what is a flogger

What is a Flogger?

A flogger is a type of BDSM impact toy that is among the most commonly used, especially by beginners.

A Flogger consists of two parts:

  • A handle
  • Falls – between three and a hundred “falls”

What are “falls”? Falls are hanging strands of whatever material the flogger is made from.

Floggers are most commonly made of soft suede, deerskin, or similar material, with between twenty and forty falls in relatively wide strips. There is a lot of variation on this, however, providing a wide variety of sensations and intensities.

Floggers differ from similar-looking items like cats or multi-tailed whips in that they largely convey a “thud” sensation; their falls are generally not braided, and tend to be wider. 

Key Takeaways

  • A flogger is one of the most common impact toys used in BDSM, and is the one most likely to be recommended for beginners. It is relatively safe and easy to use, and doesn’t require a lot of practice to master compared to other impact toys.
  • Floggers come in a variety of materials, but always consist of a handle tipped with a varying number of falls. The number of falls contributes to the weight of the blows and how “thuddy” the impacts are.
  • The material used to make a flogger determines how soft or stiff the falls are, which determines whether the impact will have more of a sting to it. A boiled leather or rubber flogger can impart a lot of sting.
  • Aftercare depends on the intensity of the session and what kind of floggers were used. Welts and bruises are the commonest injuries. Once the sub is tended to, the flogger may need care too, ranging from simple disinfecting with a 10% bleach solution, to a soft-bristle brush and saddle soap for suede or leather toys.

Choosing the Right Tool

Floggers offer a variety of sensations, determined by the material they are made from, the number of falls, whether they are weighted or not, their handle design, and how thin the falls are.

Which particular flogger works best for you and your play partner depends on a lot of factors: how much “thud” or “sting” sensation you want, how much weight you want behind the blows, whether you have multiple partners, and what each playmate’s pain tolerance is.

To help figure out what will most appeal to you and your play partners, it’s best to visit a shop or venue in person to get a literal feel for the merchandise. However, that isn’t always possible, so here are some guidelines for picking out a flogger:

  • The more falls a flogger has, the more spread out the force of the blow will be. Generally that means more “thud” and less “sting”, though toys like a filament rubber flogger will still have a lot of bite.
  • The stiffer and stretchier the material the flogger is made from, and the narrower and fewer its falls, the more “sting” it will provide.
  • Suede, deerskin and elkskin falls can provide a good deal of “thud” but rarely sting.
  • Rope falls sting more if the ropes are narrower, stiffer or knotted on the ends.
  • Oiled leather, buffalo hide and other stiff leather falls will sting more and possibly leave welts.
  • Rubber falls will sting more than thud, especially filament rubber or stiff, narrow rubber falls.
  • Weighted falls will provide more intensity but are also harder to swing and aim.
  • Rubber floggers are the easiest to clean if you have multiple partners.

Always consider the preferences, needs and endurance of the person(s) the flogger will be used on when picking one out. A big, muscular sub who loves heavy thud will like a weighted, fifty-fall flogger much more than a small, thin sub who prefers lighter impacts or sting.

Using the Right Technique

Swinging a flogger is mostly in the wrist, though the design of the handle may alter this somewhat. For example, a swivel flogger has hardware that lets the falls rotate, saving effort and allowing more precision. Floggers with finger loops do the same, and are often sold and wielded in pairs. Finally, ball-handle floggers rotate in your palm, helping to save your joints and conserve energy.

You can “snap” a flogger like a short BDSM whip, by flicking it forward suddenly, providing a stingier sensation with the very tips of the falls.

For a heavier, thuddier sensation, use the whole length of the falls against your sub’s flesh. Stand over or beside your sub and swing the flogger in a vertical, upward or downward arc, delivering the blow with your wrist. The motion should be basically circular; avoid side blows as they can cause the falls to “wrap” and cause unintentional pain or harm.

“Wrapping” happens when the tips of a flogger wrap around the sub’s limb or body during a strike, hitting them in a manner and location you didn’t intend.

Like hitting someone in the head, neck, spine, joints or over the kidneys, this is something to be carefully avoided. It’s best to practice on a pillow or similar to build confidence and aim before graduating to flogging your play partner.

Aftercare for flogger play is generally simple, as the play may not even leave marks unless something’s gone wrong.

This varies with the intensity of the scene, of course. As always, discuss the scene with your play partner(s) beforehand, make sure you have a safeword in place, and have your first aid kit and a phone handy in case of mishaps.


How do I know what kind of flogger will be right for me?

Shop around! Toy shopping is a great activity to do with your partner. Doing so in person in a local shop will give you a chance to ask questions, and maybe even test the sensations conveyed by each type of flogger to figure out what turns you on the most.

Because floggers distribute impact over a wider area, and can be made of softer materials, they are a good starter toy for those who are still figuring out how hard they should (or want to be) hit, and where. Newcomers can use suede, cloth or soft leather floggers to explore pain play much more safely than if they start out with, say, a rubber whip or a cane.

What is “Thud” versus “Sting”?

Thud and sting refer to the two basic sensations in impact play. Thud is a deeper, broader impact, which causes less surface pain but can also involve deep muscles and nerves. Sting on the other hand is largely surface pain, providing a much sharper sensation. Thuddy toys, like deerskin floggers, are less likely to leave marks, but may bruise if swung hard enough. Stingy toys, like oiled leather floggers, are more likely to leave marks or even break skin.

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