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Nearly 25 percent of Americans 18 years and up use sex toys several times a week, according to Statista.com. Five percent reported using a sex toy occasionally. Women are the most active users and owners of sex toys with seven out of 10 women 18 years of age and up reporting owning a sex toy and nearly 25 percent of those having spent around $100 in a year on the product.

Sex toys — good ones at least — can cost a pretty penny. If they do what they need to do, many would argue they’re worth every cent. However, if you don’t properly care for or know how to utilize your sex toys, you might find yourself having to replace them often or simply wondering what all the hype is about because it isn’t working for you. Since sex toys might be something you aren’t eager to stick around and discuss the proper care of with a sales associate, we cover common sex toy mistakes here.

Learning as you go

If you want to learn how to use a spiralizer for the first time while you’re already making a salad, fine. Not much is at stake. But don’t try out your sex toy for the very first time while you’re already in the middle of the action with a partner—or even yourself. But definitely not with a partner. You’d be surprised to find some aren’t as easy to operate as you think and you don’t want to have to pull out the instruction manual just when things are getting hot and heavy. Or when you were *this* close to having an orgasm.

Failing to clean it

Unlike your partner, your sex toy will not be hopping in the shower later. So you have to take charge of cleaning it. Would you allow a partner who hadn’t showered in a week put their genitals near you? Likely not. So then why risk using an uncleaned sex toy? They can carry bacteria that could cause a UTI. You’ll need to check the care instructions on your particular toy to know the best way to clean it. Some are dishwasher friendly, but anything with a battery usually requires more special attention. Hey, if you live alone, you can just pop that dildo on the dish rack with your plates and bowls. Be sure to use gentle, unscented soap since this will be near or in your vagina.

Failing to store it properly

Do make sure that your sex toy is completely dry before you store it. We’ll get to where you store it in a moment but know that if you stash it away wet in a closed environment, that can be a breeding ground for bacteria. Now, you can store your clean, dry sex toy in a simple paper or plastic bag. But make sure that bag is also clean inside. If you own multiple sex toys, be sure to store them separately so they don’t cross-contaminate one another. And finally, store your sex toy very near where you have sex so you don’t have to dash across your home naked to grab it, mid-foreplay.

Doing double duty

If you think of some of the rules that apply to a penis or a condom, many also apply to sex toys. One great example is that you should not put a sex toy that was just used for anal play anywhere near your vagina. That can put harmful bacteria in your vagina that can lead to an infection. And if a dildo is being used in a threesome so that one woman never feels lonely, that should not be then used on the other woman without being cleaned. You don’t want to spread bacteria from one user to another.

Being uninformed about lube

First of all, do use lubricant when using a sex toy. If you need it during sex with a partner then you likely need it when using a toy, too. Being properly lubricated is important for preventing vaginal tears. Plus, it just makes sex a whole lot more fun. That being said, you might not be free to use whatever lube you have on hand with your preferred toy. Silicone lubricant cannot be used on silicone toys as it can deteriorate their surface. Silicone toys are to be used with water- or oil-based lubes.

Never bringing it to partner play

For a long time, sex toys have had the reputation of being just for alone time. Essentially, women have been given the message that a sex toy is meant to replace a partner when a partner is unavailable (or there isn’t one in the picture). But that simply isn’t true. A vibrator can greatly enhance the experience for you and for your partner during sex — if they’re open to it. Some partner’s egos can feel threatened when you break out the toy. So it’s important to explain this has nothing to do with their performance. It’s just about increasing the fun.

 

Using a sex toy in place of communicating

While a sex toy can enhance sex with a partner, it’s important you aren’t just using one to compensate for your partner’s tremendous shortcomings. A sex toy should be the cherry on top of the cake that is already good sex. It shouldn’t be there because without it, the sex is terrible. If your partner has no idea how to make you feel good in bed, you need to have a conversation about that. It’s important to be with somebody with whom you can have open dialogues about what you need in bed.

Only shopping online

If you already know what you like and are well-versed in sex toys then, sure, shop online. But this is not something to buy completely blindfolded. There are a lot of bad sex toys online. There are some that are even unsafe as they haven’t met certain guidelines. You also may not know what’s best for your goals and your body, and an unknown website isn’t going to tell you. Don’t be ashamed of going to a real, physical store to learn about sex toys. The staff won’t bite. And they can answer your questions so you can feel confident you didn’t just waste your money. They’re trained in making the experience feel totally comfortable for consumers.

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