How To Wash A Dog Bed

How To Clean A Dog Bed In 6 Simple Steps

You've done the hard work already and found the best dog bed for your precious pooch, however, if your dog’s bed hasn’t been washed since the day you bought it… it’s time for a deep clean, otherwise, it will need to be replaced in no time. 

Just like your own, your dog’s sleeping quarters need some regular maintenance. If not, they could develop skin allergies, or even get fleas! Avoid the nasty smell and keep your pup feeling clean with our ultimate guide to cleaning your dog’s bed.

Dog Bed Cleaning: What You’ll need

Of course, you’ll need a dirty dog bed to start with. But you’ll also have to get these basic supplies to ensure your pup’s bed ends up sparkling clean. Here’s a quick list:

  • Pet-safe laundry detergent
  • Enzyme stain removal
  • Optional: pet-friendly dryer sheets

It’s important to carefully choose any product you use on your dog’s bed and covers. Human products can be toxic to pets, so make sure any detergent or chemical won’t harm your furry friend.

 Here’s how to make the best choice for every item:

Pet-Safe Laundry Detergent

This is very important. If you choose the wrong product your dog could have allergies, itchy skin and rashes! Unfortunately, many chemicals found in regular household items are very toxic to dogs.

PRO TIP: Avoid detergents with chlorine, ammonia, formaldehyde, phenols, and isopropyl alcohol. In general, find the softest detergent available and try it out.

Stain Removal Products

If you want to give your dog’s bed a true face lift, it might be worth trying to get the stains out. However, many dog-related stains are very hard to lift because they’re organic. Choose a delicate enzyme stain remover without any of the ingredients mentioned above.

PRO TIP: Hydrogen peroxide works amazingly well at lifting organic stains (like mud, pee or poop) from dog beds, while also being reasonably harmless if you rinse it out well.

Optional: Dryer Sheets or Dryer Balls

Pet-safe dryer sheets can be expensive, and still give allergic reactions to your pup. Whenever possible, let your dog’s bed air dry, or just pop it in the dryer on its own.

PRO TIP: Avoid the chemical-laden dryer sheets and use natural alternatives to soften your dog’s covers. A ball of aluminium foil in the dryer will take care of the static, while white vinegar or baking soda added to the wash cycle will soften your dog’s bedding.

dog bed cleaning products

How To Clean The Different Types Of Dog Beds

The first step is knowing what you’re up against. Does the dog bed have a removable cover? Is it made with foam? Can you use it on the washing machine? All these answers should be on the original packaging, official site, or even your online order.

Then, once you’ve determined what type of bed you have, you need to start working:

How To Clean A Dog Bed With A Removable Cover

If you have removable covers, you’re golden. It will be easier and faster than with other beds.

Remove the covers

Covers make cleaning your dog’s bed an easy process. If your pup’s bed has removable covers, start by finding the zipper and removing them completely.

PRO TIP: Vacuum the dog bed before getting the covers off or starting any in-depth cleaning. That way, you’ll avoid spreading the dog hair and dandruff all over your living room.

Soak your dog bed

Once you have taken them off, soak the removable cover and the dog bed in lukewarm soapy water. Remember to use pet-friendly detergent! Let the bed soak for 30 minutes to an hour. You can pre-soak everything right on your washing machine to avoid making a mess.

PRO TIP: If the care instructions on your dog bed allow it, use the hottest water temperature in your washing machine. This will kill any unwanted insects and eggs that might be on your dog’s bed.

Wash the bed in the washing machine

This isn’t the time for the delicate cycle. Use the “jeans” cycle or any other “deep cleaning” option your washing machine offers.

Rinse your doggy bed

After the washing is done, it’s especially important to rinse all the detergent off. Even if it isn’t toxic to pets, leaving traces of detergent can cause skin allergies and even intoxication.

PRO TIP: Add a second rinse cycle to your washing program. This will ensure no residue is left on your pooch’s bed.

Dry the bed & covers

You can let them air dry or you can use the dryer. Whatever you choose, you must make sure your dog’s bed is completely dry before putting them back. Leaving the interior even slightly wet could lead to fungal issues that will make your pup uncomfortable and might even get serious skin conditions. In general, I prefer letting it air dry and giving them 10 to 15 minutes on the dryer to really make sure it’s all dry.

PRO TIP: If you want your dog’s covers to be soft, avoid chemical dryer sheets and add a bit of baking soda or vinegar to the rinse cycle.

How Do You Wash A Dog Bed Without A Washing Machine? 

Wondering how to clean a large dog bed? Let’s say your dog’s bed is too large to fit in your regular washer or maybe the instructions specifically state you shouldn’t wash it in a washing machine (this is often the case with orthopedic dog beds).

In both cases, you’ll have to wash it by hand. No worries, it’s easier than it seems. Here’s what you need to do:

  • Start by removing the covers, if at all possible. Since the covers are the dirtiest part of a doggy bed, removing them will make your job easier. You can either throw them on the washer or wash them by hand in a smaller container.
  • Then, fill up your tub with soapy water using pet-friendly detergent. If you don’t have a tub you can also use a very large bucket, washbowl, or some other type of container.
  • Soak your dog bed in the water. Make sure all the fabric is covered and there’s enough extra water in your tub or container.
  • Let it soak for an hour or two. This will make your job easier later on, and you won’t need to scrub so hard.
  • Wash. Scrub with your hands or with an old brush. Feel free to change the soapy water if it gets too muddy.
  • Rinse. This is key to avoiding skin issues further down the line. Rinse with abundant water, and if possible, do a double rinse. This will rid your dog’s bed of all chemicals.
  • Dry: Either air dry or place it in the drier. It’s important to let it release most of the water on its own: if you put a soggy dog bed in your drier you will damage the machine!

How To Clean A Dog Bed Without A Removable Cover

4. A machine-washable dog bed or removable cover makes cleaning your dog bed easier. However, if you don't have one like that, you can still deep clean your dog’s bed following these simple steps.

1. Vacuum the bed

This is essential to deep cleaning your dog’s bed. If you don’t get as much of the grime and fur out of the bed, no amount of cleaning will get rid of it. In fact dog hair clings even further to wet fabric, so you’ll want to remove as much hair as possible before getting anything wet.

2. Spot clean

Use a pet-friendly stain remover to help with this step. You should avoid anything with ammonia and chlorine because they can be irritant to your dog’s airways and skin. It’s important to follow your product’s instructions and let it treat the stains for at least a few minutes.

3. Soak (optional)

Once you treat the stains, you can either wash it as is or let the entire bed soak in lukewarm soapy water using pet-friendly detergent. Doing so will loosen the stains and dirt, making it easier to deep clean your dog’s bed.

4. Wash

This can be either on the washing machine or by hand. Either way, you’ll need to use the same pet-friendly detergent as before. If you’re washing by hand, scrub harder on the stains to try and lift them.

PRO TIP: Use an old toothbrush to scrub the stains if you’re not using a washer. It’s easier than doing it entirely by hand!

5. Rinse

This step is especially important because rinsing ensures no detergent comes in contact with your dog’s skin. If possible, rinse twice to get all the chemicals out.

6. Dry

For this step, you can either let it dry on its own or pop in the dryer. If you decide to use the dryer and add dryer sheets, stick to pet-friendly products that won’t cause allergies.

Related How To Choose The Right Size Dog Bed?

How To Wash A Dog Bed With Urine?

Urine smells bad and can permanently stain your doggy’s bed. Here’s what you should do if your pup has an accident:

  • Soak it up: If the bed has urine, the first thing you need to do is try to soak it up as soon as possible. You can only do this if the accident is very recent, but it will make a difference when you’re cleaning urine from your dog’s bed. Use paper towels or old t-shirts to soak in as much of the urine as possible.
  • Apply vinegar: Add a generous amount of vinegar to the affected area. Don’t dilute it with water; only pure white vinegar will get rid of the smell. Leave it on for 10-20 minutes.
  • Sprinkle baking soda: Once you’ve soaked in vinegar, sprinkle baking soda liberally over all the affected areas. Let it dry on the bed for at least 8 hours. Overnight would be better.
  • Vacuum: Vacuum the baking soda from the bed.
  • Dry: At this point, the dog bed is probably still damp. Let it dry on the sun to get rid of any lingering smell, or put it on the dryer with an old t-shirt soaked in vinegar. It will eliminate any stink that might be left behind.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, cleaning your dog bed is easier than it looks. In fact you don’t need to spend a crazy amount of money on professional cleaners, or buying a new bed. Hopefully, these easy tips will make your next spring cleaning a seamless process. Do you have any secret to deep cleaning your dog’s bed? Share with us on the comments below!

Want to know about dog beds? Check out our in-depth guides below:


Is it ok to wash a dog bed in a washing machine?

Yes! In fact, if at all possible, only get dog beds that can be washed and fit in your washing machine.

If it fits in your regular washing machine, give it a go. If your dog is way too large (and their bed as well), get it to the cleaners where they have industrial washing machines.

Of course, check the labels to make sure you won’t ruin your dog’s bed.

How to clean an orthopedic foam dog bed?

This depends on your bed’s specific requirements. However, most orthopedic foam dog beds can’t be soaked in water. To solve this, you should clean an orthopedic dog foam bed as you would a mattress.

Start by vacuuming the entire bed as best as you can. Do it several times until almost all of the visible hair and grime is gone.

Then, spot treat any visible stains with an enzyme cleaner. Let the product do its job and leave the bed alone for around half an hour or as directed on the product’s bottle.

Then, sprinkle a baking soda paste liberally all over the bed. This paste is just 2 tbsp of baking soda to 1 tsp of water. Adjust as needed until you have a “spreadable” paste. Let the baking soda dry overnight.

Vacuum the baking soda off the bed, and let the bed dry on its own. You can also pop it on the dryer if the product specifications allow it. Now you’re done!

Eloisa Thomas

Eloisa Thomas is Gentle Dog Trainers Canine Coach & Anthropologist.

With a double master's degree in Anthropology and awarded a Chancellor's International Scholarship to pursue a PhD in History at the University of Warwick (UK), she's well equipped to write well written and factual canine information that will actually help people understand their dogs better.

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