How to Clean Cat Toys Helpful Tips and Tricks

Having a feline friend comes with a few responsibilities–cleaning them, their bowls, and their beddings. And now learning how to clean cat toys.

You are not alone if you usually exclude cat toys from this routine cleaning.

However, this can create a perfect breeding place for germs and other harmful microorganisms that could threaten your and your pet’s health.

One thing is certain: cleaning cat toys isn’t an area of mastery for most.

This article guides how to clean cat toys and keep them looking new. You’ll also know when and why throwing your cat toy away is sometimes safer.

How Often Should I Clean Cat Toys?

Every one or two weeks, perhaps? You may not look forward to adding another item to your daily routine. You already have to deal with the daily mess, and let’s not start by trying to get the urine smell of your couch.

 But the best way to determine how often to clean your buddy’s toys depends on a few variables.

The thumb’s rule is to monitor and clean them when the need arises—it is especially applicable to the ones in the favorite list.

These are the 10 out of 100 percent that your cat regularly touches and plays with. They easily accumulate grime and cat spit.

Still, a toy’s material influences the frequency of cleaning.

For instance, plastic toys are made of much sturdier material. Cleaning them regularly–like once a week–could be a great place to start.

Similarly, fabric and catnip toys require moderately light washing and only when you must. Exposing them to high temperatures and regular washing can lead to damage.

How to Clean Cat Toys: The Different Ways for Different Toys

Cleaning Fabric and Rope Toys

Fabric toys are delicate and need extra care. Therefore, avoid washing them regularly. It could result in loose stitches, faded colors, and loss of shape.

While some fabric toys can be washed in the machine, checking your manufacturer’s recommendations is always best. You’ll find instructions on the label or packaging of the toy.

Any unbroken or undamaged toys are likely safe on the hot wash–the 40 to 60-degree wash particularly eliminates germs.

These toy types can also be placed in the washer with other items like towels to prevent them from rattling on their own.

Fabric toys with loose stitches should be washed by hand to minimize the risk of further damage. So soak them in the sink with some detergent (preferably dish soap).

Then use a sponge, old toothbrush, or dishcloth to scrub visible stains.

Finally, thoroughly rinse off any soap residues on the toys and leave them to dry away from your pet’s reach. Do not tumble dry; put them on or near a radiator.

An alternative is to use an airing cupboard.

Cleaning Catnip Toys

If your cat has a toy with catnip inside, you’ll treat them differently. Chances are they are made of fabric and are more likely to be chewed than other toys.

For your feline’s safety, spot clean using a cloth or soak in clean water with no detergent.

Some of these toys let you refill them with catnip. In such a case, remove the catnip holder to clean the toy thoroughly. Then refill the catnip once ready.

Whichever cleaning method you choose, always avoid detergents or chemicals to prevent your feline friend from ingesting them.

Cleaning Plastic Toys

The excellent news is rubber or plastic toys are generally easier to clean. But instead of putting them in your washing machine, your dishwasher is a great alternative.

Here, hot water can sanitize your pet’s toys and make them safe. But there’s a limit—high drying temperatures can melt or warp plastic toys.

Using a simple anti-bacterial spray is another way to sanitize your plastic toys. So spray onto a cloth and wipe down the toys.

When done, rinse with clean water to eliminate any chemical residues left behind. The last step is to use a towel or drying rack to dry the toys before letting your pet play with them.

Cleaning the Scratching Post or Tower

While this is not exactly a toy, it requires refreshing occasionally.

You may want to follow these instructions when cleaning your kitty’s scratching post or tower for optimum results:

Start by utilizing a stiff brush to make short, heavy strokes. It will loosen and eliminate dirt and cat hair.

Vacuum with a long attachment to cover every inch of the post (using one with a brush on the end is best).

Use a fabric softener if you notice traces of cat hair. You can also pick them up using a lint roller or damp washcloth. Vacuum again if you spot newly loosened hair afterward. 

If your kitty was recently sick or eased themselves on it, you may want to spray the post with a cat-friendly disinfectant. Let it sit briefly before wiping it off with a damp cloth.

A messier post or tower may need a carpet cleaner. It is very effective when used with a steam cleaner.

Cleaning Fur Toys

Cat fur toys can be made of natural or artificial fur. The bottom line is that either should not be cleaned in the washing machine.

That said, hand-wash in hot, soapy water before rinsing and hang-drying. Your cat should only use it once it’s dry.

When Is Best to throw your cat’s Toys?

While cleaning can eliminate dirt, debris, cat hair, and germs, there is very little it can do to reinstate old and seriously damaged toys.

There comes a time when throwing away your kitty’s favorite toys is the only choice to safeguard their health. Below are telltale signs that it’s time to say goodbye to your cat’s beloved:

Plastic toys

Scratches on plastic toys can look harmless.

But they are not! Even the most minor scratches can host bacteria, reducing the toy’s life span and possibly making your cat sick.

Additionally, toys can break or have some of their parts come off. Tossing them away could prevent these plastic parts from ending up in your kitty’s tummy and causing complications.

Fabric and catnip toys

Throw away these toy types when they start ripping off, or the stuffing begins to fall out.

Failure to do this means your cat may ingest the stuffing, resulting in an intestinal blockage that ends in an emergency visit to your vet.

Also, if your friend pees on the toy or it somehow ends up in the litter box next to waste, you’ll want to toss it too.

Unfortunately, not even the best washing procedure can clear the smell.

Fur and feather toys

Throw away a fur or feather toy whose fur or feathers start falling off. The same applies if they have urine and other bodily wastes.


Cleaning cat toys is easy and only requires standard items like water, detergent in some cases, and your washer. Besides, it doesn’t take time to clean, regardless of the material.

Knowing how to clean cat toys ensures your kitty is always safe—including playtime. It will also increase the toys’ shelf life and keep your home smelling fresh as ever.

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