Sex Toy Materials

Sex toys can bring amazing pleasure, but they can also harbor bacteria and bring infections if you’re not careful. One of the most important factors in sex toy safety is the material your toys are made of. Not all sex toys are created equal, and there are definitely certain materials you should avoid when deciding to invest in a new toy. Don’t sweat, though! There are really simple guidelines to follow for most cases.

When someone buys their first sex toy, they’re usually not educated in what they’re actually looking for. Most often than not, we buy something cheap that catches our eye. Maybe it’s pretty, or maybe it’s just something within our low budget. There’s a reason sex toys commonly range from $10-$100, though, and it’s not all about appearances.


This is a jelly toy. Jelly is the enemy! It’s one of the most common sex toy materials but it can actually be toxic to humans! The material that makes up jelly toys is a cheap plastic that can break down easily and release toxins that are unsafe for the body. This can happen in storage, when used with certain lubricants, or even when in hot temperatures. Jelly is bad news, and you’ll want to avoid it completely!

How can you tell if your toy is made of jelly?

If you don’t know what you’re looking for it may be hard to tell what your toy is made of. If you don’t know what your toy is made of and you’re afraid it may be jelly, look out for some telling signs. Jelly toys typically are:

  • Inexpensive.
  • Translucent.
  • Can feel almost “slimy.”
  • Melts in high heat.
  • Reacts to silicone lubricant.
  • Rubbery/plastic/chemical scent.

Jelly is often sold in sex shops for a very low price compared to other toys. If you look at the packaging carefully, jelly toys may be labeled as “novelty items” to avoid lawsuits if someone is exposed to the toxins in the plastic.

Jelly is also very porous and can harbor bacteria that can make you sick. Jelly toys should be avoided all together because even putting a condom on it does not stop the chemicals from getting into your body.

TPR (Rubber)

TPR (thermoplastic rubber) is a rubber polymer blend use in low-cost sex toys–especially for cheap male masturbators. It is semi-porous, so it still poses a risk for infections but is safer for you than jelly toys. Condoms are recommended with TPR toys as well as jelly ones. However, TPR is a stronger material than jelly and doesn’t have the same melting properties that jelly does.

TPR toys can be cleaned with soap and water, but cannot be sterilized. They are compatible with water and silicone lubricants.

TPR is comparatively better than jelly, but still a low-quality material for your toys. The price is low, and the feel is pretty nice for most people, but is does still come with those safety risks of being semi-porous.

Hard Plastic

My first-ever sex toy was a hard plastic vibrator. It was probably $15, bought from a local sex shop at 1AM one Friday during my first semester of college. It was very basic but it served its purpose and I’m now relieved I chose the one I did over the many appealing pink jelly dildos I considered that night.

Hard plastic toys are inexpensive, and much safer than jelly options. Hard plastic is non-porous and more durable than jelly or rubber. A lot of cheap traditional vibrators are coated in a velvet-feeling hard plastic for safety at a low cost to the manufacturer.

Unfortunately, the benefits of hard plastic come at a compromise. Hard plastic toys are often loud, buzzy, rumbly, and can be too intense for some users. They don’t often have the extravagance of multiple options, patterns, or advanced controls but many have a dial for adjusting intensity.

Hard plastic toys can be carefully washed with soap and water so long as you make sure the electronic parts stay dry. Taking batteries out when you’re not using it will prolong its life, as well. You can use water or silicone-based lubricants with hard plastic toys without worrying about damage.

They’re not a bad choice for your first toy, but they’re definitely not a luxury item.


If you’re looking for an interesting sex toy material, glass is definitely one to try! Glass toys are among the safest toys available, and come in all textures imaginable. Glass is completely non-porous so it’s really safe for internal use!

Many glass toys feature spiral ribbon-like textures, bumps, or ridges to stimulate the user during penetration. Glass can also be heated by soaking in warm (not hot!) water or the freezer for those interested in temperature play.

Cleaning is simple, as glass toys can be:

  • Put in the top rack of a dishwasher.
  • Boiled for 5 minutes.
  • Soaked in a 5% bleach solution.
  • Washed with antibacterial soap and warm water (does not sterilize).

Glass toys are quite durable but there is a risk of chipping or breakage if you drop these toys so be sure to inspect them carefully for any chips before using them again. There’s also a risk associated with using glass toys vaginally, as thrusting with them may bruise the cervix, as the glass is much harder than other sex toy materials.

Glass is a great material choice all around. It’s isn’t too expensive (though some artistic pieces can cost more), super safe, and one of the most gorgeous materials to make toys from!


Steel Jeweled Plug, available at SheVibe

Steels toys are great because they’re completely non-porous, easy to clean, and safe to use. Steel is often a heavy material for toys, which can change up how they feel during use, especially for anal toys. Steel is also a good material for temperature play, if that’s your thing! It will typically be cool to the touch, but can be warmed up in the hands or cooled down in the freezer for extra stimulation.

Cleaning is simple, as steel toys can be:

  • Put in the top rack of a dishwasher.
  • Boiled for 5 minutes.
  • Washed with antibacterial soap and warm water (does not sterilize).

Steel is durable and will last a lifetime, but can come at a price. All in all a good choice, though!


Silicone is probably the most preferred material of all sex toys! It is one of the safest materials and has a feel that can’t be matched by any other material. High-quality silicone can be extremely soft and comfortable for users, without sacrificing structural firmness.

Silicone is a body-safe material that is safe to use internally and externally. It has a soft, smooth feel to it and is very flexible. Real silicone is opaque and has no smell (anything else is suspect of being jelly!).

Cleaning is simple, as silicone toys can be:

  • Put in the top rack of a dishwasher.
  • Boiled for 5 minutes.
  • Soaked in a 5% bleach solution.
  • Washed with antibacterial soap and warm water (does not sterilize).

Silicone is compatible with water-based lubricants only. If the silicone is 100% and pure, silicone lubricants can be safe to use but most companies use a blend in their toys and impure silicone can break-down when used with silicone lubes. To be safe, we only recommend water-based.

The cost of silicone toys can vary, but it’s usually a bit more experience than TPR, plastic, or glass toys. Basic silicone models can run as cheap as $20-$30, but high-quality toys can easily run over $100.

Silicone is simply one of the best materials and can be very luxurious, depending on the quality used. For high quality silicone, I recommend buying from a manufacturer like Tantus, who only use 100% pure body-safe silicone in their toys.

When it comes to sex toy safety, the material really matters. Don’t settle for anything less than glass, steel, or silicone if you can afford it!

xx SF

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