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Like kids, pets enjoy playing with a wide range of dog toys and cat toys. Your dog may have a plush animal that he likes to carry around and cuddle with or any number of balls and squeaky toys that he’ll chase down every time you throw them. And your cats likely enjoy stalking anything that has string, feathers, or a rattle inside. But over time the toys your pets adore can start to get a little grimy thanks to repeated exposure to slobber and anything they come into contact with around the house or yard. As a result, you don’t necessarily want your pets chewing on them and picking up god-only-knows what kind of germs. But you also don’t want to toss their favorite playthings. So here are just a few tips to keep your pet’s toys properly cleaned and sanitized so that they can enjoy them for the foreseeable future.

1.   Wash frequently. While you don’t have to wash your pet’s toys on a daily or even a weekly basis, it’s a good idea to regularly wash any toys that they use frequently. In addition, keep an eye out for contamination. Dogs may drop their toys in the toilet, in their own waste outdoors, or into all manner of germ-ridden places. They’ll definitely need an off-schedule washing after these incidents. Other than that, weekly or monthly washings will depend on the amount of use a toy gets and how dirty it becomes in the meantime.

2.   Soak in the sink. Most toys can be cleaned easily enough by soaking them in the sink. So fill up one side with hot water, add a little dish soap, and let plush, plastic, and other toys soak for a bit before scrubbing them with a toothbrush, a sponge, or a rag. Then rinse and repeat as needed. For plush toys you’ll need to rinse and ring thoroughly to remove all traces of soap. And after that an overnight air dry should leave your toys good as new.

3.   Place in the dishwasher. If you want to sanitize your pet toys, bleach or other chemical cleaners are not the answer (since these can be harmful if ingested by your pet). Instead, consider placing toys in the dishwasher for cleaning and sanitizing (without detergent). The hot water will get rid of any bacteria and most stains. Just remember to skip the super-heated drying cycle, which can melt rubber toys and plastic parts on plush toys, in some cases.

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4.   Run through the laundry. One of the easiest ways to clean pet toys is to throw them in the washer (and dryer, for plush toys). You might just want to read labels ahead of time to see what can go in the dryer. If you’re not sure, simply run toys through the wash and leave them out to air dry. And keep in mind that toys with metal parts should not go into the washer, and those that have long strings or small or fragile parts may come apart during the spin cycle, so they should probably be washed by hand. You may also want to use eco-friendly detergent rather than products that contain fragrances and dyes, or skip the soap altogether and simply use the hot water setting.