dog surrounded with dog toys

How to Wash Dog Toys

Toys keep our furry pals busy, out of mischief and stimulated throughout the day! But these toys, whether they be hard or soft, get absolutely filthy very quickly.

Whether you’ve got a rope toy, a chewy stuffed duck comforter, or a rubber ball, you’ve got to keep your pet’s toys clean. It’s better for them, you, and anyone else in the house!

Let’s face it, you don’t want your poor buddy to have a bad tummy after eating a mouldy toy. And you certainly don’t want to go around touching mud-drenched, saliva-filled, stinking squishy toys each day.

So, there’s only one thing for it… you have to wash the toys regularly.

Here are some ways you can clean dog toys. Skip to the method that best suits the type of toy you need to clean (hard, soft, or rope).


Tips for Washing Dog Toys

tips for washing dog toys

Here are a few tips you should bear in mind when cleaning and caring for your pup’s toys:

  • Check the care label on the toy before you clean it. Here you’ll find washing and drying instructions.
  • Don’t use harsh chemicals.
  • Ensure the toy is dry before you hand it back to your doggy.
  • Don’t leave toys outside because they get wet and overrun with germs.
  • Wash toys frequently, at least once a week.
  • Keep an eye on your dog’s toys and bin any items that look worse for wear and could become a choking hazard.
  • Air dry dog toys whenever possible.
  • If your pet eats a raw food diet, you should clean their toys daily.
  • Remember that some dogs can be sensitive to the products listed below, so use them with caution. And if there is a problem, like a bad stomach, lethargy, rash, or constant itching, seek advice from a vet.


How to Clean Hard Dog Toys

rubber dog toys

Hard dog toys are typically made from nylon, hard plastic and rubber, and they’re built to last.

Their main goal is to entertain and keep busy chewers out of mischief, and they usually come in various shapes and colours, and often have bumps and ridges all over their surfaces to amuse your pooch.

Hard toys include, but are not limited to, the following Kongs, balls and ‘indestructible’ items.

Clean hard dog toys like this:

  1. Wait for the debris on the toy to dry out (the saliva has dried).
  2. Grab an old toothbrush and brush obvious dirt off the surface.
  3. Pay close attention to any nooks and crannies – dog toys are full of bumps and shapes to entertain your pooch.
  4. Go over to the sink and wash the toy under running hot water and washing-up liquid (skip to Step 7 if you don’t like the sound of this).
  5. Continue to rub soap into the toy to clean it.
  6. Rinse the toy clean – make sure there are no suds left on the toy!
  7. Mix a cup of white vinegar with three cups of warm water in a bowl.
  8. Soak the toy in the liquid for about 30 minutes.
  9. Rinse the toy off with fresh water.
  10. Dry the toy, and only when it is completely dry can you return it to your pet.


Alternative method – cleaning toys in the dishwasher

cleaning dog toys in dishwasher

Some fur-mums and dads like to clean hard dog toys in a dishwasher.

To try this, you need to pop the hard toy(s) on the top rack of the dishwasher and start a hot wash.

It’s generally okay to give this method a go but be careful that the intense heat and water pressure don’t warp or damage the toy(s) in question.

If a dog toy does get damaged or warped after being cleaned in a dishwasher, you must put the toy in the bin because it could hurt your dog or become a choking hazard.

You also shouldn’t add any dishwasher tablets to the dishwasher when running this kind of clean as the cleaning chemicals could harm your pet.

Note: This alternative method is not suitable for soft toys and ropes. This intense cleaning method would likely damage the items.


How to Clean Soft Dog Toys

plush dog toy

Soft dog toys, in contrast, are usually made from a plush material, like synthetic fibre, and are typically stuffed and come with a squeak.

Squishy and cuddly dog toys typically resemble an animal shape, like a duck or an elephant, and these toys are designed to be kind to your doggie’s mouth and often act as comforters.

They’re not usually suitable toys for dogs that like to chew because they break apart quickly.

Since soft toys are made from materials that can absorb moisture, they often become a breeding ground for bacteria and mould, which is why they need to be cleaned.

They also start to stink, which is usually a sign that the toys need to be washed.

Clean soft dog toys like this:

  1. Allow the toy to dry out. Hang it on the line if this helps.
  2. Brush loose dirt off the surface with an old toothbrush.
  3. Optional: soak the toy in a mixture of one part white vinegar and two parts water for 15 minutes, then continue with this method.
  4. Pop the toy into a laundry bag. This stops bits from flying everywhere.
  5. Put the bag into the washing machine.
  6. Choose the hottest water temperature allowed for the toy. If there are plastic parts or there’s a squeaker inside the toy, choose cool water.
  7. Select a delicate wash cycle.
  8. Don’t add detergent.
  9. Start the wash.
  10. Dry the toy thoroughly before giving it back to your dog!


How to Clean Rope Toys

dog rope toys

Rope toys get covered in saliva, grime, microbes and change colour as they collect dirt, so they must be cleaned constantly.

They’re not necessarily the easiest toys to handle because they’re tough, chunky and can be heavy!

Nonetheless, the ropes can be cleaned, and the easiest way to clean a rope toy is to follow the steps under ‘How to clean soft dog toys’. You can also disinfect toy ropes using the method below.

To disinfect a rope toy, you can follow this method:

  1. Check the rope for plastic bits or anything that could melt.
  2. If the rope has plastic bits or tassels, stop what you’re doing and don’t try this method out.
  3. If the toy rope is 100% rope, continue.
  4. Soak the entire rope in water.
  5. Pop the rope inside the microwave.
  6. Microwave the rope for about 2 minutes.
  7. Remove the rope from the microwave very carefully!
  8. Leave the rope to cool down.


When to Bin Dog Toys

damaged dog toy with stuffing out

As much as you’d like to clean and keep all your dog’s toys, you can’t really do this. And in many cases, you have to bin the item before it causes harm to your pal.

You should dump a dog’s toy in the rubbish bin when:

  • When there are loose bits on the toy, you should bin it because the loose pieces are essentially choking hazards.
  • When the squeaky makes an appearance, you should consider getting rid of the toy because the stuffing will generally start to fall out/become loose at the same time.
  • When no amount of washing cleans the toy effectively.
  • When your pet starts to eat the toy instead of playing with it, it’s time to bin it.
  • When your dog starts to pull the stuffing out of the toy, it’s time to get rid of it.

Keep a look out for these signs, and if one or more of them pop up, get rid of the toy.

The toy isn’t really a toy once it starts to break down, and it’s more of a hazard than anything else.

So, just get rid of the toy, and any others like it, and buy another toy that’s made from a different type of material, so your buddy can enjoy it for longer.


Can You Wash Dog Toys in a Washing Machine?

wash dog toys in the washing machine

Yes, you can clean most dog toys in a washing machine. The washing machine method is, however, best suited to soft toys and ropes. It would be better if you didn’t clean hard toys in a washer as they could break or damage the drum in the machine.