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Cleaning and Disinfecting Pet Supplies

Jun 11, 2023Jun 11, 2023

Print this infographic to use it as a guide for cleaning your pet supplies. (Print Version) [PDF – 2 pages]

We love our pets. Many of us have pet dogs and cats, while some of us have pet reptiles, birds, rabbits, or other companion animals.

It’s important to know that pets can sometimes carry germs, even if they look clean and healthy. Pets, like people, naturally carry bacteria and other tiny living things in their guts or other parts of their body. Most of the bacteria don’t cause illness, and some are actually helpful. But some bacteria can be harmful to pets or people.

Pet food and treats can sometimes be contaminated with germs too. These germs can easily spread to your pet items, like bowls, toys, or crates, and make your pets or your family sick.

The good news is you can help keep everyone healthy by cleaning and disinfecting pet items regularly.

Cleaning physically removes dirt and germs from surfaces using soap or detergent, while disinfecting kills germs on surfaces using chemicals.

Cleaning is usually good enough for most pet items, while disinfecting is an additional step you can take in some situations.

One easy way to remember how often to clean and disinfect your pet items is to do so as often as your own items. For items that can’t be cleaned, like non-refillable catnip toys, throw them away when they look dirty.

You can clean more often if needed, especially if the pet item looks dirty or smells bad.

Most pet items have cleaning instructions on the packaging or tags. Follow the cleaning instructions.

For pet items without cleaning instructions, you can use these methods:

Some websites may recommend vinegar as a pet-safe way to clean or disinfect items.

However, there is currently not enough research showing how well vinegar removes dirt (cleans) or kills germs (disinfects). Vinegar can kill some germs when it is on an item’s surface for a long enough time, but it does not kill all germs.

This is why CDC recommends using soap or detergent for removing dirt and disinfectants for killing germs. Disinfectants are safe to use around your pets if you follow the safety tips below. Your veterinarian uses disinfectants to prevent the spread of diseases in animal clinics or hospitals too.

Following instructions exactly will ensure that you kill germs and stay safe around the disinfectants.

For dog and cat bowls and toys that you are washing by hand, you can wash them in the kitchen sink.

For all other pet items:

Cat poop can sometimes contain a parasite (a type of germ) called Toxoplasma gondii, which can cause a disease called toxoplasmosis. The parasite can get into your body when you swallow it. This can happen when you touch your mouth with unwashed hands after handling cat poop or items contaminated by cat poop.

For most people and cats, the parasite does not cause illness. However, it can cause severe illness in people with weakened immune systems, and pregnant people infected with the parasite can pass the infection to their unborn child, which can result in birth defects.

If you have a weakened immune system, or if you are pregnant or planning to get pregnant:

Talk to your vet if you have questions about how to clean your pet items.

Learn more about the common diseases and ways you can keep yourself and your pet healthy.

On This PageCleaningdisinfectingPet bowls:Pet beds, blankets, and habitats:Pet toys:Pet items that touch poop or pee (such as your cat’s litter box)If your pet or anyone in your household is more likely to get very sick from germsIf your pet is sickIf you have pet rodents or pet reptiles or amphibiansHard itemsSoft itemsKill germs: Stay safe around disinfectants: phenol