How to Wash Dog Toys & Protect Against Viruses

Does your dog destroy every new toy he gets within a matter of minutes? Or is your dog more caring with his toys, letting them last a few days more before tearing them apart? If your dog is the latter, lucky you! You probably spend less money on dog toys than other pet parents. But the longer the toy lasts, the grosser they get … this is where knowing how to wash dog toys comes in handy.

Other than wanting to keep your dog’s toys clean of dried slobber and general yuckiness, it’s important to consider cleaning them for health reasons as well. Toys can be a breeding ground for germs. Contagious diseases like canine parvovirus and kennel cough can live on such surfaces.

Not every dog toy comes with cleaning instructions. Read on to learn how dog owners can properly (and safely) clean dog toys from plush toys to chew toys and everything in between.

How to Clean Plush Toys & Stuffed Animals

family with a french bulldog

Your dog’s favorite toy can simply be tossed in the washing machine, but you shouldn’t use just any old laundry detergent. It’s best to use natural cleaning products free of dyes and fragrances on soft dog toys.

Check for any damage before putting soft toys or rope toys in the washing machine. If there’s a hole that goes unnoticed, you could have an explosion of wet stuffing and squeakers on your hands. A broken rope toy could unravel. Either sew up the hole before placing it in the machine on the gentle cycle or hand wash. If it can’t be salvaged, throw it away.

If you’re not going to air dry after cleaning your dog’s plush toys, be sure to squeeze out any absorbed excess water before tossing it in the dryer on low heat.

How to Clean Plastic Toys and Rubber Toys

orka tire durable chew toy for dogs

Durable hard toys like an Orka Tire or kong can be easily cleaned of grime by putting them in the dishwasher (as long as the manufacturer’s guidelines say so). After dishwashing a hard dog toy, air dry. Thin latex rubber toys will likely melt in the dishwasher. Dog parents should hand wash these types of toys with mild dish soap and warm water.

You can also DIY a disinfecting spray household cleaner by mixing white vinegar, baking soda, water, and alcohol. Use a toothbrush to scrub those tiny creases some toys have.

FYI: If you have one of our pet-safe slow feeder dog food bowls, those are top-rack dishwasher safe.

Cleaning Dog Toys Exposed to Viruses or Mites

how to wash dog toys

If your pet’s toys have been exposed to a virus like parvo, the Ohio State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine recommends throwing them away. If this isn’t possible, however, you should soak them in diluted household bleach (one part bleach, 32 parts water), then machine wash with detergent using hot water.

If you or anyone in your household has a dust mite allergy or bed bugs, your pup’s toys should also be machine washed using hot water in order to kill them. Mites and bed bugs love latching on to places like dirty dog toys and fabrics.

When Is It Time to Toss It?

When you know, you know. Some dirty toys just aren’t worth hanging on to, and some drool stains are just impossible to get out. Broken toys or toys your pooch has torn the squeaker out of should be tossed. Make sure there aren’t any leftover pieces hanging around that your dog could swallow in order to avoid choking hazards.

At any rate, you should be rotating your dog’s toys on a semi-regular basis so they have a fun variety to play with to keep things interesting. Take your pup to the pet store and treat him to something new.

How Often Should I Wash My Dog’s Toys?

A sheltie snuggles with a new Outward Hound Invincibles Minis.

Home organization queen Martha Stewart says you don’t need to fit cleaning your dog’s toys into your daily schedule, but it’s a good idea to do it maybe every two weeks. Toys that your dog uses more than others may need to be washed more often.

Wondering how to clean a dog bed? Check out:

How to Clean a Dog Bed