The Importance of Cleaning Dog Toys (& How to Do it)

by | Dec 20, 2022 | Animal Wisdom, Safety

With 4 dogs in our house, we have a lot of toys. (Our dogs are spoiled.) Fluffies, frisbees, balls, puzzle toys… you name it, they’ve got one. The toy box is overflowing…

And those toys all get a wash on a regular basis.

Why? Well, a few years ago, the National Safety Federation conducted a germ study. They asked a group of families to swab 30 everyday household items to measure contamination levels of yeast, mold and coliform bacteria (a family of bacteria that includes Salmonella and E. coli). Kitchen sponges topped the list, but pet toys were number 7!

Sometimes we forget about just how dirty those toys get!!! But cleaning dog toys is an important part of keeping our pets healthy (and our houses clean).  

So how do you do it?

Cleaning Dog Toys

The type of approach you take to cleaning dog toys depends on the toy itself. Some are well suited to the washing machine, while others can go in the dishwasher. Others may need a good hand wash.


Some dogs just love their stuffies. Perhaps your dog has a favourite – a bear they sleep with and carry around all day long. Maybe it’s been sewn back together more times that you can count. You may have even replaced it with an exact replica when the time came to retire the old one.

But do you wash it? You should!

Stuffies are relatively easy to wash; just toss them in the washing machine! Now, depending on the detergent you use, you may want to forgo it. Remember, your dog chews on these and carries them around, so natural, chemical-free is really important here. If it isn’t scent free and chemical free, it should be a no-go – no bleach or fabric softeners either! Try to use natural detergent, and half the usual amount. If you don’t, opt for a sanitizer setting with a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in place of detergent.

Do those stuffies need a little more TLC (do they have squeakers or are well loved)? You may opt for a hot water soak in the sink, again with a little apple cider vinegar.

To dry these toys, put them in the dryer or hang them on the line to dry in the sun. Natural is crucial here too! Skip the dryer sheets. 

Hard Rubber/Plastic Toys

When it comes to harder toys – those made of rubber or recycled materials – the dishwasher is an easy way to clean them. 

Again, go natural here – no dishwashing detergent. The heat in the dishwasher will kill any germs hiding in the cracks and crevices. Use the top shelf. Just remember, some plastic toys will break down in high temperatures, so this isn’t the method for everything in the toy box. Check labels – some toys will even say “safe for the dishwasher” right on them. 

Don’t have a dishwasher or don’t want to put the toys in there? Fill your sink with hot water and some apple cider vinegar, and just let them take a long, hot bath. You can also use a natural dishwashing liquid and give them a good scrub with hot water.

Colloidal Silver can also help disinfect hard toys – it kills the germs without chemicals. Just fill a spray bottle with some water and a few spritzes of colloidal silver, spray the toys, then let them dry.

[RELATED] Pet bowls are the 4th dirtiest item in the average household. Here’s how to wash them.

How Long Do Toys Last?

As mentioned, the toy box at our house is always overflowing. But new toys somehow make their way into the house on a semi-regular basis – so we do have to purge every so often.

These are the things we look for when determining when a toy is ready to retire:

  • Holes, rips, and tears. If the stuffing is coming out of a stuffy and it can’t be sewn, it’s time to say goodbye. 
  • For harder toys, if it is super chewed up to the point that it can’t be cleaned very well, it’s also time to go.
  • If pieces are starting to fall or break off that can easily become a choking hazard or cause an intestinal blockage if swallowed, it’s also time for a toss.

Just as you might wash your pup’s bed or bowls, make cleaning dog toys a regular part of the routine. We don’t want those extra germs hanging around – they’re not good for our dogs and they’re not good for us. A simple clean makes a big difference!

The Adored Beast Team

Bringing you decades of animal health experience. They are product gurus, nutrition specialists, industry experts and researchers, but most importantly, pet owners, pet parents and animal lovers. The Adored Beast team is made up of people who care about the health and wellbeing of your animal family. Their fundamental goal is to provide information, advice, and experienced support you can use, each and every day, to help your pet live the longest, healthiest, happiest life possible.

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