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How To Disinfect Pet Toys

Your pet loves their toys—and it shows. Plush dog toys get stained, dirty, and sometimes smelly. Hard toys get grimy and just need to be cleaned. Whatever kind of pet or toys you have, there’s a way to clean and disinfect them. Here are some simple, safe ways you can disinfect pet toys. 

What are Disinfectants?

Disinfectants are chemicals used to kill a variety of bacteria, viruses, fungi, mold, and mildew. These are all common causes of illness in both humans and animals. Many forms of bacteria can live on a surface anywhere from 3 days to 6 months. Common disinfectants are bleach, alcohol, and other chemicals. Many of these compounds, though, are not safe for your pets.

What Disinfectants are Safe for Pets?

When it comes to cleaning your home or anything else, it’s important to use safe products to clean. If harsh chemicals are used to clean a pet’s toys, possible side effects of exposure include, but are not limited to: 

  • Diarrhea
  • Seizures
  • Respiratory Issues
  • Kidney Failure
  • Vomiting
  • Burns
  • Skin Irritation
  • Eye Irritation

Whenever possible, you want to avoid products containing bleach, alcohol, ammonia, and even essential oils. Pet-safe cleaners and disinfectants include:


Vinegar is a natural disinfectant and odor eliminator that is excellent for cleaning and disinfecting. Vinegar kills some viruses and many forms of bacteria without posing a risk to your furry friends. So, a good way to disinfect your pet’s toys with vinegar is to submerge them in vinegar for at least 15 minutes to kill germs and leave the toys smelling fresh! Make sure you rinse the toys thoroughly before giving them back to your pet. And for any plush toys, you want to make sure they are dried well to prevent any formation of mold or mildew. 

Dish Soap 

A dish soap, like Dawn, is effective against germs and kills odors as well. Simply mix one-part soap with two-parts water, and submerge the toys. You’ll definitely want to thoroughly rinse the toys before giving them back to your pet so they don’t accidentally ingest any soap. An additional note: do not use dish soap to bathe your pet as it can cause severe skin irritation. It’s best to consult with your veterinarian about the best option for your pet’s bathing needs. 

Clean Toys, Healthy Pet

Our pets are a part of our family, so we want to keep them happy and healthy. Just like you clean your child’s toys, you should be cleaning your pet’s as well. Bacteria and viruses affect animals too. If you have any questions or concerns when it comes to disinfecting or cleaning things for your pet, please talk to your veterinarian for the best information.

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