Time To Clean The Toy Box

Let’s consider that out of everything your dog uses, one of the most used and abused are their TOYS.  We have toys to train, dispense treats, interactive toys to fight boredom, stimulate minds, and comfort toys.  Toys are not inexpensive and some toy designs are only sold for a limited amount of time, like a posh handbag or trendy pair of shoes.  And, we all know our pets have their favorites.  So lets understand some of the benefits of play and how to take good care of these toys to last longer.

Toys Play Essential Role in Pet Health

Toys play an essential role in keeping your pets happy and healthy by keeping them comforted and mentally satisfied.  It’s animals natural instinct to chase, smell, chew, and scavenge, and their toys play a intricate part in helping pets do just that.

Toys being such an essential part of our pets' daily life, still, most of us never think of cleaning out  toy bins, or cleaning the toys themselves.  Just a little routine cleaning, inspection and repairs go a long way in extending the life of Toys, while reducing germs and safety hazards for you furry loved one.
Most of us enjoy encouraging play with our pets and changing the games with a new toy. 

Toys are a Investment

Lets be realistic, toys are a investment, not only in the toy itself, but the quality of your pets health.

During play, toys spend a lot of time in your pet's mouth, and dog and cat saliva is full of bacteria.  This bacteria transfers to their toys, whether they are soft and plush, made from rope or even rubber.  The good news is that these bacteria transferred to these toys don’t have a high risk for you pets, although they can cause irritation to their skin, sometimes leading to bumps and even pustules especially to dog with allergies. 

In addition, these dirty toys add to the dirt, grim, pollen's and smell everywhere these toys go in your home.  Whether it is your pet's bed, couch, on the floor, or even your bed, all the while picking up more dirt and grime along the way. 

Regular cleaning and care is better for your pet’s health and safety, as well as helping your home smell better and reduce dirt and germs.

A few simple steps and you can extend the life of the toys, keep your home cleaning and smell better, and keep your pet happy and healthy.

Cleaning in a Few Simple Steps

A few simple steps and you can extend the life of the toys, keep your home cleaning and smell better, and keep your pet happy and healthy.

  • Gather & Group
  • Toy Inspection
  • Cleaning Toys
  • Rotate

Gather & Grouping Toys

Let’s start with gathering all the dog toys and putting them into two groups, making them easier to clean by types of materials and surfaces.

  • Hard toys (made from rubber and hard plastics, anything from treat dispensers, interactive puzzles, balls).
  • Rope toys and soft plush toys

Individual Toy Inspection

Hard Toys

Check all the hard toys for chips and splits in the mold of the toy. A small nick or chip is not always a safety issue, but you want to make sure the dog can’t swallow a broken piece of plastic or rubber. Discard any toys that you feel is a safety hazard.

Plush Toys

Inspect all the plush toys for ripped seams, missing limbs or areas stuffing might be showing. Is the toy worth fixing? Is it one of your pets favorites? If it is, it might be worth saving with a little thread, stuffing and a new squeaker, you can bring a Plush toy back to life.

Cleaning Plush & Hard Toys

Hard Toys

Rubber Chew Toys, puzzles and tough plastics can be soaked in a 5% vinegar and warm water solution for 10 to 15 minutes. Then with a sponge or brush, gently scrub to remove built up dirt and bacteria. Rinse thoroughly and dried.

Plush Toys

Washing Machine - Plush toys come in all sizes and shapes, stuffing, no stuffing, squeakers, and crinkle. Many can go directly into the washing machine with no problems, but we suggest placing them all in a mesh laundry bag and place them in the washing machine. It gives a little more protection against the inside workings of the machine, as well as keep them together, especially if also washing with pet blanket or other bedding.

Set the machine on the delicate setting, using a laundry booster, designed for pet laundry, or ¼ cup of vinegar, with a warm water setting. The wash will remove pollen, dander, bacteria, dirt and all the slobber.

Hand Wash - Hand washing is a option, especially best for older toys, that may show wear, or have a small hole or partially torn. It is best to hand wash these toys in warm water, with ¼ cup of vinegar then lay out to dry.


Some toys will do well in the dryer on a low-heat cycle, but other more delicate or those with plastic parts, like squeakers, crinkle material or even soft fiber filling, should be laid out on a rack for sweaters or hung on a line to dry.

Air drying helps extend the life of all plush toys in general.


Dryer Sheets - Toxic to Pets

When drying your toys in a dryer, DO NOT USE dryer sheets. Dryer sheets disperse chemicals to reduce static cling and make laundry soft with the heat of the dryer. These chemicals are toxic to pets, especially when they chew or ingest. Both new and used dryer sheets are toxic, so be careful using them with all of your laundry and made sure they are disposed on in a place your pet cannot access them.

Rotate Pet Toys

We were given this tip many years ago and found it works out great.  We have 3 small laundry baskets of toys, each mixed with hard and plush toys and each month we rotate the bins. 

This not only extends the life of toys, but not surprising it re-stimulates their curiosity, because everything is like new again!  Pets have renewed interest in old favorites and it reduced boredom and enriches playtime.


Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.