How to clean a dog bed -
a step-by-step guide

Published on November 21st, 2019

Your dog's bed might be one of the nastiest items in your home. Your canine friend may spend the majority of the day cutely napping in his or her bed. Still, while they look adorable, the results are often something else. Drool, pet hair, and dirt from their paws join together in a nasty layer of muck that has that musty pet smell. Yuck!

Although your pet may like the homey smell of their bed, unfortunately, it should be cleaned routinely for the comfort of human residents. A dirty pet bed may be one of the biggest causes of a stuffy smell in your home, while it can also cause a health risk when the bacteria build up.

Cleaning a dog bed is not super complicated. In short, you should

terrier laying on a dog bed
  1. vacuum the bed and remove any debris, and
  2. then wash your dog's bed.

BUT different types of dog beds should to be cleaned different ways - and that's what we'll cover in this article.


Type of the bed makes all the difference

How should you clean your dog's bed depends on the type of bed.

Most dog owners choose a soft pet bed with comfortable filling, which may have a removable cover or not. We always recommend dog beds with removable covers that are machine washable.

When buying a dog bed, the option that is easiest to clean has a removable cover that is

  • machine washable
  • machine dryable
  • waterproof to protect the filling
  • made of tightly-woven fabric to resist dirt and stains

If your dog has a bed like this, cleaning it will be quick and effortless. However, if you have a large dog bed that requires washing by hand, you need to prepare yourself for a more laborious job.

dog bed on floor

Easy steps to follow -
How to clean and wash a dog bed

1. Vacuum and remove any debris before you put the bed in the wash

You’ll want to remove as much fur, debris and other loose dirt like sand and soil from the bed as possible before the wash. Hold the bed with one hand and gently beat it with the other so that all the loose dirt falls out.

Next, you should take out your handheld vacuum or bigger vacuum with an upholstery attachment.

If you have a motorized brush roll tool for your vacuum, it is the ideal tool for cleaning a pet bed because it firmly engages the surface of the fabric thoroughly pulling out dirt, dust, and pet hair.

Make sure that you get in between tufting, buttons, and focus on the corners, where dirt and hair can get really lodged in. You can also use a lint brush or sticky tape.

2. Washing the cover and the inside cushion

As mentioned above, how the washing should be done, depends of the type of the bed.

Most dog beds come with instructions for washing since it is no surprise to the manufacturers your pet may drool or urinate in their bed. Since pet beds can be made from very different materials, you should always read the instructions carefully not to damage the bed.

Removable covers:

If your dog's bed has a removable cover, carefully remove it, making sure the zipper doesn't tear. Smaller plush beds that are machine washable can often be thrown in the washing machine even if they don't have a cover that can be taken off, but bigger beds will need to be soaked, and handwashed as a whole if the cover doesn't come off.

Machine washable covers:

Ideally, you would choose a bed with a cover that can be machine washed in high temperatures to kill the bacteria and thrown in the drier to remove pet hair.

If you have a bed like this, read the tag for instructions to make sure you don't ruin the bed. Wash and dry the cover according to the instructions using a pet-friendly stain remover for spot treating tough stains.

Use a stain remover to get the bed extra clean. Also, using the extra rinse cycle, or washing the bed twice, can help eliminate all those stubborn, sticking pet hair.

Non machine washable covers:

If the cover is removable but not machine washable, you should still hand wash the cover and inside cushion separately.

Use a mild pet-friendly and scent-free detergent when washing both.

Plush bed that does not have a removable cover/non machine washable as a whole

If your dog has a plush bed that does not have a removable cover or it is not machine washable as a whole, you should try to handwash it.

Use hot water and mild soap (or laundry detergent for babies) and let the bed soak to remove all the gunk ingrained into the fabric. Rinse both the cover and the cushion carefully to get all the detergent out.

If there is a potential insect infestation, you should boil the cover and the filling for 3-5 mins to kill insects and larvae. Don't keep the bed in boiling water for any longer to prevent damage. Also, treat your dog before letting him or her use the bed again.

If your dog bed has a plastic bed with a pillow for comfort, you should machine or hand wash the pillow and use a mild soap to wipe the bottom part. If the bed is really dirty and you think your dog may have peed in it, you can scrub down the plastic part with soap and rinse it with hot water.

3. Once it’s washed, you can let the bed air dry or slip it in the dryer

If you’re letting the bed air dry, try to squeeze out as much water as you can and make sure the bed is air-dried in airy space, allowing it to dry up quickly, and so that you won’t grow mold inside the bed.

Arrange the filling again if needed to make sure the bed does not become lumpy or deformed.

If your goal is to finally rid your dog’s bed of pet hair, it will be helpful to put it in the dryer. That way, you can throw in some dryer sheets, which will help reduce the static of the bed and can take away remaining pet hair.

You can also stop the dryer’s progress halfway through and then empty out the lint filter. That way, it will be able to catch more fur and be more effective in removing all that pet hair from the bed.

+ How often should I wash the bed?

The removable cover should be washed more often – even every week if needed.

The cushion inside often needs only one or two thorough cleanups per year, depending on how well the cover protects the filling and whether your dog has had pee accidents in its bed.

These instructions should help you keep your pet's bed clean and fresh.

Just remember to wash it routinely, because stains and dirt are easier to remove when they haven't been ingrained into the fabric.

Although your dog may not always love the fresh scent, they will be happier and healthier in a clean bed.

Matt Clayton
Matt Clayton
Chief Editor & Founder of PetHairPatrol

Matt is the founder of and has years of experience helping pet owners keep their homes clean. He's been featured in publications like Reader's Digest, Money, and BestLifeOnline. When this neat freak is not searching for better ways to get rid of pet hair, dander, and other messes pets leave behind, he's usually enjoying outdoors with his two (hairy) Goldens: Ben and Jerry. Read more.

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