Need Recommendation for Cleaning Rope/Leather

Betty Dodson's picture
Tue, 06/16/2009 - 19:22
Submitted by Betty Dodson

Hello Dr. Betty,

Thank you for all the work you have done on behalf of women's sex education. I have been following you for years and I am a big fan or your work. I have a practical question about sex toy maintenance. If I am using bondage equipment i.e. leather or rope in partner sex, is there a specific product you recommend for cleaning the rope/leather?

I also would like to know if you have a suggestion for cleaning products for a leather strap on harness. My friend suggested clorox wipes, but I am a bit of an eco-freak and I want to know if there is an more eco friendly less toxic alternative that will keep me and my partners safe. Thank you very much,



Dear VW,

Thanks for the compliments. :-) Although I've seen many commercial toy cleaners, the label with ingredients is often scary. I'm an old fashioned girl who prefers a wipe with a gentle organic soap on a sponge that's been squeezed out. Then wipe your leather dry with a clean towel. As for ropes, silk or otherwise, I have no idea what to suggest. Check out some more advanced BDSM websites and let me know what worked best.

Dr. Betty


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cleaning rope and leather...

Sun, 07/05/2009 - 14:29
VF (not verified)

ok, I used to work in a stables, and I stand by saddle soap for cleaning leather, its cheap, natural, and leaves leather strong, soft, and prevents chafing. It takes a little work but it does leave a lovely sheen on leather which is really visually appealing, and brings out the leathery smell, which can be a turn on. It is also great for extending the life of leather and preventing fraying.

For rope, I'm not sure if you guys have it in the states, but dettol or a similar baby nappy disinfectant is worth using. Firstly I would recommend buying a good quality silk and hemp based rope, as it is soft, doesn;t chafe, and will last for ages.
As betty says a good quality hand soap and a wipe down is great for normal use with rope, but if you are into binding which brings the rope into contact with the vagina, I would recommend putting your rope, neatly coiled, inside an old pillow slip, and running it on a cold wash or hand wash, with a good quantity of disinfectant which is intended for use with nappies.
I would especially recommend doing this if you changer partners as rope/silk woven rope can harbour germs and thrush.
Let it dry either laid out neatly above a radiator, or in the sun (preferably the sun) for a good 48 hours.
If it is synthetic rope then I would also recommend applying a fine layer of vasaline afterwards, to give it an extra silky non chafing finish.

I learnt through trial and error and some very good advice from my oby gyn.

For normal storage after use with synthetic fabrics, ropes are fine with an alcohol wipe, and the occasional wash, if it is silk and hemp based (FAR SUPERIOR) a frequent wash (once a month) is very worthwhile. If any rope or leather becomes stiff then you can purchase a lanolin wash solution, follow the instructions and they will be restored to a soft and supple state.