What's that in your Sex Toy Cleaner?
Toy Cleaner (and many other intimate products) Ingredients Guide
This is the ultimate guide to knowing exactly what is in your toy cleaner and other products. This list is not by all means a complete encyclopedia but it does encompasses the majority of ingredients as well as what they're used for in the cosmetic and skin care industry, what they're made from (if disclosed), any warnings or disclaimers, and if they are...
The rates are:
- SAFE– No real dangers that can be found or comes from natural materials.
- ACCEPTABLE – Seems to be alright to have as an ingredient (as far as current data or provided information can prove). BUT, it needs to be within acceptable limits. You might need to exercise personal discretion.
- QUESTIONABLE – Conflicting or lacking data or too many variables to promise safety.
- BAD – Proven dangerous substance or too much negative data or warnings.
Here you go!
ALLANTOIN – Safe
A naturally occurring nitrogenous compound – the synthetic version is non-toxic and widely used in lotions and skin care products. Soothing, moisturizing, and anti-irritating properties.
ALOE BARBADENSIS LEAF EXTRACT – Safe
Also known as Aloe Vera, it’s beneficial for it’s soothing and healing properties. It’s also an emulsifier. However, current studies are trying to decide if the “non-decolorized” leaf extract is safe for ingestion. Since this relates to sex toy cleaner, it shouldn’t be an issue.
ALTHAEA OFFICINALIS ROOT EXTRACT – Safe
Also known as Marshmallow Root. Highly beneficial for internal and external use (for a wide variety of ailments).
AMMONIUM LAURYL (or DODECYL) SULFATE – Acceptable
Used as a foaming agent as well as a cleansing agent (helping water mix with oil to make things easier to wash). It’s an irritant in high concentrations, however, anything under 1% is considered a “safe” level. Also, you’ll see some “ingredient watch list” blogs classify this as dangerous, but that is regarding cosmetics.
AVENA SATIVA (OAT) KERNEL EXTRACT – Safe
Used to protect skin and provide relief. Commonly found in skin care and bath products.
BENZALKONIUM CHLORIDE (BAC) – Acceptable
A surfactant and antibacterial agent/preservative. It’s also commonly found in household cleaners. Can be irritating to the skin if the concentration is too high. It seems the ideal concentration (to stay within safety limits) is 0.1%.
BENZYL ALCOHOL – Acceptable
Benzyl alcohol is a naturally occurring and synthetic ingredient used as solvent and preservative. It’s used in a wide variety of product. The concern comes from regular exposure to high percentages. The EU has allowed it in cosmetics under 1%.
BUTYLENE GLYCOL – Avoid
Derived from petroleum, it acts to make sure creams and liquids don’t dry out as quickly. Can cause irritation through regular exposure.
CAPRYLYL GLYCOL – Safe
It’s an alcohol derived from caprylic acid—a natural fatty acid found in the milk of some mammals, as well as palm and coconut oils. It’s a conditioner and moisturizer. It also increased the antimicrobial activity in other preservatives. While some glycols can be harmful, Caprlyl Glycol is fine.
NOTE: If you see the ingredient “Optiphen” it means it’s a combination of Caprlyl Glycol, Chloroxylenol and Phenoxyethanol.
CHAMOMILLA RECUTITA (MATRICARIA) FLOWER EXTRACT – Safe
AKA. German chamomile - the stuff you put in tea. Used as an anti-inflammatory and antiseptic, and skin-conditioning agent. Common. Harmless.
CHLORHEXIDINE GLUCONATE – Acceptable
An antibacterial cleansing agent – commonly found in some prescribed mouthwashes. Used in hospitals and dental clinics.
CITRIC ACID – Safe
In proper/negligible concentrations, it’s fine. I have heard of those suffering from severe corn allergies (I didn’t know that was a thing), need to be careful that the citric acid hasn’t been taken from this vegetable.
COCAMIDE DEA – Questionable
A foaming and emulsifying agent. A possible irritant for some people. Although the FDA has approved Cocamide DEA within small percentages, some avoid it because animal testing has shown negative results. However, others would argue that reactions to rats are not the same for humans.
COCAMIDOPROPYL BETAINE – Acceptable
A derivative from coconut oil – but the ending result is synthetic. Used as a thickener and to create more foam. Generally considered safe but can cause skin irritation in a small percentage of people. Do a spot test if the cleaner contains this.
COCAMIDOPROPYL HYDROXYSULTAINE – Acceptable
Similar to Cocamidopropyl Betaine
CUCUMIS SATIVUS (CUCUMBER) FRUIT EXTRACT – Safe
Comes from normal cucumbers. Common and useful in skin care products.
DECYL GLUCOSIDE – Safe
A vegetable derivative used as a surfactant. Good for cleaning and foaming products. Common, non-irritating, non-allergenic.
DENATURED ALCOHOL – Acceptable
AKA. Methylated spirit or denatured rectified spirits
Denatured alcohol means it's been “made undrinkable”, usually for industrial purposes. It’s used to make creams feel lighter and as a preservative. There are fears that alcohol is bad for the skin, but we’re not putting this on our skin.
DISODIUM COCOAMPHODIACETATE – Acceptable
A surfactant and foaming agent. Considerable data says it’s acceptable for cosmetic use, however, there are a few personal or “natural” blogs that protest it as dangerous.
DISODIUM EDTA – Questionable or Avoid
EDTA stands for “ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid”. It is synthesized from ethylenediamine, formaldehyde, and sodium cyanide. Disodium EDTA is the salt produced as a result. There are conflicting arguments about if it’s safe or not. If you’re wary, best to avoid.
DISODIUM LAUROAMPHODIACETATE – Questionable
Surfactant, cleansing agent, and foam booster. Limited data.
DIAZOLIDINYL UREA – Avoid
AKA. DMDM Hydantoin
An antimicrobial preservative and PH balancer. Proven formaldehyde releaser and highly controversial additive (possibly carcinogenic). Despite “safe limits” being less than 0.5%, (0.05% in Europe) doctors and specialists recommend avoiding it, if for no other reason than the possibility of irritation.
ETHYLHEXYLGLYCERIN – Questionable
A surfactant and preservative used instead of parabens. It’s been proven in two cases/studies to be a possible irritant and to be avoided if you have skin sensitives. It might not be the best preservative, but it’s better than others. Allergy warning.
FRAGRANCE – Avoid
The problem with “fragrances” is that it can mean anything. Anything. There’s literally no way to know what they’re putting in or if you’re going to be allergic to it. Besides, there’s no need for fragrances in your sex toy cleaner. As long as your cleaning your nonporous toys properly, there should be no leftover smells.
GLYCERIN – Acceptable
Also known as Glycerol, is a naturally occurring sugar alcohol. There are extreme debates whether it’s safe or not. However, this will be going on your sex toys, not your skin. So, it should be okay.
HEAMIDINE (HEXAMIDINE) DIISETHIONATE - Safe
Used as a preservative/bacterial killer. Long track record of useage for mild or saftey products.
HYDROXYETHYLCELLULOSE AKA. “HEC” – Safe
It’s a plant-derived amino acid (from cellulose, a very common natural ingredient) and is used as a preservative, emulsifier, binder, and thickener.
LAUYLDIMONIUMHYDROXPROPYL DECYGLUCOSIDES CHROIDE – Questionable/Avoid
I couldn’t find this by their spelling on the bottle. The closest thing I could find was “Stearyldimoniumhydroxypropyl Decylglucosides Chloride” which is a cleansing agent, emulsifying agent, skin conditioner, surfactant, and a mouthful to pronounce. Not enough data.
LAURYL GLUCOSIDE – Safe
Sounds bad, but it’s not. It’s a mile surfactant and great foaming agent derived from coconut and sugar.
LAVANDULA ANGUSTIFOLIA – Safe
This is Lavender essential oil. Ver common, useful, and fine to have as an ingredient -antibacterial, antifungal, and soothing.
LEPTOSPERMUM PETERSONII – Safe
Another essential oil – Lemon Tea Tree. Like lavender, great for bacteria fighting.
MELALEUCA ALTERNIFOLIA – Safe
Regular Tea Tree essential oil. Natural and a great bacteria fighter.
METHYLCHLOROISOTHIAZOLINONE – Questionable
Used as a preservative. However, even though studies have not proven it causes cancer, there are concerns about skin irritation or allergies. It’s approved (in low percentages), but it’s still recommended to avoid if you have sensitive skin.
METHYLISOTHIAZOLINONE – Avoid
A preservative and bacterial fighter. Irritation and allergic reaction warnings. Some countries have banned it.
METHYLPARABEN – Questionable
Used as a preservative. It’s worth noting that “Parabens” are at the center of a large debate right now – with many people choosing to avoid them all together (because if low percentages are “okay” but we use a lot of products that contain them, these percentages are no longer “low”).
There’s a lot of ongoing research to show if they can be linked to cancers, however, data is still being compiled. Methylparaben is apparently easily absorbed into the skin but is easily eliminated as well. At your discretion, if you want to avoid parabens altogether.
NEOHESPERIDIN DIHYDRO CHALCONE – Questionable
This is an artificial sugar. In and of itself, it's safe and a common food additive. BUT, why is there sugar in sex toy cleaner? Until someone can explain this, I'm keep it as "questionable".
OLEFIN SULFONATE – Acceptable
AKA. Sodium C 14-16 Olefin Sulfonate or Sodium C14-16
Used as a surfactant, it’s derived from either coconut or petroleum. Generally safe within small percentages.
PANTHENOL – Safe
An emollient and moisturize derived from vitamin B5. Common in many skin care products.
POLYETHYLENE GLYCOL – Avoid
AKA. “PEG 8”
PEGs are in many cosmetics. In general, they are emollients (help soften and lubricate), emulsifiers (help water-based and oil-based ingredients mix properly), and a vehicle that helps deliver other ingredients deeper into the skin, or a thickener.
There are indications that the impurities that are associated with the PEG family can be cancer causing. However, research and data are conflicting and ongoing. If you have skin problems, it’s best to avoid this product. Natural glycols are a good alternative to PEGs. For example, natural vegetable glycerin.
PEG-12 DIMETHICONE – Avoid
Although PEG 12 and 7 (among others) are considered “safe” for rinse-off products, there is still the risk of “1,4-dioxane” impurities, which can cause cancer. Essentially, it can be safe if it’s treated properly, but there’s no way to know from ingredients are made correctly. That’s why it’s best to avoid them.
PEG-7 GLYCERYL COCOATE – Avoid
Same for other PEGs.
PENTYLENE GLYCOL – Questionable
Derived from petroleum, this additive acts as a humectant, which helps retain moisture by helping the ingredients penetrate the skin faster. It can also be used for its anti-microbial properties. However, it’s also classified as a skin irritant.
PHENOXYETHANOL – Acceptable
AKA. “Ethylene Glycol Monophenyl Ether"
This is a “newer” compound in the additive world and is used as a preservative substitute for parabens and formaldehyde-releasing compounds (which are bad). Preservatives are essential for stopping bacterial growth in water and nutrient-rich mixtures.
In high doses, it can be irritating, drying, and damaging to the skin and lungs. However, it’s shown to be relatively harmless in small doses. Europe (who is far stricter than USA with its food/health laws) has approved it as an additive but only under 1%.
PHOSPHOLIPID – Safe
A naturally occurring complex lipid which contains glycerol, two fatty acids, and a phosphate group. Can be used as an emulsifier, a liposome former, a solubilizer and a wetting agent. Data seems to suggest there are no dangers.
POLOXAMER 184 – Safe
A surfactant and cleansing agent. Several papers suggest it’s fine, with no known toxic or allergic issues.
POLYGLYCERYL-4 CAPRATE – Safe
Derived from glycerin and a fatty acid. It is commonly used as an emulsifier or surfactant. It doesn’t show up on any warning guides etc.
POLYSORBATE 20 (or 40) – Questionable
Used as a surfactant, emulsifier, and fragrance. The first stage of this ingredient is natural (it comes from sorbitol, a sugar alcohol). HOWEVER, Polysorbate 20 is NOT a natural ingredient because “20” parts of ethylene oxide are added.
Despite being listed as a “low hazard ingredient” and has a low risk of skin irritation, if the ethylene oxide has contributed to a contamination of “1,4-dioxane”, it becomes a dangerous, cancer-causing additive. There are natural alternatives, however, I don’t know if they’re applicable to sex toy cleaner mixtures.
POTASSIUM SORBATE – Safe
Used as a mild preservative and alternative for parabens. There is a small chance of irritation for those with sensitive skin, but it’s been deemed safe by several sources.
PROPYLENE GLYCOL – Acceptable
A humectant, preservative, or stabilizer. Fears of it being the same as antifreeze only applies to a different version of this additive – not the version used in cosmetics. However, there are still (unconfirmed) concerns about cancers etc.
PROPYLPARABEN – Avoid
Used as a preservative. Labeled as a moderate/high-risk ingredient. Like, other Parabens, there are worries (an ongoing studies) regarding cancer.
SODIUM BENZOATE – Safe (with a disclaimer)
A preservative and anti-fungal, the ingredient (in and of itself) is harmless. However, when mixed with Vitamin C or ascorbic acid, it (under certain circumstances and, I think, with the presence of metal) has the chance of forming a by-product of benzene (which is linked as a cancer-causing agent). Watch your ingredients list to make sure they’re not together.
SODIUM CARBOXYMETHYL LAURYL GLUCOSIDE – Safe
AKA. SLS (note, there are two "SLS"s in the chemical world)
A cleansing agent derived from coconut. However, there’s little information to be found on it. The little there is suggest it’s safe.
SODIUM CHLORIDE – Safe
Commonly known as table salt. Has several uses. Nothing to worry about.
SODIUM CITRATE – Safe
This is salt derived from citric acid. Antioxidant, preservative, and PH balancer.
SODIUM LAUROYL SARCOSINATE – Questionable
A cleanser and foam booster. NOT the same as sodium lauryl sulfate. There are concerns about nitrosamine (known carcinogen) contamination. If the ingredient is pure/treated properly, it’s safe. If not, or it’s exposed to unknown conditions, it’s a hazard.
SODIUM LAURYL SULFATE – Questionable
A cleanser and foaming agent. There is the 1,4-dioxane cancer concern. However, remember, if treated properly, there’s no risk. Lush products, for example, treat their SLS with an extra process to take care of this problem. I've labeled it as "questionable" because we don’t know how sex toy cleaner SLS is treated.
SODIUM PCA – Safe
A naturally occurring humectant found in human skin that is a derivative of amino acids. No warnings or health concerns.
SODIUM TRIDECETH SULFATE – Safe
A cleansing product as well as an emulsifying, foaming, and surfactant. No warnings or health concerns.
SORBITOL – Safe
A sugar alcohol derived from corn. Acts as a humectant. No warnings or health concerns.
SUCRALOSE – Questionable
It’s … artificial sugar…? Why is sugar is a sex toy cleaner? Fragrance perhaps? Seems unnecessary.
A formula preservative. Cosmetic Database classifies it as a moderate hazard. Some choose to avoid it because there’s still ongoing testing. But it’s already been proven to not be a carcinogen. But things are still up in the air about this ingredient.
THYMOL – Questionable
An antifungal preservative. Classified as a mild irritant to those with sensitive skin.
TOCOPHEROL – Safe
A compound related to Vitamin E. Used as an anti-oxidant. Common and no notable risks.
TOCOPHERYL ACETATE – Acceptable
Similar to Tocopherol, but with a slight increase in the chance for skin irritation.
TRICLOSAN – Questionable
An antimicrobial agent found in a wide variety of antibacterial soaps and detergents. There are ongoing studies to see if this is long-term safe.
TRIETHANOLAMINE – Avoid
A reactionary by-product of two toxic substances: ethylene oxide and ammonia. Used as a PH balancer and emulsifier. Classified as a moderate hazard with ongoing studies.
TRISODIUM ETHYLENEDIAMINE DISUCCINATE – Safe
Seems to be (in general) a formula stabilizer and a salt derivate of the base chemical. Several pages of data with no warnings.
WATER (AQUA) VS. DEIONIZED WATER – Safe
It’s used to dilute formulas etc. Water/Aqua might just be water, but there can still be impurities if it’s not distilled correctly. Deionized water is highly purified water (more than distilled) and only contains no ions other than H+ and OH-. Deionized water is Safe. Distilled water is Safe. Unspecified water is Acceptable or Questionable, depending on how paranoid you are.
ZINC ACETATE – Acceptable
It’s the zinc salt of acetic acid. It functions as an astringent and antimicrobial agent. Seems to be acceptable as long as it’s under a percentage limit. Limited data with cosmetics.
ZINC GLUCONATE – Acceptable
Bacteria-killing agent. Cosmetic Database considers this a moderate hazard (meaning you have to be more careful with it) – even though you find it in several acne medications, they restrict it to less than 100mg a day. I can’t see sex toy cleaner containing significant amounts and you wouldn’t be using it that often.
ZINC LACTATE – Acceptable
Not a lot of relevant data to be found. Seems to be an anti-microbial and classified as a low hazard additive.