“Is this an icky and yucky idea? Or is it actually savvy and smart?” Dan, co-founder of Squeaky Clean, recalls wondering when the company was first dreamt up, according to Vice.
The two founders of Squeaky Clean Toys noticed a demand in the adult market, with an abundance of products to supply, so they thought, ‘Why not?’ And they developed a business plan to resell used sex toys.

Two web designers (who are using the pseudonymous “Lisa” and “Dan” for their privacy), first had the idea to start a used sex toy business when a friend of theirs was cleaning out about $400 worth of quality sex toys he no longer wanted. Not wanting to waste them entirely, he asked Lisa and Dan to develop a website for recycling his used toys.

The duo first checked to see if a like businesses was already in existence, but they found only Facebook groups and the subreddit r/usedsextoys for reselling toys second-hand. Both options being unregulated marketplaces, they realized that if they designed a site which featured secure payments and quality control, it would be a unique space for adult retail. So in 2021, Lisa and Dan founded Squeaky Clean Toys, which sells washed dildos, laundered lingerie, sex machines, inflatable cartoon love dolls, you name it!

Keeping it clean

Dan and Lisa developed an intensive cleaning protocol from the get-go—hence, “Squeaky Clean”—because friends who had heard of the plan thought it sounded gross!

According to Vice, “Before anyone can resell toys [with Squeaky Clean], whether it’s a tentacle dildo, rabbit vibrator, puppy tail buttplug, or Autoblow machine, they require sellers to clean their used toys with a three-step cleaning method: washing with soap and water, sanitizing with alcohol, and sterilizing by boiling, bleaching or using UV-C. Customers must also post pictures of the process.”

After consulting an infectious disease expert, among other research, Dan and Lisa found that the material of toys largely affects how “clean” they can really be.

“While toys made from thermoplastic elastomer, or TPE, can carry infections even after cleaning, studies show that there’s only a minimal risk of catching an STI from a used, sterilized sex toy if it is made of a non-porous material like silicone and is properly sanitized,” reports Vice. “One Indiana University study showed that HPV can live on sex toys for over 24 hours even after they’ve been cleaned — but in the study, the porous toys posed more risk, and those sex toys were cleaned with commercial sex toy cleaner, instead of Squeak Clean’s multi-step sterilization process.”

For quality control, Squeaky Clean approves the cleanliness of every product before selling it. And if a customer receives a toy which is visibly unsterilized, they can send it back free of charge. But Dan says that this rarely happens, because their vetting process is so strict with sellers.

Lisa comments that, actually, most of their products “have never seen the inside of another person,” according to Vice.

Protecting the price

“A lot of the items on the marketplace are just really the machinery,” Lisa says, referring to sex machines with dildo attachments that are interchangeable, like Sybians.

But of course, there are people who buy used dildos from Squeaky Clean, as well, which Lisa notes, because of its low price point for high-quality sex products, which can cost anywhere from $100-$1,000 when purchased brand new.

“There are a lot of buyers out there who can’t afford those,” she says.

For instance, moderator of r/usedsextoys, told Motherboard that the shipping alone for Bad Dragon fantasy sex toys, a popular high-end manufacturer, is $80.

“Another used toy enthusiast, Max Ocampo, who collects Bad Dragon toys (he has 21, that he calls his babies), says price is his main concern, too. He’s not worried about sanitization: He has a “dildo pot” that he fills with water to boil his toys,” says Vice.

And although they are definitely selling used sex toys, Squeaky Clean says that most of their toys have only been used once or twice, according to their sellers, and 10 percent of their toy sales are just second-hand, acquired from sellers who claim they’re unused. Consumers now are just throwing away toys which don’t fit their bodies or are uncomfortable. And so, in addition to providing clean, quality, affordable sex toys, Squeaky Clean also prides itself on the sustainability of its business model.

Caring for the earth

“Over half of the population owns sex toys, can you imagine the mountain of these [sex toys] that aren’t being used?” Lisa says. “We’re only doing a tiny thing here. But when you feel you could do something, why not?”

There’s no official report from the Environmental Protection Agency on the waste of sex toys in the United States, and the subject isn’t otherwise studied academically. But we know that vibrators alone produce an excessive amount of electronic and plastic waste, which the U.S. is overpopulated with, having “produced about seven million metric tons of electronic waste in 2019 and 51 million metric tons of plastic waste in 2021,” according to Vice.

“We always talk about TVs and other things that are typically discussed in regular life, but nobody talks about sex toys,” says assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Nirapum Aich, about e-waste recycling.

Hypothetically, a customer should be able to recycle sex machines and vibrators at an e-waste facility. But Aich thinks people might be avoidant of the awkwardness of an in-person visit, which is typically required for e-waste recycling collection. And even if it the sex toys did make it to a recycling center, Aich says that only about 20-25 percent of the e-waste at recycling centers is ever ultimately recycled.

“Other [e-waste] gets illegally exported to low-income countries,” says Aich, where the metals and plastics are broken down by workers who are at risk of dangerous and heavy metal exposure.

After a product has lived its last life, Aich recommends up-cycling for plastic reuse, in which discarded plastic is recreated into a more valuable product, as modeled by Doc Johnson’s shoes made from defective sex toys.

Squeaky Clean reports that it gets over 80,000 page views a month, and sales have been increasing since business began a year and a half ago, but the business isn’t making a profit yet. For now, they function like a non-profit.

“Just to be able to buy something that will make your life better, maybe for five minutes in one day, really means a lot to people,” says Ocampo, a used-toy enthusiast.

Read the original story here.