From bedding and bowls to toys and coats, our pets’ possessions can harbour dirt and bacteria. Giving their belongings a regular refresh will help keep germs at bay, leaving you with a clean home and, most likely, a happy pet.

Here, experts share their top tips for hygiene at home.

Collars and leads

“A dirty collar can cause rubbing and skin issues, so washing your dog’s collar once a week is advisable,” says Ashley Rossiter, MD of pet brand marketing agency Mirror Me PR.

As she points out, cleaning your dog’s leads simultaneously is a good idea; otherwise, you’re handling a dirty lead and transferring bacteria and germs to everything you touch.

“Remove identification discs before washing, and use a zip-up laundry bag to protect your washing machine,” advises Rossiter. “Use warm water and a conditioning leather soap to clean leather collars and leads.”

If your cat loves to live the outdoor life and wears a collar, Rossiter says you should wash their collar at least once a week. “Again, clean with a pet-friendly detergent and rotate with another collar and ID disc to ensure your cat is never without a collar.”

Petter Winter, Head of Trust & Safety at Pets4Homes, says this is particularly important for outdoor cats, as they are more likely to get dirt trapped beneath their collar.


“It’s recommended dog toys are washed at least every couple of weeks, with toys that are played with more regularly, washed more frequently,” says Winter.

“It’s crucial to use pet-safe detergents to ensure no harmful chemicals are ingested,” warns Winter. “Harder toys can be disinfected in hot water and dog-friendly soap, or placed in the dishwasher at a low temperature.”

He says softer toys should be machine washed at high temperatures when needed.

“Wash plastic cat toys by hand with a sponge,” says Rossiter. “Don’t use an abrasive scrubber, as this can cause tiny scratches, which can harbour germs.

She continues: “Catnip toys can be rinsed in plain hot water and left to dry naturally.”

Winter goes on to say cat owners should monitor their pets scratch post, as the ‘rope-like’ material is fastened with metal staples, which may become exposed, causing cuts to paws and claws.

“It’s therefore important to replace scratch posts before they are completely worn-out to ensure the safety of your cat,” says Winter. “Similar to the disposal of damaged toys.”


“Your dog will love nothing better than snuggling up in their favourite bed and blankets after a long walk, but every walk around your local park can bring home bacteria and germs,” notes Rossiter.

Left unwashed, she says your dog’s bedding can begin to harbour unhealthy levels of bacteria, fungus and a welcome retreat for fleas, ticks and mites.

“Washing your dog’s bedding regularly, alongside appropriate flea and tick care, will create a healthy environment, and a cleaner home for your fur and human family.”

To clean your dog’s bed and bedding, hoover to remove debris, crumbs and loose hair, apply a stain remover where required, and machine wash as per the bedding’s washing instructions, using a specialist pet bedding detergent, advises Rossiter.

“These will be specially formulated to be kind to your dog’s sensitive skin and particularly effective at removing odours,” says Rossiter. “Most experts recommend at least every fortnight.”

As Winter points out, softer bedding for your cat should be washed on occasion in order to remove any dirt: “It is, however, not advisable to over-wash cats’ bedding and blankets, as strong detergents are generally not well received by felines, as they prefer their belongings to smell similar to themselves.”


As Rossiter puts it: “Your dog or cat might enjoy licking every last morsel of their food from their bowl, but if you’re not washing their bowl daily, your pet could be ingesting germs and bacteria, including E-coli and salmonella.

“Not so appetising for your pet or your home environment,” cautions Rossiter. “Washing your pet’s bowl daily will prevent yeast, algae and fungi from developing.”

It’s recommended bowls are soaked in hot soapy water and, for owners particularly concerned with cleanliness, Winter says to consider stainless steel bowls as they are more hygienic than plastic bowls.

Cat litter trays

Your cat litter tray should be cleaned daily by removing any soiled litter, and twice daily for clumping litter, suggests Rossiter.

“How often you replace the litter depends on your cat and how many cats, but a thoroughly good clean and full litter removal is recommended at least once a week.”

She says to use a mild fragrance-free detergent and hot water, but avoid disinfectants as some ingredients can be toxic to cats.