How to Wash Dog Toys

We love to spoil our dogs. In addition to the many dog accessories we buy for them, we provide them with all sorts of toys and fun activities to keep them occupied. Your dog likely has a variety of toys, ranging from plush toys to snuggle with to rubber toys to chew on. He probably carries these around in his mouth and drops them on the floor whenever he feels like it, with no regard to germs.

Sticking to a cleaning schedule for dog toys is a crucial aspect of pet care. If you don’t clean toys often, you put your pup at risk of an infection. Plus, your dog may transmit pathogens to others, leading the human members of your household to fall sick. One final reason to stick to a schedule is cleaning dog toys regularly will make them last longer.

Let’s take a look at how to wash dog toys to promote good pet hygiene.

1. Gather the & Check the Toys

Dog toys can carry a range of nasty bacteria, so at least once a month, aim to collect all the dog toys you have from around your house. This includes plush, rubber, and interactive toys. Do this more frequently if you know the toys are particularly dirty, such as those your dog has taken with them outside.

It’s also best to wash toys daily if your dog has a raw diet and plays with the toys soon after meals. Raw meats contain bacteria that are pathogenic to humans. You increase the risk of coming into contact with these bacteria if they transfer from your dog’s mouth to his toys.

When gathering toys, use the opportunity to also perform some dog toy maintenance. Check if any toys are too dirty to clean or are otherwise damaged in a way that may pose a risk to dog hygiene or general safety.

Toys that may fall into this category include those that pose a choking hazard, have an unpleasant odour, or are damaged in a way that means pieces are falling off. It may also be time to replace a toy if your dog no longer shows any interest in it. Find out if your local recycling centre accepts dog toys — it may take nylon and rubber toys, provided they are clean.

2. Sort by Material

Separate toys according to their material, such as rubber, plastic, or fabric. This will be helpful when determining the appropriate cleaning method for each toy.

3. Machine-Wash Fabric Toys

If fabric toys have a label that says they’re machine washable, the easiest way to clean them will be to put them in the washing machine. Put them in a mesh laundry bag to catch any pieces that may fall off.

Use a wash cycle such as delicate, hand wash, or gentle and use a mild detergent. Alternatively, you may like to sprinkle the toys with baking soda and add a couple capfuls of white vinegar. Finally, to prevent damage to the toys, dry them by hand rather than putting them in a dryer.

Typically, only fabric toys are machine washable. Chewable rubber toys and rope tug toys will likely become damaged if you put them in the washing machine.

4. Hand-Wash Fabric Toys

Even some fabric toys may become damaged if you put them in the washing machine. The best way to clean these is to hand-wash them. This is the case for dog tennis balls, it's possible to machine wash but if you're worried about damage, it's best to hand wash.

Fill a sink or bucket with warm water and mild detergent — make sure you only use pet-safe cleaning products that won’t leave behind any chemical residue. Gently scrub the toys with a soft brush to remove any dirt and stains. After rinsing thoroughly, air-dry the toys completely before returning them to your dog.

5. Use the Dishwasher

Some rubber and plastic toys are dishwasher safe — check the label or manufacturer’s website to find out if this is the case for the toys you have.

Place the toys on the top rack of your dishwasher to prevent them from becoming too hot and use a normal cycle without detergent. Air-dry everything completely before returning the toys to your dog.

6. Clean Rubber and Plastic Toys by Hand

If you don’t have a dishwasher or don’t want to use it to clean dog toys, hand-wash your rubber and plastic toys. You should also hand-wash any toys with a squeaker mechanism to prevent this from breaking.

Make your own detergent from equal parts water and white vinegar. Since white vinegar is a natural disinfectant, it’s a great way to clean toys without needing to rely on commercial cleaning products that may be harmful to your dog.

Soak the toys in the solution for 15 to 20 minutes. Once they’ve finished soaking, scrub them with a brush to remove any dirt or debris that did not come off with the soak. If a toy has a biofilm or stubborn grime, it may help to use a degreaser. Finally, rinse the toys and allow them to air-dry.

7. Disinfect Stuffed Toys

Lastly, let’s look at how to disinfect dog toys. This is useful for any plush you’re worried has become extremely dirty. For instance, toys may be showing signs of bacterial growth, such as through a musty smell, discolouration, or mould — all of which pose a risk to pet hygiene.

After cleaning the toys using one of the above methods, combine some pet-safe disinfectant with water in a spray bottle. Apply to the entire plush. Air-dry the toys completely before you return them to your dog.

While you’re cleaning one set of your dog’s toys, it’s a good idea to introduce another set. This will not only mean he’s never without playthings, he’ll also find his toys more engaging if he doesn’t have access to all of them at once. Find everything you need for your pet — from toys to accessories — at Dog Friendly Co.