Blue, red, and yellow used condoms on a pink platform

Can You Reuse Condoms? Absolutely Not & Here's Why

by Candice Jalili

There are lots of things we have the luxury of reusing in life. Metal utensils. Blankets. Most articles of clothing. Most shoes. Most types of jewelry. Ceramic plates. Toothbrushes. Hair brushes. You get the picture. And, TBH, until now, I believed that this was common sense. But it turns out some people are confused about what is and isn't reusable. For example, some people have been reusing condoms. Yep, that's right. There are real human beings out there who have thought to themselves, "Can you reuse condoms?"

... And then, in what might be the most perplexing plot twist of all, these people decided the answer to that already absurd question was a resounding, "Yes!" To be absolutely clear, this is wrong. Condoms are not reusable, and treating them like they are is cause for some serious health concerns. In fact, this has become such a concern that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) posted a tweet to remind people how condoms are actually supposed to be used.

Yep, that's right. People have been reusing condoms at such an alarming rate that a government organization literally had to post a tweet stating this:

We say it because people do it: Don't wash or reuse #condoms! Use a fresh one for each #sex act.

For those of you who currently have their used condoms hanging out on a drying rack, allow me to explain to you the (many) issues with reusing condoms.

For starters, one of the main reason for using condoms is to prevent the contraction of many sexually transmitted infections. Reusing them gets in the way of this. "Incorrect use, such as reusing a condom or using more than one at a time, diminishes the protective effect of condoms by leading to condom breakage, slippage, or leakage," Dr. Elizabeth Torrone, an epidemiologist at the CDC’s Division of STD Prevention, told BuzzFeed News in an email.

Even if you're thoroughly washing the condom between uses, reusing it is still not a viable option. According to BuzzFeed News, not only does the soap and water combo not work in the fight against STIs, but the act of trying to clean the latex also makes it more likely to break... which leads us to the next issue.

Using a condom and then washing it will lead it to unrolling, which creates with the way it fits. "Condoms are rolled up for a reason... because it makes them easier to apply when you roll it onto an erect penis," Dr. Alyssa Dweck, a board-certified OB-GYN and author of The Complete A to Z for your V, told BuzzFeed News. "Now you have to get this flimsy thing — that’s washed and not lubricated — on the penis ... It’s not impossible but very challenging."

Finally, reusing condoms also stands in the way of their effectively preventing pregnancy. "There's no way you can confirm the integrity of the condom for protection against pregnancy once it has been used, removed, washed, and replaced," Dweck told BuzzFeed News.

Like most products out there, your safest bet is probably to just try to use condoms the way their creators intended them to be used. "You should use the condom in the way the manufacturer has intended and tested — if you don’t, you cannot rely on the condom anymore to do those duties," Dweck continued to BuzzFeed News.

For those of you unclear on exactly how condoms are supposed to be used, here's a little tutorial:

  • You take the condom out of its sealed package before its expiration date.
  • You roll it onto the penis.
  • You keep it on the penis the whole time, from start to finish (even if that finish doesn't involve either party finishing).
  • You take it off when the sexual act is over and, whether or not ejaculation happened, you toss the used condom in the trash and never use it again.

Even if you're feeling frisky later that night and decide to go in for another round, you use a fresh condom and go through the above steps again. "Let’s say you have sex three times in one night — you should be changing the condom three times or before the next sex act," Dweck told BuzzFeed News.

OK, now please print this article out and tape it above your bed so that you never forget the important lesson we learned here today. Stop reusing condoms, people! If you're tight on cash and don't want to spend the money on constantly buying new ones, BuzzFeed News reports "you can usually find condoms for free or low cost at your state or local health department, Planned Parenthood, doctor’s offices, college health centers, and community or nonprofit sexual health clinics."

Check out the entire Gen Why series and other videos on Facebook.