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Home > Cats > How to Wash a Cat Bed in 3 Simple Steps & Cleaning Tips

How to Wash a Cat Bed in 3 Simple Steps & Cleaning Tips

man using washing machine

Washing your cat’s bed should be done regularly to keep them healthy. By washing it, you remove bacteria, potential parasites, loose hair, dust mites, dander, and hair. Many cat beds today are made to be machine washable, which is convenient. In this article, we included steps for properly washing machine-washable beds and those that are not. The label on the bed should tell you which type you have.

A clean bed will help your cat’s hygiene and be more comfortable for them to sleep on. Read on for how to wash a cat bed in this step-by-step guide.

divider-cat Before You Begin

No matter which type of cat bed you have, the first thing to do is remove as much hair as possible from it. The hair can clog the drain of your washer and your dryer vent, so removing the hair first will keep your machines clean and working properly. However, over time, the hair will still build up in them, so it’s important to clean them both regularly.

Use a vacuum or lint roller to remove the hair from the bed. You can also shake the bed outside and try to remove the hair with your hand.

Use the Dryer First

Whether your cat’s bed is machine washable, it can be thrown in the dryer before washing it. Once you have removed all the hair that you can from the bed, toss it in the dryer on low or just on the air cycle if possible. This will help remove more hair that may be stuck in the bed.

orange cat sleeping in a white cat bed
Photo Credit: Aleksandar Cvetanovic, Unsplash


The 3 Steps for Washing a Machine-Washable Cat Bed

1. Remove the Cover

Some cat beds include a removable cover that can be taken off and washed separately. They are usually attached using buttons or zippers. If your cat’s bed has a cover, remove it first and check it for heavily soiled areas and stains. Remove anything on the cover, like vomit or feces, as much as possible before washing.

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2. Spot Treat It

For heavily soiled beds, you may want to spot-treat the areas with stain remover first. Spray the soiled spots, and let the bed sit for about 10 minutes before washing. Make sure that the spot treatment that you use is safe for pets.

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3. Wash and Dry the Bed

Using a mild, unscented detergent or one made specifically for pets, wash your cat’s bed or bed cover on a cold cycle. Follow the instructions on the label for drying. Some beds and covers can be dried in the dryer. If so, dry the bed, or cover it with an unscented dryer sheet to help remove any more hair that may be stuck to the material. Be sure to clean out your lint trap when you’re done.

Others must air dry. If you’d like to air dry your cat’s bed regardless, hang it in the sun to give it a fresh scent and feel.

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The 3 Steps for Washing a Cat Bed by Hand

1. Fill a Large Basin With Water and Detergent

If your cat’s bed is not machine washable, you can wash it by hand in a sink, bathtub, or bucket. If you are using a bathtub or sink, be sure to have a drain catcher in place to trap any loose hair so it doesn’t end up in your pipes.

Fill the basin with water and detergent until you have a soapy mixture that will cover the bed or bed cover.

cat sniffs detergent in a measuring cup
Photo Credit: TShaKopy, Shutterstock

2. Spot Treat It

While the basin is filling, you can spot-treat any heavily soiled areas to help them come clean easier in the water. Let the bedsit for 10 minutes before adding it to the water.

3. Hand Wash the Bed

When the basin is filled, soak the bed in the water, and allow it to sit for a few minutes. Using a soft sponge, cloth, or your hands, you can begin to wash the bed. Focus on very dirty spots and add more detergent if necessary. When you’re finished, wring the water from the bed, or cover and rinse it with clean water. Wring it out again and choose a drying method. If the bed is dryer-safe, you can use your dryer, or hang the bed on a clothesline inside or outside to air dry.

washing clothes with stains
Photo Credit: FotoDuets, Shutterstock

divider-cat Cat Bed Washing Tips


You want your cat’s bed to smell good, but what smells good to people may not smell good to cats. Cats have a more sensitive and powerful sense of smell than humans do. Humans have 5 million odor sensors in their noses, but cats have over 200 million! Some scents can be overwhelming to them. Avoid any detergents with ammonia or scents like citrus, mint, or lavender. Don’t use any bleach.

The best detergent to use is all-natural without any added fragrances. This will remove any foul odors from your cat’s bed while not being too harsh on their noses. A detergent made for pets is best. If that’s not possible, choose one that’s made for sensitive skin and free of dyes and fragrances.

Wash the Bed by Itself

Your cat’s bed should always be washed by itself. You can adjust your washing machine for a small load. If it’s washed with clothing or linens, not only will the bed not get as clean as possible, but the other items can end up full of cat hair.

scoop of detergent
Photo Credit: karunasanghvi, Pixabay

divider-cat How Often Should You Wash a Cat Bed?

Your cat bed should be washed whenever you feel that it’s necessary, so the schedule can vary from cat to cat. If your cat sheds heavily or regularly soils the bed, it should be washed every 1 to 2 weeks. It’s also a good idea to wash the bed often if anyone in your house suffers from allergies. The bed will hold on to dander that can be spread throughout the air.

If your cat’s bed stays quite clean and just gets cat hair on it over time, washing it once a month is best to keep it clean and extend its use.

Cleaning the Machines

After drying your cat’s bed, always clean the lint trap of the dryer. It will grab all the loose hair and lint from the bed and should be removed immediately.

The washing machine can also get filled with hair, so you’ll want to take the time to clean it when you’re done. In some cases, you’ll see clumps of hair stuck to the inside of the drum. You can pull or wipe these away.

You can also add half a cup of white vinegar to the machine and run an empty wash cycle. This will clean the washer. Afterward, you’ll be able to remove any leftover hair that remains. You’ll also want to clean your washer’s lint trap.

The Bed Didn’t Come Clean

Is your cat’s bed still dirty or smelly after washing? You may want to repeat the process. Sometimes, the bed needs another cleaning cycle, especially if it’s very dirty. You can use a spot treatment again and leave it on for a longer period before washing to see if that solves the issue.

laundry detergent
Photo Credit: New Africa, Shutterstock

divider-cat Final Thoughts

Washing your cat’s bed can seem like a daunting task, especially if it’s extremely dirty or covered in cat hair. Good cat bed maintenance can keep your cat cleaner and healthier by removing bacteria, old hair, and dirt from the bed. Follow these steps to safely clean the bed and give your cat a clean place to sleep.

Featured Image Credit: Africa Studio, Shutterstock

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