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How to Clean Your Pet's Toys

Stuffed animals, ropes, and rubber toys should all be washed differently.

dog with toys
Photography by: Getty

Nothing is more fun than watching our pets play with their toys, but as any animal owner knows, your four-legged friend's favorite playthings will eventually begin to show signs of being well-loved. In addition to not being as aesthetically pleasing as they once were, toys that are frequently played with will harbor numerous bacteria and dirt. That's why cleaning your pet's plushes, ropes, and balls should be part of your housekeeping to-do list, but how do you get their toys clean and how often should you do it?

 

First and foremost, avoid using harsh chemicals. Remember that your pet plays with their toys by carrying them in their mouth. Using Lysol spray might kill the bacteria, but it could also poison your animal companion. For catnip toys, you don't want to use detergent at all. The chemicals would seep into the catnip. Instead, rinse in hot water and squeeze dry. You should also avoid using scented detergents on toys that can handle them. Your cat might not love her toys if they smell more like a flower meadow than they smell like her.

 

Last but not least, always follow cleaning instructions on the toy's packaging. That being said, washing with soap and water works to clean hard toys made from materials like plastic or rubber. Make sure that the toys are thoroughly rinsed and dried before giving them back to your pet. 

 

RELATED: The Best Chew Toys For Your Dog

 

Soft Synthetic and Rubber Toys

Don't put soft plastic toys, such as chewing ones for dental health, in the dishwasher. If the toy is made from a softer plastic or other material that could melt under the extreme heat of the dishwashing cycle, then it is much better to hand wash and dry the toy to remove dirt and germs. High heat could warp the toy, and you would have to throw it away.

 

Rope Toys

Toys that are made from rope not only contain your pet's slobber, they are also have kinds of germs. You can wet the toys and zap them in the microwave for at least a minute to kills germs, mold, and yeast. Another method to sanitize these toys is to put them through a hot washing machine cycle sans detergent.

 

Stuffed Animals

Your dog's favorite stuffed animal or blanket can go into the washing machine. Stuffed animals should be placed into mesh garment bags or pillow cases to protect them from getting destroyed by the spin motion of a washing machine. Once the stuffed animal has been laundered and dried, your pup can have his friend back.

 

While you probably won't need to clean and sanitize their toys every day, you should inspect and clean their toys on a regular basis. Toys that get a ton of love may need to be cleaned more often than toys that only get played with on occasion. You can set up a schedule of cleaning their toys at minimum every two weeks. Other toys may need to be cleaned every week. In your cleaning routine, throw out any toys that are missing pieces or ripped stuffing. Your pet will love the prospect of a new toy.