Generic selectors
Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in content
We’re reader-supported. When you click on our chosen products, we may receive a commission. Learn more.
essential tips

How to wash smelly dog bedding

A step-by-step guide to cleaning your pup’s bed so it looks and smells fresh again

Updated August 23, 2021

Created By

Madison Blancaflor,
Dog sleeping on clean dog bed

😴

The essentials

  • Washing your pup’s bed is important — Dogs can track in dirt, hair, and even some disease-causing bacteria that can get on their beds, so it’s important to keep them clean.
  • Check whether it’s machine-washable — Not all dog beds can be put through the washer or dryer, so double-check how you need to clean the bed on the label.
  • Clean your pup’s bed between washes — Use a steamer or vacuum to keep your dog’s bed fresh between washes.

Why is a clean dog bed important?

Between general dirt build-up, shedding, and all of the things your pup could potentially bring inside to its bed after playing outside or going potty, your dog’s bed can get dirty pretty quickly. And just like it’s important for humans to wash their sheets, it’s important to keep your dog’s bed clean. For one, no one likes a smelly dog bed. But more importantly, you’ll be helping keep you and your dog healthy.

Cleaning your dog’s bedding helps eliminate pet hair and dirt build-up. It also gets rid of irritants such as bacteria and other disease-causing organisms (including allergens) that can make you and your pup sick.

But washing a dog bed isn’t always as simple as just throwing it into the washing machine like you can with most sheets. So, we’re walking you through the process step-by-step.

Advertisement

How to machine wash your pup’s bed

Before you start, check the label on your dog’s bed or bed cover. If it’s safe for a washing machine, you can follow these steps:

1. Gather everything that needs washing – If the bed has a removable cover, separate it from the internal padding. You’ll also want to gather any other blankets or bedding your pup uses and check to see if they are also machine washable.

2. Remove as much pet hair and dirt as possible before washing – You can use a vacuum, a lint roller, or just give it a good ol’ fashioned shake outside.

3. Wash your dog’s bed according to the label instructions – If possible, try to wash your dog’s bed or bed cover at the highest temperature recommended (aim for at least 140 degrees Fahrenheit) to kill bacteria and germs. We recommend using a detergent that is easy on sensitive skin, such as the Rockin Green Platinum Series Dirty Diaper Detergent. It uses a plant-based enzyme blend that won’t irritate skin.

👉 You can pretreat particularly tough stains by wetting fabric and massaging stain remover or detergent in to help lift the stain. Leave on for 5-10 minutes before washing, and that should do the trick.

4. Give it an extra rinse – Run the pet bed and blankets through an extra rinse cycle in the washer to ensure all the detergent gets out. This is especially important if you’re washing a whole bed that has padding or if you are using laundry detergent with bleach in it. Detergent can be harder to get out of thicker dog beds, so an extra rinse is vital.

5. Dry as directed — Check to see if your bed is dryer-safe. If so, you can dry in the machine on low heat. Do not use dryer sheets. If not, hang or lay flat on a drying rack to dry outside on a sunny day. After drying in the machine, make sure to clean your dryer’s lint trap to make sure you get any dog hair before your next dryer cycle.

👉 If your pup’s bedding or blankets were particularly smelly, you can run your washer on an empty high-temperature cycle with one cup of white vinegar to make sure the smell doesn’t carry over to your next load of laundry.

How to hand wash your pup’s bed

Unfortunately, not all dog beds are machine washable. But it’s still possible to give your pup’s bed a good clean by hand. Follow these steps:

1. Remove as much hair and dirt as possible – Just like you would for a machine-washed bed, make sure to get rid of hair and dirt with a vacuum, lint roller, or a firm shake outside.

2. Spot clean stains ahead of time — A washer might get your stains out without pretreatment, but you’ll want to use an enzyme cleaner with a clean towel to pretreat stains before you hand wash. We recommend Bodhi Dog Carpet and Stain Remover. This bio-enzymatic blend will remove seriously strong stenches but is still safe to use around the house on carpets, bedding, and more. Plus, the fresh scent isn’t overpowering.

3. Give it a generous soak – Submerge and soak all bedding in soapy warm water for at least 15 minutes. You don’t want the hot water to burn your hands, but it shouldn’t be cold either. Make sure the entire bed is covered by the detergent water, and turn the bed over several times for the best results. Small beds can be done in a sink or plastic bin, but you may need to use your tub for a large dog bed.

👉 You can use a clean washcloth and some baking soda to give a little extra TLC to any problem areas. 

4. Rinse thoroughly – A good rule of thumb is to rinse the dog bed in cool water until the water runs clear of all soap residue or bubbles. Once you’re done rinsing, squeeze out the extra water as best you can before drying.

5. Dry as directed — Just like when you machine-wash, check the label to see if you can use a dryer on low heat. If not, hang on a drying rack or lie flat somewhere it can air dry. Again, you’ll want to make sure to immediately clean out your dryer’s lint trap if you do use your dryer.

📬 Essential advice delivered to your inbox

Insights and resources for responsible pet parents. Your cuddly furball says thank you.

Frequently asked questions

How often should I wash my dog’s bed?

It’s recommended to wash your dog’s bed and bedding at least once every two weeks. If you have a dog that spends a lot of time outside or that sheds a lot, washing bedding once a week is better.

Having an extra dog bed on hand is a good idea for when you do need to wash your dog’s bed. That way your pup still has a comfortable resting spot while you wash their bed and let it dry.

What type of products do I need to clean a dog bed?

Here’s what you’ll need to keep your dog’s bed clean and smelling fresh:

  • Vacuum. An easy-to-use vacuum cleaner can help keep your dog’s bed clean between washes. It’s also helpful for cleaning off dirt, dander, and hair right before you wash. Portable vacuums or those with detachable tools for easier maneuvering are best for a dog bed with nooks and crannies that are hard to get to.
  • Enzyme cleaner. An enzyme cleaner can help with stains while minimizing odors. We recommend Bodhi Dog Carpet and Stain Remover as our favorite option.
  • Dog-safe detergent. Your dog’s skin can be sensitive to harsh soaps and cleaners just like humans. Generally, anything baby-safe will also be pup-safe. For example, betterpet recommends Rockin Green Cloth Diaper Detergent, a mild detergent made for babies but also a great choice for pups.
  • Optional: Baking soda. If you are handwashing especially stinky beds, baking soda can be a big help. And as a bonus, a lot of people already have this in their kitchens!
  • Optional: Vinegar. When combined with baking soda, it’s a natural (and powerful) odor eliminator. And because it’s an acid, vinegar also helps kill bacteria.

How do I keep my dog’s bed clean between washes?

Keeping your dog’s bed clean between washes can help keep odors at bay while making it easier on you when it does come time to wash your dog’s bed. Vacuuming your dog’s bed regularly to get rid of hair, dirt, feces, and any debris your pup may have tracked in from outside is one of the best things you can do. You can also use a portable steamer for pet stains and odor elimination between washes.

Of course, you can also buy protective covers for your pup’s bed that are easy to clean between washes.

What type of dog bed should I buy for easy washing?

Not all dog beds are created equal.

When considering what dog bed to buy for your pup, make sure to check if it’s safe to wash and dry in a machine. A bed that you can machine wash will take a lot of the work out of it for you, and being able to toss the bed in a dryer will take less time than laying a bed flat to dry.

When shopping in person, you should be able to find a white label attached to a bed seam somewhere that will tell you if it is safe for the washer and dryer. If you’re shopping online, this information should be listed in the product specs.

Additionally, look out for the material the bed is made from. Waterproof beds make for easier washes because dirt, grime, sweat, and more won’t seep into the fabric or padding of your bed thanks to the tougher material.

Finally, consider buying a durable, removable cover for your dog’s bed. Dog bed covers are easier to wash than beds themselves, and they can make quick cleanup faster when you’re in a pinch between more thorough washes.

Our favorite detergent for washing dog beds