Cleaning dog toys is one of the responsibilities of pet parents that are often overlooked. Since dogs generally play with their toys using their mouth, cleaning and disinfection of toys should be done on a regular basis.
Pet owners should know how to safely sanitize dog toys. Your pet’s toys actually need some serious cleaning to get rid of dirt and grime, as well as kill bacteria and other pathogens that might have taken residence on your pet’s toys and could possibly be a source of bacterial infection in dogs.
Many puppy toys often come with care and cleaning instructions which are usually printed on the tag or on its packaging. Ideally, the manufacturer’s recommendations for toy cleaning and disinfection must be followed. Knowing how to safely sanitize dog toys can ensure that your pet won’t be exposed to any harsh chemical residues that come from chemical disinfectants.
Here are some guidelines on how to clean your puppy’s toy safely:
Cleaning chew toys made of plastic, rubber, or nylon
These toys are best hand-washed in the tub or sink using warm water and an antibacterial dishwashing soap. Use a toothbrush to clean out hard-to-reach dirt and grime. Toys with accumulated grime and gunk should be pre-soak in a vinegar solution (1 part vinegar to 2 parts water) for at least 15 minutes before these are washed with soap and water. Be sure to thoroughly rinse the toys with clean water and allow them to dry before giving them to your dog or returning them to your toy bin.
If a rubber toy is dishwasher safe, place it on the topmost shelf of the dishwasher for thorough disinfection. You can run the dishwasher without adding detergent because the high water temperature and pressure of the water are enough to get rid of any pathogens that are present. Plastic toys should never be disinfected inside a dishwasher especially when it’s not labeled dishwasher-safe. Heat can destroy the plastic material.
Cleaning Rope Toys
Rope toys are mainly chewed, bitten, and pulled by the mouth. The drool-soaked fibers are an excellent breeding ground for bacteria, fungi, and other pathogens. These toys can be quickly disinfected in the microwave, however, make sure that it is only made up of rope WITHOUT any added extra items like plastic rings or metals. Before rope toys are placed inside the microwave, they should first be soaked in water for about a minute.
A minute inside the microwave can already kill any pathogens that may be present in the toy. But be careful when removing toys from the microwave, you might get burned as they can get very hot. However, microwaving can only disinfect rope toys but not remove dirt and grime that have accumulated. Your best bet is to toss them in the laundry and place it in the dryer as well.
Cleaning Plush Toys
Plush toys with or without stuffing or squeakers need more frequent cleaning than other kinds of safe dog toys. These toys can be viable sources of bacterial infections and parasites. Tossing them in the washing machine is the best way to clean and disinfect these toys. For plush toys that are sturdy and heavy duty, use normal wash cycle with cold or warm water.
Avoid using hot water because it could damage the material. If you are unsure whether a toy can withstand a normal wash cycle, choose a gentle wash setting, the same one that is used for washing delicates. Placing them inside a mesh bag can protect the toys from too much washing machine action. As for the dry cycle, heavy duty stuff toys can do well in a normal dry cycle, while the more delicate ones can be dried in a low-heat cycle or hung to dry. It is a good idea to squeeze out any excess water from the toys before drying or hanging them.
Cleaning Hard Toys
Use hot soapy water to wash hard toys. A toothbrush can be used to scrub the surface and remove dirt and grime in nooks and crannies. You can soak hard toys in vinegar solution for about 15 minutes and then rinse them thoroughly using freshwater before letting them air dry.
Toy maintenance is an important responsibility of pet owners. Dirty dog toys don’t have to be discarded immediately. Check the toy if it’s still safe for your pet to play with and learn how to clean your puppy’s toy safely.
Always remember to check the toy’s tag for washing instructions! However, a general rule of thumb is that most dog toys with squeakers should turn out fine after a good hand wash.