If you’re like most pet parents – the clue’s in the name! – you see your dog not just as an animal you keep, but rather as an important part of your family.
In fact, many of us treat our dogs with as much love and care as we do our children because the bond of love is so strong and deep. If that’s you, then you know that one thing dogs and kids are equally attached to is their toys.
In this post, I’ll look at how to clean your dog’s toys: When you should wash them, ways to do it safely and effectively, and why it’s an important job to keep on top of. So, let’s get down to it!
The Different Types of Dog Toys – What Are They Made Of?
Dog toys are big business – pups and pooches love them. But what are they made of? In most cases, today’s dog toys fall into one (or more) of these categories:
- Plush/Stuffed Toys. These soft dog toys usually contain stuffing made from synthetic materials like polyester fiberfill, along with an outer layer of fabric.
- Chew Toys. These are hard dog toys that come in all shapes and sizes, but the most popular type is the bone shape. They’re usually made from rubber or nylon.
- Rope Toys. As the name suggests, rope dog toys are usually just that: a length of rope, often with knots in it, designed for dogs to chew on.
- Squeaky Toys. These are usually plush dog toys with a small rubber or plastic squeaker inside.
Of course, there are lots of other types of dog toys too, including balls, frisbees, and interactive toys. But most of these are made from similar materials to the ones listed above.
When Should You Wash Your Dog’s Toys?
The best answer to this question is: as often as possible. Ideally, you should be washing all of your pet’s toys once a week.
This might seem like overkill, but think about it: Your dog spends hours playing with their toys every day. They chew on them, lick them, and toss them around, which all leads to dirty dog toys.
During play, saliva and bacteria are transferred from your dog’s mouth to the toy. And over time, these build up and can lead to some serious health problems for your pet.
Washing your dog’s toys once a week ensures that they stay clean and bacteria-free. It also helps to prolong the life of the toys by preventing excessive wear and tear.
How to Wash Dog Toys Depending on the Material
Now, let’s go through how to wash each type of toy we looked at earlier:
We’ll start with plush/stuffed soft toys. These are the easiest to clean, as you can simply pop them in the washing machine on a gentle cycle.
Just be sure to remove any loose dirt or debris before putting them in, and check the toy for any signs of damage that might make it fall apart in the wash. If everything looks good, then pop it in with your regular laundry detergent and let the machine do its work!
Chew toys are a little trickier, as you don’t want to put these in the washing machine as they’ll likely come out damaged. Instead, you should wash them by hand using hot soapy water.
Scrub them all over, paying particular attention to any knots or crevices where bacteria might be hiding, then rinse off and leave to dry.
Some chew toys can also go in the dishwasher, so if you have one it’s worth taking advantage of that! Just pop them on the top shelf (without detergent) and let the machine do its thing.
If you don’t have a dishwasher, or your toy is too big to fit, then wash by hand using hot soapy water as before.
Rope toys are best washed by hand, as again you don’t want to risk them getting damaged in the washing machine.
Soak in hot soapy water for a few minutes, then scrub all over before rinsing off and leaving to dry.
Squeaky toys can go in the washing machine like plush toys. If the squeaker is removable, take it out first and wash it separately by hand.
If not, then just pop the toy in the machine on a gentle cycle with your regular laundry detergent.
What Not to Use – Are There Any Chemicals to Avoid When Washing Dog Toys?
There are a few potentially dangerous things to look out for when learning how to clean dog toys. Generally, you should try to avoid using bleach or other harsh chemicals on your dog’s toys, as these can be harmful if ingested.
Stick to mild detergents and soaps instead. If you want to go all-natural and be extra careful, you could even try these homemade cleaning mixtures:
- One part vinegar to three parts water
- One part baking soda to three parts water
- Half a cup of hydrogen peroxide in one gallon of water
These are all safe to use and will help to kill any bacteria without being harmful if ingested. In each case, let the toys soak for a few minutes in the solution in hot or warm water.
Be sure to rinse off the toy thoroughly after cleaning, as you don’t want your dog accidentally licking any chemical residue from their favorite toy!
When to Let Go – Signs It’s Time to Throw Away Your Dog’s Toy
Even with regular cleaning, eventually, all dog toys come to the end of their life. When this happens, it’s important to know when to let go and get rid of them. Here are a few signs that a toy is ready to be retired:
- It’s starting to fall apart or show signs of wear and tear
- It has lost its shape
- The colors are faded
- It no longer smells fresh
If you notice any of these things, it’s time for the toy to go in the bin. Don’t worry too much though – your pup will be sure to let you know when they need some new toys to get attached to!
Symptoms of Illness – What Do You if You Think a Toy Has Made Your Dog Sick
Serious threats to your four-legged pal’s health from their toys are rare, but it’s important to keep an eye out all the same. If you think your dog has become ill after playing with a toy, take them to see a vet as soon as possible.
Some symptoms that may indicate they are unwell include:
- Lethargy or lack of energy
- Decreased appetite
If you notice any of these signs, make an appointment to see your vet and let them know what toys your dog has been playing with recently.
They will be able to advise you on whether the toy is likely to be the cause of the illness and what course of treatment is necessary.
In some cases, your dog may need antibiotics if they have developed an infection from bacteria on their toys.
Are Your Dog’s Toys Ready for a Clean?
By now, you’ll see how cleaning your dog’s toys is important for their health, as well as your own and that of your family. I hope you’ve enjoyed this guide on how to wash dog toys – happy cleaning!