How to Clean, Wash, or Sanitize Squeaking Dog Toys

If your dog spends time inside your home with their toys, then your dog must have clean toys. It’s the same thing with washing their bedding and any doggie clothing they wear. Keeping your dogs’ toys clean will avoid any unhealthy bacteria getting into their body. This is why knowing how to clean, wash, or sanitize squeaking dog toys is an essential part of dog care.

How to clean, wash, or sanitize squeaking dog toys?

  • Use different home remedies such as vinegar, baking soda, and detergents;
  • Use your dishwasher and washing machine. However, this requires extra care.

Dog’s toys spend most of their time in the yard, in their mouths, and at the park where dirt and grime can be picked up. Don’t be that fur parent that doesn’t think about washing their pet’s toys. This is a mistake because it can be a threat to your dog’s health. This article will talk about different ways on how you can clean your dog’s squeaky toys. We will also explore the dangers of dirty toys, and home remedies that you can use to sanitize dog toys.

Dangers of Having a Dirty Dog Toy

Dogs love to fetch, chew, and carry around their squeaker toys wherever they go. This means that their toys can easily get covered in dirt, grime, and slobber. Your dog will bury their toys in the yard, sleep with them at night, and drag them on the floor. All of these activities, mean that those dog toys can be a magnet to bacteria, yeast, and mold.

However, the risk of your pet getting sick from chewing dirty toys is not super high. They are more capable of handling bacteria than we humans.

Puppy acne

But there’s one condition that a puppy may get when they chew on dirty toys, and it’s called puppy acne.

Sometimes dirt and bacteria from toys settle in the pores as well as hair follicles on your dog’s face. When this dirt and bacteria get trapped, it can result in irritation. These irritations look like small red bumps and sometimes pustules.

Sanitizing your dog toys is a great way to avoid puppy acne.

Dogs can drag their toys wherever they go

Bringing the bacteria inside your home

Aside from the risk of dirty dog toys to your dog, it can also affect humans in your home.

You might not realize it, but us as fur parents, come in contact with dog toys often. The bacteria that builds up and rots on the dog toys can be scary. It’s that bacteria that could affect the health of humans at home.

Some fecal contaminants may be present when your dog’s toys are dirty. E.coli or Giardia are some nasty bacteria that are present on dog’s toys when they’re dirty, which can be transmitted to humans.

Aside from humans, bacteria can also be transferred from one pet to another.

Dog parks and lawns at home are cesspools of parasites. No matter how well you clean up after your dog, there could be remnants of dog stools stuck on the grass. Dogs will play with their toys on that grass, and bacteria will be stuck on their toys.

Just like toys that belong to children, we want them to be clean for the child’s safety. Cleaning your dogs’ toys will remove bacteria, keeping dogs and humans safe in your household.

When to throw out toys vs. cleaning them

There will come a time where you need to throw out your dog’s toys instead of continuing to clean them.

Toys that are in bad shape, such as toys that have missing pieces or that have been chewed on heavily, should be thrown in the trash. As soon as my dog Vinnie rips the stuffing out of his soft squeaker toys, that toy goes in the bin.

Can dog toys go in the washing machine
My dog Vinnie destroying his plush squeaker toy, Chicken

You should also throw out any toys that have pieces hanging off of them because it can be a choking hazard for your dog.

Throw out toys that dogs are eating instead of chewing: these are toys that are smaller than what they used to be.

If your dog completely destroys their toys, I would recommend supervised toy time or at least check-in on their toy time. It may be fun for them rip and tear their toys apart but, it may cause danger.

Rotate dog toys

If you are not a fan of always washing your dog’s toys, it is best to buy them different toys. This way, you can rotate your dog’s toys, and they won’t be easily bored.

Don’t go mad cleaning toys

When you don’t clean the toys too often, they can disintegrate. This means they will become more and more fragile when your dog chews them.

In the long run, washing dog toys too often will mean you spend more money. You will have to buy them a new toy to replace the one that’s degraded through too many washes.

How To Clean, Wash, Or Sanitize Squeaking Dog Toys?

The following will talk about the different ways on how you can clean your dog’s toy at home.

Can dog toys go in the dishwasher?

Let’s focus on hard squeaker dog toys, commonly made from plastic or rubber.

You might be tempted just to throw these toys in your dishwasher. Be careful!

The heat released during the dishwashing process may melt the toy. Further, if the toy is not made with all-natural materials, the heat inside the dishwashing cycle will cause the toy to release chemicals. When this happens, it will be dangerous for your dogs to play with the toys and chew them.

I made the mistake of placing Vinnie’s favorite squeaker toy in the dishwasher. When the cycle was done, I saw his toy all melted. I tried to introduce him to other toys. However, he didn’t want to play with them: he wanted his favorite toy back. I eventually had to go to the store and find the same toy that melted! Isn’t funny the lengths we will go to as dog owners to keep our pup happy?

Since that toy melting experience, I always check the instructions tag on the toy to see if it’s dishwasher safe. I’d recommend you do the same thing.

Follow the cleaning instructions on the label, especially if there are directions on what to clean the toy with.

Will normal dishwashing liquid do the trick?

Should you use all-natural and scent-free bacterial soap in the cycle?

What about just using plain old vinegar instead of detergents? You don’t need to worry about the smell. When the toy dries, the smell will go away.

Do you prefer not to use anything at all in terms of cleaning liquid inside the dishwasher? The hot water pressure alone will kill the bacteria and germs on the toy.

Can dog toys go in the washing machine?

Can dog toys with squeakers be washed? Soft squeaker toys like plushies, rope toys and tennis balls are easier to clean in your washing machine.

When washing your dog’s toys in the washing machine, it is best to use gentle soap and vinegar in place of fabric softener. The reason why you should use vinegar is it will remove any soap residue during the rinse cycle, which makes it safe for your dogs to play with.

Here are two secrets that will lengthen the life of your dogs’ soft squeaker toys when throwing them in the washing machine:

  1. Place them in a delicates or mesh bag, especially if the dog toy has a lot of parts, such as eyes, legs, or arms; and
  2. Put them on a gentle or delicates cycle.

Take a look at the instructional video below from 19 seconds in through to 1 minute and 11 seconds (1:11).

How to clean dog toys

If the soft toy has a removable squeaker, be sure to remove it before you place it in the washing machine. This will help the squeaker last longer.

Often though you can’t remove the squeaker because it’s secured in the stuffing of the toy.

If the squeaker doesn’t work after the wash, it might just be waterlogged so that a few squeezes will do the job.
When your wash cycle is finished, make sure to squeeze the soft plush toy gently to remove any excess water that it may have.

Just like the toys that you can wash in the dishwasher, it is still advisable for you to read the label if it’s washing machine safe. If you are in doubt, you can hand wash it instead.

Drying the damp toys

When you’re drying the toy, use a low heat cycle.

I prefer to always hand the damp toys out to dry on a washing line. If you place the dryer into high heat, then it could melt or even damage the squeaker inside the toy.

Hand washing dog toys (my preferred method)

After Vinnie’s favorite toy melted in the dishwasher, I prefer to hand wash his hard squeaker toys made from rubber or plastic. 

To see how I do it, check out the previous video from one minute and 14 seconds (1:14) into the video.

Vinnie and his squeaky dog toy, Monkey. Because Monkey is a large plush dog toy with arms and legs, I place it in a mesh bag before I place it in the washing machine.

Home Remedies in Washing Squeaking Dog Toys

Washing dog toys with vinegar. Does it work?

Yes, you can!

If you have hard squeaker toys and they are extra dirty, then it’s best to use one part vinegar to two parts water. You can use this solution when you hand wash your dog’s toys too. You can also use this vinegar/water solution when cleaning your dog’s toys in your washing machine.

Vinegar helps remove the bacteria that are present in your dog’s toys. It is definitely safe to use. However, you have to make sure that the dog’s toys are well rinsed so that they would not taste vinegar on their toys.

Washing dog toys with baking soda. Does it work?

The answer is yes!

Baking soda and vinegar actually go hand and hand.

Baking soda can be used with vinegar when you’re washing your dog’s toys. It’s best to use the baking soda/vinegar solution on your dog’s plushies that are super dirty.

First, you need to mix your baking soda and vinegar until the texture is paste-like. There is no specific measurement as to how much baking soda or vinegar you should have.

Once you’ve reached the paste texture, get a toothbrush, and rub it in a circular motion on the entire toy.

This solution can remove tough stains that are present on your dog’s plushies.

Can you wash dog toys with laundry detergent?

You can use gentle detergent in washing your dog’s toys. It should also be natural and scent-free because scented detergent can irritate a dog’s gastro system. Regular detergent has chemicals in the product which can be toxic to your dogs, especially when they chew on it.

However, if you are unsure what detergent to use, it is best to go with vinegar and baking soda instead.

Can you wash dog toys with Tide?

As mentioned above, it is not advisable to use Tide in washing your dog’s toys because it is not scent-free. There are also some chemicals present in Tide detergent that can cause a health threat to your dogs.

When dogs play with their toys, with these chemicals present, it could cause vomiting, the difficulty of breathing, and inflammation of the lungs. If your dog experiences these symptoms, it is always best to take them to your vet right away.

Also, instead of using Tide, you can use baby detergents to clean your dog’s toys.

Masterclass In Dog Toys

We are committed to helping you and your dog here at Outdoor Dog Fun. Toys are crucial to the quality of a dog’s life and they can be a significant investment for you. So we’ve created a couple of blog posts to help you understand more about toys and the best ones for your pooch.

Author - Jane

Jane owns 2 high-energy dogs - Kuzy the Welsh Terrier and Vinnie the Wire Fox Terrier. Jane's favorite thing to do is take her dog on long walks in the woods. They also love hiking, kayaking, and boating together. Jane walks her dogs several times a day whether it's raining, snowing or just plain cold. She is interested in teaching Kuzy how to Barn Hunt. Jane walks rescue dogs on the weekend so that they can enjoy a little fresh air and exercise.

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