The Safe And Natural Way To Clean Your Pet’s Bowls

Dog licking from a natural way cleaned pet bowl.

The one thing your dog and cat uses every day is a source of happiness and contentment. But sometimes, it can also be a carrier of germs and bacteria. What’re we talking about? It’s your pet’s food bowl!


We’ve rounded up some of the safest, most natural yet effective ways you can use to clean and disinfect your pet’s food bowl and surface areas regardless of whether you are a raw, gently cooked, dehydrated, freeze-dried or kibble feeder. But why use a natural way to clean your pet’s bowls when there’s regular old dish soap? Because dish soap does not disinfect, but only cleans the surface of your pet bowl, leaving unwanted germs behind!


Why Is It Important To Clean Your Pet’s Bowls?

Some might wonder whether it is really that important to take the cleaning of our pet’s bowls seriously and why can’t we simply wash bowls with soap and water and call it a day? By having proper cleaning processes in place and using natural and safe cleaning agents, not only will their meals taste as fresh as it was intended to be, but you will also be preventing bacteria build up in your pet’s bowl that can lead to issues such as food poisoning and vomiting for you and your pet.


Did you know that the fourth most germy item[1] in the house is your pet’s bowl? All the more reason to get that bowl squeaky clean for your buddy.


How Often Should You Clean Your Pet’s Bowl?

  • For food bowls: Washed thoroughly after each meal

    The best time to clean your pet’s bowl is right after they’re done eating as it drastically reduces the amount of time bacteria and germs have to develop and grow.

  • For water bowls: Washed thoroughly at the end of the day

    Infrequent washing can cause a layer of biofilm to develop in your pet’s water bowl. It is a slimy substance that is formed by a combination of algae, bacteria and fungi that can result in a weakened immunity and development of chronic diseases[2].


Natural Disinfectants and Cleaning Agents for Pet Bowls

1. White Vinegar (or Apple Cider Vinegar)

This is truly a must-have in your house as it has multi-purposes. The acetic acid content found in vinegar makes it very effective in killing bacteria and microbes that cause sickness. It also has anti-fungal properties that are especially beneficial for pet bowls that have uneven surfaces as it can kill mold. Vinegar can also help to get rid of hard water build up and remove odors. Natural white vinegar and apple cider vinegar are both non-toxic and safe for use on pets.


2. Baking Soda

Baking soda is a mild cleaner and a safe deodorizer. Also known as sodium bicarbonate, the alkaline properties found in baking soda helps to effectively clean bowls by cutting through organic compounds like dirt and grease with just water. Combine it with vinegar and you’ve got a powerful cleaning duo. You can also sprinkle the powder on a sponge and use it as a gentle scouring agent to scrub off bits of food. It is completely safe to use around pets.


3. 3% Hydrogen Peroxide

While hydrogen peroxide comes in various strengths, using a 3% concentration is sufficient for disinfecting your pet’s bowls. It is a mild oxygen-based bleach with anti-fungal and antiseptic properties. Although it is classified as a bleaching agent, as peroxide breaks down it turns into oxygen and water, leaving behind no residual toxins that might harm your pets.


Best way to clean your pet’s food bowl

Here are some tips for a deeper, more thorough clean:
  • Clean all pet bowls with warm water of approximately 60°C to 70°C and mild soap solution
  • Use separate sponge and rags for pet bowls, keep away from items used to clean human dishes and cutlery to stop any cross contamination
  • Disinfect all bowls weekly by soaking them in a white vinegar solution for 15 minutes before rinsing again with warm water.



Cleaning Up After Your Pet

While properly washing your pet’s bowls is important, equal care should be put into disinfecting surface areas such as countertops, the floor area where your pet’s bowl is placed at and the handles of your fridge, cabinets or drawers. This is especially so if you feed your pet a raw diet.


To properly disinfect a surface:
  1. Fill two spray bottles, one with white vinegar and the other with 3% hydrogen peroxide.
  2. Spray the surface with one, and then the other.
  3. Wipe away with a clean rag and repeat if any residue persists

tutorial on how to clean up after pet's surface using natural disinfectants


This highly effective method was developed by Susan Sumner[3], a food researcher from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. By pairing using the two mists, it kills virtually all Salmonella, E. coli bacteria and Shigella on contaminated surfaces and food, making this spray combination method more effective at killing these potentially lethal bacteria than chlorine bleach or any commercially available kitchen cleaner.