Vibrator Safety, Precautions, Storage and Care

Can I hurt myself with a vibrator?

Vibrators are as safe as any other small electrical device as long as they’re used according the instructions and with common sense.

With battery-powered vibrators there is a minimal risk of electrical shock, and with plug-in vibrators there is the same risk of electrocution as with any appliance, but in general vibrators pose no more of a risk than a flashlight or toaster. Use common sense and keep them away from water unless they are designed to be waterproof. Make sure that all external wires are secure and not frayed. Don’t use your vibrator so much that the motor overheats; it could cause a minor burn or start a fire.

As far as other injuries, common sense should also keep you out of trouble. Don’t ever force insertion of a vibrator into the vagina or anus, and don’t insert a vibrator completely into either. You may have difficulty getting it out.

Of course, if you do anything too much, too often, you may hurt yourself, so try not to overdo it with your vibrator. The skin of the genitals is delicate, and persistent or prolonged friction or stimulation can cause irritation. Some people find that using a vibrator frequently can make their genitals feel less sensitive. If that’s the case, lay off the vibrator for a while and go back to manual stimulation.

Some vibrators may be awkward to hold or use, so if you have carpal tunnel syndrome or tendonitis in your hands or wrists, using a vibrator may aggravate it. Shop around for a more ergonomic model; vibrators with longer handles, like the Hitachi Magic Wand or the Doc Johnson I-Flex, are easier for some people to use.

Can I get an infection from my vibrator?

Yes, women can get yeast infections or bacterial vaginal infections from using vibrators or other sex toys that have not been properly cleaned. Bacteria and other microorganisms will breed on the surface of the vibe, and a sticky toy will pick up lint, dust, and other gunk if it is left lying around.

Vibrators and other toys can also spread bacteria from the anal area to the vagina if they are used in or near the anus and then in or near the vagina. It’s not necessary to actually have inserted the vibrator in your anus for this to happen. Simply sliding the vibe along your butt crack or pressing it on your perineum (the skin between the rear and vagina) may be enough to pick up germs that will cause an infection if they find their way into the vagina. It’s the same reason your mother told you to always wipe from the front to the back after using the toilet. So when you’re using your vibrator on your vagina, try to keep it away from your anal area. And if you to use it on your anus, wash it thoroughly before using it in or near your vagina. Another simple way to avoid this problem is to take a steamy shower beforehand and wash up well with mild soap. Anti-bacterial soap like Dial or Irish Spring can interfere with the natural balance of your body and can cause yeast infections, so stay away from them.

Sex toys should always be cleaned after use with mild antibacterial soap and warm water, or a disinfectant sex toy cleanser, and should likewise be washed after being used anally before being used in or near the vagina.

If you think you will have trouble remembering to wash your vibrator after use, or it seems like too much trouble, simply cover it with a condom each time you use it. It’s easy and will probably prolong the life of your toy.

If you suspect that you have a vaginal infection – if you are experiencing vaginal itching, burning, or unusual discharge – see a doctor. The type of infection you could contract from a sex toy (if you’re the only person who has used it) is not an STD and will probably be treated easily with an anti-fungal cream or antibiotics.

Can I electrocute myself with my vibrator?

This is unlikely. Battery-powered vibrators do not have enough voltage to cause serious injury. It may be possible to electrocute yourself with a plug-in vibrator such as the Hitachi Magic Wand, but the danger is no more than that of using a hair dryer or other small electrical appliance. Exercise the same safety cautions you would in using any plug-in electric device, and keep it away from water.

Electrical or plug-in vibrators are electrical appliances and you need to take the same precautions when using them as you would with a hair dryer, toaster, or boom box. In other words, keep them away from water. Don’t use them in or near water, don’t use them if you’re standing on a wet floor, and don’t use them or plug or unplug them if your hands are wet. That may sound obvious, but a lot of people use vibrators in the bathroom as well as the bedroom. But you shouldn’t ever use a plug-in vibrator near a full sink, bath, or toilet where there’s a risk that you might drop it in. If you do accidentally drop an electrical vibrator into water, get away from it, make sure you’re dry, then call 911 and ask for instructions.

As for battery-powered vibrators, there is a minor risk that you could get a shock, but you won’t get electrocuted; the batteries simply don’t have enough juice. Just be sure that the batteries are in the right way, and that your vibrator is not defective or broken. If it has an external battery pack or control pack, make sure the wires are securely attached and not frayed. Don’t use a battery-powered vibrator in water or get it wet unless the maker says it is waterproof.

What should I do if I get a vibrator stuck in my vagina?

If you get a vibrator stuck in your vagina, turn it off (if you can reach the controls). If the vibrator has an external battery pack, remove the batteries. Take deep breaths and try to relax your vagina and abdominal muscles. Apply as much lube as possible to your vagina without pushing the vibrator further in. Bear down like you’re trying to give birth to the vibrator. If you can, stretch your vagina by inserting two or three fingers and spreading them. If the vibrator has wires attached from a battery or control pack, be careful when pulling on them, as them may detach.

Because the vagina is relatively short, you should be able to get the vibrator out. If you can’t, and if you are experiencing pain, your pelvic and vaginal muscles are probably spasming and you need medical attention. Go to the emergency room. Yes, it’s embarrassing, but they’ve seen everything. They’ll give you something to relax the muscles and will extract the device manually.

What if I get a vibrator stuck in my anus?

People get vibrators stuck in their butts. It happens. To avoid it, never insert anything in your rear that doesn’t have a flange or wide flared base, or something at the end to keep it from going all the way up inside you.

If you do get a vibrator stuck in your rear, turn it off (if you can reach the controls). If the vibrator has an external battery pack, remove the batteries. Take deep breaths and try to relax your sphincter and abdominal muscles. Apply as much lube as possible to your rectum without pushing the vibrator further in. Bear down as you would during a bowel movement. If you can, stretch your rectum by inserting two or three fingers and spreading them. If the vibrator has wires attached from a battery or control pack, be careful when pulling on them, as they may detach. If you’re lucky, you may be able to get the tail end of the vibrator to clear your sphincter and ease it out of your rear.

If this doesn’t work, don’t persist for too long, especially if you’re in pain. Swallow your pride and get yourself to an emergency room. Yes, it’s embarrassing, but it’s not the first time it’s happened, and it’s not the strangest thing anybody’s put up their butt by a long stretch. The ER doctors will probably use a speculum to dilate your butt, and then extract the vibrator manually. In extreme cases, abdominal surgery may be required.

So, we say again, only use vibrators anally if they are designed to be used anally. Please. Your neighborhood ER techs will thank you.

Can I use someone else’s vibrator?

If you use someone else’s sex toys, always make sure to clean and disinfect them first or cover them with a condom to avoid transmitting germs or STDs.

If you’re using another person’s vibrator because you don’t have one of your own, or if you are sharing one during sex play with a partner, you need to be aware that you can catch something off of it.

To be safe, wash the toy thoroughly with soap and hot water. Remove the batteries first, and if it’s not a waterproof vibrator make sure not to submerge it or get water near the battery compartment. If it’s an electric vibrator, make sure it’s not plugged in before you wash it. You can disinfect the surface with hydrogen peroxide (bleach or alcohol may damage the toy material). Whenever sharing a toy, it’s also a good idea to cover it with a condom, which makes it easier to clean between uses/users. If you and a friend are playing with a vibrator together, remember that passing a vibrator back and forth is exactly the same as having unprotected sex: unsafe! Clean it with an anti-bacterial wash or change the condom when the vibrator passes between users/orifices.

Is it possible for a hard plastic vibrator to break and injure me?

Although it’s rare, there have been reported cases of vibrators breaking and causing internal injuries, and older, dildo-shaped vibrators with hard plastic cases are likely to be more prone to crack. Plastic becomes brittle with age, and the prolonged stress caused by vibrations can cause it to fatigue and fracture.

If you are concerned about this, examine your vibrator for cracking, especially at the tip, base, and along any seams. Look for discoloration, fading, or chalky appearance. Check for unusual noises like rattling, both when it is shut off and when it’s running. Don’t use a plastic vibrator that has been dropped on a hard floor or otherwise damaged on a hard surface. If you hear it go crunch, consider it a lost cause and replace it.

Even better, replace it before it breaks with a newer model with a casing made of an unbreakable material like silicone or jelly rubber, or trade up to an electrical model. If you prefer the feel of hard plastic, there are acrylic vibrators available that feel like plastic but are far more resilient. Also, silicone toys are usually firmer than rubber or jelly materials, but tend to have a more velvet finish rather than the smooth sensation of plastic or acrylic. If your wallet allows, glass vibrators provide the ultimate sensation in a hard, slick toy.

How long can a vibrator be used before throwing it away?

A vibrator’s durability depends on its quality, type, and what it’s made of. A vibrator’s lifespan can be anywhere from a few months to several years. In general, don’t keep an inexpensive plastic or rubber vibrator for more than 3 years. More expensive electrical vibrators can be used until they quit working.

If a vibrator is in good running condition and the material is durable, there’s no reason to discard it until it stops working. However, inexpensive vibrators have a limited lifespan due to the quality of the case and the components. In cheap vibrators, the wiring frays, the motors jam; in some cases the outside is actually the most durable part of the device. More than likely, your vibrator will give up the ghost before it becomes a hazard to anyone.

Nevertheless, at a certain point, you may want to retire your mechanical buddy either for safety or aesthetic reasons. Inexpensive vibrators, if they last that long, should not be used for more than a few years. Longer than that, and the casing material is going to be getting gummy and worn out if it’s made of rubber, jelly, or Cyberskin. Plastic vibrators can get brittle, and, especially if they have been knocked around a bit, they’re subject to cracking.

Higher-end electrical vibrators, like the Hitachi Magic Wand, can last several years depending on how much you use them. The only reason to discard an electrical vibrator is if the motor develops problems, i.e., if it starts overheating, sounding funny, or smelling odd. If you use rubber or silicone attachments with your electrical vibrator, you may want to replace them after a few years if you use them frequently or if they show signs of age.

Are there signs of an impending breakdown in my vibrator?

Unusual motor noises and erratic operating behavior are the most common symptoms of vibrator malfunction, although many simply quit working without warning.

Many vibrators will just quit working one day for no apparent reason. You flip the switch and…nothing. Even fresh batteries will fail to revive it. If it does whir back to life after a few whacks or shakes, consider yourself warned that it may be on the way out. Erratic behavior, stopping and starting for no apparent reason, and failure to respond correctly to the controls are all signs that something is amiss with your vibe. Rattling in the motor or other unusual noises can also signal an immanent vibrator breakdown. If the motor heats up, or produces an acrid or burning odor, these are also signs that your vibe may be breaking down or wearing out.

In multi-speed or multifunction vibrators, or vibrators with more than one vibrating component, one motor may quit working independently of the other, or the vibrator may get stuck on one speed. Although the vibrator may continue to operate well otherwise, you’d do well to keep an eye on it for other malfunctions.

If your vibrator is rattling or making a strange noise, or if the motor is overheating or smells like it’s burning, you should put it to rest. If it’s under warranty, you may be able to get it replaced by the manufacturer. Otherwise, it’s time to start shopping for your next toy.

How should I store my vibrators?

Keep it in a secure, dry location where it will not be moved around a lot. Under the bed in a shoe box is usually a safe bet. Take the batteries out when you store it.

You want to keep your toys clean and safe, so don’t just chuck your vibrator under the bed with the dust bunnies, where the dog might find it and mistake it for a chewy toy. Keep them in a closed container. A shoe box is fine. Wrap them in a clean t-shirt or pillow case. Put the box in a spot where it won’t be moved around a lot, under the bed, in a nightstand drawer or closet.

It’s always a good idea to take the batteries out of your vibrator when storing it for two reasons: it prolongs the life of the batteries, and it eliminates the risk that the vibrator may get accidentally switched on.

How should I clean my vibrator?

Use mild soap and warm water, or use a commercially available sex toy cleaning solution. Don’t submerge your vibrator if it is not waterproof.

Before you clean your vibrator, take the batteries out and close the battery compartment. If it’s an electrical vibrator, make sure it’s unplugged. Clean it with warm sudsy water. If it’s not waterproof, be careful not to get water in the battery compartment or on the controls. If your toy has a bullet or egg vibrator inside a jelly sleeve, remove the rubber part and wash it separately. Wash all attachments separately. Dry your vibrator thoroughly with a lint-free cloth; don’t use a paper towel, as they can stick to rubber and leave lint and fibers behind.

If my vibrator breaks, can I get it fixed?

Most inexpensive vibrators will simply have to be replaced when they break. Higher quality models may be covered by manufacturer warranty.

Like all small electrical or electronic devices, vibrators are prone to occasionally malfunction or break. In most cases, repairing them is a lost cause, especially if they were cheaply made from inexpensive components to begin with. If you’re handy with a tool kit and soldering gun, by all means, take a stab at it (at your own risk), but you can’t really take your Pulse-a-Matic G-Spot Wonder Vibe in to the repair shop the way you would a VCR.

Most stores and internet or mail-order businesses that sell sex toys don’t accept returns on items unless they make a mistake on the order or the item was already broken when you bought it. One of the reasons we like to recomend shopping at is that they’ll take back anything for any reason in the first 30 days after you make a purchase. If your vibrator breaks after that, however, you’re still covered: many vibrators, massagers, and other sex toys are actually covered by manufacturer warranties that can extend anywhere from 30 days to two years. Be sure you register your product if it comes with a registration card and save all receipts and invoices that come with your purchase, just in case there is a problem.

What are the best batteries to use in a vibrator?

Alkaline batteries last the longest, but most consumer tests don’t show a significant or consistent difference in life from brand to brand, so buy whichever is cheapest or on sale. Alkaline batteries designed for high-performance use will give you a few more hours of life for a slightly higher price. If your device uses watch or hearing aid batteries, use the lithium-ion type.

Rechargeable batteries also perform well, and have the benefit of reducing environmental toxins and waste. They are slightly less convenient than disposables, as they take time to charge, and they require the initial investment for a set of rechargeable batteries and a recharger. Note: Do not attempt to recharge standard disposable alkaline batteries; they may explode. Consumer Reports Report on single-use and rechargeable batteries (12/02)

How long will the batteries last in my vibrator?

Depending on the vibrator device and what kind of batteries you’re using, you could get anywhere from 50 hours of use to just 10 hours. Smaller devices with smaller motors drain less current. Larger vibrators or ones with multiple moving parts will drain batteries more quickly. If you have a high-drain vibrator that you use frequently, it might be worthwhile to invest in some rechargeable batteries. They don’t hold a charge as long as disposable batteries, but you also won’t have to spend five bucks every time they’re used up. You can extend the life of your vibrator’s batteries by removing them from the toy when it is not in use and storing them separately.

Are there rechargeable vibrators?

Several manufacturers, including Body Mate, Omron, Wahl, Panasonic, and Conair, make rechargeable massagers. Most are of the Hitachi Magic Wand variety. A few sex toy manufacturers also make rechargeable vibrators, such as the Rechargeable Rabbit. Rechargeable vibrators don’t keep a charge as long as conventionally powered vibrators. Expect to get anywhere from 3 hours to 45 minutes of continual use. However, they are easy to recharge; usually they come with an AC adaptor that plugs into a wall socket and recharges the vibrator’s internal battery cells. When you’re through with it, plug it into your bedside outlet, and it will be ever ready.

How do I silence noisy vibrator batteries?

Check that the batteries are properly installed, the battery compartment insert (if one exists) is in place, and the compartment cover is securely closed.

Some battery-powered vibrators come with a foam, rubber, or cardboard insert that fits in the battery compartment to keep the batteries in place and prevent them from rattling. If the insert was cardboard, you may have accidentally discarded it while unpacking the vibrator or changing the batteries. If necessary, you may be able to improvise a new one by cutting a piece of scrap cardboard to fit inside the compartment.