When our dog’s bed smells fresh then it usually means the whole house smells better too. Our dog is lucky enough to have two beds, one downstairs, and one up because she always wants to be as close to us as possible. That means there is even more potential for making the house smell!
So what is the best way to keep a dog bed from smelling? Here’s the quick answer, read on for more detail:
Wash your dog’s bed or cover regularly. Once per week is ideal, or as soon as you notice doggy smells. Machine wash with a small amount of mild detergent and add half to one cup of vinegar directly to the washing drum. In-between washes use a homemade dog bed deodorizer spray.
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11 tips on how to keep a dog bed from smelling
If your dog’s bed smells too much like a dog, here I have 11 tips on how to keep your dog’s bed always smelling fresh.
1. Regularly wash once per week
Your dog’s bed will smell better if you can wash it regularly. Once per week is ideal or at least when it starts to smell. In-between washes vacuum regularly and use this homemade dog deodorizer spray to keep odors at bay.
To make it easier to wash your bed I recommend getting an easy-care dog bed like this bamboo rectangle dog bed from Majestic Pet. It has a hard-wearing removable cover that doesn’t let hairs stick to it and the stuffing is washable too.
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2. Vacuum your dog’s bed daily
Keep your dog’s bed fresher between washes with a quick daily vacuum. You will keep excess hair away and thus prevent the bed from getting very smelly between washes.
I find the upholstery attachment on my Miele Cat and Dog vacuum perfect for picking up hair on my dog’s bed.
3. Clean your dog when you come home from a walk
The cleaner you can keep your dog, the cleaner her bed will stay.
Our dog hates water, so she very daintily side-steps puddles. However, rolling in any type of animal poo such as fox or cow is her favourite thing to do! When she does that it’s always bathtime when we get home.
I recommend keeping some old towels in your car in case your dog rolls in something when you are out.
4. Use a HEPA air filter
Our HEPA air filter has proved to be extremely useful for helping to absorb and remove dog smells from the air. It’s great for our hayfever suffering boys too, and it was a godsend for when the boys had COVID. As soon each boy tested possible, this filter went into their room immediately.
5. Get an odor-resistant bed
If you research the internet you will find recommendations for odor-resistant beds. But, I don’t believe these truly exist! You can certainly help to reduce smells by choosing a dog bed design that is easy to clean or has less material to wash.
This raised dog bed doesn’t attract hair like padded beds often do, and you can simply hose it down when it is time to wash the bed.
6. Buy several covers
If your dog’s bed isn’t washable or you want to avoid washing the whole bed, buy an additional cover that you can pop on while you are washing the other one. That way the inner bed doesn’t get hairy and smelly on wash day.
7. If the bed isn’t waterproof add a mattress protector inside
Some dog beds have waterproof inner padding. But if you don’t have that, add a waterproof mattress protector inside the bed. That way all you need to do on wash day is launder the cover and the protector which is far easier than washing the whole bed.
8. Use a pet-safe fabric spray
Febreze is known to be pet-safe, so it is perfect as a deodorizer for dog beds. The great thing about Febreze is that it removes odors rather than simply masking them.
Prefer a natural method? Check out my recipe for homemade dog bed deodorizing spray, it is super simple to make your own.
9. Air your dog’s bed regularly
If you have a sunny day, take the opportunity to air your dog’s bed outside. The sun’s rays will help to sanitize it naturally.
10. Keep your dog smelling fresh
The smellier your dog is the worse smelling the dog bed will be! Bathe your dog as frequently as is safe for your dog. Our dog hates water. She gets a bath about once a month which isn’t enough to keep smells at bay. In between washes I use this homemade dog spray to keep her coat smelling fresh.
11. Keep your dog’s collar clean
Our dog’s collar got so whiffy we decided to take it off when she’s inside. If you need to keep your dog’s collar on, then you could put it in the wash along with your dog’s bed each week.
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How to wash a dog bed in the washing machine
Before you start, always check the care label. Some of the parts may not be machine washable or cannot withstand high temperatures in the washing machine or dryer.
If the whole bed is washable, including the inner stuffing, I prefer to put the whole bed in at once without detaching the outer cover. This way the inside stays free of hair. However well I vacuum, I always find hair. It seems impossible to remove everything!
Avoid using fabric conditioners, dryer sheets or in-wash fragrances when washing dog bedding as the chemicals could cause an allergy for your dog. I recommend using vinegar in the wash because it is naturally pet-safe.
Step 1 – Vacuum
Before you clean the bed, vacuum it to get rid of as much hair, dirt and debris as you can.
Step 2 – Treat stains
If you have any stained areas, rub in some dish soap.
Step 3 – Select a wash cycle
The recommendation is to use a hot cycle. However, I wash everything in cold water nowadays, including the dog’s bed.
Instead of a hot wash, I make sure that I select an intensive washing cycle (about 3 hours long), and I use a good amount of vinegar. I dry the whole bed in a hot dryer. If it’s a sunny day then I dry the bed outside in the sunshine.
Always use a small amount of detergent. The more you use the more suds are created, which hampers the cleaning process and makes rinsing more difficult.
For my medium-sized dog bed, I use a tablespoon of biological washing powder and a 1/2 cup of vinegar which I put directly in the drum.
If your dog bed doesn’t fit too well in your machine, I recommend visiting your local launderette. They have larger machines and your dog’s bed will have more room to agitate so it should get cleaned much better.
Step 4 – Dry
If the care label allows it, dry your dog’s bed in the dryer on high, or outside in the sunshine if you have a sunny day. Make sure the bed is thoroughly dry before you allow your dog to use it again.
How to wash a dog bed with vinegar
Adding vinegar when washing your dog’s bed is essential for removing the doggy smell. Vinegar also helps to sanitize, plus it is perfectly safe to use on pet bedding. Add 1/2 to 1 cup of distilled white vinegar directly to the drum along with a small amount of mild detergent.
How to clean a dog bed with baking soda
Baking soda can be used as a refresher in-between washes. Sprinkle some baking soda on your dog’s bed and let it sit for fifteen minutes and then vacuum it up.
How to wash dog bed blankets without a washing machine
Maybe your dog’s bed is too big for the washer, or you just don’t want to use your washing machine? The problem is that however well you vacuum, you still find hair in the washer afterwards!
So if you want to wash your dog bed or blankets and you don’t want to use a washing machine, what do you do?
I recommend using the bathtub if you have a bath in your house. If you don’t have a bath, take your dog’s bedding to the laundrette. The large machines they have there can do a much better job than your washing machine could.
If you are taking your dog’s bedding to the laundrette, use a small amount of biological washing detergent and then add some distilled white vinegar to the fabric conditioner compartment, then run a hot wash. If the directions say it is safe to do so, follow up in the dryer until the bedding is completely dry. Or, air dry.
Should you wash the whole bed in one or take off the outer cover and wash it separately?
It depends on the type of bedding you have. If the whole bed is washable, then I will always wash it in one. I don’t like to remove the outer cover because I don’t want any hair ending up on the inside of the bed. Our dog also has a foam bed, and for that, I would take off the cover and only wash that because the foam isn’t washable.
Here’s how to wash your dog’s bedding in the bathtub:
- Vacuum off as much hair and debris as you can.
- Rub some mild dish soap into any stains.
- Fill the bath with hot water so that it is full enough to submerge the whole bed.
- Add a tablespoon of biological detergent and 1/2 cup to 1 cup of vinegar and mix. The vinegar will help to neutralize the odors.
- Add the dog bedding to the water and submerge. You may need to place something heavy on it to keep it under the water such as a large bottle of water.
- Let the bedding soak in the hot water for at least 15 minutes or longer if the bed is very stinky.
- Drain the water and then rinse with cold water.
- If you have a washing machine, finish with a final rinse and spin in the washing machine. If you don’t then squeeze as much water out as you can.
- If you have a tumble dryer transfer to the dryer or air-dry outside on a sunny day if possible. Check the care label for the correct tumble dryer setting to use.
How to make homemade dog bed deodorizer spray
It is super easy to make your own dog bed deodorizer spray. If you always have this to hand you can keep your dog’s bed fresh in-between washes. As well as this, I also recommend making your own dog deodorizer spray. You can use this safely on your dog’s coat. It is natural so it shouldn’t cause skin issues, however always test on a small area first.
Things you will need:
How to make dog bed deodorizer spray:
- Add 1 part vinegar to 8 parts of water to a spray bottle.
- Add a couple of drops of your favourite essential oil.
- Shake to mix.
- Spray on your dog’s bed and allow it to dry.
Frequently asked questions
Can you buy an odor-resistant dog bed?
In my view, no dog bed will remain smelling lovely once your dog has slept on it for a few days! However, if you choose a design that can be easily cleaned then you have a far better chance of keeping it odor-free.
If I were in the market for another dog bed, I would choose, something like this.
I hate vacuuming up dog hair and this particular bed is hair resistant. There are no cushions to wash either. All you need do is hose it down, or you could very probably get by just wiping it and spraying it with Febreze or scattering some baking soda on it every now and then.
Can you use fabric softener on dog beds?
I don’t advise using fabric softener on your dog bed because it could cause an allergy for your dog. A safer alternative is to add 1/2 to 1 cup of distilled white vinegar to the rinse cycle. Vinegar will naturally soften the fabric, plus it will naturally sanitize and deodorize.
Is baking soda safe for dog beds?
Yes, you can safely use baking soda to deodorize your dog’s bed. Baking soda or bicarbonate of soda has a natural deodorizing effect. To deodorize your dog’s bed with baking soda, dip a damp cloth or a scrubbing brush in some baking soda and scrub your dog’s bed. Let the dog bed dry and then vacuum off the excess baking soda granules.
Does Febreze get rid of dog smell?
When used as directed Febreze is regarded as safe to use around dogs. Only spray it on fabrics, not on your dog. Febreze works by removing odors rather than masking them which makes it very effective at removing dog smell from your furnishings and your dog’s bed.
How do I wash a dog bed with a urine smell on it?
Machine or handwash your dog bed in a small amount of biological detergent. Add 1/2 to 1 cup of distilled white vinegar to the rinse water. The vinegar will sanitize and neutralise the pungent urine smell from the dog bed. Then fully dry the bed.