How to Wash Your Dog's Bedding + the Secret to Banishing Doggy Smell!

Updated byPenny
How to Wash Your Dog's Bedding + the Secret to Banishing Doggy Smell!

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When we got our first dog about three years ago I had plenty of questions about how best to look after her and keep her clean.

We went straight out and bought her a bed, and we also bought her a dog blanket, so she could snuggle up with us on the sofa. It wasn’t long before both the bed and the blanket began to smell a bit and I started to wonder how to wash it.

So, in today’s post I will share how I care for my dog’s bedding. Plus, I reveal what I add to the wash to get rid of the dog smell!

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Why wash your dog’s bedding?

We all know that dogs love to investigate all sorts of nooks and crannies on walks. So you can’t avoid them picking up lice, ticks, fleas, and even animal feces. These can all potentially end up in their bedding.

You might think that my dog Xena looks gentle and gorgeous, but actually, she likes to eat (yes eat!) cat poo. Horrendous!

Here she is on her blanket having a rest, looking angelic…

dog on a blanket
Our dog Xena

How often to wash your dog’s bedding?

Typically, you should wash your dog’s bed weekly.

Wash your dog’s bed more than once per week if:

  • You have allergies. If you have allergies, wash your dog’s bed more often or at least vacuum between washes to remove hair and dander.
  • Your dog has allergies. Dogs can have allergies too! If your dog has allergies, wash her bed more often using gentle detergent.
  • When you bathe your dog. When we bathe our dog I like to wash her bed at the same time, so she doesn’t pick up smells again from her bedding.
  • Your dog has got into the bed muddy and wet. Even if we are careful to wash and dry our dog after a walk, I still find dirt in her bed!

Pro tip: In between washes keep your dog’s bed smelling fresh with this homemade dog bed deodorizer spray. Keep your dog smelling fresh in-between baths with this homemade dog spray.

Of course, you don’t have to wash the whole bed. If you don’t have time, or the whole bed is too big for the machine, simply wash the cover on its own if it’s removable.

How to machine wash your dog’s bedding

Always check the label. If the tag says ‘handwash only’ follow these directions instead.

Step 1 – Vacuum

To start, I always like to remove the pet hair because I hate finding it in the washing machine later.

I have some favorite items for this, that all work brilliantly for removing dog hair:

  • I love my pet hair roller because it is extremely effective at removing hair. All the hair collects inside, so all you need do is open the back and tip it into the bin.
    Chom Chom Roller Pet Hair Remover and Reusable Lint Roller - ChomChom Cat and Dog Hair Remover for Furniture, Couch, Carpet, Clothing and Bedding - Portable, Multi-Surface Fur Removal Tool
    Chom Chom Roller Pet Hair Remover and Reusable Lint Roller - ChomChom Cat and Dog Hair Remover for Furniture, Couch, Carpet, Clothing and Bedding - Portable, Multi-Surface Fur Removal Tool
  • I have a Miele Cat and Dog vacuum with a range of attachments that work extremely well at picking up hair. If I have the vacuum to hand I use the small turbo head. Miele vacuum attachment for removing pet hair
  • I also have a Bissell floor sweeper which picks up hair from the carpet extremely well. My dog has a second flat bed with a foam inner and fleece outer cover. I can run the Bissell over the top, and it removes all the hair brilliantly.
    Bissell Easy Sweep Compact Carpet & Floor Sweeper, 2484A, Teal
    Bissell Easy Sweep Compact Carpet & Floor Sweeper, 2484A, Teal

Step 2 - Remove the cover

You may be able to wash the whole bed if it fits in the machine. If not remove the cover for washing separately.

Step 3 – Pretreat stains

If you have any stains such as mud, blood, vomit, etc. then it is best to pretreat them, so you can avoid having to add extra detergent to the wash.

I find dish soap is perfect for removing pet stains. Simply rub some neat dish soap directly into the stain. Don’t use too much as it will make too many suds on the wash.

Step 4 – Choose a pet-safe detergent

Several types of detergent claim to be pet-safe. My favorite for washing dog bedding is Ariel liquid detergent. I use a tiny amount and my dog has so far shown no allergic reaction. If you are unsure what is best for your dog, I advise starting with a very gentle detergent.

Now for the secret sauce that removes the pet odor!

Adding distilled white vinegar to the wash will naturally neutralize doggy smells and sanitize the bedding. I add half a cup directly to the drum. When I do this, all the doggy smells disappear. It is actually quite astonishing!

Can't get motivated?
#10 works every time I use it!

Step 5 – Machine wash

You should wash your dog’s bedding at 60c or 140f. The hot water along with the detergent and vinegar will help to kill insects, eggs and bacteria in the bedding. Use a very small amount of detergent, so that residue is minimized and thus allergies in your dog.

I always wash the whole bed and cover together because fortunately it all fits in the drum. The other option is just to wash the cover.

Step 6 – Dry thoroughly

If you can, dry the bed naturally. Outside in the sunshine is the best, because not only will the bedding get a good air, the sun’s rays will help to sanitize it.

If you don’t have good weather put the blanket in a tumble dryer. Do check the label first for directions.

Lastly give the bed a good shake to fluff it up and restore its shape.

How to handwash your dog bedding

If your dog’s bedding isn’t machine washable, or it is just too big for the machine, handwashing is your answer.

Here are the steps:

Step 1 - Remove pet hair

Remove any excess hair or debris from the bedding by shaking it outside or using a vacuum with an upholstery attachment. If the bedding has a removable cover, take it off.

Pretreat any visible stains by applying a small amount of pet-safe stain remover. I’ve found that simple dish soap works well.

Step 2 - Fill the basin

Fill your basin or bathtub with warm water, ensuring it’s not too hot as extreme temperatures can damage some fabrics. Add a small amount of mild detergent or pet-safe laundry soap along with a half cup of distilled white vinegar and mix it into the water until it’s dissolved.

Step 3 - Allow to soak

Place the bedding or cover into the soapy water. Make sure it’s completely submerged and let it soak for about 10-15 minutes. This will help loosen any dirt and grime.

Step 4 - Scrub

Gently scrub the bedding with your hands or use a soft brush or sponge to work on any soiled areas. Be careful not to be too rough, as this can damage the fabric. Pay special attention to areas that frequently come into contact with your pet, such as corners and edges.

Step 5 - Rinse thoroughly

Drain the soapy water and rinse the bedding with clean, warm water. You may need to change the water several times to ensure all soap residue is removed. Continue rinsing until the water runs clear.

Step 6 - Wring Out Excess Water

Carefully wring out excess water from the bedding. Be gentle to avoid twisting or damaging the fabric. If the bedding is too bulky, you can press down on it to squeeze out water without twisting.

Step 7 - Dry thoroughly

Lay out a clean, dry towel and place the wet bedding on top. If possible, hang the bedding outside in a sunny area to air dry. Sunlight can help to naturally disinfect the fabric. Alternatively, you can lay the bedding flat on a dry towel and turn it over periodically to ensure even drying on both sides.

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Sparkling Penny

Penny | Sparkling Penny

Penny’s expert cleaning advice has been featured repeatedly by Homes and Gardens Magazine, and also at wikiHow, The Daily Express Newspaper, and Glam Magazine to name a few! was founded in 2019 and has since helped millions of people achieve a cleaner living space.

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How to wash your dog bed whether it is large or small in the washer. Plus I reveal the secret to getting the dog smell out of your dog's bed and blankets.