As a dog owner, you have many important responsibilities. Walking and feeding your pet are basic tasks that you must do daily. Aside from these tasks, there are other things you need to do but might overlook because you don’t need to do them every day. Cleaning your dog’s toys, for example, is vital to your dog’s health and can also affect the rest of your family. Dog toys can carry yeast, mold, germs, and harmful bacteria accumulated from the environment as well as your dog’s saliva. Since dogs generally play with their toys using their mouths, there’s a high chance that they’ll ingest the bacteria on their toys. And if your dog gives you smooches or leaves their toys around the house, this bacteria can also be passed on to you and other people in your home.
If you want to keep your pet and the rest of your family healthy, make sure to include cleaning your pet’s toys in your weekly routine. Cleaning should apply to all your pet’s playtime items, including the award-winning dog toys they seem to love best and the plush dog toy that has a permanent home on their dog bed. Different toys will have different cleaning requirements, so make sure to check the packaging or labels for the recommended care instructions. If you’ve thrown the packaging out or lost the tags, here are four easy tips to guide you when cleaning different types of dog toys.
Hand Wash Hard Chew Toys
When it comes to plastic and rubber chew toys, it can be quite tempting to just load them into the dishwasher. But unless the manufacturer has specifically stated that the toy is dishwasher safe, it’s best to stick to cleaning it by hand. Items that aren’t indicated as dishwasher safe can be damaged by heat during the washing and drying cycle. This can cause the toy to lose its shape or structure, as well as release unsafe chemicals that can put your dog’s health at risk.
Instead, clean your dog’s hard chew toys as you would their pet food bowls by using hot water and mild dish soap. You can also use a toothbrush or scrub brush to take out any dirt stuck in the crevices. Afterwards, rinse the toy thoroughly and make sure there is no soap residue left. Then, lay the toys out on a clean towel to air dry. Wait until the toys are completely dried before letting your pet play with them or storing them in your dog’s toy basket.
Put Rope Toys in the Washing Machine
If your dog likes to play tug with rope toys, make sure these get cleaned regularly, too. Due to the soft absorbent fibers of the rope, moisture from your dog’s saliva can collect in the material and turn it into a breeding ground for mold and bacteria. As such, you’ll want to wash rope toys as often as possible to keep them clean and safe for your dog to play with.
An effective and convenient way to clean rope toys is to toss them into your washing machine. Run a regular cycle using a gentle, fragrance-free detergent that’s safe for pets. Since many rope toys are designed to handle the tough chewing and pulling of your dog, most can be safely dried in a dryer.
Switch to a Gentler Laundry Cycle for Plush Toys
Like rope toys, you can put your dog’s plush toys in the washing machine to clean them. When laundering plush toys, it’s best to use a gentler wash cycle and cold water. That’s because hot water and a normal washing cycle might damage the stuffing, squeaker, or crinkle filling of the toy. For added protection, consider putting the plush toys inside a mesh bag before tossing them in the washer. It will help prevent delicate toys from getting rips or holes while being tossed and tumbled inside the washing machine.
If you plan to use a dryer, use a low or extra low drying setting for plush toys so that the stuffing can be dried without damaging the external material. Alternatively, you can hang the toys up on a clothesline to dry. Remember to wring out any excess liquid from the toys before hanging them to speed up the drying process.
Use Pet-Safe Cleaning Products
Whether you’re handwashing your dog’s toys or tossing them in the washer, remember to only use pet-safe cleaning solutions. The best way to ensure you’re using the right products is to check with your veterinarian or to ask a pet supply expert for recommendations.
You can also create your own cleaning solutions using items that you already have at home. Mix equal parts of water and white distilled vinegar in a container and use this mixture to scrub your dog’s toys and as a laundry detergent substitute. Aside from being an effective disinfectant, the vinegar solution can also be used as a pre-soak mixture for extra grimy dog toys. Soak the gunky toys for 15 minutes before scrubbing or washing in the machine.
Cleaning your dog’s toys isn’t just for aesthetic reasons; your pet’s health benefits from it too! Preventing your pet from getting sick also protects the health of the rest of the family, so it’s a win-win situation all around. Add this chore to your weekly routine so that you don’t forget, or clean toys as soon as you notice them getting too dirty. If your dog’s toy is beyond repair or resistant to cleaning methods, it may be best to throw it away and replace it with a new one. Your healthy dog will thank you for it.