We’ve all been playing with our dogs only for them to drop a slobber-coated ball straight into our laps or a foul-smelling stuffed animal on the carpet. Our furry friends love their toys, but their playthings can become dirty almost as soon as they enter your dog’s mouth.

We’re going to start out by saying that there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to cleaning your pooch’s toy collection. Bones will need a different care plan than rubber toys and stuffed animals. Read on to learn how to wash each type of toy in your dog’s arsenal.

Rope Toys

Rope toys are an excellent for tug-of-war and chewing, but they also are the perfect breeding ground for mold, mildew, bacteria and fungus. Although you can throw them in the washer with a dog-safe detergent, the easiest cleaning method is to douse them in water for 10 minutes and microwave for a minute (assuming there is no metal or plastic). This kills everything that’s living on the toy to ensure safe playtime for your doggie.

Chew/Nylon/Rubber Toys

Chews, nylon and rubber toys are made for heavy-duty chewers, but they can also host some gross microorganisms. A majority of these toys are dishwasher safe; however, a few won’t be. For those latter toys, wash in a vinegar/water solution (1/4 cup of vinegar to 5 cups of water) and scrub with an old toothbrush to keep these toys in excellent shape.


We’re going to point out here that you’re not really cleaning bones as much as you’re sterilizing them. Bones are an excellent way to keep your dog entertained, but they can get pretty gross quickly.

Kalani chewing on a bone

Clean bones by putting them in a pot of boiling water. The bone must be fully submerged with at least two inches of water above the tallest point of the bone. Boil the bone for 30 minutes, let it cool, take off any that’s hanging off the bone and give it to your pooch!

Stuffed Animals

Stuffed animals are some of the most popular toys on the market, but they also are hotbeds for mold and bacteria.

To properly clean stuffed animals/plushies, you will need to:

  • Find a pet-friendly detergent. Alternatively, you can use a mixture that’s half water and half vinegar.
  • Ideally, you will wash them by hand; however, you can throw them in the washer with pet-friendly detergent.
  • Toys must be completely dry before you give them to your dog or put them in a toy bin. This prevents the formation of mildew, mold and fungus.  You can throw them in your dryer (don’t add a dryer sheet) or let them air dry.

How often should I clean my dog’s toys?

Most people who keep their dog’s toys inside will only need to clean them about once a week. Toys that are played with outside should be rinsed off after each play session followed by a more intensive cleaning once a week. If toys are exceptionally dirty, they should be cleaned immediately.

dog’s toys

When should I throw away my dog’s toys?

We’ve all seen that look of sadness when we throw away our pooch’s favorite toy, but sometimes it needs to be done. If you notice their toy has holes, rips or missing parts, it’s time to throw it away. Disintegrating toys can be a major choking hazard.

To prolong your dog’s toys’ lifespans, make sure to switch out what your dog plays with each week. This can save you from needing to purchase more toys in the future.

Photographed this beautiful dog named Huey for a volunteer run initiative called PixelPaws which aims to help dogs find their forever homes through photography. http://pixelpaws.ca/

This dog was available for adoption through LEASH Animal Welfare Society, which is an incredible dog rescue organization serving Greater Vancouver in rescuing/rehoming dogs in need. http://www.leashsavinglives.com/

Taking the time to wash your dog’s toys may seem like another chore, but it can leave you with a happier, healthier dog. Well maintained toys do not face mold, mildew, bacterial and fungal growth, while also ensuring your dog does not choke on loose or missing parts. Remember to wash their toys once a week and spend as much time playing with your dog as possible.