Most dogs have a favorite toy that goes everywhere with them. That special toy gets toted throughout the house, to the yard, on walks, and to the dog park.
It gets covered in slobber, dirt, and anything else that is lingering on the ground.
This means that dog toys can be harboring anything from fungus to mold to mildew to staph bacteria. There is the risk that they can be contaminated with Parvovirus or Distemper when they are taken on walks or to the dog park. Besides all that, there is the risk of fecal contamination, which can contain E.coli or Giardia, which also puts you at risk since it can be transmitted to humans.
How Often You Should Clean Your Dog’s Toys
Since dog toys are among the top 10 germiest items in the home per an NSF International (National Sanitation Foundation) study, it is a good idea to give them a good cleaning AT LEAST once a month. But in an ideal world, weekly cleaning is better.
For those toys that suffer through hard play and are covered in slobber, dirt, and who knows what else, cleaning daily is a good idea. This is especially true for those toys that have been in places other than your home and backyard.
For toys that are well-loved by dogs who eat raw food diets, daily disinfection is important. Studies indicate that these diets can contain Salmonella and Listeria, which are harmful to people. If your dog loves to play with their toys right after a meal, they can be contaminated with these bacteria. If you handle these toys and touch your mouth, you are at risk of accidental ingestion. Use caution by always washing these toys immediately after your dog has eaten and then played with them.
How to clean your dog’s toys is dependent on the type of toy it is. Always look on the packaging to see if the manufacturer has given any ‘do’s’ and ‘don’t’s’ when it comes to cleaning the toy.
In addition to all the other gross stuff that can get on the surface of toys, stuffed toys can harbor dust mites. Getting rid of them is important because, just like us, dogs can be allergic to them.
Rope toys can be cleaned similarly to stuffed toys (details below). Typically, since they don’t have plastic pieces or glue, they can be washed in warm or hot water. There is a quick sanitization method that can be used if they aren’t dirty and there are no plastic or metal parts. Soak them for about 5 minutes in water. Wring out any excess water. Then microwave them for about a minute. Let air-dry.
Stuffed toys can often be washed in a washing machine. Choose a cycle that you think is best for those particular toys. Typically, the Delicate, Hand Wash or Gentle cycle is the best option.