Keeping your pet’s stuff clean is probably more important than you think. And not only for your pet’s health but for your’s, too.
Exactly how often should you be cleaning your pet’s stuff, and what does “cleaning” actually mean? Let’s break it down.
Upholstered Items: Weekly
Fabric holds onto moisture which makes it a perfect breeding ground for germs. Your pet’s cloth items – soft toys, blankets, and bed – are probably the dirtiest items she has. It’s really, really important to clean them often, and well.
Your pet’s bedding should be washed with a mild detergent at least once a week (yeah, once a week!) to keep germs and smells at bay. You should rotate in clean blankets every few days. Soft toys should also be washed weekly, and you should aim to replace your pet’s fabric items around once a year for maximum cleanliness. Wondering if it’s time to toss? If it’s got a smell that simply won’t go away, throw it out.
And remember, your pet’s skin might be sensitive to certain detergent ingredients. If you notice redness, dandruff, or more itching than normal, switch the soap and try again. We recommend using super-sensitive baby detergent for all your pet’s things.
Non-Fabric Toys: Weekly to Bi-Weekly
According to numerous studies, pet toys are some of the germiest places in the entire house. Even hard, rubber toys can host a variety of bacteria, including staph. Run your pet’s hard toys through the ultra-hot sanitizing cycle on the dishwasher at least once a week to keep them as clean as possible. It’s also a good idea to designate “outside toys” and “inside toys” to keep cross-contamination at bay.
Even the toughest toys don’t last forever. Toys, like cutting boards, eventually get small nicks and tears that can collect bacteria, becoming impossible to clean. Once a toy looks worn, has rough edges, or is pocked or ripped, it’s time to go. And of course, throw out any toy whose pieces look ready to come apart – it’s a choking hazard.
Food and Water Bowls: Daily
Of all the items your pet “owns,” her food and water bowls are probably the most in need of cleaning. Ideally, you’d clean your pet’s food and water dish out once a day. Think about it: all the germs from your pet’s mouth + standing moisture = breeding ground for bacteria.
And if the threat of illness isn’t enough to get you scrubbing, just imagine how gross a dirty food or water dish is for your pet! Going too long between cleanings can make the bowls smelly, slimy, or otherwise unappetizing. No one wants to eat like that.
Stainless steel bowls are the best choice in terms of cleanliness because they don’t absorb bacteria readily like some materials do. They can be cleaned with regular dish soap and washed thoroughly, but be sure they’re dry before you store them to avoid encouraging mold.
Leashes and Collars: Weekly
You never even really thought about cleaning the collar, did you? (That’s okay…we forget too.) Most leashes and collars are totally fine to stick in the dishwasher on a weekly basis along with your pet’s hard toys. Never choose a material like leather that’s impossible to clean…bacteria will build up!
Why clean your pet’s collar? It’s basically the only piece of clothing she wears. Wouldn’t you want to wash your only shirt at least once a week? A dirty collar can harbor germs but it can also cause your pet to develop hot spots or other skin issues where the collar contacts her body.
Litter Box: Weekly
Have a cat? You’re probably not cleaning out her litter box enough. You already know you should be replacing her entire stash of litter at least once a week, but do you ever clean out the box itself? It’s like cleaning the toilet bowl…seems counterintuitive, but definitely needs to be done.
Once weekly, preferably while you’re switching out the litter, clean the inside and outside of the litter box with warm water and mild antibacterial soap. Use soap without a scent and with as few chemicals as possible – an unusual smell might put your cat off from using the litter box altogether. Be sure to let the box dry completely before refilling it with litter.