Generic selectors
Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in content
Post Type Selectors
We’re reader-supported. When you click on our chosen products, we may receive a commission. Learn more.
Jack Russell lying in a 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.
  • Check whether it’s machine-washable — Not all dog beds can be put in the washer or dryer, so double-check the label for how to clean the bed.
  • Clean your pup’s bed between washes — Use a steamer or vacuum to keep your dog’s bed fresh between washes.

Making sure your pup has a clean bed to sleep on goes beyond just the smell. Dirt, shedding, and tracking things in from the outdoors can potentially harbor bacteria and allergens.

Unlike tossing a shirt or blanket into the washing machine, cleaning your dog’s bed involves a few more steps to make sure it’s clean and looks and smells fresh.

Pre-treatment and hair removal

Pre-treating or spot-cleaning your dog’s bed for stains and odors can help ensure that it gets thoroughly cleaned in the washer. A stain or enzyme remover, dog-safe detergent, baking soda, and vinegar can help remove urine, mud, and other substances.

  • 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. We recommend a mild, unscented, non-toxic detergent.
  • Baking soda. If you are handwashing, especially stinky beds, baking soda can be a big help. As a bonus, many people already have this in their kitchens.
  • Vinegar. When combined with baking soda, vinegar is a natural (and powerful) odor eliminator. And because it’s an acid, it also helps kill bacteria.
  • Vacuum. An easy-to-use vacuum cleaner can help remove 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.
  • Lint roller. A lint roller can help get stray hairs that a vacuum cleaner may not have picked up. It can also get the front and sides of the bed if it has a bolster, where the hairs can be stubborn.
  • Duct tape. Duct tape is surprisingly effective at removing hair on surfaces. Wrap it around your hand and start patting down on the bed. Similar to a lint roller, it can pick up fur embedded in the fabric.
  • Dog hair removal tool. Specialized hair removal tools are designed to remove pet hair from fabric. These have specially created hair-removal surfaces that effectively remove embedded hair from deep within the fabric.

One of the biggest challenges when cleaning your dog’s bed is pet hair. When mixed with water in the washing machine, pet hair can clump together and clog it.

Removing hair before tossing it in the washer can help prevent this. Vacuuming, using a lint roller and duct tape, can help pre-remove hair and ultimately give you a cleaner bed.

What if my dog’s bed doesn’t have a removable cover?

Some dog beds don’t have removable covers, which impacts the way they can be cleaned. For instance, some foam beds, small-dog beds, or those made with special materials may have different cleaning methods.

Usually, they cannot be thrown into the washing machine and need to be hand-washed or spot-cleaned. Here’s how to clean your dog’s bed without a removable cover:

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

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

Give it a generous soak — Submerge and soak all bedding in soapy, warm water for at least 15 minutes. The water shouldn’t 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 washed in a sink or plastic bin, but you may need to use your tub for a large dog bed.

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.

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 it on a drying rack or lie it flat somewhere it can air dry. If you do use your dryer, you’ll want to clean out the lint trap.

How to wash your dog’s smelly dog bedding

Before you start, check the label on your dog’s bed or bed cover. If it’s safe for a washing machine, then 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 if they are machine-washable.
  2. 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°F) to kill bacteria and germs . We recommend using an unscented detergent that is safe, easy on sensitive skin, and won’t irritate it. Don’t use scented detergents or fabric softeners. These may cause an allergic reaction.

👉 You can also add ½ cup of vinegar to the washer in addition to the detergent. While it doesn’t kill everything, vinegar does kill some strains of bacteria like E. coli and salmonella .

  1. Give it an extra rinse — Run the pet bed and blankets through an additional 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 more difficult to get out of thicker dog beds, so an extra rinse is needed.
  2. Dry as directed — Check to see if your bed is dryer-safe. If so, you can dry it 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, 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 are particularly smelly, you can run your washer on an empty high-temperature cycle with 1 cup of white vinegar to prevent the smell from carrying over to your next load of laundry.

A note about drying dog bedding

Before drying, follow the instructions on the manufacturer’s tag. If the bed is suitable to dry in the dryer, squeeze all the excess water from it, then use a low heat setting and include wool dryer balls. If you’re washing bedding with the stuffing, this can keep it from clumping.

Alternatively, laying the bed out in the sun is another option. This method may take longer, but it’s still an effective and great way to dry it. To prevent mold and mildew from forming, make sure your dog’s bed is totally dry before using or putting the cover back on.

How often should you wash your dog’s bedding?

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 when you do need to wash your dog’s bed. That way your pup still has a comfortable resting spot while you wash and dry the other one.

  • Regular vacuuming. Vacuuming their bed regularly can help prevent dirt and hair buildup. It also keeps the bed looking and smelling better.
  • Use a steamer. A steamer can help kill germs and remove certain stains due to the high temperature of the steam.
  • Spot cleaning. You can use an unscented detergent or enzymatic cleaner to get rid of stains. This can help keep the bed cleaner and lessen the need for heavy cleaning later on.
  • Baking soda. Keeping your dog’s bed fresh between washes can be difficult for dogs who naturally exude more oils, like bloodhounds, basset hounds, or bulldogs. Sprinkle some baking soda on the bed, let it sit, and vacuum it up. Make sure your dog isn’t around, and don’t let them get on it before vacuuming.

Maintaining a clean dog bed is crucial for your dog’s comfort and health. Regular cleaning reduces dirt, allergens, and odors, making sure it’s a healthy and clean environment for you both. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to preserve the bed’s integrity, extend the longevity of the bed, and create a comfortable and clean sleeping space for your dog.

Frequently asked questions

Is it OK to wash a dog bed in the washing machine?

Dog beds can be washed in the washing machine with unscented detergent, hot water, and vinegar. Make sure to thoroughly dry the bed after washing to prevent mold and mildew.

Can you wash a dog bed with stuffing?

If you can’t remove the dog bed cover, you can still wash it. Read the manufacturer’s instructions. They may specify if it can be washed in the washing machine or if it needs to be washed by hand.

How do you wash a dog bed without a removable cover in the washing machine?

Some beds without removable covers might not be able to be washed in the washing machine. Check the instructions on the label. If this is the case, you’ll want to hand wash it.

How do you clean a dog bed?

Vacuum to remove dirt or fur, and if it can be machine-washed, you can throw it in the washer according to the instructions. If you can’t, you’ll need to wash it by hand by soaking it in warm water with a non-toxic detergent. Make sure to rinse it well and thoroughly dry it to prevent mold.

What’s a good way to thoroughly clean a dog bed that won’t fit in the washer?

The best way to wash a large dog bed is to wash it in the bathtub. Using a non-toxic, unscented, pet-safe detergent, soak it for at least 15 minutes, scrub it, and rinse it thoroughly. Based on the tag’s instructions either dry in the dryer or dry outside in the sun.