The holidays bring about love, time with your family and fur babies, and lots of new toys! If your dog was on the nice list this year and got lots of new plush toys, rope toys, and chew toys for the holidays, you will want to make sure they last. What’s the safest way to clean dog toys? Comment below what your preferred cleaning method is!
Plush Toys and Rope Toys
Plush toys are usually the toys that your dog will latch on to and quickly become their favorites. While these plush toys have the highest chance of being destroyed, you can easily take care of them by washing them at least once a month. For those toys that your pup loves to tote around and snuggle with all day, even weekly cleanings might be best. Another thing to consider is if your dog likes to play with their toys after they eat. Especially dogs with a raw food diet, it would be best to disinfect even daily so that bacteria doesn’t spread throughout your home¹.
Plush toys and rope toys can be washed in a washing machine, but check the label of the toy to see their individual washing instructions. If your dog’s plush toy is particularly loved, consider placing the toy in a mesh laundry bag or a pillow case before throwing in the wash. This will help protect the toy from getting too damaged while getting cleaned.
If the toy does not have any plastic pieces, glue, crinkles, or squeakers, use hot water, the warm setting on the washing machine, to kill the bacteria, viruses, and dust mites, at least 140 degrees Fahrenheit¹. If the dog toy does have plastic pieces, glue, crinkles, or squeakers, use the cold setting so those features are not melted or damaged.
Before returning your dog’s favorite toy back to them, make sure the toy is completely dry. Air dry them for several hours, depending how big and plush they are, or stick in the dryer, if they do not contain and glue, plastic pieces, squeakers, or crinkles.
For rubber chew toys, like KONG toys, and nylon chew toys, only put these in the dishwasher IF it has been specifically stated on the manufacturer tag that it is okay to do so. There is potential that the scalding water of the dishwasher could melt the toy or misshapen it and release harmful chemicals². If you are unsure, then it might be best to hand wash your dog’s chew toys instead. For chew toys that are caked in dirt, slime, slobber, etc., pre-soak in a solution of one part vinegar to two parts water for about 15 minutes before washing with soap and water. Unscented Dawn Dish Soap is a good pet-safe option or just look for soaps that have no artificial dyes, bleach, chlorine, phthalates, or sodium lauryl ether sulfate (SLES)¹.
Pro-tip: you can also use this pre-soak for your plush toys or rope toys that are caked in grime, slime, slobber, etc. before throwing in the washing machine to ensure they come out nice and clean!
Natural Cleaning Method
If you’d prefer a more natural method to cleaning your dog’s plush or rope toys, baking soda and white vinegar can do the trick¹. Prep the toy for the wash by sprinkling with baking soda and then adding a few capfuls of white distilled vinegar. White distilled vinegar is a great all-natural cleaner that breaks down grime and dirt. Then, put the toy in the washing machine on the rinse cycle.
Again, make sure the plush toy or rope toy is completely dry before giving back to your dog to play with for hours on end.
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Related blogs and master classes: Frequently Asked Questions: What Toys are Best for My Dog?, Frequently Asked Questions: What Toys are Best for My Cat?, Holiday Pet Safety: Keeping Your Dogs & Cats Healthy & Happy this Holiday Season
¹ Turner, Dr. Beth. “How to Wash Dog Toys Safely.” Preventive Vet, Preventive Vet, 15 Nov. 2022, https://www.preventivevet.com/dogs/how-to-wash-dog-toys-safely#:~:text=Use%20pet%2Dsafe%20antibacterial%20dish,rinse%20well%2C%20and%20air%20dry.
² Arnold, Brandy. “Ultimate Guide to the Care & Cleaning of Your Dog’s Toys.” The Dogington Post, 15 July 2022, https://www.dogingtonpost.com/ultimate-guide-to-the-care-cleaning-of-your-dogs-toys/.