Dogs’ favorite toys are usually the most disgusting ones in the house. The clean toys are never as good, in the dogs’ opinion, as the one that got dragged out into the yard and through the mud. So how do you clean dog toys?
Of course it depends what the toy is made of, and how disreputable it is. All played-with dog toys reach a point where they can’t be salvaged and the best thing to do is replace them. Until that juncture, we can keep the gross factor to a minimum.
Depends on the dog, too
Some dogs, we’ve heard tell, are very gentle with their toys and cherish their puppy toys throughout their lives. We’ve never had a dog like that. Toys are enjoyed thoroughly and discarded when they get to the irreparable/uncleanable stage.
Most dogs we know have more toys than they need, or know what to do with. When a new toy comes into the house, it’s played with and then, when the dog moves on, it’s left to sit in the corner, ignored and neglected.
A good way of keeping the toy collection fresh is to have a rotation of dog toys. Decide on a number of toys that will be available to your dog. Include a couple current favorites and a few overlooked “oldies.” Remove all the others. If you are active in playing training games with your dog, you may want to reserve a special “reward” toy.
Now’s your chance to clean
If your dog’s been watching you “stealing his stuff,” just put them in a box or bag and remove them from sight until he/she forgets about them. That will probably happen the next day. To speed the process, play with one of the available toys, so your dog knows he/she still has great stuff.
These toys can be cleaned with gentle soap and water, and left to air-dry. It’s impossible to get all the nooks, crannies, and tooth marks dry, so don’t even try to dry with a cloth. We highly recommend a food-safe, natural dish soap.
We’re actually too lazy to wash the dog toys by hand, so we put them in the top rack of the dishwasher and run them in a cycle by themselves. We use a “green” dishwasher detergent and rinse aid, and certainly recommend it.
We know using the dishwasher shortens the life of the toys because of the high heat, but it’s a trade-off we’re willing to make.
Soft toy cleaning
We admit that our laziness extends to machine use here, too. First we mend any toys that have burst seams and/or holes. Our dogs don’t seem to care if their toys are funny-looking, which is a good thing. We’re terrible tailors.
All the soft toys go in their own load, on gentle cycle, in the washing machine. Depending on the toys, we may put some in a loosely-knotted pillow case or lingerie bag to protect them. This is saved for the truly special, favorite toys our dogs love and we want to preserve.
We’ve found a low-heat dryer cycle works fine for dog toys. If they’re still not dry, especially the stuffed toys, just run them through again.
Everything old is new again
The best part of cleaning dog toys is your dog’s joy at the “new” toys that show up on a regular basis.
Whenever we give the dogs a clean toy, we pick up one of the “floor toys,” and put it aside for the next toy cleaning day. The dogs get a regular rotation of toys, and never seem to care if it’s a “recycled” toy, or a really new one we just couldn’t resist getting.