How to Clean Dog Toys

puppy lying in the dirt outside surrounded by dog toys

Dog toys can get pretty gross pretty fast, especially when it comes to your dog’s favorite toy. Some toys you can wash or rinse off while others, like cloth toys, require a little more effort. Toys are great for your dog, but when they become too dirty or too damaged, they can become a hazard to your dog. You can throw out old toys that are too damaged, but you can also make toys last a lot longer with some general maintenance and care. Here’s how to clean dog toys:

How to Clean Nylon and Rubber Dog Toys

Nylon and rubber dog toys are some of the easiest to clean. You can use an old toothbrush or buy a toy cleaning brush to scrub these toys clean. You can also wash them with mild dish soap and rinse thoroughly. As long as the packaging indicates that the toy can go in the dishwasher, you can throw your dog’s toys in the dishwasher.

You’ll have to check specific directions on placement as some toys can only go on the top rack of the dishwasher. It’s usually a good idea to run them as their own load using the hottest cycle and using no detergent. This will clean the toys, remove any grime and slobber, and will also sterilize them.

Tips for Cleaning Stuffable Dog Toys

Kongs and other stuffable toys allow you to insert food or treats into them to occupy your pup and reward them with a tasty treat. Because food is involved, and it’s usually squishy food like peanut butter, it’s important to clean these dog toys after each use that involves food.

Particles of food can easily work into all the small nooks and crannies and crevices of the toy, which can lead to a lot of bacteria and potentially dangerous bacteria. Since these dog toys are often made of nylon or rubber, they can be cleaned in the same way. With the involvement of food, it may be better to wash these dog toys in the dishwasher, if possible, in order to sanitize them properly after each use.

How to Clean Cloth or Plush Dog Toys

Cloth or stuffed dog toys are not quite as easy to clean as the rubber or nylon toys, but you can still do it. It’s also important to do it as these toys collect dust mites in addition to bacteria and dirt. This category includes plushies, soft toys, rope toys, and more.

Dishwasher or Microwave

Rope toys can often be washed in the dishwasher using the hot cycle, but you’ll have to check the toy’s packaging or contact the manufacturer to make sure the toy is dishwasher-safe. As long as there is no metal and the packaging indicates the toy is microwave-safe, you can also wet the soft toys and then put them in the microwave for 60 seconds. Both of these options will sterilize the toys. Just be careful removing the toys from the microwave as they will be very hot!

Washing Machine

Another option is to put the toys through a cycle on the washing machine. Plushies and stuffed soft toys can be protected from harsh agitation by washing them inside a pillowcase. Not all soft dog toys can go in the dryer, so it’s important to check the packaging or with the manufacturer beforehand to make sure it’s safe.

Know When to Toss Your Dog’s Toys

Another important aspect of keeping your dog healthy and also keeping their toys under control is knowing when it’s time to toss a toy in the trash.

Signs it’s Time to Throw Out Rubber or Nylon Dog Toys

For rubber or nylon toys, it’s time to toss them out if they are drastically smaller than when they were first purchased. If there are obvious signs that your dog has been eating, or has been trying to eat, them, then it’s time for them to go. Other signs that those toys should go in the trash include missing chunks, sharp edges, or cracks.

Signs it’s Time to Throw Out Soft Dog Toys

For soft toys, you want to throw them out when your dog has ripped them apart and the stuffing is starting to come out. If it’s a newer toy, you can probably stitch small areas closed. But, if stuffing is starting to go missing or the toy is shredded, it’s time for it to go. You’ll want to trim off any loose strings you see and then keep an eye on your dog with the toy as strings are sometimes a sign that your dog is starting to eat small pieces of the toy. Also, smell your dog’s soft toys every now and then. If they retain a foul smell even after cleaning, they should go in the trash.

With these tips and tricks for cleaning dog toys and managing your dog’s toy collection, you can help your dog’s favorite toys last that much longer. In addition to keeping your dog safe from harmful bacteria, you also won’t be as grossed out when your dog drops their favorite toy in your lap for playtime.