How To Clean a Dog Bed

Updated: May 03, 2023

Knowing how to clean a dog bed properly can prevent damage and reduce allergens in your home.

How long has it been since you’ve given your dog’s bed a good washing?

Dust mites, dog dander and fur are just a few unpleasant things that can be lurking there. Plus, a dirty dog bed can cause allergies for you and your dog, so a clean one is good for everyone’s health. Follow these expert tips for cleaning a dog bed the right way.

Cleaning a Dog Bed

How often you should do it depends on a few factors, according to Karina Toner, operations manager for Spekless Cleaning. “I recommend washing your dog’s bed at the very least once a month to keep it clean and fresh,” she says.

You should clean it more often if:

  • Your dog spends a lot of time outside and gets dirty a lot.

  • You and/or your dog are prone to allergies. Be sure to vacuum or shake the bed outside between washings.

  • The bed is made of less durable material. Nylon or polyester beds can handle more frequent washings. Those made with foam inserts generally aren’t sturdy or machine washable, making them more challenging to clean.

And always check the care tag before washing.

Tools and Materials for Cleaning a Dog Bed

dog bed cleaning materialsKat Brancato for Family Handyman

No matter what cleaning method you choose, you’ll need some or all of these:

How To Clean a Dog Bed in a Washing Machine

taking apart dog bedKat Brancato for Family Handyman

If the care tag says the dog bed is machine washable, take these steps for the best results:

  1. Start by removing any loose hair or debris with a vacuum or lint roller. Vacuuming with a soft brush attachment usually works wonders.

  2. Treat stains before washing with a pet-safe product and allow it to sit for about 10 minutes. Then lift the stain by scrubbing with a damp cloth.

  3. Wash the bed on a gentle cycle with mild detergent and warm water. Avoid using fabric softener or bleach, as these can damage the bed’s fabric and fill, Toner says. They also can be harmful to your dog.

  4. For a larger bed, run through a second rinse cycle to get out all the stain remover and detergent.

  5. Let the bed dry completely before use to prevent your dog from dirtying it up again. Depending on the type of bed, you may be able to put it in the dryer. Check the care tag to make sure it’s OK. Never put a foam-based dog bed in the dryer, because it can damage the foam.

  6. If the bed must be air-dried, consider buy a second bed so you can rotate them when one needs washing.

  7. If your bed is too large or bulky to fit in the washing machine, take it to a self-service laundry with large-capacity machines.

How to Hand-Wash a Dog Bed

Sometimes hand-washing is your best option. In those cases, proceed as follows:

  1. Vacuum first to remove fur, dirt and debris.

  2. Fill a sink or bathtub with warm water and mild detergent.

  3. Soak the bed for at least 30 minutes.

  4. Gently scrub the bed with a soft-bristled brush or sponge.

  5. Drain the tub and refill it with clean water.

  6. Rinse the bed thoroughly until no suds form.

  7. Drain the tub and wring out as much excess water as possible.

  8. Let the bed air dry completely.

How to Spot-Clean a Dog Bed

dog on bed with detergentKat Brancato for Family Handyman

Perhaps you just need to spiff up the bed between washes. Here’s how to spot-clean it to keep it fresh:

  1. Remove any loose hair or debris with a lint roller or a loop of packing tape.

  2. Mix a solution of one tablespoon detergent and one quart of water.

  3. Apply the cleaning solution to the stained area with a clean cloth.

  4. Blot until the stain is removed, then rinse the area with clean water.

  5. Let the bed air dry.

How to Clean a Foam-Based Dog Bed

These may be a little more difficult to clean. Do not put the foam into the washer or dryer, and avoid using brushes or harsh tools. Follow these steps:

  1. Vacuum or lint roll the bed to remove loose dirt and fur.

  2. Remove the bed cover and machine wash with a small amount of pet-safe detergent on a gentle cycle.

  3. Air dry on a clothing rack or hang outside.

  4. Gently shake out the foam insert to remove debris.

  5. Check the care tag before cleaning the foam insert.

  6. Use the spot-clean solution mix of mild detergent and water and lightly spray the foam. Do not saturate.

  7. Gently clean with a damp cloth.

  8. Lightly spray again with plain water without saturating the foam.

  9. Use a clean damp cloth to remove the cleaning solution.

  10. Let the foam insert dry completely before inserting back into the removable cover.