Spring has finally arrived, which is usually associated with “spring cleaning.” But do you always remember to include your pet(s) in the cleaning routines? From the customized food bowl in the kitchen to the toy bin in every room, it’s evident that our pets carry a large presence in the home.
And with their presence comes a lot of items – pet beds, brushes, collars and leashes, toys, treats, and more! As a pet parent, you may be eyeing a few of your dog’s (or cat’s) toys and supplies and wondering how exactly to clean and sanitize your pet’s bowls, leashes, beds, and other gear.
There are many ways we can efficiently (and safely) sanitize our furry friend’s belongings, because let's face it, they can be full of bacteria and germs. Pet toys and bowls are considered some of the top germy items in the home. Anything they put in their mouth or comes in from the outside might be considered extra germ infested.
Pet owners: it’s time to learn how to tackle the germiest pet-related items in your home.
How to Clean Your Pet’s Toys
Your pet’s chew toys and tennis balls may not always look unclean, but they can quickly become a breeding ground for harmful bacteria. These germs not only pose a threat to your pets but can cause illness or infection among human family members, too.
Keeping these supplies free of harmful germs starts with choosing easily-cleanable items and cleaning them often. Try not to choose toys with cracks and crevices where bacteria can hide and grow. These items are often more difficult to disinfect. Try opting for toys that are smooth and can be washed thoroughly. Rubber toys and more durable toys are even able to be put in the dishwasher!
Additionally, high-traffic areas and high-touch items deserve extra scrutiny—your pet could be tracking in anything from E. coli to streptococcus bacteria on their paws! Pay special attention to areas that are frequently touched by pets. This could be bowls, toys, bedding, furniture, blankets, and carpet.
How to Wash Dog Toys
Hard and plastic toys
When disinfecting hard or plastic dog toys, and even rubber toys, first check to see if they are dishwasher safe. If so, you can throw them into your washer, and if not, wash them by hand using gentle dish soap. After the dog toys and other items have been washed, you’ll want to follow the steps below to ensure they are properly sanitized:
Submerge the dirty dog toys in an unscented household bleach solution made up of 5 tablespoons (1/3 cup) of bleach per gallon of water, or 4 teaspoons of bleach per quart of water.
Let them sit in the solution for one minute and thoroughly rinse.
Let the items air-dry.
Voila, clean toys!
Plush and fabric toys
Most plush or fabric toys and soft dog toys can be cleaned with pet-safe detergent in a washer and dryer. Adhering to an NSF-certified sanitization cycle for your washer and dryer will help keep them working the most efficiently to thoroughly clean your items and remove allergens. Your dog's mouth and the saliva cause a lot of germs on the stuffed toys. Soft toys and stuffed toys will need to be washed on a gentle cycle. Certain stuffed animals may be heavily chewed and could be a choking hazard. It's a great time to go through the collection and decide what you are keeping from your pup's toys.
There are many benefits of rope toys, which can keep your dog stimulated and even help with dental hygiene. But these items fray, drag, and easily collect bacteria. If your rope toy does not include plastic or metal pieces (100% rope), try the sanitization method below:
Soak the rope in warm or hot water for five minutes.
Wring out excess water.
Microwave for about one minute (only if the toy includes no plastic or metal parts!)
Let the rope dry.
Cleaning Dog Beds and Pads
Just as with our own bedding, the upkeep of our pet’s sleeping space is critical. Fortunately, most dog beds can be cleaned with pet-safe detergent in a washer and dryer cycle.
Beds with washable covers
Instructions for washing beds with a removable cover may vary, but it’s typically safe to toss the cover into the washer after removing pet hair and stains as best you can. You will want to hand wash and air-dry the bed insert, before putting the two completely dry pieces back together.
Beds without removable covers
Any dog beds without a removable cover may require some more gentler washing. Pet parents, if you are hand washing a dog bed, you can follow these steps:
Remove as much pet hair as you can (for example, try vacuuming the bed or shaking it outside).
Soak the bed in warm water and pet-safe detergent for 10-15 minutes.
If necessary, scrub the bed with a toothbrush and baking soda to remove caked-on stains.
Rinse well, ensuring all soap, baking soda, and filth is removed.
Air-dry the bed until it is completely dry inside and out.
Cleaning Dog Leashes and Collars
Your dog’s leash accumulates a ton of dirt, germs, and who-knows-what else, especially when it’s fabric or cotton. Leashes and collars are one of the vectors that helps canine flu pass from one dog to another. So, even if your dog’s leash looks like it’s clean, it’s important to wash this much-used accessory on a regular basis. It's important for your dog's health too.
Fabric, cotton, and rayon leashes and collars
Many leashes made from fabric can be cleaned in a washing machine. If your leash is washer-friendly, follow the steps below:
Place the leash inside a mesh delicate bag to protect your washer from scratches. If you’re also throwing in a fabric collar, remove any tags.
Wash with pet-safe detergent at the recommended temperature.
Hang the leash to air dry.
You can also choose to hand-wash these leashes by letting them soak in hot, soapy water for 10 minutes before air drying.
Acrylic and patent leather leashes and collars
Gently hand-wash your pet’s acrylic leash using dish soap or pet-safe detergent. Rinse thoroughly and hang to air dry. Your dog will appreciate the clean leash, and as dog owners, you will appreciate cleaner hands.
Leather leashes and collars
Leather leashes are particularly delicate and often require careful hand-washing. You won’t want to soak these items, but you can gently wipe away dirt and gunk using your leash’s recommended care instructions.
Cleaning Pet Bowls
Safe and frequent cleaning of your pet’s food and water dish is essential. Pet bowls are considered to be the number-four germiest area in the home.
The lingering germs that reside in a pet’s unwashed dish can be a breeding ground for bacteria and other microbes that can make your pet and your family sick.
It is advised to clean your pet’s bowls once a day by running them through the dishwasher (if dishwasher safe) or by hand washing them with hot water and dish soap.
Metal bowls and stainless steel bowls
Most stainless steel and metal bowls are dishwasher safe, but you’ll want to clean out the residue of any wet food or kibble before placing a bowl into the machine.
Some ceramic can be dishwasher friendly, but if it’s hand painted or very fragile, you will want to opt for manual cleaning. Make sure to scrape out food first, and then gently scrub the bowl with dish soap and hot water until clean.
If you’re planning to put a plastic bowl in the dishwasher, check the product’s care instructions first. If the bowl is dishwasher-friendly, place the dish on the top rack so it doesn’t overheat. If you’re unsure about a plastic bowl’s specific care requirements, opt to hand wash.
You may also choose to hand wash your pet’s dish if you aren’t running the dishwasher every day.
Cleaning Specific Areas of the Home
In addition to cleaning your dog’s daily gear, it’s important to disinfect the areas of your home that your pet regularly comes into contact with. Ensure that you regularly clean carpets and floors with a vacuum (preferably with a HEPA filter) to cut down on pet hair, dander, and airborne germs.
As you deep clean your space, run an air purifier to help manage any sensitivities to pet dander and pet hair, and pay specific attention to the following areas:
Carpets and floors
Couches and furniture that your pet sits or sleeps on
Entryways or mud rooms where your dog comes in from outside
Bathrooms: The NSF recommends keeping your toilet clean and the lid closed to lower your pet’s exposure to germs that might make them sick.
A General Cleaning Timeline
The following cleaning timeline can come in handy for cleaning all of your pet’s supplies regularly:
Toys: Clean these items weekly or monthly, depending on the usage. Toys used frequently should be cleaned once a week.
Bedding: Clean weekly or monthly, depending on usage.
Leashes: Clean weekly or monthly, depending on usage.
Bowls: Clean your pet’s food and water dish daily.
We love our pets, and our homes reflect that! Keeping things clean for our dog(s) is very important year round. Spring is the perfect season to clean and refresh your home, and include your pets’ items in these practices for an even better result.
From rubber dog toys to leashes, incorporating regular cleaning practices into your daily and weekly routines will help keep you and your beloved pet(s) safe, healthy, and happy throughout every season.
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PRIDE+GROOM was born because 4 New York City dog lovers wanted the same level of grooming products for their dogs that they themselves enjoyed. They looked (hard) but nothing was up to snuff. Or sniff. Like so many, we love our families and take pride in our homes, and we consider our pets to be integral parts of those entities. That said, we could not find an effective way to coif them that was on par with the way we tended to our children, our homes, or ourselves. These beloved pets are allowed on the furniture and in our beds, and yet even when fresh from the groomer, we knew they did not smell or feel as good as they could.
With the development of our coat-specific shampoos, conditioner and deodorizing spray, we think we found just the way to say thanks for being the best and the sweetest MVP of the house.
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