How to Clean a Dog Bed: Creating a Comfortable Environment for Our Dog

Image showing a dog sitting in a dog bed
Emily Young
Written by Emily Young

One thing that is overlooked often by pet parents is the regular cleaning of dog beds. Understandably, cleaning your pooch’s bed isn’t the most fun activity in the world. Still, if you know how to clean a dog bed the right way, you won’t have to do it so often and the bed won’t get that foul smell. Cleaning a dog bed might be complicated but this is something that can’t be ignored because these beds often become repositories for harmful organisms that can affect not only your dog but your health as well.

You won’t need to fear for you or your dog’s health as long as you keep the dog bed clean of items that are commonly found in an unclean dog bed, such as dog hair, stains (feces and blood), saliva, and dirt. Simply by cleaning the dog bed periodically—maybe by investing five to ten minutes every week—you will be able to create a healthy environment that’s not just good for your dog, but for you and your family also.

A dog sitting in a Wagworld bed

Scroll through our comprehensive pet-care guide to lessen your worries. Here we have rounded up some practical and feasible methods to disinfect and sanitize your pet’s bed. We will also share some tips and suggestions to ensure a disinfected and clean bed for a longer period of time.

The Most Common Types of Canine Beds

Sanitizing your dog’s bed can either be a tiring or an easy experience but it largely depends on the bedding option you go with. Usually, there three main types of dog beds:

  • A foam bed has a foam insert and a removable zipped covering outside
  • A blanket bed comes with multiple layers of thick fabric
  • A stuffed bed comes with a un-detachable cover

Whatever type of bed your dog has, following the instructions and restrictions given on its tag is highly recommended.

Image showing a dog sitting in a foam bed

Still, sometimes extra steps must be taken to ensure your pooch sleeps in a clean environment. Below you can read a step-by-step guide to washing each of the mentioned bed types.

How to Wash a Foam Bed

Beds with foam inserts mostly come with removable covers that should be washed separately. Following are the basic steps that you must take to clean a dog’s foam bed.

Step No. 1. Remove Dirt and Debris

A dog’s love of adventure often leads him to far-off and unhygienic places. So, whenever he returns to his bed, he is accompanied by a cloud of germs. Be it the dirt he brings in or the dirt-stained hair left all over the bed, it all should be sucked into a vacuum cleaner first.

Important Tip: Only wet the bed after you’ve removed the hair because wet dog hair is hard to remove!

Image showing a woman Vacuum The Memory Foam

Take the dog bed to some secluded outdoor spot and shake it up well to remove all the dander and loose debris. You can also use a lint roller, stick or broom to smack the debris out of the bed (cover your mouth and nose while doing this). Using duct tape to remove loose debris and hair is yet another way to do it.

Using a vacuum cleaner—especially one with hypoallergenic filters/HEPA—is highly recommended. Vacuum cleaners can effectively remove germ-filled dog hair, unhatched flea’s eggs, and lice. You can also buy especially manufactured pet vacuums to remove your pet’s hair.

Step No. 2. Find Stains on the Cover

Before you opt for the washing procedure, do not forget to take a closer look at the bed/bed cover. Usually, it has a number of stains (of blood, urine, feces, mud) which can’t come off in a single wash. If you find them, deal with them first (read on to learn how).

Image showing a dog sitting in a dog bed

What if you do not find any stains? Before you wash it in the washing machine, simply soak the bed cover in hot water for about 15 minutes. It is an effective way to kill any pests lurking inside. After 15 minutes, wring the cover well and pop it in the machine.

Step No. 3. Spot-Clean the Nasty Stains!

Before you wash the bed, sprinkle a high-quality stain remover on all the stubborn stains and leave it for a few minutes (or do as directed on the bottle). It will help in removing the stains conveniently.

Image showing a woman spot clening the carpet

Stain removers consist of acidic properties, so if you do not want your pet’s skin to come in direct contact with harsh chemicals, you can try some DIY or homemade techniques to fight different types of stains. Below we explain more in-depth each type of stain and how to deal with them:

Urine Stain

It is one of the most common types of stain that pet owners find on their pet’s bed. To clean it, spray the area with a special solution—two cups of warm water, two cups of vinegar and 4 tablespoons of baking soda. Use an old towel to rub the stained area well. If it is an old stain, sprinkle some baking soda directly on it. Leave the spot covered in the solution for 5 minutes. Afterwards, blot it out and use a cloth to wipe the spots.

Vomit Stain

Unlike the previous one, this is an acidic stain. To remove it we need a stronger mixture containing warm water (2 cups), salt 1 tbsp. vinegar ½ cups, and liquid dish soap 1 tbsp.

Image showing a man clening a dog stain carpet

Soak the area in this solution for 5 minutes, then blot the area and wipe it clean.

Mud Stains

Wipe the muddy spots with a wet cloth. Let it dry well and then use a vacuum cleaner to remove any loose dirt. Note that if you wash the dog bed without removing the stains first, those stains will become permanent.

Step No.4. Machine-Wash the Cover

Warm water proves a great help in sanitizing the bed cover. Cold water is more commonly used with washing machines, but warm water is preferred in this case because it will disinfect the cover from ticks, eggs or other insects. Use a front-load washing machine to wash the bed. Adding ¼ cup of white or apple cider vinegar in it can help in deodorizing the bed.

However, here’s a word of caution: make sure that the water is not VERY HOT. Water that is excessively hot might shrink the bed cover. And it would no longer have enough space to store the foam.

A woman Machine-Washing the Cover

Also, make sure you are using a gentle and unscented detergent in the washing machine. Detergents with harsh chemicals can be irritating to your pet’s skin. Some of the detergents can actually prove toxic for your pet. The harsh chemicals that you must avoid are:

  • Bleach
  • Isopropyl alcohol
  • Fragrance additives
  • Chlorine
  • Perchloroethylene
  • Phenols
  • Formaldehyde
  • Phthalates
  • Nonylphenol Ethoxylates
  • Diethanolamine
  • Petroleum distillates

Step No. 5. Wash the Foam

Washing only the cover is not enough. To ensure complete sanitizing, it is essential to wash the foam as well.

Image showing a washing machine and a dog foam on it

For this, follow these steps:

  • After you have vacuumed the foam as mentioned in Step 1, soak it in a large container, filled with warm water, mild detergent and ¼ cup of vinegar (as mentioned above).
  • The foam must be soaked in hot water for a few minutes (till the hot water cools down) to disinfect.
  • Simply use your hands to squeeze out the water.
  • Rinse the cushion with fresh water. Keep on doing this till all the soapy water is gone.
  • Wring it thoroughly.
  • Hang out the foam for drying.

Important tip: Do not use a brush to rub it (rubbing destroys the foam).

Step No. 6. Airdry the Bed

Finally, place both the bed cover and the foam insert under the sun. Air dry it completely before reusing. It is imperative to dry the foam completely or else it will have mold growth inside it.

Image showing a close up of a dog bed

Using machine dryer for drying the cover or the foam is not recommended. It may shrink the cover and damage the foam.

How to Wash a Blanket Bed

If you have put our previous advice on how to wash a foam bed into practice and careful consideration, you should be pretty familiar with what we are going to explain here regarding how to wash a blanket bed because they are pretty similar.

Image showing a dog relaxing in a green dog blanket bed

The following are the main steps to decontaminate blanket beds:

  • Shake it well to remove any loose debris or hair (must be done outdoors).
  • Sprinkle with some stain remover, if there are stains visible to your eyes.
  • Soak the blanket in a large tub filled with hot water to disinfect it. Leave it for about 15 minutes.
  • Add mild detergent in the washing machine and soak the blankets inside it.
  • Drain out the soapy water and wring the blankets.
  • You can dry them under the sunlight or even in a dryer. A dryer would not damage the blankets.

How to Wash a Stuffed Bed

Stuffed beds are filled with cotton or foam inserts and they often have an unremovable covering on it. These are not recommended for machine wash (although beds with polyfill can be washed in the machine). Still, if you decide to go with machine washing, make sure to read the instructions tag well before washing them.

Image showing a dog sitting in a Stuffed Bed

We normally recommend the below-given steps to sanitize stuffed beds:

  • Vacuum it thoroughly.
  • Soak it inside a bathtub, filled with hot water and mild detergent.
  • Leave it for about 10 to 15 minutes to disinfect and sanitize.
  • Drain the soapy water out and squeeze out the bed till all the suds are gone.
  • Airdry it under direct sunlight.

If your stuffed dog bed has a detachable cover, do not forget to replace it once every year.

How Often Should a Dog Bed Be Washed?

This is a common question. Generally, we would say that a canine’s bed should be washed once every week. But for the final decision, check out the activity level of your pet.

Image showing a dog feeling sleepy in his bed

If your dog is very outdoorsy, sheds a lot or has some kind of allergies, then you must wash his bedding twice a week then keep on vacuuming the bed between the regular washes.

Additional Cleaning Tips for Dog Owners

Cleaning up after your dog can be a messy and time-consuming business if you’re not used to it. In order to help you cut the learning process short, here are some quick hacks to make everything simpler:

  • Always use a soft blanket, towel or a waterproof seal to cover the dog bed. It would protect the bed cover for a longer period. This additional covering should also be sanitized periodically.
  • Place a plastic sheet or a bin bag between the removable outer cover and its filling (foam). This is the best way to keep the insert clean for a longer period.
  • Putting the bed in the high heated dryer for 10 minutes kills ticks or other microorganisms lurking in it.
  • Treat your pooch for any kind of infestation before he reuses the bed.
  • Always focus on the corners of the dog’s bed while vacuuming. The corners usually accumulate more dirt and fur.
  • Whatever you are drying, make sure to set the dryer on low heat. Some suggest 140 degrees Fahrenheit for canine sheets. Following the instructions on the tag is the best solution.
  • Do not forget to wash the additional dog bedding items like washable toys or blankets (if any) along with the bed. These items are equally contaminated with harmful bacteria and other organisms. Soak them in a bucket filled with hot water and a scoop of mild detergent. Add some vinegar to it. Vinegar has antibacterial properties that naturally kills germs. And above all, it is non-toxic for your pet.
  • Besides cleaning the dog’s bed, you must clean its surrounding area or the pet crate (wherever dog often sits) thoroughly. Remove any lurking fur or hair around his bed. Use wipes dipped in bleach to scrub his sitting place. Make sure you are wearing gloves while cleaning.
  • Buy a dog bed that is easy to clean. A waterproof bed may cost you but it is both long lasting and easy to sanitize.
  • Down-filled dog beds are not recommended for machine wash. If you have bought one, dry cleaning is the right option for you.
  • Large beds that do not fit in washing machines should be washed in a bathtub. If you can’t move it outside for drying, keep it close to an indoor heater, but at a safe distance.
  • To get rid of that nasty smell, do not forget to add white vinegar to the washing machine.
  • Maintain the proper hygiene of your dog since he is the main culprit who brings all the debris and organisms to the bed.
  • Picking the right bed for your dog can make things a lot easier for you. Always focus on the best features in a canine bed instead of its appearance (how it goes with home interior).

Wrap Up

Cleaning a dog bed is not an easy task. But as a pet owner, it is your responsibility to wash it regularly. We hope after reading this detailed piece, it will be easier for you to maintain the hygiene of your dog’s bed and its surrounding area.

We have shared a number of washing methods to help you out, but to get the best results, it is imperative for you to follow the cleaning instructions given by the manufacturer of the particular dog product you are using.

Image presenting a dog relaxing in his bed

Did you find this piece comprehensive and useful? Regardless, we’re sure that there’s still room for you to add your two cents in. Since you are a dog owner, we would love to hear about your methods and approaches for cleaning and maintaining your dog’s bed. Share your bed cleaning adventures in the comment box below.

About the author
Emily Young
Emily Young

Emily is originally from China where she graduated from The University of Hong Kong with high distinction learning about fashion and design. During university she opened her own magazine about Dog Fashion as dogs were always in her heart. She was surprised, when she moved to a beautiful British Columbia 10 years ago, to see many great Boutiques with dog's designer clothing and desire of pet owners to make their babies look nice.