Safety in the BDSM Dungeon: Your Guide to Safer Kink


This article has been written for TRACKS Magazine and the Queensland Injectors Health Network (QuIHN).

Safety in the BDSM (Bondage, Discipline, Sado-Masochism or Slave/Master) dungeon seems like a contradiction in terms really – considering the dungeon is where some people willingly go to be tortured, tormented, violated and humiliated.  However, safety does in fact set the scene for all BDSM play for both the administrators and recipients.  At the very forefront of professional BDSM practice, is the Risk Aware Consensual Kink (RACK) philosophy that acts as both a guideline and an industry standard when practiced routinely every time there is any (unwilling) risk of potential harm to self or other.

Discuss before your session, what your safe word is.  Don’t make it a word like ‘stop’ or ‘don’t’ as it may be confused with consent in BDSM play.  Use a plain word like ‘mercy’ or ‘red’.  This ensures that if any injuries occur or are occurring there is a plan to stop, drop and check up on what is going on.  Always have the necessary equipment to cut through rope or chain in an emergency, such as a bolt cutter or scissors.  Be aware of breathing, sounds, smells, skin colour, and temperature, as well as what is being said.  Try to avoid being under the influence of drugs or alcohol where possible but if you or your client will be taking drugs, plan ahead, have all your own equipment and dispose of your equipment properly.  The BDSM world is mostly about the head fuck but never leave a bound person unattended, ever!  Discontinue BDSM play until all is well for you both.

Due to the nature of sex work and BDSM, the potential for direct (or indirect) contact with blood, faeces (shit), urine (piss), spit and semen (cum) is high, resulting in a direct correlation with an increased risk of possible exposure to sexually transmitted infections (STI’s) like Herpes, Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) commonly known as Wart Virus, Chlamydia or Gonorrhoea and blood born virus’ (BBV’s) such as Syphilis, Hepatitis A, B and C or HIV.  It is therefore imperative that all preventative steps are taken to minimise this risk and increase our pleasure by incorporating safer sex practices into every aspect of sex, sex work and BDSM play.

It is equally important to point out that there is very little risk of contracting or transmitting HIV and other BBV’s or STI’s if you use condoms and water-based lubricant correctly.  Unfortunately it is still (wrongfully) illegal in some states in Australia for those with HIV to sex work or pay a sex worker for sex but let’s remember that HIV is a virus and not a crime (Scarlet Alliance, 2009).  There is also consensual sex and sex work between peers who live with HIV.  We all have the right to seek and receive sexual pleasure as long as we are not harming others in the process – unless of course controlled harm and harming is consensual.

As far a sex worker’s go, most of us in the sex industry are aware of how to do sex work safely before, during and after, as par for the course.  Let’s face it, it’s our livelihood and in our best interests to ensure that all risks are minimised and/or eliminated from our working environment.  A higher number of sexual partners does not necessarily mean there is an increased likelihood of having an STI.  On the contrary, sex workers are more vigilant about safer sex practices and condom use (Scarlet Alliance, 2009) than the general public.  Therefore, we cannot assume everyone else behaves accordingly in their everyday life.  The onus is on every single one of us sex workers, Mistress’s and Master’s, clients, sub’s and slave’s and Vanilla’s to insist that all play involving contact with the genitals, anus or blood, be done so safely and hygienically for everyone concerned.

This means the routine use of prophylactics (condoms) for intercourse and toys, anti-bacterial toy cleaner, dental dams, lubricants, latex rubber gloves for needle and anal play, clean needles or picks, needle disposal units, lined rubbish bins, baby wipes, hand sanitizer’s, equipment sterilising, and frequently cleaning your sheets and towels to minimise pubic lice (Crabs), bed bugs and scabies.  Remember when you are asked to violate someone’s arse with your fist; you need rubber gloves, and lots of lube.  If you are reaming it with a toy or strap on, then you also need condoms!  Create a barrier between you and it.

STI’s are transmitted through body fluids like semen and mucus such as natural fluids in the vagina and those left on unprotected sex toys.  Herpes can also be transmitted via kissing to the genital’s or mouth.  BBV’s like Hep A, B, C and HIV are transmitted via blood, syringes, semen, vaginal fluids and breast milk.  It is important to be aware of any cuts, lesions or abrasions on your fingers and in your mouth, as well as on the genitals.  Condoms act as a barrier to blood and fluid born viruses.  HIV is not transmissible by kissing, saliva, spit, urine or faeces, as large amounts are required to be passed on and the virus cannot survive for long outside the body.  However Hepatitis A and B can be transmitted by having unprotected mouth to anal play (Rimming).

Cleaning and caring for your sex toys will stop the transmission of STI’s.  In most cases warm soapy water will suffice if your dildo/vibrator is made out of rubber, latex, silicone or glass depending on whether or not it is waterproof.  If it isn’t, then a good quality anti-bacterial toy cleaner spray to use with a tissue will also suffice.  Boiling dildo’s for 3 minutes or putting them through a hot dishwasher cycle will also work but may damage them a lot quicker (Respect Inc).  Similarly, whips, paddles and canes and chains can be washed in warm soapy water and dried and/or shined with leather and wood polish.

Disposing of used condoms, gloves, needles, syringes, blades, swabs, pads, tampons, bandages etc, need a little bit more individual attention.  Condoms should be tied to avoid spillage of the semen, wrapped in a tissue and placed in a lined rubbish bin.  Similarly, with latex gloves.  These are taken off and naturally go inside out, therefore trapping any bodily fluids or faecal matter within them; they can be simply put in the bin.  Swabs, pads and tampons can also be placed in a lined rubbish bin and should never be flushed down the toilet.  Needles, syringes and blades need to be placed in a sharps disposable container to avoid the risk of accidental pricks (no pun intended).  You can request these from your local QuIHN office or needle exchange program.

Most of what I have talked about is common sense.  If you keep things simple you can’t go wrong.  Keep everything clean including you.  Wash or use baby wipes before and after each client or sexual partner, in fact have a packet in your bedside drawer.  Frequently wash or sterilise all toys, canes, paddles, tawse, whips and chains.  Frequently wash bed linens and towels.  Vacuum.  Recycle your plastic shopping bags and empty your rubbish bins daily.  Wash your lingerie and underwear regularly.   Remember safety in the BDSM dungeon also applies to the bedroom, couch or kitchen table!  The thing is to always be prepared.  Keep a travel kit with condoms, lube, gloves, dams, a toy, toy spray cleaner, baby wipes, portable sharps container, needles, syringes, plastic bags, and scissors or buy a first aid kit and modify it.

REMEMBER:  Safer sex is:
Always carrying condoms with you,
Always using condoms and water-based lube (NOT Vaseline),
Ejaculation inside the condom,
Oral sex using s condom or dam,
Always using a condom when sharing sex toys and change condoms between partners,
Always using latex gloves with anal and needle play,
Mutual masturbation,
Kissing your partners nipples and
Cuddling (Queensland government, Family Planning Queensland).

If you think safety first, before you know it you will be practising safer sex without even being aware you are doing so.   Even if you started doing one or two of these recommendations, you will be reducing your likelihood of transmitting or receiving an STI or HIV.  Everyone will be happy and enjoying getting off on whatever tickles their fancy… arse…clit…or nipple.  You get my drift.  Now, go, fuck off and start organising your dungeon and start practicing Risk Aware Consensual Kink!  In the meantime, I’m feeling horny!  I might just let my fingers do the talking…

By Jezabel
© Copyright, 2012, All Rights Reserved


Family Planning Association, ‘Tonight I’m Getting Infected Condoms’, What is Safe Sex?, Queensland Government Health, September 2008.

Matthews, K., Scarlet Alliance, ‘The National Needs Assessment of Sex Workers who live with HIV’, 2008

Respect Inc, ‘Cleaning & Caring for your Sex Toys’, Fact Sheet

Scarlet Alliance, 2009. Australia Sex Worker Association, ‘HIV Is Not A Crime’, ‘The contemporary response to HIV and the law in Australia: A collection of Articles‘, booklet.

Scarlet Alliance, 2009. Australian Sex Worker Association, ‘ STI Handbook: A Reference Guide for Sex Workers to Sexually Transmitted Infections’.  Commonwealth of Australia