the mix.
A breakdown of why to use condoms with sex toys follows, and then I'll discuss one of my specialties as a sex toy expert: material safety & compatibility. What toys, lubes, and condoms can you safely use together?
Have you ever been playing with a dildo or vibrator late at night? You're tired, but still horny; so you go about your business, finish satisfyingly, and then…just roll over and fall asleep. In the morning you'll wake up next to a crusty sex toy. And if the toy is a safe material, it can be sanitized to kill 99.9% of germs; but you'll be working harder to remove residue from the surface.
If you use a condom these times, cleanup is simpler: spend 3 seconds pulling the "rubber" off the toy, and then roll over and fall asleep — to wake up next to an almost-clean toy and a condom to toss out.
Easy cleanup is definitely the first and foremost reason you'd condom-up a toy during anal sex: see #2, next!
Note that "non-lubricated condoms" (3 options seen here) are the best for super-speedy cleanup, as they don't contain silicone lubricant that will coat your sex toy. You should still put your favorite lube (preferably water-based; my fave one here) on the outside of the condom for comfort. After removing the condom from the toy, you'll want to wash it before the next use: scrubbing with plain soap and water is great. You can also use Sliquid Shine toy cleaner, since its tea tree oil is antibacterial; then wash the Shine off with soap and water. Finally, to fully sanitize (that is, kill 99.9% of germs on body-safe toys!), ultra-violet light cleaners are so convenient.
Also see Lucky Bloke's article about condom advantages during solo sex here: avoiding "the sticky mess" and more.
Anal sex can be incredibly pleasurable: prostate massage, thrusting, anal stretching, and deep anal play are all popular areas to explore.
But toys used for anal sex are a lot more likely to retain odor! This varies some person to person, and depending on how long after your next bowel movement you play, but poop smears can occur too.
With safe materials, you can clean the toy up well afterward — but maybe you want really lazy cleanup. Then just stick a condom on it! Condoms with water-based lube inside them or non-lubricated ones will be simplest to clean off the toy, though it's not awful to use a lightly silicone-lubed condom (=that's most condoms) on a silicone dildo. Then put whatever lube you prefer on the outside of the condom. (See the "Condom and Sex Toy Compatibility" section of the article, later, for more details!)
OK, so I've been here: Looking to find a condom that feels better on a sex partner, I've ordered 5 or so different condoms. Because even with how good Lucky Bloke's user reviews are, you never really know how a condom will feel until you try it for yourself!
But handing a bag full of different condoms to your partner… that can feel overwhelming. Where do you start?! Will it ruin the mood that night, if either of you is feeling like a guinea pig?
So you may want to try a few condoms out first, on a dildo that's a similar thickness to your partner! Then you can go into your next sexy time with words like, "I really like how this one feels… Let's see what you think. 😉"
Or you can up your condom-putting-on game with a dildo! Sometimes in the heat of the moment, you may pull a condom out of its wrapper fast, and it folds inward. Then you spend 15 seconds wondering which side is inside and which side is outside — especially awkward if you don't have bright lights on.
Don't be that lover who tries putting a condom on, then realizes it's inside-out, and takes it off and reverses it. If you're worried about STI prevention, that's definitely less safe if the penis in question has already leaked any precum.
Speaking of STIs, a new toy certainly can't give them to you. But a toy used by multiple partners within the same sex session might.
If you engage in group sex, you may consider covering up toys like wand vibrators (that multiple people will be grinding against their vulvas!). The Magic Wand, for example, is known for its power and can put on a great show. A large Magic Wand-style head can have a normal-sized condom stretched over it, though XL condoms make sense too.
If you have a urinary tract infection (UTI) or other bacterial infection — including STIs like chlamydia and gonorrhea — it's unfortunately possible to reinfect yourself while the infection is ongoing or soon afterward. For example, if you haven't completed the full course of antibiotics that will cure such infections.
If you still want to get it on with a toy, when recovering from a UTI: consider adding a condom as literally an extra layer of protection. Then sanitize your toy again right after you're done playing. UV light is one very thorough method for killing germs on any kind of sex toy (waterproof or not, vibrating or not).
After being diagnosed with any bacterial or viral issue near your genitals, your sex toys will be need to be sanitized (sometimes called "sterilized") before you play with them again. Here are other methods for sanitizing toys: whether they have a motor matters! And you can only sanitize if your toys are made from "body-safe" sex toy materials that are less porous (so you can kill any foreign microbes on or within the toy). Toy materials that can be sanitized and reused after an infection include: silicone, ABS plastic (including with metallic coat or a PU cote), glass, and high-quality stainless steel.1 PVC and jelly dildos are not safe and should absolutely be thrown away in these cases.
Silicone lubricant is super-slick and works well with condoms. It's a favorite for many for anal play, since the silicone lube both cuts down on friction and lasts longer than water-based lubricant. This is why most condoms are lined with silicone lubricant!
Just putting a condom on the outside of a dildo can make it feel slicker as you thrust. Adding more silicone lube on top of the condom is an extra slickness boost: AND the condom will guard the toy underneath from needing to have the silicone lubricant cleaned off of it.
That's important because silicone lube can be tough to remove from silicone sex toys, as we'll see next...
In this section I'll cover two major compatibility issues: toys you should avoid & that degrade condoms; and silicone toy + silicone lubricant precautions.
Not all sex toy materials are safe for long-term contact with your body, OR for use with condoms. (Happily, Lucky Bloke is in the know and only provides safe toy materials!)
First there's PVC, the worst offender. PVC toys (also sometimes called "jelly," or "vinyl," or "rubber") are softened with oils, and the oil will leach out. It can easily degrade a condom. Because oil damages latex (most condoms) and polyisoprene (the most common non-latex condom option, like in Skyn condoms). PVC toys are slightly better, sometimes, in that they may not contain phthalates all the time nowadays, but softened PVC is a mystery chemical mix and leeches chlorine (it's polyvinyl chloride) into users' sensitive membranes.
Another common toy material that's not considered safe for long-term use is TPR & TPE (thermoplastic rubber and elastomer, respectively). TPR/TPE is more porous and also softened with oils that will exude and are likely to degrade a condom. If you're wearing a condom while thrusting into a Fleshlight, for example, the condom could very well tear even if you're using enough lubricant: because the Fleshlight's sticky material is putting out oil. However, TPE/TPR toys are not toxic in the way that PVC toys are; they don't leach chlorine into the body. (But they can allow mold to grow if you let wetness sit in or around such a toy for too long!)
And as for silicone toys plus silicone lubricant! This matters because almost all condoms include silicone lube, to avoid friction tears. Exceptions without silicone lube are non-lubricated condoms; and water-based lube condoms like Kimono MicroThin + Aqua Lube, Erosense Aqua, and Okamoto 004 Aloe.
Silicone sex toys are not always damaged by silicone lubricant, but the combination may be problematic depending on the specific lube and the toy it's being used with. When using a good silicone lube like Uberlube, your silicone toy surface will not be degraded. However:
Scrub, scrub, scrub! Silicone lube must take at least 10 times as much work to clean off a silicone toy. Soap and water will do it, but you'll spend a few minutes more washing, and the surface will likely feel a little greasier than normal for a day or two afterward. You might try cutting the "grease" with 70% isopropyl alcohol, then rinsing the toy's surface well with soap and water again.
Phallophile Reviews compiles body-safe dildo and vibrator rankings, and writes critical sex toy reviews focusing on feeling, firmness, ease of use, and more! Safe silicone sex toys are my passion.