After a long day of eating, playing and exploring, your pooch is bound to be dog-tired and in need of rest. According to Sleep.org, the average dog sleeps on 10.8 hours per day, so - while you might be inclined to let them snuggle up with you now and then - it’s important they have a bed they can call their own. Between muck and mud dragged in from walks, excitable “wiggles” and pre-bed scratching and digging, dog beds tend to go through a lot - but cleaning them regularly can help them last longer. “But how often should I wash my dog’s bed?” you might say. We’re glad you asked…
How Often Should I Wash My Dog’s Bed?
Extending the lifespan of your dog's bed isn’t the only reason for keeping it clean: dog beds should be washed twice a week minimum - and while this might seem like a pain, there’s a very good reason - in fact there may be several thousand good reasons living in your pet’s bedding right now. According to the International Scientific Forum on Home Hygiene (IFH), domestic animals carry a number of bacteria, viruses, fungi, fleas and other parasites on them - particularly pets who spend lots of time outside, like dogs.
What are the Health Risks?
Because these organisms can survive on your dog’s bed for up to 12 months without a host, washing your dog’s bed is even more important. Infections can be passed from your dog’s bed, to your dog - to the people in your home even if your pet doesn’t seem to be ill, so as well as ensuring comfort for your pet, keeping their bed clean also ensures everyone in the house stays healthy. Regular hand washing after handling your pet or their possessions also reduces risk of infection.
What about Allergies?
A late discovery of pet allergies (perhaps long after you brought your furbaby home) is unfortunate, though not uncommon. Amongst other steps you can take to minimise the discomfort that comes with pet allergies, consider using a throw over the dog bed that you can quickly toss in the laundry. Heavy shedders might also benefit from a washable cover or liner that can be laundered on a regular basis. Consider keeping a small vacuum cleaner on hand to spot clean fur and dander - some models are even built with allergy sufferers in mind.
How Can I Wash my Dog’s Bed - Quickly?
There aren’t any real shortcuts to washing your dog’s bed (sorry!). Vacuuming will get rid of surface hair and muck, but does nothing to kill off those potential pathogens embedded deep down in the fabric of the bed. The only way to do it is properly. It’s also a good idea to keep two beds on rotation, so there’s always a clean one to hand while the other is in the wash.
How to Wash your Dog’s Bed:
1. Before you Start
First vacuum your dog’s bed using the upholstery attachment. Spot clean where needed with a pet-friendly stain remover and, if remove the cover, if there is one (having two removable covers to swap around on your dog’s bed is also a good option).
2. What Kind of Detergent Should I Use?
While many suggest using an ordinary household detergent, laundry residue on toys, bedding and other well-loved items your pet chews or snuggles with can actually be harmful to pets - so it’s generally best to err on the side of caution and opt for a non-toxic brand - half a cup of apple cider or white vinegar can also be added to the cycle to loosen up any stray hair the vacuum cleanr didn’t quite catch.
3. Which Temperature Setting is Best?
Bed, bedding and blankets should all be washed at at least 60 degrees celcius (the optimum temperature for killing bacteria) - and should be washed separately from the remainder of your household laundry.
4. Hand wash or Washing Machine?
Most pet beds are machine washable - but some might be hand wash only -so check the label first before cleaning. To do this, let your dog bed sit in a solution of pet-saffe detergent and hot water for about twenty minutes, then rinse repeatedly until all traces of soap suds are gone.
5. How do I Dry My Dog’s Bed?
Squeeze out any excess water (particularly if you have handwashed your dog bed). Any filling or padding should be hung to dry, but removable covers should be fine to go into the dryer, should you own one. That said: air drying your dog’s bed in the sun is generally a better way to get rid of any lingering unpleasant whiffs, if the weather allows, as it freshens the fabric and exposes it to UV rays, which while not great for humans - can help to kill germs.
6. What About Between Washes?
A quick pass with the vacuum cleaner and a wipe with a damp cloth should be all you need to keep your dog’s bed clean between washes, and also minimises the chance of more dirt accumulating and becoming difficult to get out. To help keep your dog’s bed clean - clean your dog! The muckier the pup, the dirtier their bed, so make sure they have regular baths - more so if they love a good roll in the muck.
Keeping your dog’s bed clean isn’t just about making sure it smells and looks nice - it’s important to your pets health and wellbeing as well as for the humans living in your household. Dirty dog beds can cause infection and illness and are especially dangerous to those who are immunocompromised or older people - so make washing your dog bed properly a part of your regular laundry routine.