HOW TO CLEAN YOUR DOG’S TOYS
Dogs love their toys and spend a lot of time with them. Eventually, slobber, dirt and grime build up on your dog’s favorites. Those toys can be a breeding ground for nasty germs and bacteria, but there is no need to throw away and replace dog toys just because they are dirty. Cleaning your Greyhound’s toys is not difficult, but you do need to be careful how you go about it to make sure that you do it safely. In addition to prolonging the life of your pet’s top toys, cleaning them gives you a chance to examine them for safety hazards. Here are some tips on how to take care of all kinds of toys.
Hard toys are the ones made of plastic, nylon or rubber. Some hard rubber or plastic toys can be cleaned in the dishwasher, just make sure you run them through without any detergent or drying – the heat of the water should be enough to kill any germs and to clean the toy. I especially like the dishwasher for food-stuffable toys. Only use this method if there is no warning against it on the packaging. If in doubt, opt to hand wash these types of toys to avoid the risk. Wash them in a sink or basin with warm water and antibacterial dish soap or white vinegar. A toothbrush or sponge can be helpful to get dirt and drool out from crevices. Pre-soak the overly grimy-gunky toys in a solution of one part vinegar and two parts water for about 15 minutes and then wash them with soap and water. Thoroughly rinse the toys with clean water and allow them to dry completely.
Plush or soft toys need to be cleaned more frequently than other types of toys because the microbes in them can be dangerous to the dog. The very best and preferred way of cleaning and disinfecting stuffed toys is to launder them in the washing machine with baking soda. Or you could use scent-free all natural laundry detergent. Use your common sense when choosing the wash cycle for the toys. Sturdy plush toys can easily tolerate the normal wash cycle. If you are doubtful about a toy, opt for the gentle or delicates wash cycle. While washing soft toys, avoid hot water because it can damage the stuffing. Use cold or warm water. A mesh bag can prevent the toys from taking too much of a beating from your washing machine.
The heavy-duty dog toys generally do well in a normal dry cycle. The older or delicate toys with plastic parts, soft material, or crinkle material, should be dried either in a low-heat cycle or air-dried. Squeeze the excess water out of the toys before drying. As long as the toy is still in good condition it should hold up just fine.
Rope toys with no plastic bits are the easiest to clean in either the dishwasher (no detergent) or the washing machine. If you just want to disinfect the toy and it’s not that dirty, soak in water, then microwave for one minute. This will get rid of any germs. Let it cool and air dry before giving it back to your hound.
Again, follow manufacturer’s directions, but in general 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 cold or warm water instead. Once the wash cycle is finished, squeeze the toy gently in order to wring excess water out of it. When drying, make sure to use either the low heat cycle or, preferably, hang it to dry. Again, high heat could damage or even melt a plastic squeaker or other filling. Once the toy is dry, test out the squeaker. If there’s still any water inside, it may not function. In that case, try another low heat cycle or line dry. In the case of most high quality toys, drying should be no problem. Even the squeaker should survive its trip in the washer and dryer.
A word about bleach: NO, just no. Any amount of bleach is harmful to your dog, and why take a chance – he doesn’t care if Lamb Chop is white again!
DIY DOG TOY CLEANER
Here’s an easy DIY dog toy cleaner: mix equal parts of water and white vinegar. Sprinkle baking soda on the extra dirty toys or simply put the toys in the sink and add the solution. You can store the vinegar and water mix in a spray bottle and use it to quickly clean toys between washes with a cloth.
KNOW WHEN TO TOSS ‘EM
Cleaning your dog’s toys will help many of them last a long time, but well-loved toys eventually wear out. At some point you will want to take stock of your dog’s toys and get rid of the ones that are in bad shape. Toys with pieces missing or that have been chewed heavily are best discarded. You should also discard any toys that could be a choking hazard for your dog. Finally, get rid of any toys that your dog seems to be eating, rather than just chewing on – this includes toys that are much smaller than they were originally. If the toy is in decent shape and doesn’t pose a choking hazard to your dog, you can clean it and give it back.
Don’t leave toys outside in the elements! Rain and snow soaked toys can quickly become breeding grounds for mold and mildew, and toys left baking in the sun can become brittle and, in extreme heat, can begin to leach dangerous chemicals. As a basic rule of thumb, remember, when in doubt, throw it out!
A friend puts away half of her Greyhound’s toys after she cleans/inspects them, and later when the ones he is currently playing with need “the treatment”, she brings out the withheld ones. He is as happy as if they are brand new!
While you don’t need to wash your dog’s playthings on a weekly basis, it is advisable to periodically wash the toys that they play with often. Now you know that you don’t have to discard your dog’s favorite toy when it gets dirty. Just ensure that it is still usable and then try washing it before giving it back to your pet. Skip the bleach or any harsh chemicals. In case the toys start smelling bad or don’t get clean even after thoroughly washing them, it’s time to throw them into the trash!