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How to Safely Wash Your Pet’s Bedding

You may have heard horror stories about domestic pets suffering adverse reactions to home cleaning products, like soaps, detergents, disinfectants, and bleaching agents, but we can’t stop washing our pet’s bedding. Leaving blankets and beds covered in hair can cause build ups in the stomach which can be very uncomfortable and potentially dangerous to our animals, traces of urine can compromise the health of the family, and the odours will soon become unbearable. So what’s the solution? How can we wash our pet’s bedding effectively without putting our beloved animals at risk?

Understanding What’s Harmful, and What’s Not

Firstly, what kind of products are there?

  • Soaps

    The soap category covers any sort of facial or body soap – anything that’s made from natural oils and fats. Often organic, these soaps are very safe to use around pets – the only problem is that it’s not particularly easy to wash pet bedding using bar soap (never add soap to your washing machine unless you want a floor full of suds!).

  • Anionic Detergents

    Anionic detergents are often those detergents produced specifically for top-loading washing machines, for hand washing, or liquid dishwashing soaps – any detergent that produces a lot of foam and suds. These detergents usually contain enzymes to help break down stains, but these enzymes have been proven to have very low toxicity for animals. Anionic detergents are an excellent choice for washing pet bedding.

  • Non-ionic Detergents

    Non-ionic detergents are another excellent choice for your pet. These detergents are very similar to anionic detergents in terms of cleaning efficiency. They even produce less foam and suds, which makes them good choices for front-loading washing machines which need a low sud product to avoid clogging the filters and mechanisms in the drum. Most laundry detergents designed for front-loading washing machines are non-ionic.

  • Cationic Detergents

    Cationic detergents are usually the source of the news stories about pets suffering bad reactions to household cleaning products. Bleaching agents, anti-bacterial products, disinfectants, and sanitizers are usually cationic – anything that doesn’t have its own cleaning properties, but is used in addition to regular detergents. They are made from very strong acids, which is what makes them so dangerous to pets.

The US General Services Administration breaks down typical household soaps and detergents into the above four primary categories. With this in mind, the answer is to learn some simple laundry tips and tricks including the best products to use, and the best washing methods. By understanding a little more about the range of laundry products on the market, how they work, and what they’re used for, you’ll find it easier to locate and choose detergents that are safe for use around animals.

Effective Washing Techniques

Now that you know the safest products to use to wash your pet’s bedding, it’s time to look at technique. There are three main concerns when it comes to pet blankets and beds – odours, hair, and bacteria – so here’s a quick and simple way to tackle all these factors:

Step 1: Vacuum your pet’s bed or blanket thoroughly to remove as much hair and fur as possible – this will make your washing machine’s job much easier, and it will also reduce the amount of hair that comes off in the machine, helping to keep the filters clean.

Step 2: Sprinkle baking soda onto the bed or blanket, and leave for as long as possible, preferably overnight (not always possible if your dog has a favourite bed he likes to sleep in). Vacuum up the baking soda and you should notice an instant freshness – the baking soda is very absorbent, and soaks up all the bad odours.

Step 3: Soak your pet’s bedding in a bowl of very hot water. This ensures that all the bugs, germs, and any mould spores are completely killed off. It’s best to do this in a pre-soak, rather than in the wash itself, to minimise the amount of time the fabric is exposed to high heats – too long and it could begin to shrink.

Step 4: Wash in the washing machine at a cold or warm water temperature – check the care labels to see what temperature you should be washing at. Make sure to use an anionic or non-ionic laundry detergent only, and avoid using any cationic detergents and soaps.

You don’t need to worry about washing your pet’s bedding – many detergents on the market today are very safe for use around pets, adults, and even babies. However, it is important to use common sense: products that are known for their high toxicity, such as bleach for example, should always be avoided. These products can cause internal irritation if consumed by pets, and could cause skin irritation upon external contact – it’s important to keep you and your furry friends safe, happy, and healthy!


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