How to Wash a Dog Bed

You may have a naughty puppy that loves tracking in mud from outside and spreading it all over his bed. Or maybe you just want to wash his bed regularly to avoid the accumulation of dirt and mold growth. In either case, you might be wondering how to wash a dog bed. 

First, you need to check if you can wash the dog bed in the washing machine or by hand. Next, you can wash it by hand or on a gentle cycle with pet-safe washing detergent. Make sure to use hot water to kill any bacteria. Lastly, you should dry the bed completely. 

It took me almost six months to fully potty train my Golden Retriever puppy. Therefore, it’s fair to say that I have extensive experience washing dog beds and blankets to remove urine and smells. 

In this guide, I cover how to wash a dog bed in a washing machine or by hand. I discuss how often you should do this and the kind of bed you can buy to make the process easier. I also cover drying the bed, so it’s good as new. 

Which Detergent Should You Use?

Especially if your pup is prone to skin allergies, you need to be careful about the detergent you use. You need a liquid that can remove dirt, mud, and urine smells without causing an allergic reaction.

I recommend the Alpha Tech LaundraPet Premium Laundry Detergent. It has a potent formula that can remove pet and urine odors, even if the fabric is soaked. The detergent is affordable and eco-friendly, with a non-soap formula that is hypoallergenic and strong. 

For a natural substitute you can use baking soda. This will work in a pinch but if you plan on washing the bed frequently I still recommend finding a suitable mild detergent.

How to Wash a Dog Bed in a Washing Machine

Clothes line

Using a washing machine is the fastest and most convenient way to wash a dog bed.

Before you jump right in, make sure you actually have a machine washable dog bed. For some beds only the removable cover can actually be washed.

Then you just need to follow these steps:

  1. Find the label on the pet bed and see if it is suitable to use in the washing machine. If not, proceed to the next section to wash it by hand.
  2. Take off the cover and shake off any loose dirt and pet hair. If it is stuck, you can use a broom handle to beat the fabric and remove any residue. 
  3. Choose the washing machine temperature according to the recommendations on your pet’s bed. If there are none, use a water temperature of at least 160℉ (71℃) to kill any bacteria
  4. Remove any visible stains by applying a treatment like the TriNova Natural Pet Stain and Odor Remover Eliminator. 
  5. Add the bed cover and the detergent to the inside of the washing machine. Use a full cap for smelly dog bedding and at least ⅓ cap for regular maintenance washes. 
  6. Run a full wash cycle of at least 25 minutes. 
  7. Run one more rinse cycle with just water to avoid any laundry detergent remaining on the dog bed cover.
  8. Run the washing machine empty with a cup of white vinegar to disinfect afterward. Otherwise, you may ruin your clothes on the next machine wash. 

If you need a visual guide, you can check out this video.

How to Hand Wash a Dog Bed

Some dog beds are too sensitive or breakable to use in a washing machine. Or maybe you don’t own a machine, so washing by hand is your best option. Just follow these steps:

  1. Shake the dog hair out of your pet’s bedding. If you have a high-shedding breed, you can use a vacuum cleaner as well to remove any surface residue.
  2. Grab a large plastic washing tub or take the cover to your bathroom and use the bath tub. 
  3. Fill the tub with enough water that you can fully submerge the dog bed cover. 
  4. Pour in the pet-safe detergent and mix it through the water with your hands.
  5. Add the dog bed and push it to the bottom so that it is fully saturated.
  6. You can also use your hands to squeeze and move around the bed in the clean water.
  7. Scrub any stains with stain remover on a washcloth and then leave it to soak for at least 15 minutes.
  8. Drain the bath and run cold, clean water over the dog bed. Use your hands to scrub it and continue until all detergent has gone.
  9. Use your hands and squeeze all parts of the bed to remove excess water. 
  10. Rinse the bath afterwards to remove any dirt or dog hair. 

How to Dry a Dog Bed

Clothes line

Once you have washed your dog bed, you will need to dry it completely. Putting a wet cover back on the mattress could quickly encourage the growth of mold. 

First, you need to check if you can dry your dog bed in a tumble dryer. It should say so on the label of the pet bedding. Don’t forget a dryer sheet if you use the machine! If in doubt, opt to air dry, because there is less possibility of damaging the material. 

If you want to air dry the bed, you can simply hang it on the washing line in a warm and sunny place. Depending on the weather and airflow, it should take 1-2 days to dry completely. Air drying can be particularily effective in removing pet odor.

How Often Should You Wash a Dog Bed?

If your dog has a potty training accident or gets wet mud all over the bed, then you should wash it immediately. However, you should also wash a dog bed regularly to keep it clean and comfortable for your pup. I recommend washing it once a week.

This is particularly important if your pup struggles with allergies. Dust mites can get inside the mattress or stay on the surface of the bedding. Many dogs are allergic to dust mites and may struggle with symptoms like itching, sneezing, and discomfort. 

Mold is another common allergen for dogs. It can grow in damp places, so you may be at risk if you live in a humid climate. For this reason, you should wash the dog bed frequently and dry it entirely. 

How to Choose an Easy to Wash Dog Bed

There are a few factors to consider when choosing a dog bed that is easy to wash:

  • Waterproof dog beds: If your dog bed is resistant to moisture, you won’t need to wash the bulky mattress. This design helps you reduce cleaning time and also makes the unit last for longer. If your dog is prone to accidents, this is the best option. 
  • Removable covers: It is difficult to fit an entire dog bed in a washing machine. Therefore, removable covers are your friends. They also dry a lot faster than a thick foam mattress. 
  • Durable materials: Even when washing by hand, the process of cleaning can damage fabric. It is better to choose a durable dog bed that can withstand multiple washes. Otherwise, you will have to replace it after a few months. 
  • Breathable fabrics: Especially if you live in a cool or rainy climate, it can take a long time for washing to dry. By choosing a dog bed with breathable material, it will dry faster and you can put it back in no time. 

How to Avoid Getting a Dog Bed Dirty

Puppy on dog bed

Other than standard wear and tear, there are a few reasons why a dog might get their bed dirty. These range from bodily functions like urine, menstrual blood, and shedding fur, to environmental factors like mud. 

Potty Training

Before they are potty trained, many puppies will pee on their beds. Whether because they don’t understand what it is or they can’t hold their bladder, accidents happen. To avoid getting urine on the dog bed, you will need to focus on house training

These are a few tips to follow:

  • Make a routine: Puppies can hold their bladder for one hour of every month of their age. For example, a five-month-old pup will need to pee every five hours. Pups also need to urinate after eating, drinking, or playing. If you make a strict routine, you can minimize any accidents. 
  • Go to the same place: If a dog smells their urine in the grass, they will associate the place with going potty. If you have a backyard or nearby park, take your pup to the same place every time. You can also try using pee pads if you live in an apartment. 
  • Use a command word: If you associate the act with a word, you can get your puppy to recognize when it needs to pee. My puppy responds to the word “pee-pee,” but you can use any phrase you like. Start by saying it excitedly after your dog urinates to create the association. 
  • Reward the desired behavior: Many dogs are motivated by treats. Every time your puppy urinates where you want them to, reward them with a tasty treat and act excited. You can also pair this with your command word to strengthen the connection. 
  • Use crate training: If you cannot supervise your dog at all times, you can use crate training. Dogs are unlikely to urinate in small spaces where they are stuck. However, never keep the puppy in the crate for longer than they can hold their bladder. 
  • Use a bell: Some people like to train their dogs to notify them when they want to pee. Every time you take the dog out to urinate, hit the bell. You can then teach your dog to touch the bell when he needs to go toilet. 
  • Don’t punish accidents: You may feel upset if you stumble across a large puddle of pee in your house. However, yelling at your dog won’t improve his toilet training. It is better to supervise him constantly and take him out enough that he won’t urinate inside. 

If you want to see some more tips, you can check out this video.

Handling a Female Dog in Heat

If you have not spayed your female dog, then she will go into heat. Depending on the breed, the first heat usually happens between 6 and 18 months of age. Like humans, female dogs excrete some menstrual blood during their periods.

To avoid messing the dog bed with blood, you can equip your female dog with special panties. I recommend the CuteBone Dog Diapers because they have holes for the tail, cute designs, and are washable. 

If your dog is resistant to this clothing, you may like to lie an old towel on top of her bed. This can protect the mattress and cover and allow your pup to feel comfortable. 

Regular Grooming

If you have a high-shedding breed like a Golden Retriever, your house is likely frequently full of dog hair. I seem to have tumbleweeds of fur that roll through my house every day. This hair can also get stuck in the dog bed, making you have to wash it more often. 

You can reduce shedding by grooming your dog every day. Different brushes work for different breeds, so it could be worth asking your vet or a professional groomer. However, a wire brush is usually a safe bet. 

Coping with Muddy Conditions

Lastly, your dog may love romping around in the outside world and tracking mud inside. While you shouldn’t prevent your pup from playing, you can minimize the amount of dirt on the dog bed. 

I recommend using an old towel to wipe your dog’s paws before you allow him to come back in the house. Get a family member to help you if you have a large breed or excitable pup. You could also use dog booties outside and remove them at the door. 


In conclusion, it is pretty easy to wash a dog bed. Check if the bedding is better suited for a washing machine or handwashing. You should choose a pet-friendly detergent like Alpha Tech LaundraPet Premium Laundry Detergent

Other than immediately following accidents, you should get into a routine of washing your dog’s bed. By doing so, you can keep the mattress and cover in good condition for longer, and avoid possible allergens. 

If you want to make the job even easier, I recommend buying a waterproof dog bed. These beds are resistant to damage and have covers that you can remove and wash with ease. 

So, what are you waiting for? It’s time to start washing! 

Kate Beveridge

Kate is an Australian writer and dog enthusiast. She can be found patting street dogs and caring for her mischievous Golden Retriever called Nala.

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