How to Clean & Sanitize KONG Dog Toys

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KONG dog toys are some of the most versatile and best value dog product you can buy for your dog. If you are a regular here at BarkThink, you’ll know how much we love using stuffed KONGs to help with dog anxiety, bored puppies, provide mental exercise, and divert bad behavior such as destructive chewing. However, when you use sticky ingredients such as peanut butter, honey, cream cheese, cottage cheese, canned (wet) dog food, and other gooey substances inside of a KONG toy; you’ll likely experience some challenges yourself trying to clean it after your dog is finished! As such, I wanted to share some of the best ways to clean and sanitize your dog’s favorite KONG toys that I learned from years of experience using these food-based interactive dog toys.

Best Ways to Clean KONG Chew Toys

Most dogs will eat and lick the inside of their KONG toy endlessly until it is perfectly clean and spotless. But there will be occasions where some persistent peanut butter or food may get stuck in the tricky crevices in the narrow parts of the KONG. Here are some of my best suggestions to help you remove stuck treats and thoroughly clean your dog’s KONG toys:

Hand Wash. In most cases, all you need to do is squirt a dab of dish soap soap inside the toy and use your finger to clean out any trapped food inside. For extra sticky or hardened treats, I recommend soaking the KONG in warm water with a little bit of dish soap to help loosen the food particles. The jet stream from your kitchen sink spray head can be handy in breaking up any remaining loose pieces. For particularly tough treats, the high pressure from a hose can often wash out any leftover snacks.

Specialized Cleaning Brush. Parents out there may remember how valuable the bristles of a bottle brush can be for cleaning baby bottles. It can also be used to clean thoroughly clean the insides of KONGs and other treat-dispensing dog toys! Alternatively, a toothbrush is also handy for clean between the groves on the outside of the KONG toys. For an even better tool, there are now specialized dog toys cleaning brushes available with the bristles shaped to fit perfectly inside KONG toys. As an added bonus, the suction cup helps keep the brush upright after use to quickly air dry and prevent bacterial build-up. Another dog toy brush that worked well for me was the Drinkwell Pet Fountain Cleaning Kit.

Dishwasher. If a KONG is particularly messy and a brush cleaning or finger cleaning is insufficient, I usually wash it on the top-rack of the dishwasher. KONG rubber toys are top-rack dishwasher safe. The heat will also thoroughly kill any residual bacteria and sanitize the toy. I’ve done this hundreds of times with minimal issues. Keep in mind that repeated exposure to the high heat may cause the natural rubber of KONG toys to wear down faster than usual. Older and worn down KONG toys may begin to feel “sticky” despite being perfectly clean and dry. It should still be safe and suitable for use; but depending on your dog’s chewing habits, it may be finally time to retire the toy for a newer replacement KONG. Of the 16 KONGs and similar rubber-based stuffable dog toys I have, I’ve only had to retire one because of this reason…mainly because it was an OCD issue with the stickiness.

With the wide range of treat-dispensing dog toys similar to KONGs now available, the best cleaning method for each will widely vary based on their shapes, sizes, and openings. For example, the KONG Goodie Bone Dog Toys have two large openings on both sides allowing you to easily finger clean regardless of finger size! This makes it particularly easy to clean out the ridges under some warm running water. Other toys may require you to use different cleaning techniques or a combination of several including brushing and rinsing it through the dishwasher.

As always, dog owners should regularly examine toys for cracks, separations, and/or missing pieces. KONG rubber toys can be inspected by flexing the rubber when it is dry. Loose pieces larger than standard food kibble can be harmful if swallowed. Make sure to remove or replace damaged or worn toys.

More Great Ways to Use Your KONG Dog Toys

Why KONGs are the Best Interactive Dog Toys
KONG Dog Toys Color Guide – Color is Important!
Get Stuffed! Over 50 Ways to Fill your Kong
KONG Stuffing Recipes

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