How To Wash A Dog Bed

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It’s incredible how many different kinds of dog beds there are available on the market nowadays. Along with the types of beds, there are also many different ways to wash them. 

There are 3 main methods: wash the removable cover, wash the bed in the washing machine, or hand-wash.

This article goes through all 3 of these possibilities, what you need for them, and the correct method for washing them.

How do you wash a bed in the washing machine?

Working washing machine on white background

Whether you have a bed with a removable cover or the whole thing is machine washable, there are a few things to consider when machine washing your bed.

First, it’s very important to wash the bed with warm water & a natural detergent. Using cold water will not kill the bacteria and pathogens which pose a risk to your dog’s health. However, using too hot water may damage the fabric. 

Throw the bed in the dryer with some dryer sheets in a warm/hot setting. This heat will kill the ticks and parasites that may be living on your dog’s bed & the dryer sheets ensure that the bed won’t get super staticky.

Read the label for the manufacturer’s specific instructions. If it does not say machine washable, then you will have to hand-wash the bed. 

How do you hand wash a doggy bed?

Things you need

Here are some things you will need to collect before you start washing the bed. This advice works best for dog beds that do not have a removable cover. 

  • Your dog’s (dirty) dog bed
  • Pet-safe laundry detergent
  • A tub full of hot water
  • White vinegar
  • Baking soda
  • Stain remover
  • Vacuum/lint roller/brush
  • Waste bucket

Step-by-step instructions

  1. Remove solid waste
    Our dogs can be pretty gross, so it’s common to find an unexpected mess in their beds. Whether it’s mud, urine, or feces, the most important thing to do is to clean it off immediately.

    If you can see caked-on stains, shake, scratch, or scrape off any solid waste from the accident. Make a mixture of 2 parts white vinegar, 1 part baking soda, and 2 parts cold water.

    Blot this mixture onto the pet stain. Let it stay on the fabric for 10 minutes. Then, take a clean cloth & rub the mixture off. You should notice that the stain has lifted from the fabric.

    If you notice that the stain is pretty dark & is not lifting, then you can also spray on a Stain & Smell Remover. Let it sit to lift any stubborn stains.
materials used to wash a dog bed
  1. Vacuum/lint roll the bed
    Now, it’s important to remove any loose hairs from the bed. You can use a handheld vacuum cleaner, or a lint roller if you don’t have one. A quick fix is to use a horsehair brush & brush off the hair onto the floor.

    This will really help you later on; if you don’t clean off the hair, it will clog up the drains & make washing the bed very difficult. 
  1. Prepare tub
    Now that your bed is prepped, you need to start getting your water ready. Fill up the tub with hot water about 1/3 of the way. There should be enough water to fully submerge the bed. 

    Consider the shape of the dog bed. If you have a dog bed with big bolsters, then you might have to add a bit more water.

    Also, consider the material that the bed is built of. A memory foam bed will need a lot more water in the tub as it will absorb a lot more.

    Add a pet-safe laundry detergent and a cup of white vinegar to kill odors in the water. Agitate the water until bubbles form.
a tub with soapy water for washing dog bed
  1. Washing
    The most important step of washing a dog bed is – you guessed it! Washing! Soak the bed in the water, soap, & vinegar solution. These are the basic ingredients that will keep your dog’s bed sanitary. Use a scrubbing motion to wash the bed thoroughly. 

    You can also use a brush or a scrubber to suds up the bed & make sure that the soap is penetrating the fabric.

    Then, wring out the water from the bed into the waste bucket. This is the dirty water, & depending on how messy your dog gets, it may run extremely dark.

    Make sure you try to get all of the water out when you wring it out; this could be a time-consuming process but will make the rest of it much easier.

    Now, you need to repeat this step 2 times. Simply dip the bed back into the sudsy tub water, scrub it up, and then wring out the wastewater into the bucket. 
washing dog bed
  1. Rinse the bed out twice & squeeze out
    Once your bed has been sufficiently washed, you can drain the tub & the bucket. Now, under running water, rinse the bed out at least 2 times. Make sure you get all of the remaining soap residues off the bed, or it can leave a film on the fabric. 

    Fill the bed up with running, clean, warm water & wring it out. Repeat this a few times until all the excess soap is gone. 
squeezing out the water on the dog bed
  1. Let air dry 
    Now, it’s important to let the bed dry thoroughly. You can let the bed air dry in the hot sun for a few hours.

    If the sun isn’t out, you can also use a hair dryer. Some beds can be put in the dryer, so you can also run them in the dryer on low heat to avoid fabric shrinkage.

    It’s really important to make sure you thoroughly dry out the bed. A bed that is still damp on the inside could become the perfect breeding ground for mold.

    This could lead to a lot of complicated health problems for your pooch later on in life.
air dry a dog bed

Commonly asked questions

What should I do between washes?

Vacuuming bed

To avoid infection & infestation, regular cleaning of your dog’s bed is absolutely crucial. You need to vacuum loose hairs; this can also help reduce your allergy symptoms if you suffer from dander allergies.

You can also use a handheld steamer on the surface of your dog’s bed to kill any pathogens. However, it’s important to leave the bed out in the sun to dry up the dampness from this. 

Also, make sure you stay on the lookout for any stains. If your dog had an accident on the bed, it’s important to clean it off immediately, or this can cause fester disease-causing germs.

What are the best dog beds?

There isn’t one single factor to look for in a dog bed. Some factors that make it a lot easier to clean are a removable cover, a waterproof cover, or odor-resistant properties.

Do dogs like clean beds?

Just like us humans, dogs love the smell & feel of clean linen! You’ll notice that your dog will be rubbing himself all over his newly washed bed, trying to rub his scent on this foreign item.

As long as you use a pet-safe detergent, the scent of the soap will not be irritating to your pup’s sensitive nose. 

Do I need fabric softener for my dog’s bed?

Woman choosing fabric softener

Fabric softener is a great way to add a little extra freshness to your dog’s bed. Not only does it protect the fibers of the bed, which makes it last longer, but it also makes the bed smell super nice.  However, fabric softener does not help to eliminate odors or lift stains. It’s just like adding perfume on top of the bed. So, it’s not necessary to add fabric softener when you are cleaning the bed. 

If you skip this step, your pup’s bed won’t be any less sanitary.

What is the best detergent to use for my dog’s bed?

There are tons of detergents on the market, each with its own pros & cons. The most important factor is that it must be pet safe. We don’t chew up our blankets, but our dogs unfortunately do!

This means that the detergent we use can not have any irritating chemicals in it that could cause a stomach upset for our pooches. Look for a detergent with a short ingredients label & lots of natural or naturally derived products.

A good option if you’re in a bind is to just use castile soap, which is really gentle yet effective at lifting stains. 

How often should I wash my dog’s bed?

Older dog and puppy on dog bed

How often you wash your dog’s bed is greatly dependent on how active your dog is & how messy he can become. A good rule of thumb is to wash the bed at least once a week. This is a good way to kill any potentially dangerous pathogens. 

However, if your dog is particularly outdoorsy, then I recommend washing it twice a week. My friend used to live near a cow farm, and she had an ongoing tick problem. It seemed that nothing would help the situation until she started washing his bedding every 3 days & invested in high-quality tick medication.

So, look at your surroundings as well; if you live in a woodsy area or around livestock, you may have to wash it more frequently. If your pup struggles with incontinence or is still being potty trained, be ready to clean up a lot more as well!

Finally, if your dog is a heavy shedder, it may not be enough to just brush the loose hair off. You may have to wash it to get rid of all that trapped dander which could be aggravating your allergy symptoms.

What about blankets?

A really common question that pet parents have is about the other bedding. Do you also have to wash the blankets & pillows? The answer is yes! If your dog is sleeping with these items every night, then they are also trapping hair & dander. 

It’s important to wash them just like the dog bed. Use hot water and a pet-safe detergent and dry it thoroughly. Try to use materials like fleece which can be put in the washer & dryer with no issues.


We hope you found this article informative & that you enjoyed this step-by-step tutorial. Washing your dog’s bed is extremely important to reduce disease & avoid illness. A dirty bed could lead to severe health issues later on in your pup’s life. 

If you have any more tips to share or questions to ask, please leave a comment down below. Share this tutorial with another pet parent looking to clean up their pooch’s life. 

Thanks for reading!

Meet our writer

Anoushka’s love for animals began with taking care of the cows & chickens on her family farm. As she grew older, this love transformed into a love for dogs. She volunteers in a dog shelter, so she is well-versed in the care and comfort of all breeds of dogs.

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