How to Clean my Dog’s Bed

Brown and white dog lying in soft bed
Regular washing of your dog’s bed will help to keep them healthy

What is that smell?? Do you notice a pungent odour each time you walk past your dog lying on their bed? Is it the dog? Could it be the floor? Or maybe it’s the husband? Quite often it is the bed our dog is lying on. But how to clean my dog’s bed?

Having a clean bed for your dog is important. It’s not just so we can have a nice looking and nice smelling house. Like humans, our bedding needs regular cleaning for health reasons. Germs and bacteria will grow and spread in dog bedding. Dogs with dirty beds will be prone to skins problems or allergies. Fleas and other parasites are far more likely to proliferate in dirty bedding. Additionally, we as humans, can have health issues from the bed or from being in contact with a dog that lies in a dirty bed.

Dogs are not going to let us know directly that they have a dirty bed. In fact, a dog is quite comfortable to keep sleeping in the same smelling, disgusting bed forever. We need to take the initiative in maintaining a clean and healthy bed for our dog.

In our article on How to Choose a Dog Bed for My Dog, we identify two main parts to a dog bed – the bed frame and the bedding. Both of these parts need to be cleaned. The bedding, however, is likely to need cleaning more often than the frame.

Washing a dog bed will come down to several factors

  • What you bed and bedding is made of
  • The size of the bed

Care should be taken to ensure the bed and bedding is not damaged when being cleaned.

Using a washer

Some padded bedding can be washed in a regular washing machine. If the bedding is small, it should be fine on gently cycle in a regular washer.

Inside of agitator free washer
Washers with no agitator are ideal for washing soft dog bedding

Washers with a central agitator can cause bedding to be damaged or torn by the agitation. A washers with no agitator are less likely to cause damage. They also allow for larger pieces of bedding to be washed. If you have lots of dogs or have larger dogs, you may want to invest in a washer with no agitator the next time you are due for a new washer.

Padded beds and bedding should not be spun dry unless it is small enough. Spinning can cause damage to the bedding. It can also cause the padding to move in the covering. This is likely to cause the dog to damage the bedding when they are getting comfortable. Set your washer to gentle cycle to wash the bedding.

While it might be nice and toasty-warm for a dog, padded bedding should not be dried in a clothes drier. Hanging the bedding out to dry should be sufficient.

Tubs and baths

Another very suitable option for washing is the laundry tub. Fill the tub with warm water and a suitable detergent. Bedding that will fit in the tub can be left to soak. The water can be changed and used to rinse the bedding.

Not all houses or units have a tub for washing. If they don’t, a bathtub would be just as good. Bath tubs are especially good for large size bedding.

It’s good to have multiple beds or at least multiple sets of bedding for your pet. Some bedding can take a long time to dry.

Many manufacturers of bedding will have cleaning instructions attached to the bedding. It is highly advisable to read these instructions before washing.


It is important to ensure any detergent used for cleaning beds is animal safe. This usually means being free of chemicals likely to cause skin irritants or poisons such as chlorine. In addition, bedding should be thoroughly rinsed and dried before allowing the dog to use the bed. Stain removers can be used but they may have additional chemicals and could cause irritation.

There are very few detergents that are specifically made for washing dog beds (please add a comment to the post if you know of any products that are specifically detergents for dog beds). Natural cleaners such as baking soda and white vinegar will reduce the likehood of allergies or reactions on the dogs skin.

If a new product is purchased or used to clean your dog’s bed, make sure you observe your dog for any irritations. Stop using the product if any reactions occur.

Cleaning the frame

You may have purchased a bed where the bedding is also part of the frame. The frame may also be made of a cushioned material. This can make the bed difficult to clean. It may not be suitable for cleaning in a washer. It may also require more thorough cleaning that just a hose down.

If the frame is a solid material such as timber, plastic or metal, you should be able to give it a clean with you regular garden hose, some detergent and a scrubbing brush.

It is not advisable to wash the frame with a pressure hose unless necessary. Using a pressure hose may cause damage to the frame. Paint or other coatings may be caused to be removed. Regular cleaning with a normal garden hose should be sufficient.

Be careful if you have a soft frame that has a rubber base or backing. Placing this type of bed in a washer can leave marks on the inside of the washer.

How often do I clean the bed?

This is one of those “How long is a piece of string?” types of questions. There are a lot of variables as to how often a dog bed needs to be cleaned.

Obviously, the bedding will need to be cleaned more often than the bed itself. If you have a dog that does a lot of “dirty” activities, he will bring the dirt to his bed when finished. Running through mud, playing in dirt and rolling in things they shouldn’t will increase the frequency you will have to clean your dog’s bedding.

If you give your dog bones to chew, they will often take them back to bed so they can be comfortable while eating. This can cause the bed to get dirtier or smellier much faster. It will mean you will have to clean it more often.

If you begin to notice the bed smelling, it’s probably time to clean. If you see the bedding becoming dirty, clean it. Any sign of fleas or other insects – clean immediately with a flea treatment.

Ultimately, it is your judgement as to when the bed needs cleaning.

Can I clean the bed too often?

Interestingly, the answer to this may be “yes”. As humans, we would like nothing better than fresh sheets every time we sleep. Dogs aren’t always like that. Their sense of smell relies on things being familiar.

You may find your dog peeing in their bed. Our article on why dogs pee in bed will help to identify some issues as to why the dog pees in their (or our) bed. If your dog pees in their bed, it may be because their bed is too clean. It is no longer an object with a familiar smell. They may pee on the bed to sleep in something that is more familiar to them. Remember, to a dog, peeing is not something that is gross. It is part of their behaviour to use their urine to define what is theirs.

If you clean the bedding, don’t clean the bed frame at the same time. The frame will have some scent on it that may prevent the dog from laying their scent.

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