How to Wash Pet Toys: A Comprehensive Guide

April 22, 2024

As a dedicated pet owner, I know firsthand the importance of toys in our furry friends' lives. These items are not just sources of fun; they play crucial roles in our pets' physical activity, mental stimulation, and emotional well-being. Yet, with regular play, these toys can accumulate dirt, bacteria, and even mold, posing health risks to both pets and owners. That's why regular cleaning of pet toys is essential to ensure they remain safe and enjoyable.

At Daring Pet, the online pet store where we provide a wide range of pet accessories and toys, we understand the importance of maintaining clean and safe toys for our furry customers. In this comprehensive guide, We’ll share with you the best practices for washing various types of pet toys. From plush to rubber to electronic toys, I'll guide you through the processes to ensure they are thoroughly cleaned and maintained, helping keep your home hygienic and your pets happy and healthy.

Understanding the Importance of Clean Pet Toys

Before diving into the cleaning process, it’s essential to recognize why keeping pet toys clean is crucial. Toys that are not regularly cleaned can harbor harmful pathogens like E. coli and Staphylococcus, which can lead to infections in pets and even humans. Furthermore, dirty toys can develop unpleasant odors and deteriorate faster, reducing their lifespan and your pet's interest in them.

Types of Pet Toys and Their Cleaning Needs

Pet toys come in a variety of materials and types, each requiring specific cleaning methods:

1. Plush Toys

Plush toys are beloved by many pets for their softness and cuddliness but are prone to retaining odors and debris.

Cleaning Process:

  • Machine Washing: Check the toy for a care label. If it's machine washable, place it in a pillowcase or a mesh laundry bag. Use a gentle, pet-safe detergent and set your washer to a gentle cycle with warm water. Air dry thoroughly or use a low heat dryer setting.
  • Hand Washing: For toys not suitable for the machine, use warm water and a mild detergent. Soak the toy, gently scrub it, and rinse thoroughly. Squeeze out excess water and let it air dry.

2. Rubber, Nylon, and Plastic Toys

These toys are excellent for active play and teething pets but can get quite grimy and potentially store bacteria in crevices.

Cleaning Process:

  • Dishwasher: If the toys are dishwasher safe, this is a simple and effective method. Place them on the top rack and run a normal cycle with a natural dishwasher detergent.
  • Hand Washing: Use hot soapy water and a brush to scrub the toys thoroughly, especially around any crevices or chew marks. Rinse under hot running water and dry completely.

3. Rope Toys

Rope toys can help with dental health but can easily trap saliva and debris.

Cleaning Process:

  • Machine Washing: Toss them into the washing machine with a mild detergent. Consider washing them with towels to help scrub the toys as they tumble.
  • Boiling: For a deep clean, boiling rope toys in water for about 15 minutes can kill germs and bacteria effectively. Ensure the toys are completely dry to prevent mold growth.

4. Interactive and Electronic Toys

These toys can be complex and require careful cleaning to avoid damaging electronic components.

Cleaning Process:

  • Wiping Down: Use a damp cloth with a mild soap to gently wipe down the exterior. Avoid submerging in water. Remove any batteries before cleaning.
  • Spot Cleaning: Clean only visible dirt and debris to avoid damaging the mechanics or electronics.

Step-by-Step Guide to Washing Pet Toys

Step 1: Sort the Toys

Before washing, sort the toys according to their material and the recommended cleaning method. This initial organization is crucial as it prevents damage to the toys and ensures that each type receives the most effective cleaning. For example, separate plush toys, rubber toys, and rope toys into different groups. Also, segregate any toys that have electronic components and require a different approach, typically a more gentle handling.

Step 2: Pre-Cleaning

Start by removing loose debris and dirt from each toy. This can be done using a soft brush or cloth to gently sweep away the dirt, especially from crevices and hidden spots in textured toys. Check each toy for signs of wear and tear, and carefully cut off any frayed or loose threads and pieces to prevent choking hazards or digestive blockages in pets. If the toy has stubborn dirt or stains, you might consider pre-soaking it in warm water for a few minutes before proceeding with a deeper clean.

Step 3: Choose the Right Detergent

Choosing an appropriate detergent is vital for the safety and well-being of your pet. Opt for a mild, pet-safe detergent, which should be free from harsh chemicals, bleaches, and heavy fragrances. These substances can be harmful if ingested by your pet or if they linger on the toys and irritate your pet’s skin or respiratory system. Some pet stores sell detergents formulated specifically for pet items, or you can use a small amount of a mild, natural dish soap as an alternative.

Step 4: Wash According to Material

Each type of material should be washed according to specific guidelines to ensure cleanliness without damaging the toy:

  • Plush Toys: Machine wash in a pillowcase or mesh bag on a gentle cycle with warm water, or hand wash in a sink with warm soapy water. Squeeze gently and avoid harsh scrubbing to maintain the shape and texture of the toy.
  • Rubber, Nylon, and Plastic Toys: These can often be cleaned in the dishwasher (on the top rack) for a thorough sanitation. If hand washing, use hot water and a brush to get into all the nooks and crannies.
  • Rope Toys: Machine wash with a mild detergent or boil them to eliminate germs effectively. Ensure they are thoroughly dried as these materials can harbor moisture.
  • Interactive and Electronic Toys: Wipe down with a slightly damp cloth after removing any batteries. Use minimal water to avoid damaging electronic parts.

Step 5: Dry Thoroughly

After washing, it is essential to dry all toys completely before giving them back to your pet. Moist toys can breed mold and bacteria, which pose health risks. Plush and rope toys can be air-dried or put in a dryer on a low heat setting. Rubber, nylon, and plastic toys should be left to air dry completely or wiped down to remove any remaining moisture. Ensure electronic toys are completely dry and that all components are securely reassembled before returning them to your pet’s play collection.


Keeping your pet’s toys clean not only ensures their longevity but also maintains your pet’s health and safety. By regularly cleaning your pet’s toys and accessories, you contribute significantly to their overall well-being and maintain a clean and hygienic home environment. Remember, the happiness and health of your furry friends depend largely on the care and attention you give to their playthings and accessories.


Urban Splatter

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