How to Clean a Pet Bed

Pets can be dirty, but follow these tips and keep their favorite resting spots clean (and smelling good).

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“What’s that smell?” asks every single pet owner at some point (and maybe more than we’d care to admit). Even the cleanest of cats or dogs will leave a special smells and furry mess in their most-frequented resting spots. Pets are seriously good at snoozing, and whatever they've rolled around in during their adventures will inevitably get rubbed off onto their bed's fabric at nap time. Change up your routine and clean your pet’s bed just as often as you clean the sheets on your own human bed, and say adios to those bad aromas for good.

Dog on miniature sofa

Couches for Canines

Sofas for dogs? Yep! For decades, furniture manufacturers have been offering everyday furniture scaled down to toddler scale, a size which is also ideal for small and medium breeds. So hit your local thrift store or consignment shop for an inexpensive, secondhand kids' sofa then have it reupholstered with pooch-friendly fabric.

Side note: If you’re looking for a tutorial on how to make your own pet bed, look no further: Here’s the bed I made for my dog using a twin-size foam mattress topper and tough outdoor fabric.

Get cleaning.

Vacuum Your Pet’s Bed, Often

Fur, dander, and whatever else those pets drag in from laying in the grass can be kept at bay with regular vacuuming. Using a vacuum with hypoallergenic filters/HEPA work wonders, as the filters will prevent molecules from becoming airborne and distributing throughout the rooms in your home. Pet vacuums are also equipped with extra attachments, and are resilient and reliant when it comes to capturing long hairs and furs.

How to clean a pet bed and keep it clean with natural cleansers.

How to Clean a Pet Bed

How to clean a pet bed by laundering, and keep it clean with natural cleansers.

Shopping for the best vacuum for pet fur? Look at this list to find your vacuum soulmate.

Cleaning pet fur in the home with a vacuum.

Vacuums For Cleaning Pet Fur

Find the best vacuum for managing and cleaning your home when it's covered in pet fur.

Combat Stains

Opt for natural cleansers to clean stains on a pet bed to avoid pet fur and sensitive paws from coming in contact with harsh cleansers.

For mud, make it a point to wipe excess clean with a damp cloth, and then vacuum when dry to lift loose dirt.

For urine, blot immediately with an old towel to absorb what you can. Use a spray bottle to apply a solution of 2 cups of vinegar, 2 cups of warm water and 4 tablespoons of baking soda. For urine that sat a little too long and dried, sprinkle baking soda directly onto the stain as well. Allow the spray to sit for 5 to 10 minutes, and then blot again, this time with a soft cloth to absorb and wipe clean the stain.

Cleaning vomit is a little different because it’s so acidic – nix the spray bottle and use a sponge to apply a mixture of 2 cups of warm water, 1 tablespoon of salt, 1 tablespoon of liquid dish soap and 1/2 cup of vinegar. Blot, wipe clean, and if the stain is really tough, blot hydrogen peroxide mixed with dish soap, and blot it into dry baking soda sprinkled atop the surface of the stain.

Make Laundering Part of Your Routine

Pet beds should be easy to launder, because they’re quick to get dirty with fur and dirt when used often.

If your pet is adventurous and outdoorsy, make it a habit to treat the dog bed for ticks that were deposited into your pet’s bed. Put the entire bed in the dryer for 10 minutes on high-heat to kill anything that latched on. Do double-duty and add a natural dryer sheet to freshen the bed at the same time.

If your pet bed is an all-in-one piece (the insert can’t be removed): Run it through the laundry on the delicate cycle, with just a touch of detergent. Partially dry it on low-heat, and allow it to air dry the rest of the way before use.

For pet beds that do have a removable cover: Unzip the bed and separate the cover from the insert. If you’re washing a heavy foam insert, avoid putting it into the washing machine (it could deteriorate) and instead wash it by hand. The easiest way to get it clean is to fill the bathtub with a few inches of water, mix in a small amount of detergent and agitate the detergent to distribute it in the tub. Add the foam, and continuously submerge it to wash. When it’s time to rinse, drain the dirty water from the tub and also fold and squish the foam to wring it out. Fill the tub up again with a few inches of clean water, and continuously submerge and compress the foam until it rinses clean. Repeat in clean water again, if necessary. Allow it to air dry (it’ll be fast on a warm, sunny day!)

How to clean a pet bed and keep it clean with natural cleansers.

How to Clean a Pet Bed

How to clean a pet bed by laundering, and keep it clean with natural cleansers.

The cover of the pet bed is likely safe in the washing machine (follow manufacturer instructions, and when in doubt just wash it on a delicate setting). Wash and dry it by itself – or with other pet items – and I recommend adding a few heavy (junk) towels in with it too, to generate agitation.

Keep It Smelling Fresh

A simple homemade carpet cleanser can help to keep pet scents on all fabric surfaces to a minimum. It’s a mixture that I like to apply before vacuuming that consists of assorted dry ingredients you can already find in your kitchen (plus cinnamon and bay leaves, for good measure).

Use a daily spray to keep scents at bay between washings and vacuuming. A homemade solution will be much healthier for your pet, and we suggest diluting a teaspoon of baking soda into a cup of warm water, and then adding a few drops of tea tree oil as a natural disinfectant. Keep the spray bottle at the ready, and mist the bed every morning to treat between washes.

10 Pro Tips to Get Cleaning Done Fast

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Make a Schedule and Stick to It

Set aside a specific time to get your chores done. "Nobody hires a cleaning service that promises to arrive some random Saturday when nothing else is happening," Cynthia Townley Ewer, author ofHouseworks, says, "Take a tip from the pros and set up a regular cleaning schedule. Pros don’t quit until the job is done. Schedule the job and stick to it to get the work done in record time."

Photo By: Ljupco Smokovski

Find a Motivator

Cynthia suggests using motivators to prevent distraction and head off boredom. "Play your favorite upbeat music. Listen to a book on tape so you'll feel as if you're accomplishing two tasks at once."

Photo By: Yuri Arcurs

Dress for Success

Professional cleaners dress in comfortable, washable clothing designed for work. Supportive shoes and kneepads spare their bodies. Goggles and gloves protect against chemicals. Throw out the bleach-stained sweatshirts, and create a cleaning uniform that includes shoes, gloves and eye protection.

Photo By: Shutterstock/Africa Studio

Invest in Proper Tools

"Professional cleaners don’t use gadgets. You’ll never find them toting specialized one-time-use tools or the latest gimmick hawked on a TV infomercial," according to Cynthia. "Buy good tools — once — and use them, and you’ll be finished in record time."

Photo By: ©

Simplify Supplies

"There's a reason the pros can tote all the products they need in one tray," Cynthia explains "They've simplified their cleaning products down to four basic supplies:

  • Powdered abrasive cleanser
  • Tile and bathroom cleaner
  • Heavy-duty degreasing cleaner
  • Light-duty evaporating cleaner (glass cleaner or multi-surface cleaner)

That's it! No soap scum remover, no special counter spray, no single-use products designed to clean only blinds or fans or walls. The professionals know that with these four simple products they'll be able to handle any ordinary cleaning chore."

Photo By: Aimee Lane

Tote Your Tools

For efficiency sake, professional cleaners tote all their tools with them. All their tools — cleansers, brushes and rags — are right there in the tote tray. Vacuum, mop and mini-vac wait in the doorway. A plastic bag for trash is tucked into a pocket, next to the waving lamb's wool duster. That’s why the pro has finished the entire bathroom before our amateur makes it back up the stairs with the powdered cleanser.

Photo By: Shutterstock/Kaspars Grinvalds

Minimize Your Movement

"Professional cleaners don’t circle a room more than once. Taking their place before the bathroom sink, they’ll spray and wipe the mirror, scrub the sink, wipe down counters and polish fixtures before they move one inch to the right or left," says Cynthia.

"Don’t get physical with your cleaning sessions; make every movement count. Stand fast and clean everything in your path before you move on."

Photo By: Lise Gagné

Pick It Up Before You Clean

"Professional cleaners come to clean, not to tidy counters, furniture, appliances and floors. They can’t do the job if each horizontal surface in the home is covered with papers, toys, dirty dishes and just plain clutter," Cynthia explains. "Pretend that you’ve hired a high-priced cleaning crew. You wouldn’t make them relocate the clutter just to be able to do their job. Give yourself the same head start — pick up before you clean."

Photo By: Shutterstock/Monkey Business Images

Two Hands Are Better Than One

"The pros don’t work as if one arm is in a sling and neither should you. Get in the habit of using both hands to attack cleaning tasks," advises Cynthia.

"Spray a mirror with one hand; wipe it down with the other. Scrub counters with two sponges or cleaning cloths. Dusting goes twice as fast when a lamb's wool duster in one hand cleans nooks and crannies while the cleaning cloth in the other skims flat surfaces."

Photo By: Shutterstock/SpeedKingz


Two people make a bed four times faster than one. Two or three can make short work of an average home. Make cleaning a group effort. Family members are more reluctant to mess up a clean house when they have been part of the cleaning effort!

Photo By: Zing Images/Getty Images

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