I’m not an expert on sex toys. I have some, I’ve had others, and as a general rule I buy a new one every few months, then use it until either I or the guy I’m with is bored of it, or until it accidentally gets lodged somewhere it shouldn’t and we never use it again.
However, what I am an expert in is ‘inadvertently fucking things up to create maximum embarrassment for those around me’. So, to go along with the genuinely useful guides on safe sex toy storage and how to care for sex toys to make sure they last as long as possible, I thought I’d chip in with some tips of my own, based on a few choice fuck-ups I’d prefer not to repeat.
How to store sex toys so your Mum doesn’t find them
If you’re reading this, you should be over 18. However, as the housing market turns into a pit of howling souls and burning money, and thirty year-olds find themselves priced out of even the most basic rented accommodation, there are probably a fair few of you who live with your parents. Should you find yourself going away for a protracted period of time, heed rule 1: lock your sex toys away in a safe place.
A good friend of mine went away to University and failed to heed this rule. A month or so into the first term, she got a phone call from her mother.
“I found something under your bed. It’s a battery-powered thing.”
“Oh, really?” She panicked. “I… umm… what were you doing under my bed?”
“Tidying. But don’t worry, I didn’t throw it away…” Pause for dramatic effect. “I cleaned it and put it back.”
Now, there’s nothing inherently wrong with having a relationship so close that your mother feels it’s OK to clean your sex toys, but this clearly was not one of those relationships. My friend’s level of embarrassment was so high that she dedicated the next weekend to a round-trip home so she could sort and dispose of anything that had previously been into contact with her vagina.
I’ve had similar panics myself – not from my own Mum, who would no more go through my drawers than she’d read my dirty sex book, but the mother of an ex-boyfriend of mine, who once found an item that we’d stored under his bed.
She never mentioned it to us, so we were spared the conversation. I could probably have coped with a “hide your sex toys better” conversation, but my fear was that the object we’d hidden might spark the far more excruciating “what exactly is this for?” question. We only knew she’d discovered it because, when he returned from his trip, not only had it been wrapped in a carrier bag and pushed right to the back, but she’d also hidden one of her own – ahem – personal items alongside it.
In case you’re wondering what the toy in question was, it was this.
How to store sex toys so your nosy flatmates don’t find them
You might think that, having moved away from home, you wouldn’t have to worry much about this stuff. No one’s going to come into your room and insist you pick your knickers up off the floor, and nor are they going to root around in your bedside drawers to see what’s inside.
You would be reckoning on housemates that were not like Steve. Steve (obviously not his real name) was a housemate I had at University. He was the kind of smarmy arsehole who would listen through paper-thin walls when you were having sex with someone then complain loudly in the morning that you had disturbed his sleep. How did I know that he listened through the walls? Another of my housemates told me, because he had been bragging to that housemate that holding a glass to the wall and listening to some of the things I got up to was “much better than paying for porn.”
‘Flattered’ doesn’t even begin to cover it.
One weekend I nipped back to my hometown for a couple of days to recharge my batteries by drinking gin with my Mum and caterwauling showtunes with her into the early hours of the morning. Unfortunately, being a trusting soul, I had neglected to clear away the toys I’d played with the night before I left, and there was something sitting relatively exposed in the middle of my bed.
When I returned home, Steve greeted me with a smug smile.
“That money I owed you – I left it on your bedside table,” he smarmed.
“Umm… OK. Why didn’t you leave it on the kitchen side, like we always do?”
“I just… I thought it would be safer in your bedroom.” There was a long pause, while he grinned even more greasily, and I knew exactly which question was coming next. “That thing on your bed. What exactly is it for?”
It was one something a little like this.
How to dispose of sex toys so your neighbours don’t find them
I was raised on a diet of lentils and The Guardian, so I’d always aim to recycle products if I can. However with sex toys this has been limited to taking the batteries out and putting them in one of those recycling bins you find in supermarkets.
I don’t really know how you go about recycling them responsibly. Perhaps I could just collect them, then glue them all together in some sort of fucksculpture for my living room. If I get enough, I could create a sex toy throne to sit on as I watch porn, reveling in all the rubber cocks I’ve vanquished during wanks past.
But when it comes to proper sex toy recycling, I’m at a bit of a loss. What I can tell you for sure, though, is that you should absolutely not seal them into cardboard boxes with a pile of other un-recyclable rubbish then leave them out overnight for the council to collect.
It turns out that:
a) the council is not as efficient in collecting stuff as they promise on their website and
b) mysterious boxes sealed and placed next to your bins are infinitely tempting to thieves.
I came home one afternoon to find ripped boxes and bin bags all over my front lawn, and jelly cock-rings and vibrating butt-plugs strewn liberally across the pavement. My humiliation was almost complete – all I needed was for a concerned neighbour to slip a note through my letterbox asking: “what exactly is this stuff for?”
UPDATE: if you do want to recycle your old sex toys, the excellent Nymphomaniac Ness has published a fantastic guide on how to recycle sex toys. Please do check it out, and make sure that your wanks have as low a carbon footprint as possible.