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Quats and Other Chemicals of Concern in Antibacterial Sex Toy Cleaners

Published 2020

The problem with antibacterial sex toy cleaners is that they frequently contain harsh disinfectants like quaternary ammonium chlorides or quats. Specifically, we identified 35 sex toy cleaning products half of which (17 products) contained benzalkonium chloride – a potent quat, and two others which contained other types of quats.

While there is very little research on the impacts of these types of products on vaginal health, studies link quat exposure to reproductive harm, allergies, and other health issues. In addition, WVE found that benzalkonium chloride (one of the most commonly used quats, which are disinfecting chemicals) has been associated with significant vaginal irritancy.[1] Also of concern, is that quats are really effective at killing lactobacillus – one of the most important types of healthy vaginal bacteria.[2] Vaginal exposure to quats (which could result from sex toy cleaner residue on the toy) could be both irritating vaginal tissue and throwing off the delicate balance of vaginal microbes that keep you healthy. In addition, we found that another seven sex toy cleaners contained other potentially harmful disinfectant chemicals including triclosan, parabens, MI/MCI, DMDM Hydantoin and chlorhexidine – all of which also pose unnecessary risks to vaginal health.

Products Containing Quats – Benzalkonium Chloride

 

Name of Product Manufacturer Ingredients in product Contains Benzalkonium chloride? Yes/No
Cleene Antibacterial Toy Cleaner Wicked Sensual Care Collection Benzalkonium Chloride (0.10%)
Water, Sodium C14-16 Olefin Sulfonate, Disodium Lauroamphodiacetate, Sodium Trideceth Sulfate, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Propylene Glycol, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Flower Extract, Olea Europaea (Olive) Leaf Extract, Thymus Vulgaris (Thyme) Extract, Tetrasodium EDTA, Citric Acid, Methylchloroisothiazolinone, Methylisothiazolinone
Yes
Antibacterial Toy Cleaner Honeydew Water, glycerin, sodium laureth sulfate, cocamidopropyl betaine, polysorbate 20, phenoxyethanol, benzalkonium chloride, lauryl glucoside Yes
Pure and Clean Misting Cleaner Adam and Eve Purified Water (Aqua), Propylene Glycol, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Benzalkonium Chloride, Zinc Gluconate, Phenoxyethanol, Citric Acid. Yes
Pure and Clean Foaming Cleaner Adam and Eve Purified Water (Aqua), Disodium Cocoamphodiacetate, Sodium Trideceth Sulfate, Propylene Glycol, Benzalkonium Chloride, Zinc Gluconate, Citric Acid, Phenoxethanol. Yes
Foam Toy Cleanser Anjou Water (Aqua), Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Propylene Glycol, Phenoxyethanol, Benzalkonium Chloride, Zinc Gluconate Yes
#Toy Life Foaming Toy Cleanser ToyLife Water (Aqua), Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Propylene Glycol, Phenoxyethanol, Benzalkonium Chloride, Zinc Gluconate, Fragrance. Yes
Jo Refresh Foaming Toy Cleaner Jo Refresh Water (Aqua), Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Propylene Glycol, Phenoxyethanol, Benzalkonium Chloride, Zinc Gluconate Yes
Cleanse Toy Cleaner Clean Stream Benzalkonium Chloride (Anti-microbial), Propylene Glycol, Cocoamidopropyl Betaine, Phenoxyethanol, Purified Water, Citric Acid, Zinc Gluconate. Yes
Anti-Bacterial Toy Cleaner Trinity Vibes Benzalkonium Chloride, Propylene Glycol,  Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Phenoxyethanol,  Purified Water, Citric Acid, Zinc Gluconate Yes
Toy Hygienic Cleaner Honeydew Water, Glycerin, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Polysorbate 20, Phenoxyethanol, Benzalkonium Chloride, Lauryl Glucoside. Yes
Amaze Anti-bacterial Toy Cleaner Amaze Water, Propylene Glycol, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Benzalkonium Chloride, Phenoxyethanol, Polysorbate 20. Yes
Toy Cleaner-Fragrance Free Maple Holistics Water, Propylene Glycol, Cocomidopropyl Betaine, Benzalkonium Chloride, Phenoxyethanol, Polysorbate 20. Yes
Toy Cleaner-Toy Therapy Honeydew Water, Propylene Glycol, Cocomidopropyl Betaine, Benzalkonium Chloride, Phenoxyethanol, Polysorbate 20. Yes
2 in 1 Clean and Protect Toy Cleaner Maple Holistics Water, Propylene Glycol, Cocomidopropyl Betaine, Benzalkonium Chloride, Phenoxyethanol, Polysorbate 20. Yes
Wicked Foam and Fresh Foaming Toy Cleaner Wicked Sensual Care Collection Active Ingredients: Benzalkonium Chloride (0.10%). Other ingredients: Water, Sodium C14-16 Olefin Sulfonate, Disodium Lauroamphodiacetate, Sodium Trideceth Sulfate, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Propylene Glycol, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Flower Extract, Olea Europaea (Olive) Leaf Extract, Thymus Vulgaris (Thyme) Extract, Tetrasodium EDTA, Citric Acid, Methylchloroisothiazolinone, Methylisothiazolinone. Yes
Advanced Smart Cleaner Foaming Toy Sanitizer The Evolved Company Purified Water (Aqua), Disodium Cocoamphodiacetate, Sodium Trideceth Sulfate, Propylene Glycol, Benzalkonium Chloride, Zinc Gluconate, Citric Acid, Phenoxethanol. Yes
Toy Cleaner with Aloe Vera CalExotics Water, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, Phenoxyethanol, Benzalkonium Chloride. Yes
Before and After Adult Toy Cleaner Before & After LLC Water, Cocamidopropyl PG-Dimonium Chloride Phosphate, Benzyl Alcohol, Disodium EDTA, Fragrance (Parfum). No but has other quat
Mighty Tidy Adult Toy Cleaner Jelique Products Water (Eau/Aqua), Cocamidopropyl PG-Dimonium Chloride Phosphate, Benzyl Alcohol, Disodium EDTA, Fragrance (Parfum). No but has other quat

 

Products Containing Other Harmful Disinfectants

 

Name of Product Manufacturer Ingredients in product Contains Benzalkonium chloride? Yes/No
Universal Toy Cleaner California Exotics Deionized Water, Sodium C14 16 Olefin Sulfonate, Disodium Lauroamphodiacetate, Sodium Trideceth Sulfate, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Propylene Glycol, Triclosan, Citric Acid, Methychloroisothiazone, Methylisothiazolinone, Tetrasodium EDTA No but has Triclosan
Dr. Laura Berman Universal Toy Cleaner Intimate Basics Deionized Water, Sodium C14 16 Olefin Sulfonate, Disodium Lauroamphodiacetate, Sodium Trideceth Sulfate, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Propylene Glycol, Triclosan, Citric Acid, Methychloroisothiazone, Methylisothiazolinone, Tetrasodium EDTA. No but has Triclosan
Pipedream Refresh Toy Cleaner Pipedream Water (Aqua), Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Cocamide DEA, Sodium Carboxymethyl Lauryl Glucoside, Sodium PCA, Propylparaben, Methylparaben, Diazolidinyl Urea, Citric Acid No but has parabens
Doc Johnson Natural Toy Cleaner Doc Johnson Water, Decyl Glucoside, Cocamidopropyl Hydroxysultaine, Sodium Lauroyl Sarcosinate, Fragrance, Disodium EDTA, Methylisothiazolinone, Methylchloroisothiazolinone. No but has MI/MCI
Lovehoney Fresh Toy Cleaner Lovehoney Aqua (Water), Decyl Glucoside, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Sodium Chloride, Phenoxyethanol, Trisodium Ethylenediamine Disuccinate, Propylene Glycol, Methulisothiazolinone. No but has MI
Antibacterial (Toy) Cleaning Spray LELO Water (Aqua), Butylene Glycol, Glycerin, Sodium C14-16, Olefin Sulfonate, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Disodium Lauroamphodiacetate, Poloxamer 184, Decyl Glucoside, Chamomilla Recutita(Matricaria) Flower Extract, Thymol, Phenoxyethanol, DMDM Hydantoin, Triethanolamine No but has DMDM Hydantoin
Afterglow Cleansing Tissues Afterglow Water, Propylene Glycol, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, PEG 14M, Polysorbate 20, PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Bergamot, Chlorhexidine Digluconate, Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate. No but has Chlorhexidine

 

Products Not Containing Quats

 

Name of Product Manufacturer Ingredients in product Contains Benzalkonium chloride? Yes/No
Green Foaming Toy Cleanser Intimate Earth Water (Aqua), Propanediol, Polysorbate 20, Gluconolactone, Psidium Guajava Fruit Extract, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed Extract, Melaleuca Alternifolia (Tea Tree) Leaf Oil, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Oil, Sodium Benzoate, (*Lycium Barbarum Fruit, *Cymbopogon Schoenanthus, *Aloe Barbadensis Leaf)
*ORGANIC
No
Advanced Antibacterial Cleaner Bottle Shibari Deionized Water, Lauryldimoniumhydroxpropyl Decyglucosides Chloride, PEG-8, Polysorbate 20, Stearyldimoniumhydroxypropyl Laurylglucosides Chloride, Phenoxyethanol, Caprylyl Glycol, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Pentylene Glycol, Citric Acid, Fragrance. No
Cleansing Sex Toy Cleaner Fifty Shades of Grey Aqua, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Sodium Caprylyl Sulfonate, PEG-4 Rapeseedamide, Decyl Glucoside, Melaleuca Alternifolia (Tea Tree Leaf Oil), Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Oil, Limonene, Ethylhexylglycerin Phenooxyethanol, Sodium Chloride No
Antibacterial Vibe Toy Wash Wet Water, Lauryldimonium hydroxypropyl, Decylglucosides Chloride, PEG-8, Polysorbate 20, Stearyldimonium hydroxypropyl, Laurylglucosides Chloride, Phenoxythethanol, Caprylyl Glycol, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Pentylene Glycol, Citric Acid, Fragrance. No
Swiss Navy Toy and Body Cleaner Swiss Navy Water, Propylene Glycol, Polysorbate 20, Phenoxyethanol, Melaleuca Alternifolla (Tea Tree) Leaf Oil, Lavandula angustifolla (Lavender) Oil. No
Bombex Foam Toy Cleaner Bombex Water, Cocoamidopropyl Betaine, Sodium Alcohol Ether Sulfate, 1,2-Propanediol, Chlorhexidine di[acetate], Phenoxyethanolum. No
Think Clean Thoughts Toy Cleaner Sensuva Water, Alcohol, Hamamelis Virginiana (Witch Hazel) Extract, Organic Aloe Barbadensis Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed Extract, Citrus Sinensis (Sweet Orange), Polysorbate, Essential Oil Blend, Gluconolactone, Sodium Benzoate. No
Sliquid Shine Toy Cleaner Sliquid Organic Aloe Barbadensis Devolorized Leaf Juice*, Organic Tea Tree Oil, Organic Castor Oil, Organic Jojoba Oil. *reconstituted No

 

Products for which ingredients were not available

 

Name of Product Manufacturer Ingredients in product Contains Benzalkonium chloride? Yes/No
Anti-Bacterial Mist Toy Cleaner Pink Cherry Ingredients unavailable online. Company has been contacted for ingredient information, but have responded. Unknown

 

Product research conducted online by Women’s Voices for the Earth in December 2019, and published February 2020.
Product formulations subject to change over time.
——————–

[1] D’Cruz, O. J., Erbeck, D., & Uckun, F. M. (2005). A Study of the Potential of the Pig as a Model for the Vaginal Irritancy of Benzalkonium Chloride in Comparison to the Nonirritant Microbicide PHI-443 and the Spermicide Vanadocene Dithiocarbamate. Toxicologic Pathology, 33(4), 465-476. doi:10.1080/01926230590959866

[2] Olszewska MA, Nynca A, Białobrzewski I, Kocot AM, Łaguna J. Assessment of the bacterial viability of chlorine- and quaternary ammonium compounds-treated Lactobacillus cells via a multi-method approach. J Appl Microbiol. 2019;126(4):1070–1080. doi:10.1111/jam.14208

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