Keeping your dog’s toys all together in a single place will make it easy for you to keep track of them. It will also make it easier to go through them on a regular basis and decide which need cleaning and which should be thrown away.

What to discard
Be sure to toss any of the following:

  • Toys that have missing parts or have been heavily chewed.
  • Any toys with dangling bits, stuffed animal eyes, etc. — all of which can be choking hazards.
  • Toys that your dog is “eating.” Unless it is a treat toy, your dog should not be eating his toys. If you see him doing so or if the toy is much smaller than it initially was; throw it away.

Cleaning plastic/rubber/hard toys

  • Nylon and rubber toys can be cleaned by hand with soap and water.
  • These toys can easily go in your dishwasher for cleaning.
  • Run them through on the hot cycle with no detergent. The heat and water pressure should kill most germs and remove dirt and grime.

Cleaning rope toys
Softer toys can become breeding grounds for bacteria, so consider sanitizing them. A study by the US government found that microwaving household cleaning items, like sponges, killed everything from bacteria to yeast to molds. To clean rope toys:

  • Wet the toy and microwave it for a full minute. Microwave wattages vary so keep an eye on the toy while heating it.
  • Take care when removing the item as it could be quite hot.
  • The second best choice is to run your toy through your dishwasher on the hot cycle with no detergent. This kills almost as much bacteria, yeast, and mold as the microwave method.
  • Just cleaning your rope toys under really hot water isn’t enough if you want to sanitize them; the water gets significantly hotter during a dishwasher cycle.

Cleaning stuffed animals
As with rope toys, these soft toys can harbor all sorts of microbes.

  • Try throwing these toys in the washing machine when they are dirty.
  • Some toys survive the washing machine better than others, but if the toy is well made, it should maintain all of its original appeal to your dog after washing.
  • Similarly, most should also survive the drying process.

Cleaning treat toys and chews
Any natural products such as rawhides and pig ears can not be washed and should only be used under the owner’s close supervision. This is to prevent the dog from eating too large a piece or from gulping it down too quickly.

Your dog’s favorite toy doesn’t have to be tossed into the garbage bin when it is dirty. Make sure that the toy is still safe to play with and then try cleaning it. Never use bleach or harsh cleaning chemicals. If the toy has a foul smell or does not get clean after washing, it is time for the garbage bin!

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