Sex toys are made out of almost everything under the sun, and a lot of companies use a lot of fancy-ass, scientific-sounding words for new materials, claiming they will revolutionize your sex life. The design of the toy will have a greater impact on how much you enjoy it, but the material is important when considering cleaning, safety, and allergies. So, here we go!

Hard Plastic

We all know what a hard plastic looks like, so I’ll spare the description. Toys that may be shiny and metallic-looking are most likely hard plastic. The basic egg, bullet, or what I like to call spaceship vibrators are all made of plastic. Plastic is easy to clean – the best way is using a makeup pad or cotton ball with some rubbing alcohol and wiping it down. Trying to soap up plastic is an exericise in frustration, and there’s a greater chance you’ll get water in it, and there goes your toy!

Hard plastic is not an insertable material, though some toys made of it look like they are made to (like the spaceship) but because they’re usually straight and very hard, it’s not going to be a good time. I’ve seen porn movies with hard plastic toy insertion, and my sex toy nerd came out and I couldn’t enjoy the movie, knowing how uncomfortable it would feel.

Plastic can be loud, and it can eventually crack, but it is wondrously cheap, and if you’re just starting out in exploring the splendiferous world of sex toys, it can be a great way to start without dropping too much money. There’s no real risk of allergic reactions, you can use any type of lube you want on it without harming it, and it’s so inexpensive that you can get multiples of a toy and keep them wherever you think you’re going to need one – bedside table, car, purse, work station, whatever.

Jelly Rubber/Latex

Soft and pliable, but inexpensive, jelly rubber (PVC) is an extremely common material for sex toys to be made out of. It’s not possible to sterilize jelly rubber because of its porousness, so putting a condom on a jelly toy is always recommended. It still needs to be cleaned though, and simple soap and water works best.

Jelly rubber has been getting a hell of a lot of bad press. A chemical called “phthalates” is used in many sex toys, including jelly rubber, to soften the material so it’s nice and squishy. Phthalates have been found to mimic estrogen and caused organ damage in mice. I suggest doing some reading on phthalates if you’re concerned – it’s been very big news and there has been lots written about it. If you own a toy that most likely has phthalates in it, you can use a condom on it and be perfectly safe.

Because jelly rubber can also contains latex there is also a possibility of allergies. If you’re allergic to latex condoms, I can almost guarantee you that you will be allergic to latex rubber toys. And because of its porousness, I don’t really recommend jelly rubber for anal toys, though many of them are made out of it. Latex is a natural material too, so it will also break down over time – such is the way of our transient world. Make sure to steer clear of oil-based lubes – just like they will break down condoms, they’ll also destroy jelly rubber toys.

Unlike hard plastic, jelly rubber toys are made for insertion, so if you’re looking for a dildo-vibrator that is relatively inexpensive, jelly rubber is definitely an option.


If I were a more poetic gal, I would write odes to silicone – odes that would describe silicone’s beauty, cleanliness and durability. But I’m not, so I’ll just have to rave about it here.

Because it is non-porous, silicone can be sterilized. Pop it into a pot of boiling water for 2 to 4 minutes, and it’s sterile. Because of this, silicone is the ideal material for anal toys. Silicone can be made into all kinds of fun shapes and pretty colours and designs. It can used after boiling (and letting it cool for a few minutes) for a nice, warm, relaxing fun-time.

Silicone is more expensive than jelly rubbers and latex toys, but it will last for much, much longer. I always suggest getting silicone toys once you know what you’re looking for and you’re ready to make a greater investment into a toy.

The only caveat with silicone toys is that you do NOT want to use silicone lube with a silicone toy. The liquid silicone will bind with the solid, and you will be left with a mushy, lumpy, expensive, bizarre-looking paperweight. And the lube that comes with most lubricated condoms is silicone-based, so consider yourself warned.


All of the above-mentioned names are trademarked and have a specific chemical makeup all their own. Most are a mixture of poly-vinyl chloride (PVC) and silicone. This does not make it sterilizable like pure medical-grade silicone toys, though. In fact, cyberskin-like toys are the most delicate out there.

Only water-based lube should be used with this material, and after being washed with soap and water, and dried, these toys need to be powdered with corn starch – never talc. Talc has been linked to cervical cancer. Unless this is a toy just for men, you want to definitely stay away from talc. You also want to make sure that toys of this type are never touching or in contact with other toys – they’ll melt. So, it has to be stored on its own in a plastic bag. They’ve also been found to contain phthalates, so the same warnings for jelly rubber apply here too.

I really, personally feel, that cyber/ultraskin/futurotic materials are not worth the trouble. Yes, they’re incredibly soft and feel some-what realistic, but they’re so high-maintenance, and I try to keep my high-maintenance relationships to a minimum.


This is one of those fancy names for “rubber-like material”. It’s incredibly strechy and phthalate-free. It’s still porous though, so it can’t be sterilized or shared. Think of it as a step between jelly rubber and silicone. Only water-based lube should be used with it, since there is a possibility of some silicone present.


I always get asked about pyrex and glass toys at the sex store, and I always internally wince at the question. Why? Why do people want to use this? It’s hard, unmalleable and has the possibility to shatter into a million little pieces.

Pyrex toys can be boiled and frozen, for different sensations, acrylic and glass can NOT, and all of them must be checked over often for any cracks, and should not be used if any are found. Any kind of lube can be used with these toys. Many of them are very pretty and colourful, and are easily cleaned. I just don’t see the appeal though. Ow.


Not a common sex toy material, but common enough that it needs to be here. Often seen for cock rings, metal has now become popular for butt plugs and dildos. Easy to clean like glass, pyrex and acrylic, it still has the same hardness and unbendability that I wince at. At least it can’t shatter though.

Note: I do not recommend glass, pyrex, acrylic or metal to anyone who is unfamiliar with sex toys and exactly what they like toy-wise. I have nightmarish visions of someone furiously masturbating with a hard glass dildo and giving themselves vaginal trauma, or using a poorly made metal butt plug and seriously hurting themselves.


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