Sex Toys 101: What To Know Before You Buy

Sex Toys 101: What To Know Before You Buy

There are literally hundreds of thousands of sex toys on the market and every year we see more inventive and new ways to get to that big O…

Dear readers: this is a follow up post from our #openEd event, Sex Toys 101 — if you missed it, you can check out the video on our YouTube channel!

What kinds of toys are there? We’ve broken them down into the following general categories — but be aware that many toys combine multiple features (like a vibrating c-ring, or a wand vibrator with attachments) — and some that defy any of these descriptions, too!

Read More: 11 Sex Positive Shops To Support During Social Distancing

Watch the YouTube #openED on Sex Toys

Types of Sex Toys

  • Dildo / Dong — generally phallic shaped toy that’s intended to penetrate (vaginally or anally)
  • External Vibrator — small vibrator that’s not meant to insert, but to buzz against clitoris / penis / outside of body
  • Wand Vibrator — wide range of sizes but usually have a head with a longer body (think “Hitachi”!)
  • Internal Vibrator — intended to be used internally (vaginally or anally), generally long & (often) slender
  • ”Rabbit” or dual stimulation toy — offers both internal and external stimulation (usually vibration and/or rotation).
  • G-spot / Prostate — toy that’s curved to help reach the G-spot or Prostate
  • C-ring — a ring that wraps around the base of the penis to restrict blood flow and can increase firmness & sensitivity
  • Anal plug / beads — toys that are meant to be inserted into the rectum through the anus — all must have a base to keep them from going all the way in!
  • Strokers — toys meant to wrap around penises / larger clitorises to provide all around sensation
  • Pumps — toys meant to apply suction to penises, clits, nipples, and breasts to make them swell and become more engorged and sensitive
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Our Sex Toy buying tips

  1. Buy from reputable sources & companies — much of what’s on Amazon is knock off or fraudulent / not made with reputable materials, even if it says that it’s made by a manufacturer that you’re familiar with!
  2. Do some research! Our fave review sites include Oh Joy Sex ToyHey EpiphoraDangerous Lilly, and The Big Gay Review — here, you can look at reviews that cover product quality, the user’s experience, and more, so that you get a feel for exactly what you can expect from the toy of your dreams!
  3. Nonporous materials (silicone, metal, glass) are ideal for sharable toys, as well as just having cleaner toys (you can check out Early To Bed’s materials guide). Keep in mind that silicone “blends” are often porous, given that they do not disclose the added materials.
  4. Porous materials (TPE) are safe for use but should never be shared. Cleaning needs to be scrupulous (or throw a condom over it for easy cleanup). We suggest these toys be limited to use with only one person or between one couple (and not shared if they’re anal toys).
  5. Some porous materials (like PVC or Vinyl) may have a distinct chemical scent, and may leach chemicals that can then affect your body. We’d suggest that you avoid these, but if you have one, putting a condom over it during use and observing stringent cleaning & storage practices are a must!
  6. What kinds of vibration terms will you see in these product listings? “Buzzy” vibration (often with smaller batteries or smaller motors) is often very much a surface level vibe; “thuddy” or “thrummy” vibration is often the way that companies & reviewers describe a stronger, more deep vibration. Think of it as the difference between a tickle and a massage!
  7. Does your toy have a warranty? Many do, especially toys that come with a higher price tag or more features! This can ensure that you’ll have a toy that works for years (and if it stops working, you’ll be able to reach out to the manufacturer to get a new one!). Some stores also offer a warranty against defects; check the store’s website before buying to be on the safe side.

If you’re still unsure what type of product to buy including the material you’re putting in your body, we highly recommend listening to this fantastic podcast by our friends Casual Swinger called “for novelty use only, your favorite sex toy could be making you sick”

Sex Toy Safety

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Ain’t nothing wrong with a little Rub A Dub Dub for your favorite bedroom friends.

Regularly clean your toys

Wash off each toy before using, and store them separately from each other if they’re porous (like latex or TPE). Wash each toy well after using, too! You can clean your toys with a good washing with soap & water. You can purchase spray-on or wipe-saturated toy cleaners, but they’re generally not necessary if you have access to a sink & soap (which means that toy cleaners can be great for travel / camping or for folks who share a dorm room or house with family and don’t have a private bathroom). Another option is a UV toy cleaner. Always clean before you store them, and wipe them off before using them next time


Know your lube compatibility! Silicone lube is generally not safe for silicone toys. Oil based lubes should never be used with any product that contains rubber or latex (including PVC & TPE). Water-based lube works with everything! (Peep this lube guide from the folks at Tool Shed Toys in Milwaukee)


Don’t leave your toys running! Removing batteries prevents them from draining down over time and keeps the toy’s motor working longer. Rechargeable toys should be charged and/or drained according to the information in the manufacturer’s instructions, but don’t leave them on the charger longer than needed!


If you’re using a C-ring or pump, pay attention to your circulation and do not continue to use it if the skin turns bluish or is cool to the touch. Remember that whether it’s bondage, or a sex toy, circulation & blood flow are important 🙂 Additionally, some powerful vibrators can cause redness on the surface of the skin — if you’re using a larger vibrator you may find it’s more comfortable to use it over your clothing / underthings. You can also move it regularly to keep one area from being over-sensitized.

Have questions about toys? We highly recommend reaching out to a sex positive shop in your area, if you have one — they can guide you to the right products to meet your desires. Well-established online shops (we love SheVibe and Spectrum Boutique!) often have a chat or Q&A feature for you to get more info about products before you purchase. And don’t forget that you can find some amazing #open users that love sex toys — just join us in app & search the “#sextoy” hashtag, then swipe right!

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