How to Wash Dog Toys

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When I brought Maggie home, I couldn’t wait to spend all my time with her.

I loved watching her little puppy paws pounce on her comparatively giant stuffed toys and wrangle her miniature tennis balls.

As she grew up, her love for her toys never faded. To this day, she still prefers stuffed animals to chew toys, but there’s a huge problem with that.

Unfortunately, stuffed animals get soaked in slobber pretty quickly.

Every time she hands me her sopping wet stuffed bunny and begs to play fetch one more time, it makes me wonder what else is collecting on her toys.

They must harbor some kind of bacteria or germs, only to go right into her mouth.

Here’s what I’ve discovered about how to wash your dog’s toys.

Depending on what your dog plays with, the cleaning routine could be a bit different for you than what I do for Maggie.

How Often Should You Wash Your Dog’s Toys?

How often you wash your dog’s toys depends on a few factors.

When should you wash dirty muddy wet dog toys
This ball should probably be washed…

First, you have to think about how often they play with their toys and where.

Maggie gnawing on her rope toy is one thing, but what if that rope toy was tossed around in a muddy backyard?

Some toys may also have a washing recommendation on their tags.

Check the packaging when you get your dog a new toy to see if there are washing instructions. If there aren’t, then it’s made to be more durable than most toys.

It’s really up to you to determine how dirty your dog’s toys get.

You might prefer to wash their toys weekly or wait until the end of the month.

It all depends on your dog’s lifestyle and how they interact with their toys.

Dog beds need to be washed, too! Click here to learn how and when to wash dog beds!

What Can I Use to Wash My Dog’s Toys?

There are many resources you can use to wash your dog’s toys, but it depends on what the toy is made out of.

Check out these options you might start using today.

Dish Soap

Can you wash dog toys with Dawn dish soap yes how toDish soap is a great toy cleaning alternative because it lifts tough grime out of hard to reach crevices while safely washing the surface of most toys.

Scrub it with a sponge or even a toothbrush to clean the entire surface area of a toy.

It’s good to keep some Dawn dish soap around because it can also be used to kill fleas!


Bleach is much more potent than dish soap, but you can still use it as a cleaning solvent[1].

Combine two teaspoons to one gallon of water and stir to mix it.

The bleach disinfects dog toys in places you might not be able to scrub.

Just be sure to rinse each toy thoroughly and let it dry before giving them back to your dog.

Apple Cider Vinegar

If you can’t find a baking use for the apple cider vinegar in your fridge, use it to clean dog toys.

It’s less acidic than white vinegar[2], so it will sanitize the toys without being a danger to dogs if they lick some off later.Pet safe laundry detergent wash dog bed chew toys tips tricks

Pet-Safe Detergent

Most regular household cleaners and detergents are toxic to dogs, but some aren’t.

Check out a list of pet-safe detergents[3], like plant-based cleaners or enzyme detergents.

While your dog should still never have access to drink these products, they won’t hurt your dog if a few drops dry on the toys after rinsing.

How to Clean Dog Toys

Now that you have an idea of the supplies you’ll need to clean your dog’s toys, it’s time to think about how to safely wash the different toy materials.

Plush Toys

How to wash stuffed animal chew toy in washing machine for pet dog
Despite what your dog may think, cats are not chew toys and should not be machine washed!

Maggie loves stuffed animals possibly more than any other toy, so I’ve thrown my fair share of them into the washing machine.

They always turn out fine after a trip through the dryer, but you can check their tag to read the washing instructions if you’re not sure.

A word of warning:

Sometimes, the squeaker may not make it out of the washing machine intact.

This has only happened once for me over the last couple years, but there’s still a chance it could happen occasionally.

Rubber Toys and Kongs

Rubber toys are the easiest to clean because you have multiple options.

Do you have to wash rubber dog toys Kong nasty hidden treat hole
“What do you mean my Kong is dirty?”

You can hand wash them with dish soap and a sponge if they have an easy cleaning surface.

Durable toys with holes for treats, like Kongs, can go through the dishwasher. That’s the best way to sanitize the treat hiding spot, which can get nasty after a while.

Be careful with thin or cheap plastic toys.

They might melt in the dishwasher if you leave on the heated dry setting.

Rope Toys

Rope toys might be the dirtiest dog toy of them all because bacteria can grow in between the rope fibers.

Thankfully, there’s an easy way to clean them.

Like sponges or dish towels, you can soak a rope toy and throw it in the microwave for a minute to kill any living bacteria on it.

Afterwards, it should survive a trip through the washing machine just fine, unless it’s particularly frayed or gnawed on.

Tennis Balls

How to wash dog tennis ball clean off mud and slobber

You might think tennis balls are difficult to clean, but I’ve washed quite a few after trips to the dog park.

As long as you fill a sink or a bucket with soap and water, you can scrub away until it’s clean.

They might need a day or two to completely dry out, so store them up high to prevent curious noses from sniffing them out.

Tips & Tricks

The best advice for cleaning dog toys is to not overthink it.

They can all be cleaned in some way, whether you hand wash them, put them through the dishwasher or toss them into the washing machine.

Dog mouthwash oral care water additive when cleaning toy to freshen breathSomething you might want to try if you need to do a light clean on a toy is combine doggy mouthwash¬†with the water. The toy will end up freshening their breath, but don’t combine mouthwash with soapy water.

You’ll end up rinsing for so long that the mouthwash will go down the drain with the soap.

And no, you shouldn’t use human mouthwash.

Doggy mouthwash is a water additive you can use to help freshen bad dog breath!


I don’t think it’s necessary to schedule cleanings for Maggie’s toys, especially since she has a new favorite everyday

Still, it might be a good idea for some dog owners to try to stay ahead of the game.

When in doubt, research the dog toy to see if there are instructions online from the manufacturer.

You’ll figure out the right way to clean your dog’s toys and they’ll get back to playing around in no time.


Can You Wash Dog Toys with Squeakers in Them?


Most of the time, you should be able to put the toy in the dryer and the squeaker will work good as new.

Can You Wash Dog Toys in a Washing Machine?

Most dog toys will survive a cycle in the washing machine, unless otherwise stated on the toy’s tag.

Can You Wash Dog Toys with Tide?

Yes, washing dog toys in the washing machine with Tide or any other normal detergent is fine.

The machine will rinse them out thoroughly, which is the most important part.

Is it Safe to Bleach Dog Toys?

Hard plastic toys can soak in bleach for a few minutes, as long as it’s strongly diluted.

Rinse thoroughly afterwards and let the toy dry completely.

Rope and cloth toys may become discolored after bleaching and will require washing with soap afterwards.

Can You Wash Kong Plush Toys?

Kong toys are easy to wash.

Wash them by hand with soap and water or put them in the dishwasher.

How Do You Clean Dog Toys After Giardia?

Your dog’s toys should be cleaned daily¬†while they experience Giardia symptoms[4].

After the illness has passed, disinfect toys in the dishwasher with a dry cycle to kill any remaining parasites.

Bleaching is also an option for toys that require hand washing or a cycle in the washing machine.

Can You Wash Kong Toys in the Dishwasher?

Many dog parents put Kong toys through the dishwasher to clean out the hidden treat holes you can’t normally reach.

If you’re worried, turn off the dry cycle before the machine starts.



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