I must admit that being called upon to arbitrate disagreements about the etiquette of sex toys is both flattering and a little unnerving.
I’m actually not a huge fan of sex toys. I don’t object on principle, mind you, but just out of the general haughtiness that comes with easily-orgasmic privilege: I don’t decorate cakes with fondant flowers, because the real things are lusciously, inimitably gorgeous (nothing compares to a candied violet), and the artificial ones are lovely to look at but overwhelming when taken internally. However, I’m in full support of arming oneself with whatever trinkets, baubles, and foot-long vibrating buttplugs help you and your loved ones get their respective rocks off.
My Inquiring Friend is a completely middle-lane level of slutty, as far as I know. That is, he dates women, and, I assume, has sex with them, but he’s not Wilt Chamberlain or one of the interchangeable Kardashians (whom I’m pretty sure just tag each other in as necessary to finish whatever gangbang they’ve begun).
His question was disappointingly ordinary: what’s the etiquette about using sex toys with more than one person? (Sequentially, that is, not “at a time” – that’s clearly covered in our last episode, with the takeaway being “don’t touch anyone currently being tortured pleasured by the cattle prod unless you’d also like to feel like you’re escaping the bounds of the dog run.) I think the answer, for anyone who has had sex with more than one person, is crystal clear: wash the item appropriately and feel free to use it on someone else, just like you do with your genitalia. (It is good practice to take the extra step and sanitize the dildos and other insertables; however, dousing your genitalia in sanitizing solution or running them through the dishwasher is not recommended in any situation.)
I vaguely remember reading a variation on this question years before my life pendulum swung from “French vanilla” to “everything and the kitchen sink”-flavored. Unmemorable anorexia-inducing-women’s-magazine-advice-columnist-lady advised that if you were going to delve into the world of exotic and titillating adult novelty items with your partner, the good and decent thing to do is to dispose of those tainted ben-wa beads with the burning embers of your love screeds and extinguished hopes and dreams when your relationship crashes and burns off the end of lover’s lane.
Inquiring Friend noted that this practice would get expensive quickly, particularly if you invest in quality playthings. I concur: No one buys a new set of china after every time you have dinner guests, even if you do have that friend who won’t refrain from dipping his balls in the gravy boat. And although *I* host an inordinate number of dinner parties, anyone who has more than an occasional soiree would be wise to invest in quality dinnerware and care for it appropriately so it serves you well for many years to cum. Besides, up here in the Pac NW we recycle everything, and I don’t think you can put old dildos in with the mixed paper and metals (and they are specifically excluded from the separated-glass bin, you-don’t-want-to-know-how-I-know-that). So re-using is good for not only your partners but the PLANET, amirite?
The interwebs tell me, however, that in lesbian relationships, re-using toys from one relationship to the next is completely anathema. A particularly disturbing quote from one Q-and-A observes that “[a] lesbian couple’s dildos become suffused with the energy of the sex in the relationship and end up symbolizing the sexual connection the poor doomed couple had. They belong to the relationship.” (Just – wow.) I suppose I can see the logic in picking out a special new phallus to be the best kind of hush-baby third in your otherwise-monogamous lady relationship (but only if you get to name it together – I propose “Agamemnon”). Then, when the union goes sour and lesbian bed death sets in, you can blame it on old Aggie before hooking up with a new lover and trading in for a younger, more enthusiastic model of purple glittered faux-cock.
**Please bear in mind that I have equivalent experience being in a monogamously lesbian relationship as raising bees (both popular pursuits in Portland I have no interest in taking up), and do not hold myself out to be an expert on either – my etiquette recommendation is only aimed at straight(ish) folks with a slutty level of at least .69.
But you wash your ankle spanker and re-use it on your next partner, don’t you, gentlemen? Why wouldn’t it be equally appropriate to re-use clean, genital-shaped implements, assuming they aren’t crafted out of the ashes of previous girlfriends’ dead Chihuahuas or bedazzled with their initials? And that they aren’t infused with – well, anything, really, lingering-ex-energy or otherwise.
I recommended buying some dedicated sex toy cleaning solution and keeping it with whatever arsenal of insertables and inflatables your bedroom chest contains. Then, when showcasing the wares, you can ensure a sterile, cat-hair-free penetrative-assisted experience together. And if you decide you’re sticking with this new fuck-hole for a while, maybe you can buy a special new friend together to enhance the collection.
My answer seemed to satisfy Inquiring Friend, but this brings up a new quandary: I need a witty sobriquet if I’m going to be arbitrating these kinds of dilemmas. Emi-lay Post? Miss Man-hers? I’m sure my punnier friends will, ahem, rise to the occasion.
 Do note that properly cleaning and sterilizing sex toys is dependent on the material of the toy. Shitty sex toys that can’t be sterilized don’t belong in any orifices, period. Just as cucumbers are a one-and-done kind of item, when in doubt, throw it out.
 Savage, Dan. “Can you use sex toys in more than one relationship?” Village Voice, 5 Feb 2008. Web. 28 Oct 2015.