How to Clean Dog Toys

How often do you clean your dog's toys? Have you ever done it? I know this is one of the most overlooked areas when it comes to cleaning your home.

I used to be guilty of neglecting to clean my dog's toys too. It never really occurred to me for whatever reason and I know that goes for a lot of dog owners.

But once you think about it, you realize just how obvious it is that they need to be cleaned.

And I don’t know about your dog, but mine has LOTS of toys! And day after day they get full of dirt, slime, and who knows what else. Your dog is constantly putting their mouth on their toys while playing, so they are constantly ingesting all of the bacteria that has been building up over time.

I will admit though, I probably don’t wash them as often as I should. Usually, anytime I clean the whole house, top to bottom, like for Spring cleaning.

Along with washing your dog’s toys, you should also wash anything else they possess such as leashes, collars, bandanas, clothing, food and water bowls, etc. Although your dog's food and water bowls should actually be getting cleaned on a daily basis, and if not then at the very least a weekly basis.

When washing your dog’s toys and accessories it is important to do it safely. You don’t want to use any harsh chemicals as your dog is more sensitive to these than you are and could become ill or worse die from them over time.

If you prefer to watch a video instead of reading, check out the short video on IGTV from my Dog Mom Tips Tuesday series.

how to clean dog toys


How to Clean Your Dog's Toys 

Stuffed Toys

This also includes those toys that are soft and fuzzy like a stuffed toy but don't have the stuffing. Basically, I'm talking about any fabric toy.

Gather up all the soft toys and clothing and check them over. You want to make sure to get rid of any of the broken ones. If stuffing is coming out or strings are hanging loose or they have holes, it needs to be thrown out. This can cause harm to your dog if the strings get tangled up in their teeth or insides, or they could choke on stuffing, etc.

Then throw all the toys and accessories that are still intact into the washing machine. I recommend doing this while your dog is outside or occupied elsewhere. They may get a little sad if they see you taking away all of their toys. I know I would if I was them.

Don’t use your normal detergent or fabric softener. These contain harsh chemicals.

Instead, use a little bit of baking soda and/or vinegar. To do this, you can put the vinegar where you normally put your laundry detergent, whether that's directly in the water or in a designated spot. 

When using the baking soda you can sprinkle them directly onto the toys. If the toys are extra smelly, you can throw them into a bag, sprinkle baking soda on, shake it up, and let it sit for an hour or so. The baking soda will absorb some of the stink. 

Put them through a normal wash cycle. Sometimes I put them through the rinse cycle twice to make sure everything came off. 

Then you can throw them in the dryer on low heat without dryer sheets, again those contain harsh chemicals. Check on them to make sure they are completely dry otherwise they will mold. (I learned this the hard way.)

Or if you use a clothesline you could hang them up to dry.


How to clean plush dog toys


Rubber and Plastic Toys

Gather up all of your dog's rubber and plastic toys. Even leashes, collars, puzzle games, etc.

Again, you want to make sure to get rid of any broken ones. Even if there are any scratches in the toys, they should be thrown out because that’s a great place for bacteria to build up. 

I find the best way to clean these is by soaking them in a sink or tub. Use a small amount of vinegar in the water. Grab an old toothbrush (that hasn’t been used with cleaning chemicals) to scrub off any crusted on dirt and grime. 

If you can’t get something clean, you could use some baking soda to help scrub at the dirt. 

Leashes and collars can soak in the water for a while and then you can scrub them if needed. If they are machine washable, that will be an easier way but not all are so I wanted to mention it with here with these toys. 

Some people want to wash these toys in their dishwasher. I would be careful with that because the heat from a dishwasher could ruin some toys or start to break them down which can cause harm to your dog.

Also, dish detergent isn't exactly safe for dogs to ingest. If you prefer to use your dishwasher at least make sure there isn't any dish detergent or rinse aid. You can use vinegar instead.


how to clean dog toys



If you give your dog bones, they shouldn’t be more than a week old. By that time plenty of bacteria has grown on the bone and could make your dog sick. Plus, chances are there are scratches in the bone by that time, which again can be a great place for bacteria to grow.

Also, make sure to get rid of any small pieces that your dog could swallow and choke on.



Most dog beds are machine washable. If yours isn’t you should throw it out after a while. Bacteria and mites can grow in your dog’s bedding, along with who knows what else.

Strip the fabric cover off the bedding and throw them in the washing machine. Wash these the same way as you did with the stuffed toys.

As for the foam inside the dog bed, you can sprinkle on some baking soda, let it sit, and then vacuum it really well.

Now your dog's toys and accessories will be squeaky clean! (Cheesy pun intended!)

If you have any tips or tricks for cleaning your dog's toys and accessories, leave a comment to let us know!

Related: 5 Spring Cleaning Tips for Dog Moms

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