How to Clean and Disinfect Your Dog’s Toys
Written by Kristian Porter
Our dog’s toys spend the majority of their life in our dog’s mouth, in the backyard grass, or at the park covered in dirt. It’s safe to say that they collect plenty of dirt, grime, and germs along the way.
Despite this, many of us rarely clean our dog's toys unless we can see or feel a mess on them. Even then, many pet parents will opt to throw the toy out in favor of a new, fresh one. This is not great for the planet, and it’s not great for your wallet either.
If you want to keep your dog healthy and extend the lifespan of their toys, regularly cleaning them is the perfect solution. Read on to learn how to effectively disinfect your dog’s toys.
Why Should You Disinfect Your Dog’s Toys?
According to NSF International, dog toys are among the top 10 germiest items in your home. Without proper disinfecting, dog toys can carry yeast, mold, and other bacteria that are a health hazard, not just to your dogs, but to the humans in your household as well.
Dog toys can also help spread viruses like canine influenza and kennel cough, which can live on surfaces for up to 48 hours.
To prevent the spread of potential sickness (and to minimize the build-up of sticky slobber), it’s best to clean your dog’s toys regularly.
How to Disinfect Your Dog’s Toys
Depending on the type of toy that your dog likes to play with, you’ll need a few different cleaning techniques up your sleeve. Below, I’ve outlined the best methods and tips to disinfect your dog’s toys based on their material.
Rubber, Nylon, and Plastic Toys
For chew toys made from hard materials, be sure to check the packaging for specific cleaning instructions. Many of these toys, like our Hive: chew toy for large dogs, can be run through your dishwasher on the top shelf with a mild dishwasher detergent.
If your toy isn’t dishwasher-safe or you don’t have a dishwasher, you can hand wash it with warm water and mild dish soap. If there is any caked-on grime, you can soak the toys in soapy water for 30 minutes before cleaning.
Cleaning these toys with mild dish soap to rid them of any dirt, grime, or caked-on food is the first step. Once you’ve cleaned off the visible dirt and gunk, it’s time to disinfect the toys.
Always use a natural sanitizing solution on your dog’s toys. This means no bleach, peroxide, or other harsh chemicals that can be toxic to your pets. Use a mixture of water, white vinegar, and baking soda to get rid of germs while keeping your dog safe.
Just like with hard toys, you should use natural detergents free from fragrance or dyes to wash your dog’s toys. You can leave out the detergent and opt for a water-vinegar solution here as well.
Toss your toys into the dryer on low heat or allow them to air dry, but make sure they are completely dry before you return them to your dog or store them to prevent mold from growing.
In-between washings, you can disinfect toys with a DIY spray solution of water and vinegar. Gently mist the toys or wipe them down with a cloth and allow them to dry completely.
Rope toys can be a little trickier to clean because of the densely wrapped fabric, but they’re still important to disinfect.
Some ropes can be put into the washing machine to clean off any dirt, but be cautious. Ropes have a tendency to unravel, so place them in a garment bag to help keep them contained. Then, use a natural detergent or water-vinegar solution.
To sanitize them, soak your rope in a vinegar and water solution and then put the toy in the microwave on high heat. The microwave will kill any germs or bacteria.
Then, simply leave the toy to cool down and dry off completely before you give it back to your dog.
4 Tips to Know Before You Clean Your Dog’s Toys
Cleaning and disinfecting your dog’s toys can seem like a hassle, but here are a few quick tips to make the cleaning process even easier.
1. Rotate Your Dog’s Toys
2. Keep Your Dog Excited For Their Toys
3. Never Leave Your Dog’s Toys Outside
4. You Don’t Need to Clean Their Toys Every Day
You should clean your dog’s toys regularly, but that doesn’t mean every day or even every week. Martha Stewart recommends cleaning your dog’s toys every two weeks.
Of course, if your dog’s toy looks visibly dirty or there’s been a recent case of kennel cough, you should disinfect and clean your toys as needed.
Easy-to-Clean Toys Your Dog Will Love
If you’re looking for a fun, easy-to-clean toy option for your dog, we have tons of great options. From frisbees to chew toys, we’ve got something for dogs of every breed and size.
Plus, 1% of every purchase of our dog toys and treats goes towards planting wildflowers to create healthy wildflower habitat for bees and other pollinators. Healthy dogs and healthy bees: what could be better than that?