Updated 22 May 2014
Copyright 2006 – 2014
Archer & Elegant, Fantasies In Leather, LLC
Disinfect and Sanitize are fancy words for clean. Clean is a relative term.
~Sanitize: to free from dirt as by cleaning
~Disinfect: The use of a chemical procedure that eliminates virtually all recognized pathogenic microorganisms but not necessarily all microbial forms on inanimate objects. Disinfection is often confused with sterilization, but they are not the same thing. Disinfection does not remove all microbes, nor does it eliminate spores. Disinfection is generally used on hard surfaces (counter tops, etc.), but may not be sufficient for tools/toys that come in contact (including indirect contact) with the body.
~High-level Disinfect: Destruction of all microorganisms, with the exception of high numbers of bacterial spores.
~Sterilize: To destroy all living microorganisms, as pathogenic or saprophytic bacteria, vegetative forms, and spores. Sterile is an absolute; something is either sterile or it is not. There is no in-between.
Because materials like leather, cloth and hair are porous, they provide a more pathogen-friendly environment for organisms to survive in. Complete sterilization is more difficult, and by hospital standards of real sterility, basically impossible without damage to the leather.
Some people recommend wiping leather with a 10% bleach solution but it must be noted that this will not provide sterilization or high-level disinfection to leather. Most laboratory studies using bleach and antibacterial wipes to sterilize have been applied to less porous and degradable substances than leather.
Dr. Charles Moser, a nation’s leading authorities on sexuality-related medicine recommends hanging up floggers and other leather toys in a ventilated place for at least one week after use. Recent studies have shown that HIV and Hep C viruses cannot live outside the body in the air for that length of time.
TOPGRAIN FLOGGER CARE (General care and cleaning. NOT as disinfection or sterilization)
Floggers made with topgrain leather are fairly easy to identify. Topgrain leather is the uppermost layer of an animal’s skin. One side is fairly smooth and the other side has a suede-like quality.
Keep all toys clean and in good condition. Wipe topgrain floggers with a soft, barely damp cloth after each use. Handle and tails can be cleaned a few times a year with a quality soap used sparingly. Brush the leather with a soft, dry brush to remove all surface dust, etc. Then, soap is worked into a lather with a soft, damp sponge or soft brush (not wet). The lather and only the lather should be applied to the object as it lays flat on a towel and rubbed in a circular motion. The sponge/brush should be rinsed and squeezed out to remove all dirt and water before it is re-applied to the leather. Wipe gently with a damp cotton cloth to remove soap residue. A quality leather conditioner (such as Aussie Leather Conditioner or Huberd’s Shoe Grease) should be used sparingly as needed. Rubbing conditioner on your hands like lotion and then gently wiping them over the leather will help prevent over-conditioning and reduce stretching. When conditioning the tails only apply conditioner sparingly on the smooth, top grain side, not the suede like side.
It is normal for flogger tails to stretch a bit and become uneven with use. Trim the stretched tails with sharp scissors. Floggers are best stored hanging.
SUEDE FLOGGER CARE (General care and cleaning. NOT as disinfection or sterilization)
Suede really isn’t very cleanable. It is too porous and generally you end up having to rub and scrape off the soiled surface of suede to clean or remove stains (Almost like sanding it off a piece of wood). I tend to advise against suede because of this. The thing many people don’t realize is that suede will last only about 1/4 as long as a topgrain leather toy of the same type. So in the long run buying a topgrain flogger is more economical, even if the initial cost is twice that of a suede one.
Keep leather toys item clean and in good condition. Let your suede flogger air dry after use, as moisture cannot be removed with a cloth. A special suede brush or suede stone will bring back the nap of the suede and might remove some dirt. Do not use general cleaners, any conditioners or scotch guard on suede.
It is normal for flogger tails to stretch a bit and become uneven with use. Hang up a flogger for a day and then trim the stretched tails with sharp scissors while hanging. Floggers are best stored hanging.
WHIP CARE (General care and cleaning. NOT as disinfection or sterilization)
Continuous care and cleaning of whips is vital for these high priced toys. The intricate and tight braiding will collect dirt, dust and body oils which can drastically shorten the life of the whip. Wipe whips with a soft, barely damp cloth after each use. If possible, change crackers for each partner or soak a non-removable cracker in a fresh sterilizing solution (see below) for the recommended time. Handle/grip and the length can be cleaned a few times a year with a quality soap used sparingly. Brush the leather with a soft, dry brush to remove all surface dust, etc. Pay special attention to dirt and grit collected in the braids. Then, soap is worked into a lather with a soft, damp sponge or soft brush (not soaking wet). The lather and only the lather should be applied to the object and rubbed gently in a circular motion. The sponge/brush should be rinsed and squeezed out to remove all dirt and water before it is re-applied to the leather. Mist with fresh water and Wipe gently with a damp cotton cloth to remove soap residue. A quality beeswax based leather conditioner (such as Aussie Leather Conditioner or Obenauf’s) should be used sparingly as needed. After conditioning, roll the whip between your palms for a while to tighten the braiding.
.WOOD, PLASTIC, METAL AND OTHER MATERIALS
Cleaning is a necessary first step to sterilize because many soils will reduce the effectiveness of a sanitizer or disinfectant. According to the Center for Disease Control: “The actual physical removal of microorganisms by scrubbing is probably as important, if not more so, than any antimicrobial effect of the cleaning agent used”.
A mild sodium hypochlorite solution (10% household bleach and 90% water) will provide high-level disinfection for plastic, metal and other non-porous surfaces if soaked for a minimum of 15 minutes after surface cleaning. For a quart of solution this is equivalent to slightly less than a ½ cup of household bleach with the remainder of the quart filled with water. This must be prepared daily and not used for future sanitizing after 24 hours, as the solution will become ineffective.
Even at full strength, bleach does not sanitize wood (ie: paddles). The sterilization quality of bleach is neutralized by the organic composition of wood. Wood paddles without a polyurethane coating actually absorb the bacteria into the wood as do paddles with a chipped or cracked polyurethane coating. After the wood has been surface cleaned and dried, the bacteria near the surface dies. The wood near the surface forms a hostile environment for bacteria to live in. There are lots of bacteria living in the board, but about 1/8” below the surface. This is deep enough that it is unlikely to release bacteria unless the wood splits.
Toys made of some kinds of rubber, cloth or synthetic fiber, such as the nylon cracker on a singletail, may stand up reasonably well to up to a 20% or even 25% solution of bleach and water, but may degrade over time. It is a good idea to wash these toys with soap and water to remove traces of the bleach solution after soaking. Some toys may be autoclaved if real sterility is desired.
NOTE: Many drug treatment clinics are moving way from bleach sterilization because new research shows that in some cases it doesn’t kill Hepatitis, and sometimes doesn’t even kill the relatively fragile AIDS virus.
The products usually contain triclosan (Chloroxylenol (PCMX), Quaternary Ammonium Chlorides (Quats), or Alcohols which can damage your leather by sucking out its moisture. Triclosan is also known as Irgasan and Microban. Dishwashing detergents contain fragrances, dyes and preservatives, all which only add unnecessary and possibly harmful substances to your leather. Dishwasing liquids are usually detergents as opposed to soaps. Soaps are made of materials found in nature. Detergents are synthetic (although some of the ingredients are natural). Detergents are made from petroleum products and consist mainly of surfactants, foaming agents and alcohols. Since these chemicals have a disagreeable odor, detergents are usually heavily scented with cheap, synthetic, artificial fragrances.
These are made to kill staphylococcus aureus and most bacteria on hard, nonporous surfaces. Leather is porous. Directions on these wipes/sprays instruct to thoroughly wet the surface and allow surface to remain wet for 10 minutes before use. In addition, although some of these wipes and sprays are targeted to disinfect (when used as directed) up to 99.9% of Staph and Salmonella and also target cold and flu viruses they may not be capable of destroying other viruses. Pre-cleaning soiled surfaces is also necessary to disinfect properly, since science tells us that many types of soils will deactivate disinfectants. (Note: Informed risk when using these products to supposedly sterilize and/or disinfect dungeon furniture)
Rubbing Alcohol/Isopropyl Alcohol
Rubbing alcohol will low level disinfect some non-porous items but most of the microbes we worry about (things like Hepatitis) aren’t going to be killed using rubbing alcohol.
Staphene Spray Environmental Disinfectant
A hospital product for use on non-porous environmental surfaces. It is not a sterilant or high-level disinfectant. It does not kill Staphylococcus epidermis or Hepatitis A, B, C. It must be allowed to remain wet on the surface for 10 minutes and air dry.
Rely-On Tack Disinfectant
The active ingredient is isoproponyl alcohol, a low-level disinfectant. It might be used on leather tack by some people but DuPont (the manufacturer of RelyOn) does not claim is will control disease transmission between horses when used on leather tack. In fact, RelyOn (Virkon) must remain visibly wet on a hard non-porous surface for a minimum of 10 minutes prior to sterilization.
Most household dishwashers heat the water to 140-150 degrees. This is not not high enough to kill a significant amount of bacteria, viruses or spores. Even the new dishwashers that have steam capabilities are not effective to use for sterilization. (Note: Sanitation just means clean. It is not the same thing as sterile). To achieve steam sterility, a holding time of at least 15 minutes at 121 °C (250 °F) or 3 minutes at 134 °C (273 °F) is required.
Boiling water does not sterilize completely. There are bacteria that form spores that are resistant to boiling and some strains of bacteria that are themselves resistant to heat above boiling temperatures. Boiling in water for fifteen minutes will kill ‘most’ vegetative bacteria and inactivate viruses, but boiling is ineffective against prions and many bacterial and fungal spores.
Sterilization via UV light (UV-C as opposed to UV-B which are from the sunlight rays that reach the earth) is often misquoted as being achievable. While theoretically it is possible to do this in a controlled environment, it is very difficult to prove and the terms ‘disinfect’ and ‘ sterilize’ are used by companies offering this service and/or lights as to avoid legal problems
UV effectiveness and use is influenced by organic matter; wavelength; type of suspension; temperature; type of microorganism; and UV intensity; time under the UV; power fluctuations; and other factors. So sitting your toys under a standard blacklight or UV lamp in your kitchen or playroom is probably not going to offer effective sterilization.
UV-C radiation is able to break down chemical bonds. This leads to speedy deterioration of plastics, rubber and other materials. Note that plastics sold to be “UV-resistant” are tested only for UV-B. There have been no scientific studies done to determine the affect of UV sterilization on leather.
.CHEMICAL HIGH-LEVEL DISINFECTION AND STERILIZATION PRODUCTS
High-level disinfection in 12 minutes at 20 degrees Celsius (room temperature) with total immersion manual processing. http://sterrad.com
High-level disinfection in 30 minutes at 20 degrees Celsius (room temperature) with total immersion manual processing. http://www.sultanintl.com
High-level disinfection in 15 minutes at 20 degrees Celsius (room temperature) with total immersion. Sterilization in 3 hours at 20 degrees Celsius (room temperature) with total immersion. http://www.metrex.com
A high-level disinfectant wipe for use on non-porous surfaces. It is not a sterilant. It does not kill Staphylococcus epidermis or Hepatitis A. Only effective if there is 3+ minutes of direct contact with the pre-moistened wipe. http://www.metrex.com
**DISCLAIMER**: The information in this article is provided for general information purposes and may not be relied on as a substitute for actual professional medical advice, care or treatment. This article is not a substitute for professional medical evaluation, advise, diagnosis or treatment
SAFER SEX INCLUDES HAVING CLEAN TOYS
Copyright 2006 – 2014
Archer & Elegant, Fantasies In Leather, LLC.
This is a living document and will change as scientific research continues. I do have this as a PDF if anyone wishes to use it. Email Elegant@FantasiesInLeather.com
If you use this document directly from this post please give credit as written below:
~ SAFER SEX INCLUDES HAVING CLEAN TOYS
~ Copyright 2006 – 2014
~ Archer & Elegant, Fantasies In Leather, LLC.