Tips On How To Wash and Clean a Dog Bed

how to clean dog bed

When was the last time you washed your dog’s bed? If you have to think about it, it’s probably been too long. Dog beds are great for giving your pup a sense of comfort and security. 

The downside is that dog beds can get dirty and stinky. A lot of times, we don’t notice the stench until the odor begins to permeate our whole house. If you are ready to throw your dog’s bed out the window, read on for some helpful tips for when and how to wash it before you toss it.  

Dog with washer

How Often Should You Wash Your Dog’s Bed?

Did you know that the longer you go in between cleanings, the more difficult it becomes to get the odors out of your dog’s bed? This causes an unpleasant experience for you and your family. It also is not the healthiest situation for your dog.

You should typically wash your dog’s bed at a bare minimum of once every couple of weeks – although once per week is best for most pups. 

dog in mud

Why is it Important to Wash Your Dog’s Bed? 

Dogs carry a wide range of organisms that can make people (and pets) sick. Disease-causing organisms your dog may be carrying range from bacterial to fungal, parasitic, and viral. 

The International Scientific Forum on Home Hygiene recently published a report with more details about specific infections like Salmonella and Campylobacter. Your dog may be carrying pathogens like Salmonella in his fur, feces, on his paws, or in his mouth. 

Your dog does not have to be sick himself to pass on illness-causing pathogens to your or your family. Any time you come in contact with your dog’s fur, saliva, vomit, feces, or urine, these pathogens may be passed on to you. Some of these organisms can live on your dog’s bed for as long as 12 months! 

Bissell Pet Upholstery Tool Bundle
Bissell Pet Upholstery Tool Bundle

How to Keep Your Dog Bed Clean Between Washings

Quickly clean your dog’s bed in between washings. You can wipe away hair and dirt with a damp cloth or use a vacuum to remove excess fur. Quick cleaning like this in-between washings will help to keep hair and dirt to a minimum. However, deep cleaning regularly is required to remove harmful microbes and reduce your risk of getting sick from pathogens. It is recommended to wash your dog’s bed weekly. 

There are a lot of different types of dog beds. Some beds can be thrown into the washing machine, while others cannot. Make sure to follow the care instructions on your dog’s bed carefully for the best results.  

Dog on bed

Guide for Washing Your Dog’s Bed

Does Your Dog Shed a LOT?

Although it is recommended to wash your dog’s bed at least once per week, your unique situation will be a determining factor in how often to clean it. Things like how much your dog sheds, how much time he spends sleeping in his bed, and if he gets into mud and dirt outside all must be considered.

If your dog sheds a lot or spends a lot of time outdoors, you may need to wash his bed more often than if your dog does not shed much, or does not spend much time outside. 

How Often Should You Wash Your Dog’s Bed?

The more time you go in between washings, the more opportunities for pathogens to get buried within the bed. This makes it difficult to remove them. It is a good idea to go no longer than two weeks between washings, no matter how little your dog sheds or spends time outdoors. 

dog with towels

Wash all of your dog’s bedding regularly, not just his dog bed. In addition to his dog bed(s), if he uses any blankets or pillows, they should be washed too. Ideally, you should be washing your dog’s bedding in hot temperatures (140 degrees or higher). Use pet-safe detergent to sanitize it and kill germs. 

What are Your Washing Machine Settings?

Unfortunately, many dog beds are not made to stand up to high temperatures. Again, this is where reading the care instructions will come in handy. You may want to purchase a dog bed that can be washed in hot water.

Many washing machines do not tell you precisely what the temperature of the water is. A lot of washing machines will have three general settings for cold, cool, or hot water. If your dog’s bed states that it can be washed and dried in hot temperatures, use the highest setting on both your washer and dryer to kill more germs. 

Dryer safe or Hang to Dry?

Hang dry any filling or padding from inside the bed, so it does not get all clumped up inside the dryer. If your dog’s bed comes with a removable cover, you may be able to wash the cover at higher temperatures, but may not be able to put the rest of the bed in the washer at all. 

Does Your Dog have Sensitive Skin?

If you or your dog suffer from sensitive skin or allergies, you may want to try a natural laundry soap. You may also want to put your dog’s bed through the rinse cycle twice to make sure all of the soap comes out. Tide Free and Gentle Laundry Detergent work great for those who have sensitive skin.

*It is always a good idea to wash your hands after you touch your dog, his food, his bedding, or anything else he uses. Washing your hands will significantly reduce your chances of getting sick or spreading germs to others. 

Clean Your Dog’s Bed in 5 Easy Steps

Small dog red vacuum

1. Vacuum Your Dog’s Bed

Use a vacuum to remove as much hair as possible before you throw your dog’s bed into the washing machine. Dog hair likes to stick to wet fabric, making it more challenging to get a deep clean in the washer. Vacuuming is not only good for removing excess hair. It is also the best way to get rid of dirt and debris. 

To vacuum your dog’s bed, you may want to use the upholstery attachment and your vacuum hose. You may find a lot of hair still stuck to the bed after vacuuming. In this case, use a lint roller or masking tape to pick up the stray hairs. The Bissell vacuum and stain eraser bundle do wonders for our pup’s bed.

No products found.

In addition to vacuuming before washing, it is also a good idea to vacuum your dog’s bed in between washes. This will keep it fresh and clean for a more extended period. 

2. Use Spot Cleaner or Stain Remover if Needed

If there are stains on your dog bed (including stains from mud, dirt, urine, feces, vomit, or other stains), you may want to use a stain remover spray before throwing the bed into the washing machine. We recommend Rocco & Roxie Supply Co Professional Stain and Odor Eliminator spray.

3. Wash the Removable Cover

Many dog beds come with removable covers. Having a removable cover is excellent because it makes it easier to clean. Some dog beds even come with multiple covers. You can put a spare one on your pup’s bed while you throw the other one in the washer. 

If your dog’s bed does not have a removable cover, check to see if the bed is machine washable. For large dog beds, you may have to take it to a laundromat with high capacity washing machines. Many large dog beds do not fit into standard sized washers.  


4. Wash Your Dog’s Bed with Pet-Safe Detergent

When you wash your dog’s cover or bed, make sure to use gentle or pet-safe laundry detergent. Harsh chemicals can irritate your pup’s skin. Additionally, if your dog has allergies, strong scents and soap may aggravate his symptoms. 

Some common chemicals to avoid include bleach, chlorine, diethanolamine, and perchloroethylene. You may want to look for a good detergent at your local pet store. They sometimes carry soaps that are pet-safe. Natures Miracle Laundry Boost is a pet-safe detergent to use.

You can also try adding some apple cider vinegar to the mix. Apple cider vinegar is a natural deodorizer that is safe for pets.

Large Dog Beds

*If you have a large dog bed that does not fit into the washing machine or if the label states hand-washing is required, you can wash it in the bathtub. Use the same pet-safe detergent and let it sit for 15-20 minutes. Rinse thoroughly to remove all soap residue. Then, squeeze out as much water as you can before you set it out to dry. 

5. Dry Your Dog’s Bed

If your dog bed fits into the dryer, follow the instructions on the label for the proper drying temperature. Use a pet-safe dryer sheet to help remove any remaining hair from the bed. If you air-dry your dog’s bedding, make sure to do so in a well-ventilated space so mold and mildew won’t develop. 

Keeping Your Dog’s Bed Clean

Spot cleaning in between washings will help keep your pets healthy and your house fresh. Keeping your dog’s bed clean may also increase the bed’s lifespan. 

One way to keep your dog’s bed clean is to cover it with a comfy blanket that you can throw in the wash more frequently. Wipe down your dog’s bed once in a while with a damp cloth to keep hair and dirt from building up. Vacuum between washings. 

dog in bath

The best way to make sure your dog’s bed stays clean is to keep your pup clean. Give your dog regular baths to keep him fresh and healthy. The resulting side effect of this will be a bed that stays clean longer. To learn more, check out our Puppy Bath Tips article. 

Sarah is not only a pet owner but loves animals of all shapes and sizes.

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