How To Wash A Dog Bed To Help It Last Longer

How many of us love watching our dogs dream, roll around, and follow our every move from the comfort of their dog bed? I do! Now, how many of us have ever contemplated how to wash a dog bed? Me? Not very often.

Besides the obvious shedding, saliva, and stains, have you ever wondered what else might be living on and in your dog’s bed? Maybe ticks, lice, and dirt? Oh, and an unwashed bed can give an unwanted odor in your house; think of that before the big dinner-party this weekend.

We wash our own bedding – why not our dog’s? Here are some helpful tips…

Always Read The Instructions First

Yes, guys, there are instructions and you need to at least read them…following them might be optional but not to could ruin the bed before your dog does.

The covers on some beds are not removable so you’ll be putting the whole thing in to wash. Reading and following the instructions is more important given that you want it to come out looking as good as it did going in.

Some beds will require cold, warm, or hot water to both wash and rinse, which should be on the instructions.

Ignore all warnings and you’ll end up with the XXL t-shirt that shrunk to a medium, never to be worn again.

Let’s Talk Soap

We should be using a dog-specific detergent when washing their beds. The perfumed or detergent with bleach products are not the best for your dog’s skin and their constant scratching would be a quick sign that they don’t like it.

Pet-safe laundry detergents and dryer sheets if you use them are ideal and available online or at your local pet store. Again, read the instructions for use before you buy so you know it will provide a good wash and not irritate your dog’s skin later.

Stain Remover

If you need to use a stain remover prior to washing you’ll want to ensure that this is pet-friendly as well. Most will come off in the wash but remember, your dog may react differently than we do and, of course, their noses are much better than ours so any residual cleaner may keep the dog off the bed if they don’t like the aroma.

There are some great products out there such as “Pet Odor and Stain Eraser,” “Pet Stain and Odor Remover,” and others. They’re available, so take the time to look.

TIP: Do not use anything with bleach, chlorine, or that is fragranced.

Clean The Dog Bed Before You Wash It

It’s a good idea to clean the dog bed first. A vacuum cleaner will work to remove hair and other debris from the cover. You may want to turn it inside out and do that side as well as zippers will not keep everything out.

Your washer and dryer, or bathtub, will thank you for pre-cleaning as you’ll prevent a lot of hair and dirt from clogging drains and vents. In fact, you should be vacuuming the bed in between washes. Try standing on one end and then clean one side and then reverse yourself.

If the cover comes off, clean it and then the foam or stuffing (or whatever is inside) as best you can before you throw it in the water. And wash each one separately as fabric and foam need to be treated, and washed, differently.

Machine Washable Dog Beds

If you think you need to kill any nasty varmints in the bed (think lice, fleas, insect eggs, etc.) then start by soaking the cover and the insides in hot water, whether it be the sink or bathtub, for about 10 minutes. That should take care of the unwanted squatters. Wring them out well and move on to the washing machine.

A few quick tips for the washing machine:

  • Use the gentle wash cycle.
  • Use cool water so as not to damage the covers and foam.

A few quick tips for the dryer:

  • Use low heat so as to not shrink or melt anything.
  • Don’t use fragrant dryer sheets. Just standard, non-smelling sheets do the job to reduce the static electricity that might cause hair to remain attached.

If you think the cover or the foam may shrink or get otherwise mangled out then let them dry at room temperature or, ideally, lay them out flat in the sun to dry. Just make sure your dog doesn’t try to lay down while the bed is still damp.

TIP: Wash your dog’s bed separately from the rest of the household laundry, this will prevent detergent, hairs, people/dog odors from being exchanged.

Another option, if the bed is too large for your home washer and dryer (or if you can’t stand the thought of washing people and dog stuff in the same appliances) is to get to a laundromat and use their equipment. It’s still important to follow instructions and pre-clean at home so as not to contaminate the public laundromat.

The Bathtub

If it doesn’t fit in the washing machine then you will need to wash it in the bathtub, using proper soap that you can thoroughly rinse off. Again, shake the bed and even lint roller it prior to washing – or guess where all that hair is going? Down the drain and into the plumber’s pocket when he comes to clean it. Shaking and lint rolling will also keep your dryer lint screen cleaner.

Assuming the cover comes off, the foam can be washed in the washing machine if it fits. If not, wash in the sink or the bathtub and scrub with your hands and not a brush that may ruin the foam. When you rinse, you’ll first need to get all the soapy water out and then you can proceed two ways, depending on the size of the foam:

  1. Refill the tub and begin swishing and squeezing by hand to ensure you get all the soap out.
  2. Run the water and hold the foam underneath as best you can, beginning at one end and working towards the other, again squeezing until the soap is out.

TIP: You may need to put something heavy on the cover or the foam to keep it submerged while letting it soak.

How Often Should You Wash The Bed?

This would depend on your dog and their environment:

  • Do you live on an acreage or have a big backyard? Then once a month for sure, if not more often. There’s a greater chance of ticks and insects in the great outdoors.
  • Do you live in an apartment and go for walks in relatively clean neighborhoods? Again, monthly if not once a week. While it may appear to be a cleaner environment there is a greater risk of exposure to other dogs and people, which may not be as clean as your dog.

You also need to account for “accidents” in the house. Whether bad food or an illness, a dog can’t always control their bodily functions if they’re sick. And one of the most annoying things is when they’re outside grazing on lushes grass but wait until they come inside before barfing it all up, sometimes right where they sleep.

My parents had a dog who, before she was diagnosed as diabetic, peed uncontrollably all over the floor, rugs, shoes…everything! And the look in her eyes was so sad, she was so apologetic. And my folks did so much laundry with the towels they used to clean up after her. This included her bed as well.

Don’t Wash The Dog And Bed Together

How to wash a dog bedOf course, I say this tongue-in-cheek but I read something funny online while researching this article and had this thought, “Could I wash the dog and then the bed at the same time?” Seems interesting enough if you can handle the dog and bed at the same time. But then I asked, “What if the dog decides is bed is now a flotation device and jumps on for a paddle?” Or, “What if he decides it’s nap time on a water bed?”

Just like our personal laundry, we want to keep dog and bed washing separate. It might be practical to wash them together but not recommended…unless you’re really bored and have plenty of time to clean up the mess that’s sure to ensue.

Although, when the bed is nice and clean

and you’re sitting there all proud of your work

and then the dog comes bouncing in from outside

covered in mud from one end to the other

and plops down on the bed

…well, maybe a quick rinse together wouldn’t hurt.

Final Thoughts

Wash a dog bedI must confess that I’m one of the dog owners who doesn’t wash the dog beds enough. From a distance (and with sunglasses on) the beds look clean so they must be clean. Not!

Just get down and take a whiff, that in itself should be enough to convince you. Better yet, get a Beagle and their sharp nose will let you know there’s all manner of yummy things crawling around in there.

That being said, do I recommend that you regularly wash your dog bed(s)? Yes! You may think they love their smell saturated in the fabric but believe me, there’re other smells – and things – that need to come out.

What about you, do you wash your dog’s bed? If so, how often? And has your dog stayed off just because it’s clean? Ours don’t. It is, after all, their cozy corner in their busy people’s world.

Thanks for reading.





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