I consider myself lucky that my dogs have never torn their toys apart. However, they tend to slobber all over them. My Lab mix, Sadie, favors a polar bear toy that contains some kind of mechanism, so I can’t just throw it in the washer. The poor bear is pretty dirty right now.
Cleaning Pet Toys Naturally
Most pet toy cleaners have chemicals most of us would rather do without. And when it comes to putting things in your (or your pet’s) mouth, that really makes a difference. I choose to clean my dog’s toys with a natural, homemade cleaner so I can avoid exposing my dog to chemicals.
Natural Cleaning Ingredients for Pet Toys
My base for a DIY pet toy cleaner is simple – liquid soap. You can learn to make your own liquid soap, or you can get something like this all-natural liquid soap. Another key ingredient is distilled water. Tap water, and the pipes it flows through, may contain contaminants that could cause bacteria to grow in your mixture over time. Your tap water could also contain chlorine or fluoride, which you don’t want in your pet toy cleaner. My last ingredient is a bit of lavender essential oil. Lavender is a known germ fighter and won’t harm your pet should a tiny amount be ingested. Mostly, it’ll just wash off. (Lavender EO is also considered safe for cats if you are using this cleaner on cat toys.)
DIY Pet Toy Cleaner: A Natural Recipe
Ingredients & Supplies
- 2 ounces liquid soap (find a mild, natural soap here or make your own)
- 5 drops lavender essential oil (find organic lavender EO here)
- fill with warm distilled water
- 24 oz. spray bottle
Combine all ingredients in spray bottle. Cap tightly and shake gently to mix. You’re not looking for a lot of foam, just the cleaning ability. This is best if you mix it fresh each time, but if you leave it a while, just be sure to shake before using as the essential oils can separate out.
The Cleaning Method
I place pet toys on a wire rack in a utility sink. Then I spray the entire surface with the cleaning mix, starting with the top. You’ll start to see the dirt (and slobber!) rolling off. Continue spraying until the water runs clear. You may need to mix up a few batches depending on how many toys you have. When the cleaner runs clear, rinse off with warm water. Allow to drip for a while, then hang dry. If you can’t do that, toss in the dryer with a few wool dryer balls. Don’t use any essential oil on these because most pets don’t like the scents. The faint scent of lavender from the cleaner will fade quickly.
If the toy has a battery inside, be sure to spray very lightly. This will keep liquid from seeping inside the toy. You can also lightly scrub with a sponge and mist until the cleaner comes off. Again, avoid saturating the outside or the mechanical part could get damaged.
This DIY pet toy cleaner also works for rubber, vinyl, and nylon toys. Just rinse well and air dry.
“Dry” DIY Pet Toy Cleaner for Toys That Can’t Get Wet
For toys, such as those with beans or other stuffing on the inside that shouldn’t get wet, you can still clean them. Here’s an effective recipe that won’t saturate toys like a liquid cleaner might.
- baking soda
- a few drops of lavender essential oil
- hydrogen peroxide
Mix the essential oil and baking soda together. (There is no exact amount, just use what you think you might need.) Add just enough peroxide to make a thick paste. With a scrub brush, or toothbrush if there are small spots, rub the baking soda paste onto the fur or fabric of the toy. Allow paste to dry completely. When the paste has dried, brush out the baking soda and shake it well. (I do this outside so it doesn’t get everywhere.) Then toss it in the dryer as described above. If you think there might be a lot of baking soda left, place it in a pillow case and tie it shut before drying it. The action from the dryer will dislodge any baking soda left on it and the pillow case will contain what’s left.
I cleaned my animal’s toys and now he won’t play with them!
Dogs have a much keener sense of smell than humans. They can tell when something is different. If this happens, you can try fooling them. In a paper bag, toss the toy and some of their dog food or treats. Leave it for a few days. Then take it out and give it back to them. For cats, use catnip instead. This works well with new toys too.
Do you have a natural method for cleaning your pet’s toys? Tell us about it!