How To Wash Plush Dog Toys With Squeakers

It’s a topic pet parents don’t think about that often, but should — cleaning the dog’s toys. Unless you’ve got one of those pups that destroys his toys in a matter of minutes, there’s a good chance his favorite stuffed toy could use a little freshening up or his favorite rubber bone could be harboring some serious dirt and grime.

Because dog’s generally use their mouths to play with their toys, it’s important that their toys be cleaned and disinfected on a regular basis. Not only to wash away dirt and grime, but to kill bacteria and other germs that tend to thrive on those slobber-laden, dragged-through-the-dirt, tugged-on, chewed-on, and loved-to-the-extreme toys.

You’ll want to inspect and evaluate your dog’s toys regularly and, in some cases, it’s better to toss and replace them than try to clean or repair them.

You’ll know it’s time to toss a toy if it’s too heavily chewed and chomped to be sufficiently cleaned, if it’s torn or tattered to the point that stuffing is falling out, or if it has parts and pieces just starting to fall or break off that can easily become a choking hazard or intestinal blockage if swallowed.

Many toys include care and cleaning instructions, often printed right on the toy or on a tag. Whenever possible, follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for cleaning and disinfecting dog toys. If no such instructions exist, use your best judgement along with the following guidelines:

While you may be inclined to wash plastic, rubber, and nylon dog toys in a dishwasher, be certain to ONLY use this method if the manufacturer has specifically stated the toy is dishwasher safe. The scalding water and heat of a dishwasher’s drying cycle could affect the structural integrity of the toy, causing it to both lose shape and structure as well as potentially releasing unsafe chemicals.

Instead, hand wash these types of toys in a sink or tub with warm water and and antibacterial dish soap. Use a toothbrush or scrub brush to get dirt and drool from crevices.

For especially grimy, gunky toys, pre-soak in a solution of one part vinegar to two parts water for about 15 minutes before washing with soap and water.

Thoroughly rinse with clean water and allow toys to fully dry – be especially mindful of toys that may fill with water while they’re being washed – before returning them to your dog’s toy bin.

Rope toys can very quickly become a breeding ground for bacteria, mold, and other germs as the soft, absorbent fibers trap moisture and drool. Unfortunately, these toys will require a different method of cleaning than plastic or rubber toys.

A recent study found that microwaving household tools, like sponges and dishrags, was an effective method for killing bacteria, mold, yeast, and other icky stuff that grows in moist, cool environments. Your dog’s rope toys – those that are ONLY rope, without added elements like plastic rings, bones, or any metal of any kind – can be quickly and easily disinfected in the microwave. To disinfect your rope toys, make sure they’re completely wet by soaking in water for a minute or so, then microwave for about one minute to kill any living organisms in the toy.

Of course, microwaving rope toys will only disinfect them, but will not do much about dirt and grime build up. To clean these toys, simply toss in the laundry. Because they’re durable and designed to be tugged and chewed, they can be dried in a dryer as well.

Like rope toys, plush toys can harbor all sorts of nasty microbes and need to be cleaned more frequently than other types of toys. The very best way to clean and disinfect stuffed or plush toys is to launder them in the washing machine.

When washing plush toys, use your judgement in determining which cycle will work best! Sturdy, heavier-duty dog toys should hold up quite well in a normal wash cycle – just stick with cold or warm water instead of hot, which could damage stuffing material, squeakers, or crinkle filling. If you aren’t sure your dog’s favorite stuffed toy will survive a normal wash cycle, opt instead for the delicates or gentle wash setting. Consider washing toys inside a mesh bag to prevent them from taking too much of a beating from your washing machine.

Most heavy-duty dog toys will do well in a normal dry cycle, too. But, more delicate toys, those with squeakers, plastic parts, or crinkle material, should be dried either in a low-heat cycle or hung on a line to dry. To speed along the drying process, squeeze any excess water out of the toys before drying or hanging.

Remember not to neglect your fur kids’ toys! Take some time every few weeks to sort, inspect, toss, or repair toys as needed. Remember, dog toys are generally built to be chewed, tugged, tossed, buried, and loved. But, not all dog toys are created equal. If you’ve got a serious chewer, consider investing in “indestructable dog toys” that will withstand the abuse without becoming a hazard to your dog.

Don’t leave toys outside in the elements! Rain and snow soaked toys can quickly become breeding grounds for mold and mildew, toys left baking in the sun can become brittle and, in extreme heat, can begin to leach dangerous chemicals.

Do you have any additional tips for the care and cleaning of your dog’s toys? Share it with us in a comment below!

Cleaning Plush Dog Toys with Squeakers

Use a gentle detergent and pour in some white vinegar in place of fabric softener. Doing so will help remove soap residue during the rinse cycle, making it safer for your dogs to play with. If the squeaker is removable, take it off before washing.

How To Clean Plush Dog Toys

This is going to be way easier than you may have suspected:

  • Just toss the dirty toys in your washing machine!
  • Be careful with the detergent, though. If you don’t use a mild, natural laundry detergent then sprinkle the toys with a little baking soda and a few capfuls of white vinegar.
  • Once the cycle is done, pop those babies into the dryer. Make sure your dryer is set on low or air-only. You can also let the toys air dry.
  • The first time I washed my dog’s squeaky toys, I was a little nervous about the squeakers. I don’t think my dogs would have been happy with me if I broke the squeakers! I was pleasantly surprised, though, when the load was finished the squeakers worked just fine. While I’ve personally never had a problem with the squeakers, if you are concerned, you can always remove them before cleaning.

    *Please note: High-quality toys should survive the washing machine just fine, but it’s always a good idea to check the toy’s label to make sure it doesn’t have a warning against the washing machine.

    How To Wash Plush Dog Toys With Squeakers

    Can Rubber Dog Toys Be Washed?

    Like plush squeaker toys, sticky and smelly rubber dog toys that smell can and should be washed. While it may be tempting to throw a rubber or plastic ball in with a dishwashing cycle, the heat could maim and melt the toy. If the toy isn’t all natural, this level of heat could also release chemicals, thus making it unsafe for your pup to play with. Thus, as always, it’s important to check the care instructions for the toy first.

    Unless explicitly stated to be dishwasher safe, hand wash rubber toys in a warm tub or sink instead. Always use an all-natural and scent free antibacterial soap. (Remember, your dog is putting this toy back in their mouth!) In the case of drool or other debris stuck in crevices, try using a toothbrush or other type of scrubber to get the rubber toy completely clean.

    How To Clean Hard Dog Toys

    Most hard toys and ropes can be cleaned in the dishwasher.

  • Load your dog’s hard toys on the top rack and let them go for a spin.
  • Just make sure to skip the dish detergent and use natural vinegar instead. The hot water and pressure alone should kill the germs, but the vinegar will give it a little extra power. Don’t worry about your pup’s toys smelling like a salad afterward. Once they dry, the vinegar smell will go away.
  • How To Wash Plush Dog Toys With Squeakers


    Can you machine wash dog plush toys?

    For instance, sturdier toys with squeakers can likely withstand a normal wash cycle. Just remember: squeakers or other interior fillings could be damaged by hot water. Use the cold or warm water functions instead. Softer and older plush toys can be placed on gentle or delicate cycles.

    Is Dawn dish soap safe to clean dog toys?

    How to Clean Plush Toys & Stuffed Animals. Your dog’s favorite toy can simply be tossed in the washing machine, but you shouldn’t use just any old laundry detergent. It’s best to use natural cleaning products free of dyes and fragrances on soft dog toys.