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How to Wash a Dog Bed With Urine in It – 11 Easy Steps & FAQ

Written by: Nicole Cosgrove

Last Updated on May 9, 2024 by Dogster Team

sleeping brown dog on gray fabric bed

How to Wash a Dog Bed With Urine in It – 11 Easy Steps & FAQ

If you own a dog, you’ve probably experienced the sinking feeling of discovering they’ve wet their bed at one point or another. It’s almost inevitable that your dog will eventually urinate on or soil their bed in some other way, particularly if you have a new puppy or an older dog with incontinence problems.

We know how unpleasant this is—the smell of dog pee can be enough to make you gag! If you find that your dog’s bed smells like urine, don’t panic. Many people make the mistake of throwing the entire bed out when this happens. Although trashing it may be convenient, it is not necessary to throw out your dog’s bedding every time an accident happens. There are easy steps you can take to clean your dog bed and get rid of funky odors for good!

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Before You Begin

There are a few ways you can wash the urine out of your best friend’s bed, but it is important to make sure that you have all the necessary supplies handy before attempting to clean their bedding. Depending on how strongly your dog’s bed is smelling and how long the urine has been penetrating the fabric, you may need the following supplies:

  • Rubber gloves
  • Face mask
  • Vinegar
  • Baking soda
  • Pet safe laundry detergent
  • Enzymatic stain remover
  • Scrubbing brush (if not using a washing machine)
Cleaning supplies stored in shelf
Image Credit: Africa Studio, Shutterstock

The 11 Steps to Get Urine Out of a Dog Bed

1. Read the Care Label on the Dog Bed

The tag on the dog bed will tell you if it can be machine-washed. The care instructions or directions might also be on the manufacturer’s website or in the box the dog bed came in. You need to follow these instructions to keep your dog’s bed in good condition and make sure it lasts a long time. Most dog beds are made from fabrics that can be washed by hand or machine, but some may need to be spot-cleaned. If there are no laundry instructions listed, then it is not safe to assume that the bed can be washed in a machine. Beds without washing instructions may not be able to be laundered in a machine due to the stuffing inside or the risk of the fabric shrinking or tearing. The last thing you want is to damage your washing machine or destroy the dog bed.

2. Move the Bed to an Appropriate Workspace

Put on your rubber gloves and face mask. Although you may feel like wearing a mask is overkill, It’s not safe or pleasant to inhale the smell of old urine. Carry the bed to an area where you won’t need to worry about urine soaking into other fabrics and surfaces. The last thing you want to do is spread the smell around your home or get it on your skin. The best location to tackle this project might be outdoors, in your bathtub, or a tiled space in your laundry.

3. Pre-treat the External Cover With an Enzymatic Product

A pet-safe, enzyme-based stain and odor remover can be used to remove urine and other stains and odors from your dog’s bed cover. Not only does it make the dog bed look better, but it also keeps the bed clean and healthy for your pooch. Several stain and odor-eliminating products are available on the market, including some that are specifically designed for animal urine. These non-toxic products can be found in veterinarian offices, pet stores, and online retailers.

This type of product is far superior to typical pre-treatment liquids which often contain ammonia and chlorine, which can irritate your dog’s skin and airways. Instead of relying on harsh chemicals, active enzymes eliminate urine stains and chemically neutralize odors rather than masking them with fragrance. An enzyme-based stain and odor remover will also minimize your dog’s chances of developing a skin reaction.

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4. If You Can, Take Off the Covers

If you’ve got removable covers, you’re off to a great start. Higher-quality dog beds generally have an external cover that can be unzipped and washed. If you have a dog bed like this, the process of cleaning it will be quicker and easier than with other beds. Find the zipper on your dog’s bed and carefully remove the cover completely.  If you have removable covers, you should really consider getting a waterproof cover or liner to help make cleaning up after future accidents easier. We’ll cover waterproof liners in more detail a little later on.

5. Soak the Dog Bed

Next, soak the removable cover and the dog bed in soapy water. Make sure the detergent is pet-friendly so your dog doesn’t end up with skin issues. Soak the bed for between 30 minutes and an hour. If possible, soak everything in your washing machine—it will keep things from getting messier than they need to be. If your dog bed’s care instructions permit, use warm water as this will help lift the smell from the fabric.

6. Put the Bed & Covers in the Washing Machine

While some dog beds can be cleaned in the washing machine, others have to be hand-washed. If yours can be machine washed, put it in the washing machine with pet-safe detergent. Consult your vet if you are unsure of which detergent to use. Organic detergents are generally safe. Consult your dog bed’s care label and go with the most vigorous option you can safely choose.

7. Wash Your Dog Bed By Hand

You may have to hand wash your dog bed if it is too large to fit in your washer or if its instructions specifically state not to clean it in the washing machine (this is often the case with therapeutic dog beds). For instance, you normally cannot wash a memory foam bed in a washing machine. In terms of cleaning the memory foam mattress, it is best to follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Use an old brush or your hands to scrub. If the soapy water gets too smelly, change it.

washing clothes with stains
Image Credit: FotoDuets, Shutterstock

7. Add Vinegar (Optional)

Vinegar is a natural cleaner that has long been used to clean and deodorize various spaces and items. Vinegar helps to break down and neutralize the molecules that create a bad smell. Vinegar has a pH level of 3.0–5.5 depending on the variety, which aids in killing bacteria and other microbes. A cup of white or apple cider vinegar added to the detergent will help remove stains and odors.

8. Rinse the Dog Bed Thoroughly

Make sure you rinse all the detergent off the dog bed after laundering. Even if it is not toxic, detergent can cause skin and respiratory allergies. If you have time, run a second rinse cycle. If you do this, there shouldn’t be any chemical residue left behind.

9. Add Baking Soda to the Rinse Cycle (Optional)

Avoid chemical dryer sheets and rinse your dog’s covers with baking soda if you want them to be soft. You can add 1/2 cup of baking soda directly to the drum of the washing machine before this final rinse. Not only will it soften the fabric, but it will also further help the deodorizing process.

10. Dry the Bed & Covers

Again, depending on the manufacturer’s instructions, drying can be done either by air or by using a dryer. It’s safest to do a little of both: allow the bed to air dry in the sun and give it 10–15 minutes in the dryer to make sure it is fully dry. Whatever method you choose, make sure absolutely no dampness remains before putting your dog’s bed back. Even a slight amount of moisture on the interior can cause fungal issues that can cause serious skin and respiratory conditions.

11. Air Your Dog Bed Out (Optional)

Sunshine and fresh air can help quickly remove urine odors too. Put your dog bed out in the sunlight for several hours on a sunny day as UV rays from the sun kill odor-causing bacteria, leaving your dog bed smelling fresh again.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Is It Okay to Wash the Dog Bed in the Machine?

Washing a dog bed in a washing machine is generally not advised unless the care instructions specify that you should wash it this way. This is because the vigorous motion of the machine could damage the fabric and seams of the dog bed. However, most high-quality dog beds can be machine-washed.

How Do You Get the Dog Pee Smell Out of a Dog Bed?

As covered above, to get the dog pee smell out of a dog bed, you’ll need to soak it in a solution of water and laundry soap for at least an hour. It is important to only use a pet-safe detergent, as some soaps may cause skin and respiratory reactions in dogs. After soaking the bed, wash it in the machine or by hand, rinse the bed with plenty of fresh water, and then air dry.

soap bars
Image Credit: christiancmccorbeti, Pixabay

How Do You Get Pee Out of a Memory Foam Dog Bed?

Cleaning a memory foam dog bed can be quite a task. The key to properly cleaning it is to first determine whether you will need a spot treatment or a full-clean method. If you only need to clean a single spot, then simply using a water and soap solution or vinegar and baking soda solution on a single area may suffice. If you try this and the stain and smell persist, you will need to immerse the bed in hot soapy water. The most important thing to remember is to not scrub and wring the memory foam too much—it’s too fragile to be washed intensely.

Does Washing Our Dog’s Bedding in the Machine Contaminate the Unit for Subsequent Loads of Laundry?

Washing our dog’s bedding in the machine can jeopardize the hygiene of subsequent loads of laundry. This is because the dog’s urine is spread all over the machine. The bacteria contaminates not only the water used to wash it but also potentially anything put in afterward. It is possible to combat this by running the machine afterward using a high heat setting, bleach, as well as extra rinse cycles. At a high heat setting, a washing machine is designed to clean and sterilize any germs that are present in the laundry that has been placed in it. The high temperature and pressure during the washing process should ensure that any bacteria from the dog’s bedding has been killed and won’t affect subsequent loads of laundry.

white comforter inside the washing machine
Image By: agencies, Shutterstock

Is Laundry Detergent Safe for Dogs?

Many people are unaware that some laundry detergents contain harmful chemicals that may be toxic to dogs. A small dog can easily inhale or ingest these toxins and then suffer from coughing, diarrhea, vomiting, and lethargy. For this reason, it is important to look for laundry detergents that are animal-friendly, such as Seventh Generation.

What Home Remedy Gets Rid of Dog Pee Smell?

A common home remedy to get rid of the smell of dog pee is to use a baking soda and water solution. The ingredients are mixed, then scrubbed into the dog bed with a brush or sponge before being left for a few minutes. Finally, the mixture is vacuumed up and the whole surface will be dry. This only works for surface-level stains. For deeper soiling, you should use the immersion methods listed above.

Why Does My Dog Pee on the Dog Bed?

Dogs pee on dog beds for several possible reasons. They might be marking their territory, they may have an accident, or they may be experiencing stress. Dogs can mark their territory by urinating in their bed with members of the same household to let other dogs know that someone is in “their” bed. This is seen mostly with newly adopted pet dogs. Many dogs, especially senior dogs, may have incontinence issues, and for some dogs, peeing where they sleep can be a way of acting out some of their anxiety. As always, if you are concerned, see your veterinarian.

dog pee on cloth or fabric
Image By: Pixel-Shot, Shutterstock

Is It Normal for Puppies to Wet the Bed?

Puppies will often wet the bed both during and even after they are house-trained. This is a normal habit that may last until the puppy is at least a year old.

How Do I Stop My Puppy Peeing on Its Bed?

The first step is to make sure that your dog is getting enough exercise before bedtime and has plenty of opportunities to urinate before sleeping. If this is not the problem, it might be due to stress or anxiety. Try to minimize noise, change, and disruption in your puppy’s life. A puppy may also urinate in their sleep during deep sleep.

Another possible cause is the pre-existing smell of urine—the smell encourages the dog to re-offend and the only solution is to get rid of the smell. One way to do this is to use a fan, heater, dehumidifier, or air purifier to circulate air in the room after you have laundered the bed. With circulation, no bad smells will stay in one place. They’ll be dispersed throughout the room, which should hopefully discourage reoffending.

Do Dogs Mark Their Beds?

Dogs typically do not mark their beds with urine, as cats are notorious for doing, but they may be more likely to urinate there if they are anxious about showing ownership of their bed in a multi-pet household.

Dog Pee Rug
Image By: New Africa, Shutterstock

How Do I Know if My Dog Has a UTI?

Pets have different ways of expressing themselves if they are ill. If you notice that your dog is urinating more often than usual, or incontinent when that usually isn’t a problem, then there is a chance that they have a UTI. This condition can cause significant discomfort for your dog, so it is important to have them checked out by a veterinarian as soon as possible.

Why Should I Invest in a Waterproof Liner for My Dog Bed?

If you don’t already have a waterproof cover or liner for your dog bed, you should definitely get one. They are a great way to protect the bed stuffing from stains and odors. They’re available at any pet store, from your vet, or online. You can also use these covers or liners on dog beds to protect them from messes and accidents. Covers are normally machine-washable, and like external covers, should also be washed with pet-safe detergent and vinegar.

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In Conclusion

In conclusion, we love our dogs and we want them to be as comfortable as possible. Dog urine can be truly foul, but the process of washing accidents out of their bedding doesn’t have to be a nightmare. By following just a few simple steps, you can restore your dog’s sleeping environment to a hygienic and comfy state.

Featured Image Credit: Tj Kolesnik, Unsplash

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