DIY Sex Toys: The Partnered Edition

What do rubber bands, flip-flops, and underwear all have in common? They can all be used to make your own sex toys. With a little know-how, creativity and a handful of household items, you can do-it-yourself with toys for yourself or for you and your partner(s).

You may find yourself wondering why you'd want to make your own toys rather than simply buying them. We went over the reasons in more detail in our first DIY toy article, but they generally boil down to age, cost, or privacy concerns. If you're under 18, it's not legal for a sex toy store to sell you their products. You may not have a credit card with which to purchase sex toys online. You may live in a town without a brick and mortar store nearby, or one you feel comfortable going to, or find that the toys you want are out of your price range. And, some people live in spaces where having something that is obviously for sexy purposes in their room could lead to some awkward or unpleasant conversations with the people they live with. So, all things considered, DIYing your own may be the way to go.

We won't be covering vibrators and their relatives in this article, because we got that all covered for you in our self-love edition. In fact, just figure that article is part one of this one. Any toy you use for masturbation (whether it's something you made or something you bought) can absolutely be incorporated into partnered play when you and your partner want to do that.

Now, not everything we're going to discuss may sound appealing to you, and that's absolutely fine. One persons "Hells yes!" is another person "OMG, no." Just like other kinds of toys and ways to play with them, not everyone is ever going to have the same interests and preferences. Think of the toys here, and ways to use them, as possible options if they appeal to you and yours, just like a list of sexual activities is just about possible options. Our aim is just to cover of the types of improvised toys that you can DIY to use when being sexual with a partner if and when they are something you both want to explore.

A word about safewords

A safeword is a specific, mutually known and understood something a person says to bring any kind of sex, touch or other interaction to an immediate halt. It's a word  (any word you like) you get to choose for yourself -- or someone else gets to choose for themselves -- that you let anyone you're sexual with know that, if you say it, means they need to stop everything, no just-a-second, no questions asked.

Some of the activities we'll cover (like spanking) are generally assumed to need safewords. This is a correct assumption, but I want to clarify two things. First of all, unless there's been an explicit conversation otherwise, words like "no," "stop," or "ouch" should be treated as automatic safewords no matter what type of activity you're engaging in. And, honestly, while some people will tend to separate types of sex into "those that require safewords" and "those that don't," that's sort of a false dichotomy. Ultimately, we should always be checking in with our partners, taking note of their body language, the sounds they make, and and be responsive to them. That's important whether we're doing something that we define as "kinky" or not. In other words, safewords can be a great practice for any kind of sexual activity, not just for some kinds.

There's one other concern about partners and sex toys we should tacklebefore we get to the how-tos, and that's...

If and when partners get weird about toys

Sometimes, a partner may feel jealous or insecure when the other partner suggests using (or says they are already using) sex toys. To be clear, if anyone is genuinely frightened or made uncomfortable by using certain toys, then they other partner needs to just accept that. Just like we just need to accept it -- even if we're bummed -- when someone doesn't feel comfortable or otherwise want to do a sexual activity like oral sex or intercourse, the same goes here.

The problem I'm talking about, though, is more about partners who are getting weird because they're making some weird assumptions. Like, when one partner feels as though using sex toys means that someone must feel dissatisfied with their partner, and is looking to "replace" them or one of their body parts with a toy. Or when someone thinks that if someone wants to use a toy for something instead of one of their body parts, they may as well not be there because their partners "doesn't need them anymore." Or when someone comes to it from a place where they're not remembering their partner isn't always the same as them, like thinking that if their hand can do the job for their genitals by itself, their partner's "should" be able to.

This is an issue that we see crop up on our direct services from time to time, so let's make a few things clear. First of all, using and enjoying sex toys is not a sign that someone does not love or is not satisfied by a partner (just like how masturbating is not a sign you're not unsatisfied by your partner). If a partner is using sex toys, this is probably not a slight against anyone's "performance." They may like the specific sensations that toy provides -- sensations nobody's else's body can provide, or could, but wound probably result in an injury -- or like the chance to explore and interact with their body in ways besides partnered sex, and hey, sometimes they're horny and their partner is just not around or interested in sex at that time.

If your partner wants to introduce sex toys into partnered play, this is not likely a commentary on anyone's inadequacy. Many people enjoy using sex toys with their partners because it introduces a new dimension to the activities they already do and enjoy. Using toys can help partners explore different ways of experiencing pleasure together. And, sex toys can also increase or augment the sensations we're getting from a partner (for example: a vibrator can stimulate one enjoyable spot while a partner stimulates another). So, if someone is feeling insecure because a partner wants to use toys, they can consider not thinking about them as a thing that is somehow "replacing" anyone, and instead think of them as something people want to add to their sexual life as an addition, just like say, you might want to add a new sexual activity that doesn't involve a toy, or like you might want to explore using something like ice cubes on someone's body.

Using toys with partners is most often just about wanting to add things to see if having fun could be even more fun, or fun in a new way.

Of course, sometimes too, in order to have a certain kind of sexual response or sensation, or to do so in a way that their body is able, some people do need toys, which is one reason they are also sometimes called "sexual aids." Not everyone can, for instance, experience orgasm in a big way without the kind of stimulus something with an electrical current or battery can provide, and not everyone has the same abilities with their hands or genitals to engage in kinds of sex or masturbation without the additional help of a toy. If and when that's the case, it can be helpful to think of it much in the same way you may think about someone who needs to use a cane to walk, or who needs to use a medication in order to get to sleep.

Safer Sex DIY-Style

Let's say you and a partner are looking to engage oral sex, but find yourselves without a dental dam. What do you do? Get crafty, of course! You can make a dental dam three different ways: out of a condom, glove, or saran wrap. To go from condom to dam, unwrap the condom, cut off the tip, then make one cut up the side of the condom so that you can unroll it into a square. And just like that, you have a dental dam.

If you don't have condoms, but do have latex gloves, you can use those instead. Having disposable gloves around is actually a handy habit to get into, as it makes manual sex safer (and sometimes also makes it feel better!) as well. Just make sure they're not the kind of gloves that have talc inside them, as the powder can irritate the genitals and is no fun to get in your mouth.

To make a dental dam from a glove, have your partner hold the bottom of the glove in one hand and the four fingers (not the thumb) in the other. Take some scissors and cut the fingers off. Then, make a cut up the side of the glove where the pinky once was. You should now be able to unfold the glove into a rectangle with the thumb in the center. And there's your dam! As a bonus, you can use the leftover thumb for manual stimulation. You may also want to keep you preferred flavored lube around, as latex gloves do not taste great all by themselves.

In a pinch, you can also use clear plastic wrap (aka saran wrap) as a makeshift dental dam. This method has not been studied thoroughly, and it may be less effective at preventing STI transmission than using a condom or a glove is. But it's still safer to use the plastic wrap than to go without a barrier entirely. You'll just want to use the to use the kind of wrap that is NOT microwave safe. Microwave-safe plastic wrap has holes in it that make it easier for pathogens to pass between you and your partner.

Once you've made your dam, write a non-reversible word or letter in one corner of the dam, on the side facing you. That way, you won't accidentally reverse the sides during sex (writing it in the corner will help you avoid licking ink while you're down there). And, as with their non-DIY counterparts, these dams are a one time use only proposition. Once you're done with them, throw them away.

I want to pause here to say that, while you can DIY dental dams, you cannot DIY condoms. Sorry. Saran wrap, balloons, sandwich baggies or any other pseudo-condom you can think of? They do not and will not work like the real deal. There are no substitutes for condoms when it comes to pregnancy or STI prevention.

DIY Harness

Maybe you and a partner are curious about bringing a strap-on dildo or vibrator into your sex life. But the type of harness you can find online is expensive as all get out and/or not something you want to risk the person you live with discovering. But there is a way to make a harness that is both comfy and covert on a budget.

Now, there are quite a few steps involved in making your harness, so I'm going to give you an abridged version so you can see if it sounds like something you want to try. If it tickles your fancy, you can find the full directions (with handy illustrations) here.

To begin, you will need a tight-fitting pair of underwear made from a thick fabric, a needle and thread, scissors, sewing pins, and a rubber ring that fits your dildo (DIY or otherwise).

Use the scissors to cut an X that's slightly smaller than the ring in the front of the underwear. Flip the undies inside out and place the ring around the X. Stretch the cut fabric over the ring until it is completely covered. Pin the flaps down and sew the ring tightly in place with the needle and thread, taking the pins out as you go. You may want to make several loops with the thread for added security.

Then, cut off the flaps, flip the undies right-side out, and you have yourself a homemade harness. Tada!

Spanking

Let's say you a partner enjoy spanking (which needn't just be about bottoms, or about bottoms at all, if no one wants), or are curious about experimenting with those kinds of sex play, but can't get your hands on the type of paddle, flogger, or whip that they sell in a sex toy store. Never fear, there's a plethora of household items that can come to your rescue.

If you're trying to decide on an item, it can help to consider what kind of sensation you're after. Broader, flatter objects generally create a "thud" feeling, while narrower items are more likely to sting. You'll want to avoid anything that can shatter or splinter upon impact, and anything that could pierce the skin. You and your partner will also want to discuss if there are any items that are off limits entirely. For instance, objects like wooden spoons, belts, or hairbrushes are sometimes used by parents or other adults to hit kids. So, you don't want to choose any item that might trigger unhappy memories for you or your partner.

For the sake of household harmony and general respect, with any of these things, you will likely want to avoid using other people's stuff, or anything shared in the household that can't be washed before and after.  Too, if you don't want to have to fess up or wind up with a red face you have to hide, you may not want to use the last of anything in your house to make these items. That lets you avoid the cringe-and-duck when your Mom asks, "Where did all my rubberbands go?"

Hairbrush: Hairbrushes can make great improvised paddles. Just make sure you're using one that has one flat side, and are using that side of it, not the side with the bristles.

Belt: Make sure you are only using the flat part of the belt and avoiding the buckle. Too, know that something long and with weight, like a belt, gets a good deal of momentum sometimes that can be unexpected and unintended.  So, it's always a good idea to err on the side of caution -- and lightness -- when using things like this.

Kitchen Implements: Many common cooking tools can be commandeered for sexy purposes. Silicone or rubber spatulas are a popular choice, as are wooden spoons. Just steer clear of anything metal or anything with a sharp edge, as those could create un-fun pain for the person being spanked.

Flip-Flops: Yep, you read that right. The bottom of a flip flop can make for an excellent spanking implement. The one consideration is what material the shoe is made out of. The $2 foam kind that you buy at the drugstore is going to deliver a milder sensation than one made of leather or one with heavy rubber sole. So, choose a shoe that matches the level of intensity you're going for.

Floggers from Scratch

Floggers, for anyone who doesn't know, are a collection of straps attached to a handle that are used to inflict (consensual) pain on a partner. In terms of the sting/thud divide, they fall solidly on the side of the sting. They can also cost a pretty penny from sex toy purveyors, so many folks have figured ways to make them from household items. I'm going to highlight two of those DIY versions: a mini flogger and it's full-sized cousin.

Mini-floggers are a great option for people who prefer milder sensations, or who are interested in flogging but are intimidated by the full-sized floggers. Mini-floggers are also handy because they are easier to conceal than their larger counterparts, so they're a good option if you want to keep someone from stumbling upon your flogger.

To make a mini-flogger, you'll need about twenty rubber bands (ideally all about the same size), an un-sharpened pencil or small dowel, duct tape,a thin needle, and thread.

Cut the rubber bands in half, so that they go from a circle to a strip. Line up the bottoms of the bands in a row, then use the needle to string them along the thread (stringing two or three at a time works best), creating a chain of rubber band strips. Stop when your chain is long enough to make one full circle around the head of your pencil or dowel. Using the ends of your thread, tie your chain of bands around the pencil head. Then, secure them to the head by wrapping duct tape around them where they connect to the pencil. You've just made your very own flogger.

If you like, you can wrap duct tape around the entire "handle" of your flogger to make it easier to grip. And remember, to keep things safe, you only hit a partner with the flappy, rubber ends. Do not hit or prod them with the solid handle, as that can be painful in a way you don't want.

To make a heftier flogger, you'll need a longer dowel, bike tubes (the kind that go inside the tire), rubber cement, and duct tape. It's important to note that, for the dowel, the longer it is the stronger the impact it will have. So, if you're just starting to experiment with flogging, you likely want to stick to one that's on the shorter end.

To being your flogger construction, use a box cutter or sharp scissors to take the bike tube from a circle to a line. Then make one cut up the line to open up the tube. Wash the tube. Once it's dry, cut yourself as many 12 to 18 inch strips as you can make. Apply rubber cement to the dowel, and then wrap the tubes around it one at a time.

You will likely end up with several layers of tubes, so keep applying rubber cement as needed. When you're all done with the tubes, wrap duct tape around the end of the dowel below the loose ends to help gather them a little. You'll also want to wrap tape around the handle for better grip and extra flair.

When using your flogger (of any size) or spanking, start slow, especially if you and/or your partner is new to this kind of activity.  You'll want to do this for two reasons.  One is that it's better to air on the side of caution and begin with gentle, light touches and then build to more intense sensations rather than hit your partner too hard the first time and hurt them.  The other is that starting slow and easing into things gives both partners more time to go "nope, you know what, this is not for me today/this month/ever."  If you just go from zero to sixty, anyone can still call a stop at any time, but it increases the likilihood of someone going from fine to immediately overwhelmed and unhappy.

You'll also want to pick a part of the body that has some padding (which is why butt cheeks are a popular starting point), as that's likely to be a milder sensation for the person on the recieving end.  And steer clear of the lower back/abdomen area, as hitting your partner there can be dangerous (there are organs in there, after all).  So, to be safe, go slow and check in with each other frequently about how you're feeling.

All Tied Up

Last up are a bunch of things you can use for restraint: for tying a partner up in some way or otherwise restricting their ability to move their limbs. This is one of those activities that's always turning up in those "101 ways to spice up your sex life" articles. Spiciness (or lack thereof) is not what we're going to focus on. Instead, I want to make sure that if you're in the mood to play with restraints, you can do so without anybody getting hurt. Spicy and safe can -- and should -- co-exist.

The main thing you'll want to be aware of is constriction. Some materials will tighten as the person pushes or pulls against them or puts their weight on them. If this happens, what started as a comfortable knot becomes painful and, in more severe instances, can become very dangerous, like leading to loss of circulation in the hand or foot. So, choose your improvised materials with an eye towards avoiding constriction.

Some of the most popular suggestions for DIY restraints are clothing. Stockings seem like a sexy choice, as do neckties. But the problem with those options is that they are often made of silk, which tightens when you put pressure on it. So, if you're itching to use a tie, find one that is made of cotton or nylon which doesn't tighten in the same way. If you don't have any of those in the house at the moment, a field trip to the nearest thrift store is a quick way to find one.

If you have some rope lying around you may also be tempted to use that. But again, check your material type before you go tying people up. Hemp and nylon rope are both good options, as they won't constrict and they will likely be more comfortable on the skin. If you don't know what the rope you found in the garage is made of? Don't use it.

Lastly, you may be tempted to use duct tape as a restraint. After all, it's almost always in the house and it's the ultimate all purpose material! Who doesn't love duct tape? Alas, duct tape (or any tape) is not the ideal choice for this. It can leave big, obvious, red marks on your skin, and be downright painful to remove (especially if you're on the hairier side). So, stick with non-sticky materials.

With all this info at your disposal, I hope you're now ready to explore (or keep exploring) the world of DIY sex toys if you so choose.  Sex toys can be a great way to experiement with new or different sensations with a partner, and when you know how to make them yourself, you can open up a world of possibilities without breaking the bank!

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