10 Completely Wrong Ways to Use a Condom

Reuse It.
No matter how much you wash, it'll never be clean enough to use again. iStockphoto/ThinkStock

This wrong way is No. 1 not because it's the worst wrong way – although it is pretty bad – but because it's hard to believe there are people who do it. After all, everybody knows condoms are disposable ... right?

Apparently, a few people do not. Between 1.4 and 3.3 percent of people reuse condoms during a single session of intercourse, and 1.5 percent of people reuse condoms during different sessions [source: Sanders et al.].

Apart from the yuck factor of reapplying a used condom, condoms just aren't safe to reuse. Sort of like there's not enough eye bleach to rid your brain of some of the most disturbing imagery the Internet, there's not enough scrubbing to make a condom OK to use again. Any treatment that would kill every sperm and every potential pathogen would also make the condom weaker.

Condom reuse is a bad idea. Use each one – correctly – once and only once, and then wrap it up and throw it away. In a wastebasket or garbage can ... not in the toilet.

Author's Note: 10 Completely Wrong Ways to Use a Condom

This article got its start as a misheard word during a meeting – we were really talking about wrong ways to use commas – and it became a running joke. But after hearing a listener ask about wrong ways to use condoms during Dan Savage's "Savage Love" podcast, I realized that "How do you use a condom wrong?" is a legitimate question people are asking. I'm always up for a frank conversation about contraception, and our readers seem to enjoy our articles about the wrong, silly and stupid. It also helped that I'd previously written How Condoms Work.

Related Articles


  • AVERT. "Using Condoms, Condom Types and Sizes." (11/13/2012) http://www.avert.org/condom.htm
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Contraception." 9/10/2012. (11/13/2012) http://www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/unintendedpregnancy/contraception.htm
  • Holmes, King et al. "Effectiveness of Condoms in Preventing Sexually Transmitted Infections." Bulletin of the World Health Organization. 2004. (11/13/2012) http://www.who.int/bulletin/volumes/82/6/454.pdf
  • Planned Parenthood. "Condom." (11/13/2012) http://www.plannedparenthood.org/health-topics/birth-control/condom-10187.htm
  • Sanders, Stephanie et al. "Condom Use Errors and Problems: A Global View." Sexual Health. Vol. 9, 2012. (11/13/2012) http://www.publish.csiro.au/?act=view_file&file_id=SH11095.pdf
  • World Health Organization. "Condoms for HIV Prevention." (11/13/2012) http://www.who.int/hiv/topics/condoms/en/index.html


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