Let Sleeping Dogs Lie: How to Keep Dog Smell Out of Your Bed

It’s no secret that ’round these parts, the dogs sleep in the bed.

Or, more accurately, these dogs hog the bed. I’ve managed to banish a few toys from the bed after the last Bedtime Fairytale, but I genuinely don’t understand how a 20 lb. dog and a 25 lb. dog can take up that much real estate. Does Koly get hit with an engorgement charm every night when the lights go out? It’s nuts. I feel like I need this shirt to wear as pajamas.

Hogging the bed isn’t the only downside to sharing your bed with your pets.

A recent study showed that homes with pets have more bacteria and more types of bacteria than the average non-pet home. It’s no wonder: dogs go outside and they bring all sorts of crud in on their feet. The added bacteria isn’t necessarily a bad thing, in fact, there is evidence to support that dust from homes with dogs has a higher amount of beneficial bacteria. Still, I don’t like to think of my bed as ground zero for grossness. We’re talking about my BED, I want it to be a restful haven, even if I do only get a very small portion of it. If you put your sheets under a microscope, I can pretty much guarantee you’d be grossed out. There’s dead skins cells, oils, sweat, dog hair, slobber puddles…UGH. Plus, all that bacteria we were talking about? It’s what’s responsible for that “dog smell” fabrics can get. I don’t want to sleep in a heap of dog smell. Anyone with dogs know that just washing a fabric isn’t always enough to get rid of the dog funk smell and it’s not like you can toss your whole mattress into the washer.

Luckily, I’ve got a surefire system to keep the dog smell (and the dirt and grime) out of your bed.

how to get dog smell out of your bed

Doesn’t everyone have an *awesome* Scarface Claw pillow from their childhood on their bed? What? I’M A GROWN UP! (If you have no idea what I’m talking about, you need to read this book.)

  Your First Defense: A well groomed dog is a better bed mate. In news that surprises no one, the smellier your dog is, the smellier your bed will be. The best defense is a good offense, so step up your grooming game.
  • Frequent baths – Get Fido sudsy with a natural, additive free shampoo and dry well. If desired, spritz with grooming spray.
  • A good brush out – Brushing removes the loose hair that’s going to get shed all over your sheets. Old hair traps odours and bacteria and can contribute that dog funk smell. Get rid of it frequently.
  Weekly or Bi-Weekly Tasks: Wash your sheets Duh, this one is kind of a no brainer, but it’s so important. Traditional wisdom suggests that the average person needs to wash their sheets at least every two weeks. If you’re sharing your bed with dogs, this probably isn’t enough. 
  • Pre-Treat Any Stains – Felix loves to slobber all over the pillows and Kolchak loves to rub his head into the sheets. Regular stains react great to a mix of peroxide and baking soda, while oil marks respond best to dry cornstarch sprinkled on to soak up the oil. (Get all my laundry tips here.)
  • Wash in hot water - Hot water helps kill any bacteria. Balling your sheets up before they go in the washer will help to decrease wear and tear, plus it helps to prevent them from stretching.
  • A cup of white vinegar in the rinse cycle  – white vinegar is my be all end all for all things smelly. A cup of white vinegar in the rinse cycle will not only take care of odours, it is also a natural fabric softener.
  • Dry on medium or low – High heat wears out the fibres of your sheets and they won’t last very long that way.
how to keep dog smell out of your bed

Dog beds are for chumps. Move over, Mama.

Hair Control
  • Suck It Up! - If your dog projectile sheds like Kolchak, chances are that your bed is a hairy mess. Once the sheets are off, I tend to give the mattress and pillows a quick vacuum. While experts generally agree that vacuuming does little or nothing to keep dust mites at bay, it is effective at sucking up the spare dog hairs, which can be harbouring funky odours.
  • Shake it Off – I like to shake out my quilt every week. If I’m feeling ambitious, I might even run the vacuum over it, but let’s face it, this is a hassle.
Odour Control Remember that white vinegar that killed the odours on your sheets? It works on your mattress, pillows and quilt too. I know what you’re thinking: won’t my house smell like salt and vinegar chips? Well, yeah, so make sure you have a bag on hand because let me tell you, the first few times you clean with vinegar that craving is so strong. Even though white vinegar has a very strong odour, that smell only lasts until the vinegar is dry. I recommend doing this as soon as you get up (or in my case, right after a good cup of coffee), so that your room has all day to dry and air out.
  • Spritz It Down – Place undiluted white vinegar in a spray bottle and mist your mattress, pillows (both the cute decorative ones and the ones you use) and your quilt. (Make sure you hang or lay out your quilt to dry, don’t just toss it back on the bed.) If I’m feeling ambitious, I might spritz the carpets as well. I mean, why not? You’re there, the vinegar is in your hand…what do you have to lose?
dog smell in the bed

Don’t I look cute in the big bed?

Once in a while Bed Accessories need love too  A weekly vinegar spritz wont be enough to keep accessories clean and completely odour free. It will help, but it is a fabric too and I guarantee it’s harbouring some yucky smells.
  • Wash your quilt – If your home washer isn’t big enough, hit up a laundry service. My local laundromat will do my quilt for less than $10. Same rules apply to the quilt as did the sheets: hot water, a cup of vinegar in the rinse cycle and a cool dryer.
  • Pillows need to be cleaned – Did you know this was even a thing? I seriously didn’t. Not for the longest time. The experts recommend that pillows be washed twice a year, but just like with everything else, if your pet is sharing your pillow, you may need to do it more often. (You can find some great pillow washing tips here.)

This girl sleeps with dogs, but you wouldn’t know it.

My bed smells fresh and clean, always. You won’t end up with fur pajamas by snuggling up with us. While not everyone thinks sleeping with dogs is the best, I would be lonely (and cold) with out my furry friends in the bed! (Besides, can you imagine the attitude if I suggested Kolchak sleep on the FLOOR?! What do you think he is? AN ANIMAL??)

Bark Back: Do your pets share the bed? Do you have any secret ninja moves for keeping the pet smell at bay?




  1. Emma says

    Mom has always had cats in bed but now Bailie is the first dog that sleeps in bed with Mom. Luckily she doesn’t shed, but she is still a dog. These are some good tips, I think she will try the vinegar.

    • KolchakPuggle says

      CATS?! Mama used to have those too before she came around to how AWESOME dogs are. Now we’re feline free.

  2. Kathryn Durno says

    Great laundry tips….I getting the vinegar spray bottle ready now. I wash all my bedding all the time, I have all white (why I don’t know) and two Brittanys….my rationale is that at least I can see it when it’s dirty! Love the idea of spraying everything with whit vinegar. Do you use this on all your laundry instead of fabric softener?

    • KolchakPuggle says

      I do use white vinegar instead of odour removed or fabric softener on all my laundry. Fabric softeners, particularly the sheet ones, are filled with chemicals and substances linked to cancer. I look at my pets as sort of a “canary in the mines” – if these substances have been proven harmful for ME, I can only imagine how bad ye are for my pets!

      With whites, I might try a 1/4 c. of lemon juice in with the rinse water once in a while to brighten them up and in the summer, hanging them in the sun to dry can be great, as the sun is a natural bleaching tool.

      If you’re interested in the rest of my laundry routine, you can find it here: http://kolchakpuggle.com/2013/06/doing-laundry-the-dog-friendly-way.html

  3. Jodi says

    Well there’s my problem! I’ve been using ACV! Not white vinegar. I usually wash our sheets weekly, of course there is a random week where it gets skipped, but in general weekly. I also was the blankets too, but it doesn’t keep off the dog hair. I guess I’m going to have to get out the brush. LOL

    • KolchakPuggle says

      Noooo…ACV should get the job done as well, though I don’t like to use it for cleaning as I find the colour a little…meh.

      Yeah, washing the balnkets does not take care of the hair, which is why it gets a good shake out and the occasional vaccum, maybe every couple weeks??

  4. Pamela | Something Wagging says

    I’m a big fan of the power of the sun. At least for the 10 days a year we see it.

    I like to hang my sheets to dry on the clothesline whenever possible. The smell of fresh hung laundry can’t be beat and sunlight is a stain remover. Spritz white sheets with a little lemon juice first and let the sun do it’s work.

    Sorta like bleaching our hair at the beach when we were teeny boppers.

    Now when you are going to post the DIY article that shows us how to teach our dogs to help make the bed? :)

    • KolchakPuggle says

      I used to love hanging my laundry on the line, though with the new apartment, this is strictly verboten.

      If you can figure out how to train Kolchak to make my bed (or heck, I’d settle for getting him to stay off it while *I* make it), I’ll be forever in your debt.

  5. one person's view says

    What do you do with a 65 lb. dog who hates water and won’t go in the bath voluntarily? In the summer i can take him to the free dog-wash at the local pet supply store (they sell only food and supplies, no puppies or kittens!), but in the winter I can’t take him out damp in -35.

    • KolchakPuggle says

      I’d try looking for a DIY dog wash that has a walk in dryer that you can use for a nominal fee or maybe in the winter, you might have to consider taking him to the groomer and paying for a bath at least once. (Most groomers offer a reduced rate for a bath only, if they don’t have to de-mat or trim fur/nails.) If there’s absolutely no where you can take him, then I’d try a few things:

      Frequent wipe down/sponge baths. Use a warm, damp cloth and really give him a good rub down.

      Extra frequent brushing to get rid of any spare hair.

      The occasional dry shampoo – though don’t do it too often or you can dry out the skin (http://kolchakpuggle.com/2013/05/diy-dry-dog-shampoo.html)

      and some of my DIY Grooming Spray: http://kolchakpuggle.com/2013/08/diy-grooming-spray-for-smelly-dogs.html

    • artbysas says

      Try taking cooked chicken into the tub with your pup when you want to give him a bath. Start by taking him in the bathroom using chicken as a treat when you are NOT bathing him. Do it over and over until the bathroom is a “yummy” place. Then have the water running. repeat the process until you can get him to hop into the tub for chicken with the water on. You get the idea? It really does work. Patience is the key.

  6. Kristine says

    Vinegar!! Who knew? We never used to sleep with the dog, ever. The bed was totally the cat’s territory and even then he only visited once in a while, usually when his food bowl was empty. Now we find ourselves succumbing to the mutt and no matter how often I wash the sheets, they stink.

    Thanks for the tips! You may have changed my life and allowed Shiva the bed privileges she apparently craves.

    • KolchakPuggle says

      Good luck! If your sheets already have the stank on them, you can try soaking them in a strong vinegar bath for an hour before running the wash cycle!

  7. artbysas says

    I keep an old flat sheet over my entire bed as a buffer between my covers & sheets and the animals. I wash it or change it out for a fresh one at least once a week. Vacuum the bed and around it often. Change my sheets weekly and put my comforter in the drier on low to pull the hair off. I only wash that every month or so. My bed never smells doggy. I also bathe my dog fairly often. Once every month or so? Any time she starts to get dull looking.

    • KolchakPuggle says

      Sounds like you have a good system of your own. Maybe it’s because we’re in the Pacific Northwest where it’s always so damp or maybe I’m just super sensitive to “dog smell”!

    • KolchakPuggle says

      You *do* have too many dogs! They’re a cute bunch though. We have dog-friendly leather couches, but the vinegar trick works on fabric ones.

  8. Jessica Rhae says

    Ha, ha…”projectile shedding”…..Chester and Gretel do that too. Heck, they manage to shed all over everything when they’re not even in the room. I was making an omelette the other day and a piece of shell fell into the bowl when I was cracking the eggs. The bugger was sneaky so it took me a minute or so to get it out. I got the shell out alright but, when I looked, about 10 dog hairs had gotten into the bowl. I would tell you that I just shrugged and mixed them in but that would probably gross you out.

    • KolchakPuggle says

      The other day I drank a cup of coffee that Kol had licked. It was delicious and I was too lazy to make another one. I figure dog hair is a good source of insoluble fibre.

      • Jessica Rhae says

        Anyway, isn’t there some kind or protein in there, or keratin that will make your hair grow shiny, or something like that?

  9. Barb Z says

    First of all, I take my beautiful quilt off the bed for night time. Easier to wash an extra layered blanket than a huge king sized quilt! Second,since my dog loves to burrow under the covers with us, I put his “sleepy blanket” on top of the sheet to catch any dirty paw prints. Finally, I only use white sheets. Why? Well, firstly it’s easy to spot dirt,(motivation to get those sheets washed ASAP) and secondly you can throw a cup of chlorine bleach into the wash cycle to insure that your bedding is clean clean clean!

    And I couldn’t agree more with the statement that a clean dog is essential! Sparky gets a bath every 3 weeks whether or not he looks like he needs one.

    • KolchakPuggle says

      I have a crazy bleach allergy, so I can’t even have the stuff in the house. I love the “decorative quilt” with a more washable blankie underneath though!

  10. peggyfrezon says

    Our dogs start off on their own beds, but sometime during the night they sneak up onto our bed. Since my husband and I only have a full size bed, it gets rather crowded with the two of us, Kelly, and a golden retriever! Oh, and the other day Ike jumped up on the bed, cuddled on my pillow, and upchucked right beside me. Nice!

  11. Lifewithdesmond says

    This is great stuff but definitely not for the lazy! I kind of messed with my husband by telling him I read this great post about how to make the bed less Desmond-y, and he got all excited, and then I said, “Groom him!” Womp womp. Emotional roller coaster. LOL. We do not, really and seriously, pretty much ever brush the dog. It’s really bad. We do clean his paws off when he comes in from outside, but that’s about it. Shame shame shame. I sleep in that.

    • KolchakPuggle says

      Ha ha ha ha – sorry Joey! In all fairness, the rest of the routine, sans groom would PROBABLY still help…a bit…

  12. Cynthia Amber Downer says

    This article is SO helpful, that it made it to my bookmarks. And I am very stingy with my bookmarks. That being said, can you pretty pretty please write up a post about how to removed embedded dog hair from carpets?! This has been a struggle with every carpet or rug I’ve ever had.

    • KolchakPuggle says

      Ha ha ha, sometimes I have that effect on people ;0) Totally didn’t mean to gross anyone out, but man… I gross myself out sometimes.

  13. says

    Since we already have 3 cats sleeping in the bed and Cali was never a fan, we are sans dog “stink” – but we now have a “cat fur comforter” . . I vacuum it all the time, but no matter what, we always feel like we are covered in cat hair :) Great tips – I will definitely try them on the dogs stinky beds and blankets!!

  14. says

    Great tips, I’ve never tried vinegar on sheets, but that would definitely work for funky animal and human smells. It’s kind of the same principles you use for washing nappies!

    Many of these ideas would work for humans and dogs that suffer from allergies too. Though those pesky little dust mites are the big culprit there and you would really need a 60 degrees Celsius wash cycle for pillows and dust mite resistant covers on the bed too.

    Great post, will recommend this to my more fastidious clients! Now, off to my stinky bed I go!

    • KolchakPuggle says

      Dust mites are the WORST! I have a special “dust mite” cover on my bed, which I do take the time to wash in the ultra-hot water every month or so. Clove, fennel and caraway are natural mite reppellents and I have satchels of them tucked into my bed lining.

      Pennyroyal is a good choice for anyone WITHOUT pets, but since it has a high toxicity level in cats and is considered toxic in dogs, I wouldn’t use it in a pet friendly household.

  15. Mary Ellen says

    I have a spray bottle of apple cider vinegar and water and I spray down my 2 Pekingese a couple of times a week. It remove all odors and leaves their hair smelling fresh.

  16. Mary Ellen says

    During the summer months with increased insect activity I spray all bedding with a water and eucalyptus oil mixture which repels fleas and flies and removes odors.

    • KolchakPuggle says

      What I great idea! I spray our outdoor furniture and beds with eucalyptus and it’s an ingredient in the essential oil bug spray that I use.

  17. Stacey says

    Loved the article! I never knew you could wash pillows either. Two of mine are washing now since I read Martha’s article!
    I basically follow the same routine you do but I wash my sheets in bleach and sprinkle my mattress with baking soda. Let it sit for about an hour and vacuum. Then I spray it down with Lysol and let dry before putting clean sheets back on.
    I was throwing my pillows in the dryer with a fabric dryer sheet for about 10 minutes once a week but thanks to your article, I will now also be washing them regularly.
    I have never used vinegar before but then I did not realize the smell would go away when it dried. If this works as well as Lysol, this will make for a considerable savings. Thanks for sharing!

    • KolchakPuggle says

      I’m not a huge fan of bleach, which is why I had to find another way. I’m allergic to it, but even in people not showing allergies, it’s been known to cause skin irritation and other issues.

      I would love to know if you found it as effective. Since I haven’t used bleach in over a decade, I have nothing to compare it to!

    • Mary Ellen says

      I would be concerned about breathing Lysol on regular basis. Think there are less toxic ways to keep the bed clean than regularly using chemicals. This is why there is now an epidemic of pet cancers is because of the over-exposure to chemicals on the ground, bed and air.

  18. Ariella says

    I was thinking about this article yesterday when I was giving Bailey a good brushing. After she was thoroughly brushed, I spritzed her down with some diluted vinegar and rubbed it into her coat. I tried this last summer when I read that it helps keeps the fleas at bay. It didn’t, nor has any other natural flea and tick remedy for that matter. But, it did a great job of getting that I-haven’t-been-bathed-in-two-months smell out of her coat. Her fur is also nice and soft now.

    My mother has been adding vinegar to the rinse cycle since the dawn of time, so naturally I do it also. My husband did a load of laundry and forgot to add it. I totally noticed the difference in the feel of his clothing. I hadn’t thought of just spraying our bed down with it though. It makes total sense.

    • KolchakPuggle says

      You know, I never thought to just spray fluffy little Felix. I am so going to try that!

      You know, I’m lucky to live in an area where we don’t have much of a flea problem and the tick problem is near to non-existent. I do use and essential oil bug repellent, but it’s mostly for the mosquitoes which are RAMPANT. I’ve also planted specific plants to try to keep bugs at bay on our deck. I can’t imagine living in the more southern areas where the bugs are armed and dangerous

      • Ariella says

        Ugh, the mosquitos are horrible down here too. I wasn’t sure what to expect with the fleas and ticks, since our cats stay indoors. I was using this natural spray, plus the vinegar and the day after I sprayed Bailey I pulled a tick off of her. I gave it one more shot and after pulling off the second tick, we decided to go toxic and use Advantix. I’m not thrilled about it, but that’s what I get for living in the sticks.

  19. June Huston says

    Vinegar on sheets? Hmm, I’ve never tried it! I’m scared it’s going to smell. Can I try lemon juice instead of vinegar?

    • Kolchak says

      I don’t think I would use lemon juice June. I’ve tried it and it doesn’t really work quite as well. I do promise that the vinegar smell dissipates as soon as the sheets dry though!

  20. says

    I saved my live! My dogs sleep in my bed and it was cute when they were puppies, but now it’s really not that great. And the smell is really unpleasant. I’ll try your solution as soon as I get home!

  21. Faith Grant says

    I keep vinegar in a spray bottle and use it full strength when one of the dogs pees on the carpet. Keeps it from staining and removes the odor too.

  22. David says

    My 107 lb pup doesn’t usually sleep in my bed, but I got sick for about a week and was bound to the couch, aka his bed. We shared just fine but about a month later, my pillows and blankets still have a distinct dog smell! I wash everything once a week, so I’ll have to try the vinegar next time. Any additional tips?

    • Kolchak says

      If the dog smell has been in there a while, I would consider letting them soak in a vinegar solution and adding vinegar to the rinse cycle. As for the pillows, if they can go in the washer, DO IT! If not, you can try sealing them in a plastic bag with a box of refrigerator baking soda for the day, then sprinkling baking soda on the surface, leaving it for 15 minutes then thoroughly vaccuming.

      If you live somewhere that it’s sunny, a day on the line in the sun can work WONDERS.

  23. uptonparkcarpetcleaners ltd. says

    I\m a professional cleaner, but I’ve never heard of this interesting trick! I’ll try it! I have a dog and it would be great if this actually is so good!


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