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Home > Dogs > How To Wash a Dog Bed Properly (9 Simple Steps)

How To Wash a Dog Bed Properly (9 Simple Steps)

dog bed with yellow blanket

Most dogs love a good nap, and while some enjoy catching a few z’s on the couch, others prefer snoozing in their own doggy beds. Dog beds need regular washing to remain fresh and ready for your pet’s next nap. Washing your dog’s bed limits the development of unpleasant smells and provides your pet with a clean, comfortable place to hang out and sleep.

Many beds feature removable covers that make the whole process incredibly convenient, but others require hand washing. The same is true for dog bed cushions. Foam and memory foam products usually need to be wiped down by hand. Some veterinarians recommend washing your dog’s bed at least once every 2 weeks—more frequently if your dog tracks mud and dirt into their nest1. Regular cleanings will keep your pet’s bed smelling fresh and eliminate all the bacteria, fungi, and parasites dogs sometimes pick up. Read on for a step-by-step guide to washing your dog’s bed.


The 8 Simple Steps To Wash a Dog Bed

1. Read the Instructions

Spend some time reading the manufacturer’s instructions before you get started. If you can’t find a product label featuring care directions, try looking for the information on the manufacturer’s website. Some beds don’t have removable covers but can be thrown into the laundry machine as they are. And then there are beds with removable, washable covers and foam or memory foam cushions that require specific care.

While most experts recommend washing pet bedding at 140ºF to kill bacteria and parasites,1 your pet’s bed may be made of material that can’t handle such high temperatures. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions to prevent shrinkage, melting, and other issues.

a woman using a laptop with a beagle dog on her lap
Image By: Kampus Production, Pexels

2. Vacuum the Cover

Use a lint roller or masking tape to collect as much loose hair as possible. Then grab a vacuum and clean the dog bed (while the cover is still on.) Use a vacuum with a good filter to trap as much dirt and debris as possible. Consider wearing a mask if you’re sensitive to pet dander or dust mites. Remove the cover (if possible) after several good passes with the vacuum. Regularly vacuuming your pet’s bed may also help manage canine dust allergies.

3. Treat Any Stains on the Cover

The next step is to get rid of any stains on the cover. Use an enzymatic spray to remove urine spots and smells. Use cold water, baking soda, and white vinegar to remove set blood stains. Vinegar and cold water often work well on poop remnants. You may need to repeat the process a few times as set stains sometimes require multiple treatments.

Allowing stain-removing solutions to soak in may also help. Spot-cleaning spills and accidents as quickly as possible often keep stains from setting and can save time and effort in the long run; many stains are easier to remove when not allowed to sit.

person holding spray cleaner and cloth rag
Image By: cottonbro studio, Pexels

4. Wash the Cover

Taking care of removable, washable pet bed covers is easy. Just throw them into the washing machine, and follow the manufacturer’s instructions to prevent shrinkage. Wash the cover at 140ºF if possible, as that’s what you need to hit to get rid of bacteria and other germs that may be lurking in your pet’s bedding. Use the highest possible water temperature setting if your laundry machine doesn’t permit you to select 140ºF precisely.

Many experts recommend adding about ½ cup of white vinegar to the wash to remove odors. You can use a pet-friendly detergent to protect your pet’s skin from as many harsh chemicals as possible. Consider running an extra rinse cycle to ensure there’s no detergent left that could irritate your pet’s skin.

If your cover can’t be thrown in the washing machine, you’ll need to wash it by hand. Fill your bathtub with the warmest water you can handle, laundry detergent, and about 1 cup of vinegar.2 Let the bed soak for around 15 minutes, then work the soapy water through the material until all the dirt has been removed. Rinse under cold water and keep going until all the soap is gone. Follow the same procedure if you’re washing a bed that doesn’t allow you to remove the cover and requires hand washing to keep its shape.

5. Dry the Cover

Drying your pet’s bed at the hottest possible temperature can also help eliminate bacteria and parasites. But, as always, follow the manufacturers’ instructions! If the cover can’t be put in the dryer, hang it on a line somewhere to dry.

laundry hanging to dry outdoors under the sun
Image By: Skitterphoto, Pixabay

6. Vacuum, Treat, and Wash the Cushion

Spend some time vacuuming the cushion or foam if you can remove the cover from your pet’s bed. Take note of any stains that need treating. Follow the same cleaning procedures as listed above to clean up any problem spots. If your pet’s bed is made of the right materials, throw it in the washer, making sure to follow the instructions provided on the product label. Wash the cover and bed separately for the best results.

If your pet’s bed is made of orthopedic or memory foam, you probably won’t be able to toss it in the washing machine. Instead, make a solution of laundry detergent and water, spray lightly on the foam, allow it to sit for around 30 minutes, and then wipe it clean with a damp cloth. Sprinkle a bit of baking soda on the foam (for odor control) and let it sink in for about 30 minutes, then vacuum. Don’t forget to repeat the process on both sides.

7. Dry the Cushion and Put Everything Back Together

Throw the bed into the dryer if the product tag says it’s okay. Dry at the highest possible temperature to give your efforts a germ-fighting boost. Put the cover back on the bed after everything has dried, and remember to wash your pet’s blanket before putting it back in their bed!

person turning the knob to adjust temperature of dryer machine
Image By: photographyfirm, Shutterstock

8. Clean Your Washing Machine

Run your unloaded washing machine through a hot cycle to eliminate any lingering pet bed smells. A cup of white vinegar can also help freshen things up. If you throw your dog’s bedding or blanket into the dryer, remember to remove the collected fur from the lint trap to minimize the transfer of germs and smells to other laundry.

9. Consider Covering the Bed

If you can’t remove the cover from your pet’s bed or the cover can’t go in the washing machine, consider placing a folded sheet on top of the bed for your pet to lie on. The sheet will protect the cover and cushion underneath from most of the dirt, dust, and fur. And you can give the sheet a quick vacuum and throw it in the washing machine when the bed needs cleaning.

two puppies on dog bed with blanket
Image By: Cparks, Pixabay



A high-quality vacuum is an essential dog bed cleaning tool, as it’s the best way to collect all the loose dirt, dust, and debris before getting started with the washing process. Some products can’t be thrown in the laundry but require handwashing. Others have removable covers you can throw in the washing machine. Just be sure to pay attention to and follow the manufacturer’s instructions. By following the previous steps, you can ensure your dog bed stays clean and sanitary for your beloved canine.

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Featured Image Credit: everymmnt, Shutterstock

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