Our pets interact with their toys primarily with their mouths and feet.
And on the floor. Yuck. Just imagine how grody your pet's toys get in normal play. Skip cleaning your pet’s toys with conventional cleaning products; many contain harmful or toxic chemicals, perfumes, and dyes. Instead, try one of these safe, non-toxic methods for keeping those toys squeaky clean.
Hard Dog Toys
For hard rubber or plastic toys, load up your dishwasher! Skip the detergent—unless you use a botanically-derived soap instead of a conventional one—and use vinegar instead. Arrange the toys on the top rack and run a full cycle. Once the toys dry, the vinegar smell will be gone. Hint: Multi-task the load of wash. Do all your pet’s cleaning at once: fountains, dishes, puzzle toys, non-leather collars and leashes can all go through the dishwasher for a quick, effective, non-toxic clean.
Soft Dog Toys
In addition to getting dirty, soft toys can collect dust mites. Collect all your pet’s soft, plush items for a quick run through the washing machine. Use a natural laundry detergent or simply sprinkle the toys with baking soda and add a few capfuls of white vinegar during the rinse cycle. For toys with squeakers, you may have to squeeze out a bit of water after the cycle finishes, though once dry, it’ll be back to squeaking away! It’s best to do this chore on a sunny day so that the toys can air dry naturally. However, you can toss them in the dryer on a low or air-only setting.
DIY Dog Toy Cleaner
If neither the dishwasher nor the washing machine methods work for you, you can whip up a DIY dog toy cleaner and simply soak your pet’s toys in the sink or tub. Mix equal parts water with white vinegar. Scour extra dirty toys with a sprinkle of baking soda, or simply dump the toys in the sink with the solution. For quick cleanups, keep the vinegar and water mix in a spray bottle and wipe down toys with a cloth.
What About Cat Toys?
With the exception of any catnip-infused toys, follow the same procedures outlined above. For toys that include catnip, the nip will lose its efficacy over time anyway, so it’s probably time to replace the toy once it loses its potency.
Maggie is a writer and author, whose first book, Clicker Dog Training: The Better Path to a Well-Behaved Pup was published by Open Air Publishing. When she's not writing (or reading books about grammar), she teaches writing courses to college students and professionals who want to nail down the basics of communication. Outside of work, she hikes, throws dinner parties, plays with her three dogs and cat, and travels as much as possible.