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Toy Cleaning & HPV: a PSA

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by Kate M.

toy cleaner

A new study from the Indiana University School of Medicine examined the possibility of spreading HPV through shared sex toys. The results are mostly unsurprising, but very worth reading. They had twelve women each provide vaginal samples and samples from two different vibrators – one made of thermoplastic elastomer and the second made of silicone – just after use, just after cleaning with soap, and after 24 hours. Here, we’ll break the results down for you. The percentages refer to the number of samples in which HPV was detected.

Vaginal samples: 75%

Vibrator 1 (thermoplastic elastomer)
After use: 89%
After cleaning: 56%
After 24 hours: 40%

Vibrator 2 (silicone)
After use: 67%
After cleaning: 44%
After 24 hours: None

Okay, let’s review what we’ve learned!

1) Elastomer toys (and, we can assume, other porous toys) should not be shared with a partner with whom you’re not fluid bonded (unless you’re using a barrier).

2) It looks like silicone toys are safe to share 24 hours after cleaning, but there’s still a risk of HPV transmission immediately after cleaning.

The second one surprised us, but we’re glad to know it. Now we just have more questions! Were they using hand soap or toy cleaner? Which brand? What would the numbers look like using different kinds of cleaners? Or with several more groups of women?

Isn’t science exciting? Find out more here.

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