Toy tips for adventurous adults | Sex in the Suburbs

I know many of you might not like to admit to frequenting (or even occasionally visiting) sex stores, but judging by their prevalence, and the fact that we have at least one right here in Federal Way, some of you are obviously keeping them in business.

Or, maybe you’ve been to one of those in-home parties where you can shop “in private”…

Given that, I feel a responsibility to pass on some safety information for you regarding those sex toys none of you (ahem) buy or use.

* Sex toys are not regulated in any way because they are technically considered “novelty items.” This means that manufacturers can put labels on them that are not accurate, without penalty. This puts your safety in jeopardy, sometimes in really sneaky ways. For instance, a manufacturer can label something “safe” or even “silicone” and it may not actually be.

* If an item is made out of porous material (often used in softer feeling objects), it can more easily harbor bacteria. In addition, many materials actually leach chemicals to the user during use, and those chemicals (like phthalates or even traces of heavy metals) are known to cause health issues. Dang!

* If you buy any silicone product, and you are going to use a lubed condom with it — because you want to be safe using it with someone else — then test the lube on the silicone first to see if the product reacts. Many lubricated condoms use silicone lube, and while a small amount is unlikely to affect things, it just depends, so better safe than sorry.

* If a silicone toy touches a not-100 percent silicone toy or a lot of silicone lube, damage (read extreme heat and melting) may occur. So be careful what you mix with what, or date night might end with you in the ER.

Now, you may be thinking, “Amy, this is too confusing! What am I supposed to do?”

Fortunately, I have some tips.

* Locally, if you head into a store, or go to a party, don’t be afraid to ask/grill your salesperson about body-safe materials. Ask what guarantee you have that they are labeled accurately and do not contain phthalates or other chemicals that are harmful.

* If you want to take a field trip, head on up to Babeland in Seattle. This is a store that adheres to values of education, women-friendly stores and quality products, including some of which are eco-friendly. You can also visit them online at

* If you’d prefer to shop online, check out This site has links to shops that offer high-quality products with high safety standards.

Finally, I would be remiss if I did not give a big shout out to my colleagues for providing detailed information for this article. Even though they prefer to fly under the radar in terms of identification, they know who they are.

Now go play. Safely.

Amy Johnson is a trainer and educator in the Pacific Northwest. She specializes in sexuality education and in promoting safe and healthy sexuality culture in faith communities. All opinions are her own. She can be reached at

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