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6 Things Dog Owners Should Be Cleaning Regularly (But Few Actually Do!)

how to clean dog toys
Photo courtesy of @thegoldenamelia on Instagram.

When it comes to our daily routines, we take the utmost care regarding our health and hygiene.  We wouldn’t go weeks without washing our dishes and we wouldn’t go months without washing our clothes—so why would we take any less care when it comes to our furry family members?

Most dog owners, myself included, don’t always clean their dog’s essential belongings as often as they should.  Not only can this become disgusting, but it can be dangerous to your dog as well!  Salmonella, E. Coli, algae, and mold can easily make your pet or your human family members ill.

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Keep reading to learn what items all dog owners should be cleaning as well as the best way to get the job done efficiently and effectively!

1. Your Dog’s Bed & Blankets

Throughout their day, our pups often pick up unwanted, organisms, dirt, and other particles which often gather when your dog rests in their bed or blankets.  To keep your pup’s bed in the best condition, it’s advised to wash their bed and blankets at least bi-weekly and to vacuum them regularly in between washes. 

How to Clean a Dog Bed

Cleaning a dog bed doesn’t have to be a big chore.  In most cases, it’s actually quite easy!  The majority of dog beds and blankets can simply be put into the washing machine.  If your pup has sensitive skin, it may be better to use a dog-safe detergent, such as 7th Generation Free & Clear Unscented Laundry Detergent, because it contains natural ingredients that are less likely to cause any irritation.

For pets without any sensitivities, your regular laundry detergent should be fine unless your dog has an aversion to the scent.  Here are some of our favorite machine washable dog beds:

If your dog’s bed isn’t able to be machine washed, you can always hand-wash it.  You can do this by putting the dog bed into a bathtub full of hot water with a mild detergent mixed in.

2. Your Dog’s Toys

If your dog is anything like mine, their toys are well-loved and well-traveled.  in under ten minutes they could be taken to the kitchen, the bathroom, to the back yard, and back inside again.  When you factor all the floors they’ve been on and all the other questionable things your dog also puts in their mouth, toys are a common destination for bacteria to thrive.  According to CBS News, over half of all dog toys harbor yeast or mold!  To help us feel better about this disgusting fact, it’s best to wash them around every 2 weeks.

How to Clean Dog Toys

Some dog toys are easier to clean than others—here’s how to clean some of the more popular varieties of dog toys! 

First and foremost, there are some toys that are no longer salvageable and aren’t even worth trying to clean. Toys that have small, loose parts which are potentially choking hazards or toys that your dog has heavily chewed should be thrown away.  I know this can be sad for your pup, but it’s well worth it to keep them healthy

How to Clean Nylon / Plastic / Rubber / Hard Dog Toys

Most of these toys can be hand-washed with soap and water or sent through the dishwasher.  If you choose to run these through the dishwasher, you don’t necessarily need to use any detergent as the high heat of the water should kill any bacteria and remove dirt by itself.

How to Clean Rope Dog Toys

Softer toys, such as a rope, are a breeding ground for bacteria.  These toys need to be sanitized so that none of the bacteria survive.  Rope toys can be cleaned in a variety of ways.  You can put them in the dishwasher, use the washing machine, or even microwave them.  To sanitize a rope toy using a microwave, thoroughly wet the toy and then put it in for around a minute.  Be sure to keep a close eye on it, as microwaves vary.  While the microwave will make the toy hot enough to kill germs, it won’t wash away the dirt and grime that a dishwasher or washing machine will.

How to Clean Stuffed Dog Toys

Most stuffed animals can easily withstand a trip through the washer and dryer.  This is enough to get rid of any harmful bacteria.

How to Clean Treat Dispensing Toys

Treat dispensing toys are a great way to entertain your dog while keeping them mentally stimulated.  Kongs are one of the most popular treat dispensing toys.  Kong toys can be be filled with tasty treats that keep your dog occupied for hours.  Unfortunately, food residue can lead to high bacterial growth.  Luckily, all Kong products are top rack dishwasher safe!  Even without a dishwasher, they’re fairly easy to clean by rinsing them with warm water and dish soap.  For stubborn food particles that have gotten stuck inside, simply soak the toy in warm water for an hour or two to loosen them up.  Using a toothbrush is another excellent option to help you get into the nooks and crannies of a Kong toy to ensure all of it is cleaned! 

3. Your Dog’s Food & Water Bowls

If someone said they use the same plate for their breakfast, lunch, and dinner without washing it in between, you’d be grossed out.  Now multiply that feeling by however many days it’s been since you last washed your dog’s food and water bowls!

The National Sanitation Foundation ranked dog food and water bowls as the fourth dirtiest item in the house.  There are even more germs on their food and water bowls than on your toilet.  Yuck!  Dried food mixed with saliva creates a great environment for bacteria such as E.coli and Salmonella to thrive.  For these reasons, it’s important that you thoroughly clean your pup’s food and water bowls at least once a week.  For those who opt to serve wet dog food, you should be at minimum rinsing out the bowl after every meal in addition to washing it weekly. 

How to Clean Dog Bowls

The most effective way to clean a dog bowl is by putting it in the dishwasher.  The soap mixed with the very hot water from a dishwasher is proven to kill any bacteria left in the bowl.  Hand-washing is another viable option!  If you choose to hand-wash, it’s best if you have a designated sponge that is just used for your dog’s bowl so that no bacteria is spread between your dog’s plate and yours.  Despite whether your dog bowl is made of metal, plastic, ceramic, or silicone, most dog bowls are dishwasher safe.  To be on the safe side, always check the packaging to double check they’re safe to put in the dishwasher. 

4. Your Carpets

People often think that dogs and carpets cannot coexist, but that is far from the truth.  Carpets just need to be well taken care of to create a healthy space for you and your dog.  Uncleaned carpets can cause skin irritations, infections, and more. 

We all vacuum, but we may not be doing it as regularly as we should be.  One of the easiest ways to keep your carpet in the best shape possible is by vacuuming it with a strong vacuum specifically designed for pets.  This should ideally be done at least once a week.

How to Clean Dog Hair From Carpets

Preventative measures are one of the more effective ways of keeping your carpet clean, but they’re not completely foolproof.  Wiping off dirty paws can help prevent a catastrophe, but despite our best efforts, our pup’s still get dirt, dander, and hair all over our carpets. 

Vacuums that aren’t specifically tailored to dog owners don’t necessarily have the capacity to lift up dirt and fur as well.  The best option is to invest in a more powerful vacuum specifically designed for pet owners.  Even if your dog doesn’t shed, everywhere they go they’re leaving a trail of dirt, saliva and so much more all over your carpet.  A high-powered vacuum is able to help get this out of the carpet.   Three highly-rated options include the BISSELL Cleanview Pet Vacuum, the Hoover Pet Max Vacuum, and the Shark APEX Anti-Hair Vacuum.

5. Your Dog’s Collar

Your dog’s collar goes wherever they go, meaning they’re getting into just as much stuff as your dog.  A collar can easily foster a buildup of bacteria and dirt, so washing it regularly not only makes your pup smell better but also keeps your pup clean.  A dog collar should be cleaned around once a month unless it has been visibly soiled.  All types of collars including nylon, metal, or even GPS tracking collars such as Fi can and should be cleaned! 

How to Clean a Dog Collar

All types of dog collars, regardless of the material, should be washed regularly.  However, the methods of doing so may vary. 

How to Clean a Nylon Dog Collar

Nylon collars are easy to clean by putting them in with a load of laundry.  Allow it to air dry after washing.  Hand-washing is another viable option, using warm water and a mild soap. 

How to Clean a Leather Dog Collar

Because leather shouldn’t get soaking wet, the best way to clean a leather collar is to use a toothbrush.  Get a bowl of warm water and mild dish soap then use the toothbrush to get small amounts of water to scrub the collar with.  You should gently rinse it off and blot it dry with a paper towel. 

How to Clean a Metal Dog Collar

Cleaning a metal dog collar is fairly easy.  Simply hand-wash it with warm water and either dog shampoo or a mild dish soap. 

How to Clean GPS Tracking Dog Collars or Other High-Tech Dog Collars

A GPS tracking collar, such as the highly-recommended Fi collar, has a small GPS module on it that should not be submerged in water.  The GPS module in the Fi collar can be easily removed, just leaving the metal and fabric portions.  These can either be machine washed or hand-washed.  If using a washing machine, it’s advised to use a warm and gentle cycle and to place it in a mesh bag prior to washing.

6. Your Dog’s Paws

Regular bathing is important, but dogs don’t need baths as frequently as humans.  However, unlike humans, they’re more likely to run through a giant mud puddle and prance around with soaking wet and muddy paws.  These often seem impossible to clean!  The more you try to wash the dirt out, it just seems that your pup gets muddier.  

How to Clean Muddy Dog Paws

Muddy paws used to be the bane of my existence!  After following a trail of muddy paw prints throughout the house far too many times, I looked into finding an easier way of cleaning paws.  I had previously tried boots, which my dog despised, and wax which prevents mud from caking on.  I also tried simply wiping the mud out with a wet towel.  However, the best product I’ve found is the Dexas MudBuster! It’s very easy to use—simply add a little water, insert the muddy paw, and twist. The great part about this is that the mud from your dog’s paws goes directly into the MudBuster which keeps it contained and off of you!  After romping in a muddy field, my pup doesn’t seem to mind it…he definitely appreciates it much better than a bath!