Insights | Allergy | Pets
How to clean pet toys and bedding to reduce allergens
If you're a pet owner with allergies, you’ll know that pet allergens can be a major trigger. Proteins found in pet dander (dead skin cells) can cause reactions, leading to symptoms such as sneezing, itching, and watery eyes. While it’s impossible to eliminate allergens from your home completely, proper cleaning of your pet’s toys and bedding can help ease pet allergy symptoms.
We cover practical tips and techniques for cleaning these items and maintaining a cleaner living environment.
Understanding pet dander
Before delving into the cleaning process, it's essential to understand what pet dander is and why it causes allergies. Pet dander refers to tiny flecks of skin, hair, and saliva that pets shed naturally. Protein allergens (Fel d 1 in cats and Can f 1 in dogs) found in pet dander can trigger allergic reactions in some individuals.
Flecks of dander can become airborne and easily stick to furniture, bedding, fabrics, and items carried in and out of the home.
How to reduce pet dander
Three steps to cleaning pet toys
Having suitable objects for your pet to play with helps keep them entertained, happy and healthy.¹ But if pet toys are not cleaned regularly, they can harbor large amounts of pet dander, other allergens, and bacteria.
By following these steps, you'll help create a cleaner home for both you and your furry friend:
Separate pet toys into different categories, such as plush, rubber, and interactive toys, to determine the appropriate cleaning methods for each type.
Check the manufacturer's instructions for any specific cleaning recommendations. Remove batteries or electronic components from interactive pet toys before cleaning.
For plush toys, machine wash them using a gentle cycle with detergent. Use a mesh laundry bag to prevent damage. Rubber toys can be cleaned by hand with warm water plus mild soap or water-diluted bleach.¹ Rinse thoroughly and allow them to air dry.
Four steps to cleaning pet bedding
Pet bedding, such as blankets, beds, and cushions, can accumulate a significant amount of pet dander. Follow these steps to help keep them clean:
Start by shaking the bedding to remove loose hair and dander. Consider wearing a dust mask during this step to minimize allergen exposure.
Refer to the manufacturer's instructions for specific washing guidelines. Most pet bedding can be machine washed using detergent. Opt for a hot water cycle to help remove bacteria and allergens effectively.
Thoroughly dry the bedding in a dryer, if possible, using high heat. This might help remove remaining allergens. If air-drying, choose a sunny and well-ventilated area.
Additional tips for reducing pet dander
Here are a few extra tips to further minimize pet dander in your home:
Wipe down surfaces with a microfiber cloth to capture loose dander.
Use high-quality air purifiers with HEPA filters to trap airborne particles.
Keep pets out of bedrooms and other areas where you spend a significant amount of time to reduce dander exposure.
Reducing pet dander and allergens is essential for maintaining a comfortable living environment for both pet owners and their furry companions. By following the cleaning tips in this guide, you can help remove allergens from your pet's toys and bedding. Remember to maintain a regular cleaning routine and use additional measures like grooming and air filtration to help keep dander at bay.
1. RSPCA(2023) Dog Toys. Available at: https://www.rspca.org.uk/adviceandwelfare/pets/dogs/environment/toys#:~:text=To%20keep%20them%20clean%2C%20first,machine%20using%20a%20hot%20cycle.