Read our tips for cleaning your dog’s favorite toy – see what to scrub, repair or toss.
Your dog wrestles his toys to the ground. He shreds them in two. He literally beats the stuffing out of them. Ah…the joy of a dog with his toys. What can be done? You hate to toss them out, but at what point are these dirty trashed toys just unsafe for play? Woof Report got the facts from Hartz.com on maintaining the stuff your dog loves, and we’ve added a few tips of our own too. Read on for the facts on tossing, cleaning, and safekeeping, it’s all here.
What to Toss
Pay your final respects to well-loved toys that are chewed beyond recognition, missing parts, dangling with choking hazards (i.e., stuffed animal eyes), or those that appear to be partially eaten by your dog. It’s over. Once you’ve determined the toy is safe, you can try cleaning it.
What to Clean
Rubber and Plastic Toys. Get out the toothbrush and scrub inside grubby Kong toys and other hollow treat holders using soap and water. While you can soak your Kong in a bowl of soapy water, followed by a good rinse, you can also pop Kongs into the dishwasher along with other nylon, plastic and rubber toys. Use a hot cycle without detergent to blast off the germs.
Rope Toys. These babies are breeding grounds for bacteria. To get them safe and clean, running them under hot water is not enough. Consider doing what the U.S. government recommends for sponges and other household cleaning items; zap rope toys in the microwave. Just wet the toy and microwave it for one minute to kill all the bacteria, yeast and mold. Be careful to remove any metal first and not to “overcook” it. Another option is to pop the rope toy in the dishwasher without detergent for the same squeaky clean results.
Stuffed Animals. Your dog’s favorite stuffed squirrel is germier than he looks. Every now and then, throw him and any yucky tennis balls in the washing machine with pet-safe detergent. Woof Report reader Leia recommends hypoallergenic and dye free Seventh Generation detergent. Most stuffed animals can survive the dryer too. Let tennis balls air dry or toss them into the dryer with your towels before throwing them back into fetch duty.
Chew Toys. They’re gross to us but delectable to doggies. So even though you may be tempted to scrub chewies or rawhides, resist the urge. Just keep an eye on your dog as he devours them. This way, you’ll be right there if he bites off a bigger piece than he can chew.
What to Repair
As a pup parent, you double as an emergency stuffed toy surgeon. It’s fine to rescue your dog’s favorite stuffed toys, but just make sure holes are sewed tight so stuffing stays put or just remove the stuffing altogether. Then clip away any loose threads and release them to the care of your happy dog.
Thank you to Hartz for the useful tips for keep dog toys safe and clean.
Originally published June 2009; reviewed and updated February 2017.