Can You Wash Dog Bowls with Dish Soap?


With so many bacteria and germs out there, its hard not to be a little anxious about the cleanliness of our dog’s bowl and how to properly get rid of harmful bacteria in the dog bowls.

These bacteria can really bring havoc onto our pet’s life if we don’t take the proper care towards feeding our pet clean dishes.

Some dog owners think that simply using dish soap is enough to kill all the bad bacteria and sanitize the dog bowl, while other dog owners disagree and think a thorough sanitation session is in order.

This then prompts many dog owners to ask the question:

Can you wash your dog bowls with dish soap?

The simple answer is yes, you can!

It’s safe to wash dog bowls with dish soap, however there are a few things that you need to consider before washing the dog bowl with dish soap.

Why You Need to Clean the Dog Bowl

clean dog bowls

Without proper cleaning procedures in place, our dog’s feeding bowl is ripe for bacteria and germs to grow.

Since our pets eat and drink out of the dog bowls, microbes that inhabit their mouths can easily be transferred over to the dog bowls during eating and drinking. This makes it extremely easy for bacteria to grow in the dog dish.

Some common bacteria that could potentially be inhabiting your pet’s bowl include E.coli, salmonella and MRSA!

Quite the lethal combination right?

And let’s not forget our good old friend biofilm, a slimy residue substance that binds and sticks to the walls of our pet’s bowl. Not only does it come in all sorts of colors such as green and red, but it also stinks and can cause some serious health problems too!

The bacteria and germs over in their dog bowl can overtime make them sick and in fact, could potentially make you sick as well if you come in contact with it.

This is especially problematic if you have little children around in the house as well, as they won’t know any better and could potentially touch or even put their mouths on the dog bowl.

This is why it’s important to keep a close eye on your little ones if you own a dog.

Spending a few minutes each day cleaning your dog’s bowl is a hell of a lot cheaper then spending hundreds if not thousands down at the vet’s office, right?

How Often Should You Wash it?

According to many vets, a dog’s bowl should be washed thoroughly after every meal with hot soapy water while water bowls should be washed down after every couple of days or as often is necessary to keep it clean.

At the minimum your dog’s food bowl should be washed daily, no exceptions!

Different Ways of Cleaning it

cleaning dog bowls with steel wool

The typical method suggested by vets when trying to rid your dog’s bowl of bacteria is to use hot soapy water.

A mild detergent that is non-toxic should be used for cleaning the dish.

It is also advisable to use a separate sponge that is used specifically for cleaning the dog bowl to avoid cross contamination.

If you chose to wash the dog bowl in the kitchen sink, make sure that you disinfect it after cleaning otherwise you run the risk of cross contamination with your dishes.

You can disinfect it by using a 1 tablespoon of bleach to 1 gallon of water solution. Just leave it in the sink for 5-10 minutes before draining the solution.

When washing the bowl, make sure you run your hands through the bowl, checking to make sure their aren’t any excess food stuff still left over, as well as any slime.

If slime is still present, then you’ll need to scrub it all away with a sponge before the dog bowl is thoroughly cleaned.

Make sure your careful not to scratch the dog bowls when washing, as this can make it easier for bacteria in the future to seep deeper into the dog bowl and thus making it harder to clean. If your using a steel wool to clean the dog bowl because bits of food still haven’t come off, be gentle and cautious.

Once the bowl has been cleaned, you should use a towel to dry the bowl off rather then let it sit around.

Make sure this towel is only used for drying the dog bowl and isn’t used for the household dishes.

In addition to washing by hand, it is also acceptable to use a dishwasher as well.

Some people prefer to wash their own dishes separate from the dog bowls when using a dishwasher, however this is not necessary. Just make sure to use the hot setting in your dish washer to kill all the bacteria.

It may also be a good idea to get several dog bowls for your dog. This way you can give them a fresh clean one while your busy sanitizing the dirty bowls.

Lastly its also important to examine the dog bowls after cleaning to make sure that their aren’t any scratches. Some dog bowls will inevitable show signs of wear and tear over time. If you notice any scratches then that means its time to buy a new dog bowl, otherwise you run the risk of making your dog sick.

To Bleach or Not to Bleach?

Using bleach to wash your dog bowl is not necessary, however it can be added as an insurance policy if you feel that you weren’t up to the task of cleaning the dog bowl thoroughly.

If you do wish to use bleach when washing your dog bowl, you can add in 1 tablespoon of bleach per every gallon of water when washing the dog bowl.

Let the solution sit in the dog bowl for around 2 minutes before rinsing it.

Whether or not you choose to use bleach when washing your dog bowl is not important, the most important aspect is that the dog bowl is thoroughly washed and cleaned so that their isn’t any residual food stuff or biofilm still in the dog bowl.

Best Dog Bowls for Keeping Germs Away

steel dog bowl

There’s a tonne of different dog bowls out on the market today, which makes trying to find a good suitable one challenging.

Here’s a list of the some of the most popular dog bowls you will most likely see on store shelves and what you need to know about each one.


Plastic dog bowls have been on the market for what feels like an eternity.

These dog bowls are quite cheap and portable, which has lead to its popularity.

However, plastic dog bowls are prone to getting scratched easily. Once this happens, you can forget about using them again because now trying to clean them thoroughly becomes a nightmare.

Bacteria can now make themselves home once there’s scratches present in the dog bowl. Scientists found the most bacteria present in plastic dog bowls in a research study conducted at University Centre Hartpury. This may make you think twice about using a plastic bowl ever again.

In addition, your pet dog could potentially chew on the plastic and may even damage the dog bowl and break pieces of plastic off and eat it.

This could lead to major health implications for your dog.

Lastly, a lot of cheap dog bowls are not BPA free. BPA is the toxic chemical that is used to make plastic such as those found in water bottles. If your not using a BPA-free plastic dog bowl, you could be subjecting your dog to toxic BPA chemicals.


ceramic dog bowl

Like their plastic cousins, ceramic dog bowls have also been in the market for a while now. They are cheap and much more durable compared to plastic bowls.

Some of them may even be dishwasher safe.

The only problem with ceramic dog bowls however is that they could potentially get scratched or damaged over time through wear and tear.

Once there are scratches in the ceramic dog bowl, you can kiss it goodbye, as they are no longer safe to use.

Bacteria can easily seep into little nicks in the ceramic dog bowl and trying to get rid of the bacterial is a tall order even when your washing the dog bowl. In the same study conducted at University Center Hartpury, they found the most harmful bacterial species such as E.coli and MRSA in ceramic bowls.

You don’t want to subject your dog to these nasty bacteria, now do you?

And then there’s the issue of the dog bowl potentially falling down from a high height and breaking into a million pieces. A problem, you won’t find with plastic.

Stainless Stain Metal

Stainless stain metal bowls are another type of dog bowl to hit the market.

Unlike plastic and ceramic dog bowls, these bowls are ultra durable and can last a life time if the proper care is given towards them. A lot of the newer products that you will find out on store shelves nowadays are even rust-resistant.

In addition, they are less prone to having bacteria inhabit in the dog bowl due to being non-porous.

Lastly, stainless steel dog bowls are one of the easiest to clean and are dishwasher friendly too!

It’s with these reasons that stainless stain dog bowls are currently crowned the gold standard.

With this being said however, you should avoid scratching the stainless stain metal bowl while cleaning it by being extra gentle if using a steel wool pad, as this will also allow bacteria to seep into the dog bowl.

Also if your dog has any sort of metal allergy then stainless stain dog bowls are out of the picture, as they can cause allergic reactions in your pet to flare up, making life difficult and uncomfortable for them.

Silicone Dog Bowls

Silicone dog bowls are a new dog bowl to hit the markets.

It’s quickly making waves and getting adoption among dog owners.

Silicone dog bowls are made using silicone, the same material you see being used as a sealant in construction.

Dog bowls made out of silicone allow the dog bowls to be highly flexible and collapsible. This makes them perfect of bringing along if your outdoors a lot or you travel often.

They are also very easy to clean as well.

Because of the highly flexible nature of the material, silicone dog bowls can be height adjusted to a certain extent. In fact, you may find most of the silicone dog bowls on the market allow you adjust the height by several different levels. There are even some that are non-chewable too.

If your purchasing silicone dog bowls make sure that your getting the non-stick, non-toxic, and heat resistant kind.

Despite silicone getting a lot of praise from consumers, you still need to be cautious about silicone bowl’s long term use.

Also some critics claim that the material silicone itself can cause a wealth of health problems.

However, there isn’t much research in this area, therefore we don’t know for sure whether or not silicone dog bowls are completely safe.


We all know that keeping our pet’s bowl’s clean is part of the job of having a pet, however a lot of dog owner’s don’t know whether or not you can wash dog bowls with dish soap.

Washing a dog’s bowl with dish soap is not only ok, but it is the recommended method for cleaning a dog bowl.

However, a few considerations need to be made if you do decide to wash your dog bowls such as what type of dog bowl you are using, where your washing the dog bowl, how are you drying it, and what type of scrub your using to get the food and dirt off of the dog bowl.

Failure to properly clean the bowl, will lead to a host of bacteria inhabiting the dog bowl such as E.coli and MRSA that could bring havoc both to your dog’s health, as well as your families.

The current gold standard for dog bowls are stainless stain bowls. These dog bowls are cheap, easy to clean, and can last for quite a long while, which makes them perfect for having around the house.

Let me know in the comments below how do you wash your dog bowls.

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