Yes, Jelly Sex Toys can be Dangerous

Author’s Note: Yes this is an older post, but I update it with new information when I can. The information contained here is only the start and if you are curious, if you have problem toys, if you’re unsure about the material or safety, etc PLEASE READ FURTHER posts on this site. Start with the Toxic Toys Page which links to many related articles I’ve written. Every single post there is relevant, informative and covers nearly all questions you might have. Also: yes, comments are still open and I still answer all questions.

Given the  name of my site, a recurring theme in search words that led people to my blog are variants on “Is XYZ dangerous”. Cock sucking, sex toys, vibrators, etc.

Usually, if asked, my answer would be “no”. Unless of course the sex toy is made from jelly rubber. I have been accused numerous times by other reviewers of being a snob, because I won’t review a jelly/rubber/PVC sex toy. I won’t recommend them, I won’t promote them directly. The dangers of phthalates, and other chemicals found in the cheap toys, are not fully known in the sex toy context (i.e. how much will it affect our bodies from an occasional use item). Some say you can still use them, but cover it with a condom – this may help, but again, no test has proven or disproven so proceed with caution. The risks ARE there, and you never know when you might have an allergic reaction to a jelly sex toy.

I realize how prevalent the bad toys are. I know that they are the most affordable and make up something like 80% of the sex toy industry. But that doesn’t mean you should buy them. There’s a lot of reasons why I think a lot of sex toys are utter crap – they’re either made so cheap that they won’t last past a couple uses or their material is one that shouldn’t ever be put inside the body. They still thrive on the market though because a lot of people just don’t have a clue. Many sex toy retailers, both brick and online, do not warn customers about the dangers of phthalates or possibly-unsafe highly porous materials like jelly, rubber, PVC, cyberskin/realskin/UR3.

I’ve told you before about phthalates – what they are, why they’re bad, and how to buy a sex toy that does not contain them. Let’s forget that fact that the amount of phthalates varies per sex toy manufacturer, even per toy, and is not regulated. Your toy could have a small number or a number high enough to kill a rat. You’ll have no clue. You could read the package and see “Phthalates-free!!” but still not have a clue, because there is nothing to prevent the manufacturer from lying.

But phthalates are not your only reason to stay away from the inferior materials.

Toxic toys can leak/”outgas” phthalates and other questionable chemicals.  Straight from the packaging, a jelly rubber toy often has a bad smell. It’s really offensive to me personally, and the smell varies from toy to toy. Some companies try to cover up this bad smell by adding even more chemicals with scents. Oily-feeling fake taste/smell chemicals. Yum.

When you buy a sex toy made of unsafe materials, there’s more than just phthalates to be concerned about. Sure, they’re the worst. But it doesn’t mean they’re the only thing in it that can cause a reaction. The delicate tissue of the vulva/vagina/anus/rectum/penis is even more susceptible to having a reaction. These chemicals were found in the jelly sex toys, according to this article: (hover the links for a quick-n-dirty summary)

Diethylhexyl Phthalates
Dimethyl phosphite

I asked on Twitter to see if anybody who follows me ever had a bad reaction to a jelly toy, and the responses scare me. I know that these reactions are not common, but they can happen. They can even happen to you when you use a new toy and you’ve been using jelly toys for years with no reaction. (I haven’t linked these to the people who said it, just in case they wouldn’t want it made “public” for any reason, but will change it if the person doesn’t mind)

“Years ago I was a manager for a sex shop and my hands peeled constantly from handling jelly toys 60 hrs a week. I actually never had it from a toy, but from masturbating with my hands after coming home from work on a shipment day.”

“I’ve had bad reactions to toys. Pussy swells up and agony for days.”

“I had a reaction akin to an extremely mild chemical burn. Itching and burning that lasted days and a very fun doctors trip (Yes I know what caused it, Yes Im sure I dont need an STI Test YES IM REALLY REALLY REALLY SURE!!!!)”

ETA: See Polly’s story below in comments: “…..I went to the doctor and he couldn’t figure out what it was. He took a bunch of tests, but his best guess was CHEMICAL POISONING OF MY VAGINA!!! I had to take antibiotics orally and vaginally and I STILL suffered for weeks….” (read all of it in her comment.)

“But I don’t use my dildo/vibrator for very long time periods, it won’t affect me!” Ok then what about “wearable” sex toys? Bullet vibes, remote-control vibes, butt-plugs?? These types of toys are intended to be worn for hours at a time. I would especially suggest that any butt plugs / anal toys that you purchase be made from a non-porous material because of the higher risk of bacteria from fecal matter sticking around on a jelly toy. Even if you follow the rules of keeping anal toys as anal-only, and not sharing, you could be re-introducing a harmful bacteria to your body.

Highly porous toys can: Pick up dyes/colors from other materials (like storage bags, leather harnesses); pick up colors from other sex toys they touch; leach out an oily residue that stains fabrics; melt into a puddle of goo if two really bad toys touch for awhile in storage; stink up anything else that holds onto odors, in its vicinity.

Even if a jelly/rubber/PVC/realistic toy says “phthalate-free”, it still can contain toxic chemicals that can cause skin reactions in some people. These toys are still porous and can harbor dirt and bacteria because they cannot be sanitized. Even if the toy is not toxic, the porosity issue is still a potential problem, as it can harbor bacteria and mold. TPR/TPE/Soft Elastomers are softened with mineral oil, making the material unstable; mineral oil will begin to leach out over time, and you can have a reaction to it either from the mineral oil alone, or other chemicals piggybacking on the mineral oil.

So what can you do?

1. Buy toys from reputable manufacturers

2. Buy your toys from reputable sex toy retailers that list the toy material on their site and the manufacturer

3. To stay safe, choose materials that are 100% pure silicone, glass, ceramic, Nobessence wood sex toys, medical-grade stainless steel, aluminum, or hard / ABS plastic. Potentially toxic or porous materials include: Jelly; rubber; “skin safe” rubber; elastomer; TPE; TPR; cyberskin; UR3; anything with a weird trademarked name; PVC; vinyl. Most male masturbators are made from a porous material, some are safer than others. Fleshlight and Tenga brands are the safest.

4. You may have read that you can cover toxic/porous sex toys with a condom for safety. This has not been proven. Some people still experienced chemical burns despite using a condom. You may be able to use polyurethane condoms – latex and others that break down in the presence of oil will not protect you. 

Reputable manufacturers of non-toxic toys include:

Tantus  |  Vamp  |  Lelo  |  Vixen Creations  |  Fun Factory  |  Je Joue  |  Nexus  |  Tenga*  |  JimmyJane |  Vixen Creations  |  Whipspider Rubberworks  |  BSwish  |  Jollies LLC (now Chavez Dezignz)  |  Njoy  |  Nobessence  |  Papaya Toys  |  Vibratex*  | Crystal Delights  |  Evolved Novelties* |  Swan1  |  Toyfriend  |  Minna Life  |  Laid  |  Incoqnito  |  Happy Valley |  Bad Dragon  |  Alien Dildos  |  Goldfrau  |  Fuze  |  Fucking Sculptures  |  Babes-n-Horny  |  BS is Nice  |  PleasureWorks  |  Standard Innovations/We-Vibe  |  Fleshlight*  |  Penetralia |  Aneros  |  Fucking Sculptures  |  Hot Octopuss |  Joyful Pleasure  |  Luxotiq  |  Marc Dorcel  |  New York Toy Collective  |  Nomi Tang  |  Rianne S  |  Picobong

The above list doesn’t necessarily mean that I 100% support their products, it just means that I trust them to accurately label their product. For example I would rarely recommend a JimmyJane product but I believe them when they say it’s silicone. There are some manufacturers that make both jelly and silicone, but I haven’t listed them because I don’t really support these manufacturers overall due to the high quantity of shoddy toys in their line: California Exotics / CalExotics (this includes lines such as Berman Center and Dr Joel Kaplan, as all they are is just more CE crap marketed under a “famous person” name); Doc Johnson; Pipedream; Topco; Nasstoys. Manufacturers listed with a * next to the name means that they also make items that are porous yet non-toxic (like TPR/TPE/Elastomer), as well as silicone items.

Some may think that if a toy has the term “for novelty use only” that that means the sex toy is of low quality, that the manufacturer is putting that term on there to dodge lawsuits, etc. In fact, the use of “novelty” can be for a variety of reasons, but dodging health and safety isn’t one of them. People may blame toys made in China, and while I would cast a suspect eye on them, it’s not necessarily a deciding factor. The fact is, Chinese plants offer the most affordable options for labor and parts, especially when it comes to moving parts. You’d be hard-pressed to find a sex toy that vibrates and the motor wasn’t made in China. The quality of the products coming from the Chinese plants can be crap, and sometimes the manufacturer may not even know that the plant has cut corners. The onus is on the manufacturer to keep tabs on the plant and to have their material checked at a verified lab. A few of the luxury companies do this, and some do not. Some just want to make sex toys, and are not familiar with the ins-and-outs of pure silicone vs a TPE/TPR. 

I’ll close with this that really sums it up well:

Stay clear of jellys, nonoxynol-9, and “lotions and potions”. Using Jelly products for oral, vaginal, or anal stimulation is going to introduce Phthalate and other toxic solvent absorption into the mucous membranes of the body. These chemicals provoke eye, respiratory, skin, and mucous membrane irritation. Headaches, cramps, and nausea are some of the side effects that result from exposure at the levels found in the study. Even if you don’t give a crap about consequences, the Jelly’s are just plain gross. Regardless of whether you sheath the thing in condoms every time you take it out of its box, it’s still going to degrade and fragment, off-gas so that it leaves an oily stain behind, fuse to its packaging and stink like an old car tire. Is any part of that sexy?


References (and other good links on the subject)

PLEASE feel free to comment here – ask questions, tell us about any reactions you’ve had (you can remain anon if you want, bloggers), give more links. And please share this info with others. If you absolutely must  review sex toys that are made of these questionable materials, please warn your readers about the possible dangers/reactions. Feel free to share what I’ve written and link to it.

If you are shopping for sex toys and want buying advice for safe sex toys, please don’t hesitate to contact me. The icons/links over there in the sidebar give you multiple methods: email, Yahoo IM, Formspring, or just comment.


Disclaimer 2: I don’t want to imply at all that every jelly toy will gas out harmful chemicals, that they all will harm you. You could use jelly toys for a long time and suffer no obvious ill effects. But the risk is still there. If you do not have a skin reaction there are still other slow-developing reactions that could, possibly, be happening because of the chemicals. Or you could be fine. My point is….. there are never any guarantees either way. There are many “cons” to jelly toys, and very few “pros”. When you have better options to choose from, options that are safer and will last you a lot longer…..why choose jelly?

  1. Parent company of Jopen and Leaf, related to PowerBullet

57 Responses

  1. hubman says:

    With jelly toys, the smell alone is enough for Veronica to veto those, never mind the chemicals in them

    On the other hand, we haven’t had any issues with using our Cyberskin extension. Hey, sometimes Veronica is greedy for REALLY long ;-)

  2. Alegria says:

    My first dildo was a nasty purple jelly thing. The smell was putrid, and gave me migraines every time. I’ve since trashed it, moved on to silicone and haven’t looked back. Great article!

    ~ It’s not uncommon for strong chemical smells to give people migraines. Cleaning products and fake floral scents do it to me.

  3. Irene says:

    Dangerous but fun :)

    ~ Seriously? I mean, did you even read any of this? It’s fun to use a sex toy that stinks, tastes gross, might give mild chemical burns or harbor bacteria? I can only hope that most of the people who read this aren’t as hopeless.

  4. Amen! I refuse to buy any jelly toys. There are just too many risks. I got a few back when I didn’t know any better, but they are all long since trashed.

    ~ Hubs and I had some, too, and I stopped buying them once I saw how they leached dye, absorbed other dye, and generally got warped and gross.

  5. Jay says:

    The fact that a toy we had in a drawer *melted* completely on its own and oozed all over other toys scared the hell out of me. It was only used once or twice anyway. The ooze permanently stained other plastics (e.g. the case for a fleshlight, etc.) and caused the other plastics to ALSO deform.

    Jelly toys suck regardless of their dangers.

    ~ Ewwwww! Oh man. That’s horrible. I wish you’d taken a pic of it.

  6. question says:

    Last but not least, the good sex toys are way more fun to play with. Njoy + Vixen =^__^

    ~ I know right? You find me ONE jelly toy that can hold a candle to my beloved Njoy Pure Wand. Cannot be done, I tell you.

  7. Reveka says:

    One of my first toys was a jelly toy. The smell really bothered me. (I’m pretty sensitive to most chemicals. I’m one of those people that can’t have fragrances in anything or I get a rash.) The toy also had a slippery feel to it, which I thought was fairly creepy. I don’t think I even used it before I got rid of it. Luckily, I found out there were better alternatives instead of swearing off sex toys all together. I’m much happier having toys I can use for a long time without any health worries.

  8. Nadia West says:

    I got some jelly toys before I knew better. And while I don’t recall any reactions, I do recall a cyberskin dildo melting when left next to a jelly butt plug. Yuck. I have since trashed my jelly toys (and that cyberskin dildo). I know the good stuff is expensive, but you’re better off saving up for one well-made, body-safe toy than using the cheap crap. So far I love anything Lelo I’ve gotten. Pricey but they will last a long time and are stronger than battery operated toys.

  9. nitebyrd says:

    Thanks for this post. I knew about some of what you wrote about and it’s one of the main reasons I stopped being an “independent distributor of adult products”. Melting toys, color leeching, weird odors, shoddy manufacturing, etc. because the vibrators were mainly poor quality from China. And, for the most part, not inexpensive!

    Your post has given me even more information and I appreciate that.

    ~ I once had to look through a catalog of one of those sorts of companies. A friend of a work friend was having a “sex toy party” and it took so much of my self control to keep my mouth shut. They don’t know about my blog, nor would I ever want them to, but I knew that A: the products were useless crap and B: everything was marked up 25%.

  10. Topaz says:

    This was a great set of information, thank you. I almost want to ask your opinion on brands by the general trustworthiness of their product… (is that taboo?)

    ~ My blog, I say what I want ;) I did list a few brands though up there that I *don’t* trust and would very rarely recommend. Beyond that, question away!

  11. I meant to write to you when you were composing this post.

    I had a jelly vibe that made me sick. Every time I used it I would get a funky discharge, but it would only last a couple of hours and then it was gone. At the time I was very undereducated about sex toys so I had NO CLUE one could make me sick. One time I used it and over the course of the next 8 hours my vagina started burning so bad I was in tears. I went to the doctor and he couldn’t figure out what it was. He took a bunch of tests, but his best guess was CHEMICAL POISONING OF MY VAGINA!!! I had to take antibiotics orally and vaginally and I STILL suffered for weeks.

    I’m so glad you wrote this piece. I hope those who read it will stop and consider whether it’s worth potentially poisoning themselves to not go ahead and spend $10-$20 extra on getting a non-jelly toy.

    ~ ya know, I really wish that more gynecologists were aware of the dangers of both cheap-ass China-made jelly toys AND homemade sec toys, and warn their patients somehow. Brochures or somethin, in the office.

  12. Emmy says:

    Exactly all of the reasons why I only buy silicon toys.
    I mean, I won’t buy reusable plastic water bottles because of the risk of chemical exposure, why would I put something inside me that carries the same and worst risks.

    I think people assume if it is sold, it is safe. So, they don’t research the toys. They just go into the sex shop, buy something that is cheap. I have educated many adults as I have met them on materials, what is sharable, what is not sharable, cleaning, etc.

    Great article.

  13. Brilliant post! Much better researched that almost any I’ve seen.

    I get squicked out by jelly after seeing what my toys got up to when left alone together. Gross.

  14. swordfish says:

    And just in case anyone is still unconvinced, they might try the Village Voice website, which addressed this very issue about a year and half ago, and came to the same conclusions.
    Lil, nice work.

  15. I am glad you are addressing safety concerns. This post is very useful and I hope it will save some folks from unpleasant experiences with jelly toys.

    That being said, I feel like you’re using a very broad brush when you suggest: “One way to tell if the company manufacturing the sex toy you are considering purchasing is reputable, if you can trust the materials? Look for the tag “Novelty use only”.” The phrase “novelty use only” (and related forms) is used on toys produced in the USA and other countries, not only on ones produced in China. This statement alone should not be cause for suspicion. Fun Factory packaging features the phrase “Novelty toy not for medical use.” A SportSheets item I have (rubber O-rings): “Sold as an adult novelty only.” And a Spartacus harness, made in the USA, “Sold as a novelty only.”

    ~ Good point…it IS a broad brush, but intended to be applied towards unknown companies. It is only one way to tell, and not a definitive only-way-to-tell. Just one of a number. Not every single “novelty” tagged toy is bad, but I’d be willing to bet that every bad toy comes with that tag. I can’t prove it, it’s just a guess, but I can’t exactly fill up the post with disclaimers, lol.

  16. Red Lotus says:

    Excellent post, Lilly – well researched! Just to add – be careful when buying silicone toys too. Mfrs are getting crafty and using “sila-gel” or terms of that nature, meaning – product is not 100% silicone. Unless it says 100% silicone or pure silicone, don’t trust it.

    ~ good point, I did mention silagel, though but there’s a whole lot to be said on how to get quality silicone, perhaps another posts worth!

  17. Emerald says:

    What a great post—thanks so much for it.

    I didn’t use toys a lot (really at all) until about the time I was beginning to write erotica and explore relatively sex-savvy communities, so when I did buy toys, I had been exposed to what seemed reliable knowledge about what to avoid. In addition to my 100% silicone toy, I have a glass dildo that I really like.

    Thanks again for this!

  18. FD says:

    I really like this post Lilly! In fact, I wish I’d read something like this before I made my first sex toy purchases.

    My very first toys were made of jelly, back before I knew about the wonders of silicone. I did know to use a condom over the jelly monsters, so I didn’t experience any issues.
    I understand why you choose not to review jelly toys, and I choose not to review them on my site either. I REALLY don’t want people to waste their money on them. Especially when I can inform of much better offerings: silicone, glass, ceramic, stainless steel, aluminum, wood.

    I hope all companies will stop marketing jelly toys all together. Some have, and I commend them for that. The folks who continue to sell and market jelly, know what their selling IS crap, and that it can potentially harm someone. Yet they continue to sell the jelly monster toys? As a consumer, that clearly shows me that money is more important than their customers safety. As a reviewer, I wonder if that’s actually the case, because I know of a few companies who currently sell jelly, that do care about their customers.

    Thank you for posting this Lilly! I hope the new-to-sex-toys folks have a chance to read this post.

  19. question says:

    Have you tried the njoy fun wand? Prostate and fun wan equal heaven. Unfortunately I left it at my parents house…. Let’s hope I don’t have to explain that one…..Either way you’re right. Why get jelly when you can have all of the wonderful good toys that also look good I’m collecting all the njoy ones. Their plugs are awesome AND stylish.

    ~ well actually, since I don’t have a prostate…….lol. I didn’t bother trying the Fun Wand because the Pure Wand is my holy grail for that sort of toy. It just can’t get better. And while their plugs are nice, everything is nice, I’m not into anal toys.

  20. Elodie says:

    My first toy was a jelly toy. I was clueless (like most people purchasing their first sex toy), so I didn’t use a condom over it. It burned me, and I rarely used it. I thought all sex toys would be gross like that, so it put me off sex toys for a very long time. Then I got a cheap little plastic vibe — and was hooked.

    Phthalates have also been linked to behavioral problems in children when they’re exposed to them prenatally. They’re just gross all around.

    ~ Yes, I’d seen articles similar to that! It’s ironic that they’ve gone to Federal lengths to remove phthalates from kids toys and pet toys, but not sex toy. They care more about our dogs than our asses and vaginas lol

  21. question says:

    LOL I didn’t think you had a prostate but it’s just fun overall. If you did have one that would be interesting to say the least….

  22. Aurore says:

    I think this is a must read for everyone who is looking to buy a sex toy.

    One of my first toys was a jelly butt plug that ended up with odd black marks all over it. And my first dildo was cyberskin and it melted when it touched another toy – ick!

    Even my Tantus O2 Mikey says it’s “Sold as Adult Novelty” so it’s just a matter of being discerning with products. You read food labels, you need to read toy labels too.

  23. newbie says:

    Eeekkkkk, my boytoy just bought my a new jelly vibe/dildo. I’m so so new to all things sexual–I had no idea jelly was bad!! I’m glad I only got it today and have only used it once; now I wonder if I”m sore because of a chemical issue. Yuck. Thank you so much for sharing!!

  24. pik says:

    very good information in this article… thanks for writing it!

    but i gotta admit, jelly has been my favorite texture forever. i do have a silicone toy that i love and a few glass toys as well – but my favorite by far, my ever-faithful go-to vibe, is jelly. (and no, i don’t use condoms on it – for whatever reason the idea of condoms on sex toys REALLY grosses me out, which rather effectively kills the libido.) i’ve had several jelly toys over the years and never had a bad reaction.

    that said, i wouldn’t go recommending jelly toys to my friends. there are just way too many variables in the quality and chemical makeup. the first two jelly toys i had succumbed to the whole dye transfer/breaking down thing and smelled pretty nasty… i was too young to know better. however, the last few years i’ve been a lot more careful about where i get my toys from – it IS possible to get a quality jelly toy, just not at all easy!

    i wouldn’t label jelly toys as ‘safe’, BUT because they really work for me, i will not avoid them either. i use them as responsibly as possible, so i *personally* feel safe with them. i realize that this is not the way everyone would look at it – even in small doses, i am still exposing myself to potentially dangerous chemicals – but it works for me. i just don’t feel the need to completely avoid a material that gets me off so well, especially since that’s the whole point of having a sex toy. i also don’t think it’s irresponsible to avoid putting condoms on my toys – i never share them, keep them as clean as humanly possible, and take several other precautions that i won’t get into. (plus the whole totally-grossed-out-by-it thing… condoms on a partner: great. condoms on a toy: eeeeeeew. i can’t help it being a turn-off.)

    anyway – sorry for going on forever! i don’t mean to contradict anything in your post, which i really liked. i’m just putting out a view from the other side. :)

    ~ Well, I guess if you’re informed then you can certainly do what you like…..I just don’t understand it *shrugs* And I do highly highly disagree that you can get a quality jelly toy, but obviously I’ve made that clear. But what I’m the most confused on is how you can recognize that they are not safe, and you wouldn’t recommend them to anybody, but yet you love it and won’t protect your body or stop using them.

  25. pik says:

    what i meant is that i won’t specifically recommend jelly as being better than other materials, not that i would tell anyone to avoid it. i *would* share this article if a friend asked for information on materials, so they could make a more informed decision – not many people know the things you’ve pointed out.

    as for why i still use them – like i said, i simply love the texture. using jelly toys is a personal choice, but my physical response to the texture is not.

    sure, i could deny myself that particular pleasure… but then again, there are poisons all around us – most of which we come into FAR more contact with than a sex toy – and every day we consciously choose to expose ourselves to them. for example, unless you eat only organic, cruelty-free, completely sustainable foods that are grown nowhere within a hundred miles of a factory farm, you are poisoning yourself every single day – and we choose to accept that. hell, just breathing the air in a big city poisons you every day (i used to live in L.A. – never again!) and we accept that too. i wouldn’t say someone living in L.A.

    jelly toys happen to give me great pleasure and do not cause me any sort of negative reaction. i take excellent care of them and use them as safely as possible (without condoms, but as i said, condoms on toys are a personal turn-off which kind of negates the whole point of masturbation.) i try to reduce my overall chemical exposure, i don’t smoke or drink coffee, etcetera… i DO take care of myself, more than most people i know. i hope this makes my point of view a little clearer! :)

  26. Dude says:

    Ok.. Old board here. BUT. I have a doc Johnson dildo. The package “said” full silicon but it started to peel real bad and stinks! I didn’t understand whether the article meant they were bad ones or what? :/ and also after reading this I feel like maybe this recurring stomach problem that I’ve been having might not be from my toy…. :( thanks if you answer and thanks for your opinion!(most people are to afraid to lose the dollar to give there’s!!!)

  27. Peeling and stinking are NOT traits of true silicone. I’d bet my rent that whatever you have isn’t 100% pure silicone. Can you tell me which exact toy you have? I’m just curious.
    Also, simply because they claim it to be silicone, doesn’t meant it is. See also:

  28. Old comment, but I wanted to clarify that we now know that what Doc Johnson calls “silagel” wasn’t meant to “trick us” into thinking it’s silicon, it is simply their additive to porous toys to apparently make it antibacterial or some such. However the additive stinks and some people react to it.

  29. Alex Liddell says:

    Wow great comments to view and read

  30. TK1555 says:

    I just bought a 6″ Basix rubber works dong from pipedreamproducts. I’m scared to use it because about a month ago I got a UTI from using a PVC dildo. I got rid of all of my dildos after this because I was afraid that after storing them all together that they would be dangerous to use. (I was bedridden for a whole week and had to go to the doctor to get medicine for my UTI) So now I’m a bit nervous to use anything at all. Can anyone tell me if this dildo is safe? It’s made in the USA, and it is rubber, it says phthalates free and says non toxic. but it also says its only for novelty use. I’m having trouble finding any reviews on the basix dongs. does anyone have any experience with basix?

  31. Rubber is not a safe material, and Pipedream isn’t an “approved” manufacturer ( They make unsafe stuff.

    The “novelty use” tag doesn’t mean anything here, that’s not what you should be focusing on ( The fact that they claim it to be phthalates-free doesn’t mean anything; companies can lie about that ( Even IF it’s not toxic – I’ve heard reports from others that this line, especially, stinks like chemicals and has caused skin irritation – it’s still highly porous and I’d be willing to bet that your other toys are highly porous as well ( You could have irritated the skin from the chemicals in the toy OR it could be harboring bacteria, mold, fungus etc which can be leaching out and causing the infections. I would say that you’re showing signs of both being sensitive to the toxic crap in the cheap sex toys AND you’re buying cheap sex toys which have toxic crap in them. You should work on replacing your stuff (and stop using it, especially don’t use that crap Basix item) with toys made only from pure silicone, or glass or metal or hard plastic. Non-porous, safe materials. You can find affordable options ( If you have any other questions, let me know!

  32. Angela says:

    A few months before I started reviewing sex toys I bought a pink, jelly double dildo. Now I’m horrified that I would spend money on that… and have it in me. More people need to be aware of the dangers of some toys. It never occurred to me to look into the materials used. I’m waiting a bit until I’m more of a “seasoned” writer and reviewer to write my own articles about things like this. Good for you for looking out for people like you do!

  33. Most important thing I can stress is to talk about your own story in addition to the science facts, and of course research the heck out of things to make sure it’s not myth :)

  34. Angela says:

    Are there some sites you’d suggest as reliable sources?

  35. I really hate to sound like a know-it-all but….well..not a ton. Definitely Smitten Kitten is a wonderful source. There’s sadly though a lot of misinformation, outdated information, myths, still in “print” and therefore still being recycled as current fact. the ONLY way I found out many of the things I’ve written about is because I’ve made industry contacts and I have people to ask, people who know the inside scoop, the “how things work”, etc. Without them, I wouldn’t have most of these articles.

  36. First of all, I’m sorry this happened to you. But I need to stress that THIS IS NOT NORMAL. And I can promise you, this will NOT HAPPEN WITH A PURE SILICONE SEX TOY.

    The very last thing I want is for people to have bad experiences OR read about others’ bad experiences and think that all sex toys are dangerous and toxic. This simply isn’t the case. I’ve been using SAFE sex toys for 7 years now and have never had a problem.

    Scaring people is not productive, when you’re scaring them off ALL sex toys. Sex toys are healthy additions to healthy sex lives.

  37. Simply look for the safe materials and reputable brands which are listed here:

    Stay with pure silicone for your realistic dildos. Need a recommendation? Just ask!

  38. An absolutely superb post. Thanks for the insights, it’s important information for all who are looking to experiment with sex toys. We specialise in <a href="3D printed sex toys”>3D printed sex toys and safety is paramount for us, good to see it is for you too!

  39. Holly says:

    Old post, I know… but I see Miss Lilly is still providing answers, so I decided to go for it and ask my concerns. I’m kind of new to sex toys (but not really new to actual sex). I have always been curious about them, but never knew what to and not to try out. I started off with a bullet vibrator from Trojan. The Trojan Vibrations Vibrating Mini to be exact (that comes with the textured jelly-like sleeve to place over the bullet as well as the little black pouch). I still have it and given it’s small size, it’s pretty good (I’ve inserted it briefly for fun, but strongly prefer it as a clit massager). It’s a little louder than I’d prefer, but not bad. I don’t really use the sleeve as I don’t find it as pleasurable that way – I prefer the plain bullet used on my clit. I do keep it in its little pouch for storage though. Here’s a link to it –

    Now, I like to shop at Spencers for various items. When I discovered they had fair-priced sex toys, I was interested. I started by buying Arouz’d Jelly Love Anal Beads for $6.99 plus tax. Well, I wasn’t overly impressed but wasn’t too upset either. My first “newbie mistake” I noticed right after buying – THEY DON’T HAVE A SAFE REMOVAL RING! This concerned me because obviously I don’t want anything getting lost up “there”, so before I used them, I tied a piece of ribbon to the end so I would be sure not to lose them inside me. The next thing I didn’t like is the fact that they SMELLED AWFUL when I first got them. As soon as I opened the package, I was like “OMG! What IS that?!”. I washed them before I even used them to get rid of the odor. The smell isn’t really as bad now, but wow… that was gross! I obviously use them for anal-only and store them in a plastic baggie to keep them away from my other items (I don’t have separate/organized storage yet, so everything is together in one box). I also wash them with warm soapy water after each use. Here is a link to what exactly I purchased –

    My second item was bought last night. It’s a Neon Softees Jr. G-spot Vibrator in pink. For $12.99 plus tax, I figured it was ok enough to sample and I did find the bright, neon colors pretty appealing. When I got home, I got online and did some research to try to see how good it truly was. Most the reviews I found were fair and people seemed overall satisfied. The only complaints I seen were ones stating things like “it dies too fast”, “it wears out completely/needs replaced too soon”, “it’s not strong or powerful enough”, “it’s not really waterproof”, etc. I also seen some complaints about a very strong, horrible smell upon first taking it out of the package as well as a complaint about the battery compartment (the person said there was random plastic pieces and it was hard to figure out). I also seen some people saying it wasn’t actually “soft” and was actually hard/rough. Well, I had to take it out of the package to investigate after all that. When I opened the package, I didn’t smell an initial “omg” odor. I had to actually pick it up and hold it up to my nose to smell (even then, it didn’t smell overly bad). As for the feel, it does feel smooth. For the battery compartment, I don’t know what that person was talking about. It’s easy to find, I found no “plastic pieces” and it’s not hard to unscrew. This is a link to the exact one I purchased –

    I have not personally TRIED the G-Spot vibrator due to the other things I discovered. I started finding a lot of articles about dangerous sex toys containing phthalates and stuff. This scared me. From what I found online, this vibrator is by Pipedreams. I went to their website and they say it’s PVC, but phthalate-free. Some people were saying that was completely impossible because PVC = unsafe/phthalate. Is that fact? On Spencers’ website as you’ll see in the link above, it also says phthalate-free.

    As for dangers, I have seen some very unpleasant things. Cancer, harm to babies (if the user is pregnant), weird/usual discharge, vaginal swelling, pain, burning, chemical burns, yeast infections, UTIs, fertility problems, etc.

    Some were saying to use any toy like this with a condom to prevent problems… then I seen others saying it’s STILL harmful with a condom (some even said they still got chemical burns after using one covered with a condom). I seen some claiming that they tested the waterproof theory of this product and were disappointed when – the battery compartment flooded, the toy died/stopped working after that, or it began rusting/corroding after water exposure. I don’t plan to use the toy in the water, so that wouldn’t be a factor for me.

    A lot of articles were saying “novelty” stores such as Spencers are bad news when it comes to actual sex toys because they’re so cheap and harmful. They said “Made in China” or “Sold for Novelty purposes” are bad signs to find on your toy packaging. The packaging for the vibrator I bought last night says Made in China AND has a sticker on the bottom that says “Sold as a novelty only”. Some people were saying they sell it as a “novelty” so that the company won’t be liable if anyone gets hurt or sick from their awful products. Others were saying they use it as a “novelty” to avoid having to operate as a full-blown “sex shop” so there isn’t an age limit for their stores.

    I also hear that these types of toys are germ/bacteria fests since they can’t properly be cleaned. Is that fact? I’m straight, so lesbian play isn’t a thing for me. I also of course would never think of sharing my toy with anyone. If I use it with a partner, it’ll be me and my guy spicing things up. I don’t currently have toy cleaner, so I use plain warm water and soap to clean whatever I have. Is that ok enough since I’m the only one using it?

    What should I do about this vibrator I bought last night but have not used out of fear? Is it ok to “just go for it” and use it to see if I have a reaction? I certainly would HATE to get burned or develop some type of infection all because of a stupid sex toy. Definitely doesn’t seem worth it to me. I know I can’t go to Sepncers and return this item since they have a “final sale” policy on any type of sexual stuff or lingerie (which I definitely understand and support)… but could I contact either Spencers’ website or the Pipedreams website? Bottom line, would I be able to get my $12.99 plus tax back, or am I just out that nearly $14.00?

    Also, what about my anal beads? Should I get rid of them and find a new kind, or is it ok to keep using them since I have not had any noticeable issues from them? Are ANY of Spencers’ sex toys safe/ok to buy/use? Should I keep my Trojan bullet, or get rid of it too (it hasn’t caused me any known harm either)? What about stuff from Cirilla’s? I do want toys for fun and to spice things up, but man – I had NO idea of all the hidden safety concerns and dangers!

    One final note – my guy bought a dildo for me to use to spice things up during sex and stuff. He purchased this nearly a year ago and we’ve used it a few times (but not like nightly/regular use). We never use a condom over it. I don’t know where he got it, what it’s made up exactly or how much it was. It’s a “realistic” style of one though and feels a little rougher in texture. I have had burning after using it, but I thought that may have been because he put some Astroglide lube on it (and my vagina) first (I noticed the burning started soon after having the Astroglide applied). Another time, I didn’t have burning, so I don’t know what that was all about. In MY collection, I have WET Platinum lube (it’s silicone-based and I found it to be epic for anal play. I don’t really use it for vaginal play since I don’t require additional lube usually) and have never had burning.

    Is it still ok to shop at Spencers for other fun items? Like sex games, massage items, edible fun things (like penis and vagina pops, gummy boobs, etc.)? Where are good places to buy actual sex toys that are comfortable and pleasurable to use… but also don’t pose any health risks? As I asked above, is a place like Cirilla’s ok? Are ANY of their products good, or just certain ones? I can’t really afford to drop like $70.00 or more on one single sex toy at a time, so what are so “reasonably priced” options that are decent, but also SAFE to use?

    I know certain condom brands make sex toys (like the Trojan bullet vibrator I mentioned above that I have). Are THOSE safe? I have thought about buying the Durex Play Allure Intimate Massager, but now that I have read all these unpleasant and scary things, I don’t know what to use! Here are the other Trojan and Durex vibrators I have been tempted to try providing their safe – Trojan Vibrations Vibrating Pulse Intimate Massager, Trojan Vibrations Vibrating Triphoria Intimate Massager, Trojan Vibrations Vibrating Twister Intimate Massager, Durex Play Delight Intimate Massager, and the Durex Play Discover Intimate Massager.

    Any/all help or advice/input would be awesome! I wish I would have researched FIRST and not bought this thing now because I don’t think I will use it out of fear =/
    One more thing then I promise I’ll shut up lol – I don’t seem to have any problems with lubed condoms. Me and my guy used the Trojan Magnum line (started with original lubed Trojan Magnums, then once they started adding others to the Magnum line, we have tried those – we’ve tried the Ribbed and Thin ones and I’m going to pick up the newest Bareskin ones just as soon as I can). I bought the Magnum Ecstasy ones… but we have not tried them yet. I haven’t out of fear. I hear people saying they burn and hurt you (both men and women have complained that the Ecstasy condoms in general, whether they’re Magnum or not, cause pain, discomfort, bad reactions, and overall ruin the sex for the night). Do you know if that’s true? I would hate for one or both of us to develop a bad reaction to an Ecstasy condom after all this time of using Trojan condoms with NO problem. I also heard the Ecstasy ones are tighter and smaller than they claim, so even if the guy is wearing the right size, it’s still uncomfortable to him. I have heard the pop off and break like crazy too. Condoms are our only form of protection, so I would hope they would not break like people claim they do. We haven’t had problems with breaking or leaking from our other Trojan Magnums (and that’s the only kind we use).
    Thanks so much for your time and for reading this mess of a blubber rant I posted! I hope to hear back from you and get some information I’m after!

  40. Congrats on leaving possibly the longest comment on the blog! If I had a prize to give you, I would give it. Actually, I might.

    To start, I think everything you want to know is answered in the posts found through this page:

    I’m gonna condense here but the basics are:

    1. I don’t recommend anything porous for insertable toys and usually don’t for external only toys. Toys that touch the vulva or go inside the vagina or butt shouldn’t be porous:

    2. This means everything you’ve bought so far as Spencer’s, I would recommend tossing. You will never have that bad smell or burning sensation with silicone, and there are affordable silicone toys now.

    3. If it says phthalates-free, it could be. Recent lab tests were run and none found phthalates. This doesn’t mean ALL are trustworthy. I don’t yet trust them, personally. And they’re still porous.

    4. “Novelty Use” and “made in China” mean nothing.

    5. You will not get your money back; stop using all of the toys and chalk it up to a learning experience. I’ve got a list of some great toys under $50 at the bottom of this page:

    And some recommendations with explanations in this guide:

    I personally wouldn’t recommend shopping at Spencer’s, but that’s a person preference.

    As for sex toy cleaning: soap and water is fine IF your sex toy is non-porous: hard plastic or silicone. If it’s porous, well, even just you using it it will retain bacteria, fungus, etc and give it back to you. All of your current soft toys will break down over time:

  41. I have a Shibari wand and haven’t experience this with it (or any other silicone). I t may just be a manufacturing defect.

  42. We don’t know – no one has been testing.

  43. St. Haborym says:

    This site is amazing and I am very glad I found it.

  44. Sachiko Sho says:

    So, a few months ago I was completely unaware of any of this and dropped a bunch of money on a pure romance dildo called “mr. dependable” and accessories for it which appears to be made of out this jelly and they say it’s made of a “plastic material” on the website. I haven’t had any issues, that I know of, and I’m a bit of a neat freak so it’s always pretty clean and well stored. Would you happen to have any insight on that company or product?

  45. Pure Romance is awful. They lie to people, and try to polish the turds they sell.

    Whatever you have is NOT silicone and so it’s porous. It WILL break down because the material is unstable. Bacteria, mold, mildew, yeasts, etc all can make a home deep in the pores of the dildo no matter what you do to clean it. It can make you sick at any point. You can experience no burning now, and then down the road burning as the material breaks down and chemicals leach out. I cannot at all recommend that you continue on using it. I also would avoid Pure Romance from here on out.

  46. Sachiko Sho says:

    Thanks! They seemed like a shady company, never returned my e-mails either!

  47. tonyuk says:

    Hi I saw a cheap prostate massager on Ebay so though what the hell buy it…received it thought it looked a bit cheap but thought id give it a go,… I put I in once and tried it for about a min or 2 on vibrate then thought it didn’t feel right plus I was worried about quality..

    I’ve since learned that there are toxic plastics used in cheap sex toys that contain phthalates and can be cancer causing plus other things … the way you can tell is by smelling it and this stinks of new car smell (plasticky)

    Ive got a rude boy massager that’s fine and silicone… but really wish I’d never shoved this up me even for a min… Is it likely i’ve poisoned myself? ..I noticed I’m bleeding very slightly from a previous session so that’s not gonna help… Just how much exposure would be too much?

  48. leah says:

    seriously worried that im going to die or something. just opened a “new toy” and the smell was TOXIC. Didnt even try it and put it back in the packaging.. will this kill me.. seriously?? i washed my nose out and hands very good with soap and water. Googled about this and came across this blog. Very happy to have found some answers.. now just wanting more. :P so sad for me.. but will not be having fun tonight. oh well. Better to be safe than sorry!

  49. No, it is not going to kill you. It’s just a bad smell.

  50. Aravara says:

    Hi Lilly,
    First of all, thank you for all your precious info you have on your blog! I’m new to all this and am just getting started with the ins and outs (pun intended) of it all. I am Canadian and went to a Venus Envy store where I live (their ethics are good, I checked) and was shown a number of low-priced silicone starter vibes. I purchased one from Doc Johnson (mood- Sultry) and was wondering if you knew if their silicone lines can be trusted. You don’t include them on the trusted manufacturer’s list because of some of the crappy jelly/TPR products they sell but I’m trying to decide if I should keep it or chuck my $35 in the trash/recycle it if I can.

    Hope you have a lovely day!

    P.S. I thought of trying a flame test but I’m just picturing it bursting into flame, me flailing momentarily in surprise, the curtains catching on fire, my boyfriend tries to put it out, HE catches on fire… aaand panic ensues.

  51. Yep, their silicone products now do all seem to be true silicone! I recently reviewed (and put through paces) their new Truskyn line and I do believe their silicone products are good.

    The primary reason for them not being on the trusted manufacturer list is because they make porous things that contain “sil-a-gel” which they claim is non-toxic and phthalate-free, but one test revealed phthalates. I’ve have numerous complaints of sil-a-gel-containing dildos burning genitals something fierce.

  52. Aravara says:

    Thanks for the quick reply! Burning genitals is a definite no-no. I’ve bookmarked you (as well as a few other blogs on your follow list which I find particularly helpful) under my favourites tab.

    I’m thinking of starting a blog about my trials and errors of learning about my sexuality and enriching my sex life with toys (i.e. chronicling my sexcapades); would you be comfortable with me referencing your site if I include an info section about sex toy safety, and/or if anyone has any questions I can’t answer?

    Of course, if you’d prefer not to be mentioned, or if you’d rather wait until I actually start my theoretical blog so you can take a look at it first and then decide, that’s fine too! Either way, thank you for your helpful advice and honest reviews!

  53. Sounds good! This is my policy on that stuff, so when the time comes if you have more questions about how to do it, what’s cool/what’s not, feel free to ask :)

  54. Aravara says:

    Great! I’ll keep that in mind :) Have a lovely day!

  55. Denise Jeter says:

    Glad I read this article
    I’m tossing mine TODAY…..

  56. Kake says:

    I honestly wished I researched first before buying my first ever vibrator/sex toy through Spencer’s….

    (link removed for 6″ Climax Gems vibrator)

    I saw 0 reviews on this product through their site, but it had everything I ever wanted for my first toy. It’s not too loud, (I still live with my parents even though I’m 22 years old) and I enjoy having my clit stimulated more than getting penetrated (only because I’m still a virgin). I paid a lot more than expected because of the price they listed it, plus shipping. I was okay with it being pricey until I found the same product on Amazon for $13 with free shipping. -_-

    Anyway, I only used it once on the day it arrived. I used it to stimulate my clit which lasted 10-15 minutes or less until I had an orgasm. Since this is my first time owning a sex toy, I made sure to clean it before and after I used it. I washed it with warm water and soap, but again, I had no idea PVC is considered a bad material for sex toys. It also didn’t have a horrible smell on it when I first opened it from its packaging. In fact it had no smell on it unless you sniffed it real close. However, after I cleaned it both times it still had its faint smell. I planned on buying a proper toy cleaner for it, but now I’m not so sure anymore.

    I just find it wasteful that I spent around $30 for this toy and it’s not considered safe to use. I did more research and found reviews on the same toy on another site and a lot of the reviews were recommending to wear condoms while using it. I’m honestly thinking about buying condoms just in case. Though, I had no instant effects after I used it.

    My question is, where do you recommend to buy beginner vibrators from? Should I even continue using the toy I bought on my clit? Even if it’s only for 15 minutes? I really hate to throw it away after spending so much money on it. :(

  57. Ok so it sounds like you’ve had no adverse reactions to it? The few sites I’ve seen this on that list materials say it is TPR, not PVC. This means it probably is not “toxic” and won’t, by itself, cause burning right away.

    There are a lot of articles I’ve written that talk about things you need to read up on before you make up your mind, but they’re all linked here:

    Namely, covering with a condom was never proven to do any good. Porous (like TPR) can cause recurrent vaginal infections. Porous toys can’t really be sanitized or “cleaned” very well, and “toy cleaner” isn’t going to help you any more than mild soap and water will.

    I recommend against Amazon, and list a large number of recommended places here:

    And list a large number of under-$35 sex toys here: