Are Dog Seat Covers Machine Washable?

Are Dog Seat Covers Machine Washable?

Dog seat covers are the perfect way to take your furry friend on a car ride with you without worrying about getting your nice, clean interior all dirty. However, eventually, you have to clean your seat covers, too!

Most dog seat covers for vehicles are machine washable. Plush paws seat covers, for example, are entirely safe to put in any washing machine that has a low setting. However, small messes may not require machine washing. You'll want to ensure your dog seat cover is made of machine-safe material.  

In the rest of this article, I'll be going into more details about whether or not your dog seat covers can be machine washed. You'll also learn what washing alternatives you have and when each cleaning method might be appropriate. 

What Are Dog Seat Covers Made Of?

The first thing you need to consider before purchasing a dog seat cover or throwing the cover you already have in the washing machine is what it's made out of. Some materials, for example, will start to degrade when they're put in the washing machine, even if washed on a low setting. 

Most car seat covers made for pets are polyester, poly-cotton, or neoprene.

These fabrics are most common because they're considered durable and waterproof, making them perfect for every type of weather condition or state of cleanliness your dog might be in. 

However, there are also leather dog seat covers. These covers aren't washing machine safe and should be either hand washed or taken to a specialized cleaner. 

If you order a custom dog seat cover, even one made out of materials that can usually go in the washing machine, check with the company about their product care guidelines to make sure you can machine-wash your cover.

Cleaning a Dog Seat Cover

Washing machines are a wonderful invention. Many of us don’t know where we'd be without one. 

You're just not sure if your seat cover is dirty enough to be machine washed, yet, knowing what other options you have to clean your seat covers is always a good thing. 


Your furry friend always picks up dirt, dust, dog hair, or other little bits of debris while out and about. If the main reason why your seat cover is dirty is due to these bits, vacuuming is probably the best choice for you in the short term. 

Vacuuming is fast and easy for surface-level messes. 

Even if you plan on machine washing your dog seat cover when you notice dog fur or dirt, vacuuming first will save you a headache later. Some washing machines aren't good at getting rid of built-up fur, and, in a worst-case scenario, you might even cause a clog in your washing machine's drainage pipes. 

Most dog seat covers are vacuum safe. We even recommend it as a cleaning method and quick fix for superficial messes. 

Spot Cleaning 

Much like us humans, sometimes dogs can leave little spots, smudges, or minor stains on the fabric they're sitting on. 

That means if you and your dog spent time out in the mud, on the beach, or even if you gave them a little treat to chew on or eat in the car, you'd likely find some areas on your seat cover that need immediate attention but don't necessarily warrant a deep clean. 

In those cases, you don't have to machine wash your dog’s seat cover if you don't want to. You can use a damp rag and some fabric cleaner that’s safe to use and spot clean the dirty areas. 

Similar to vacuuming, in some cases, you may want to do this type of cleaning even if you plan on machine washing your dog seat cover. That way, if you have mud or food caked into specific spots of your cover, you don't have to worry about clogging, damaging, or dirtying the inside of your washing machine.

Hand Washing

Hand washing may be the most time-consuming and tedious method to clean your seat covers. Unlike with a washing machine, you can't just set everything up to start and go about your day.

Also, unless you have a tiny car, you'll need to make sure you have the space to clean pieces of fabric that are pretty large. That means a bathtub you don't mind using for a clean-up project like this one, a large sink, or an outdoor space where you can use a hose as your water source.

However, there are some pluses to washing your dog seat covers by hand. 

It’s an excellent method if you want to clean your covers more than you could with a superficial spot cleaning, but you don't necessarily think you need to deep clean your covers.

How To Machine Wash Your Dog Seat Cover

Every dog seat cover will have slightly different directions for correct machine-washing depending on the type of material it's made of, as well as its design and shape.

In general, you’re safe following our cleaning directions for cleaning seat covers:

  1. You'll want a gentle soap that’s safe to use on pet fabric, so you don't irritate your dog's skin. 
  2. You also want to avoid using unnecessary chemicals like bleach or fabric softener unless you make sure to run your seat cover through an extra rinse cycle or two. 
  3. Set your washing machine to either low or gentle. This way, you don't stretch or damage the seat cover. 

As far as what temperature you should use, it might be tempting to set your machine temperature on high to ensure you kill any bacteria and germs. However, it’s the wrong choice. 

You'll clean your dog seat covers much more effectively if your washing machine is set to a cold water temperature. 

It's important to note that you should air dry your car seat covers as putting them in the dryer can damage the material and change how it fits in your car in the future.

Following these guidelines will keep your seat cover in peak condition for longer.

When Should You Machine Wash?

You could machine wash your dog seat covers every two weeks. However, it can be subjective based on a few different factors. How often do you use your seat covers? How long is your dog in the car usually? How dirty is your furry friend when they get in and use their cover? 

These are just a few of the things you need to consider when you're determining how often you should machine wash your seat covers, but they are some of the most prominent factors.

Let's take a look at each of them individually:

How Often Are Your Covers Used?

Do you routinely take your dog in the car, or is it just a once-a-week thing? 

Are your seat covers constantly set up, or do you keep them elsewhere when your dog isn't actively using them? 

If you use your seat covers daily, then you should consider deep cleaning your dog seat covers in the washing machine every two weeks, assuming you don't have any huge messes that need machine washing sooner than that. 

This way, you can make sure bacteria doesn't start to build up and cause odors and other problems down the line. 

This is also a good cleaning routine to follow if you keep your seat cover set up in your car constantly, even if your dog doesn't use it daily. 

Other things can cause germ build-up and can make your seat covers dirty, not just your dog, after all!

How Long Are Your Seat Covers Used For?

Do you and your dog go on long car rides together for hours at a time, or is your pup usually just in the car for a few minutes? 

The longer your dog is in contact with their seat cover at a time, the less time you might want to wait between deep cleanings. After a six-hour-long road trip, you might want to deep clean your dog car seat cover. 

Whereas, if you only have your dog in the car with you for an hour a day, you can probably wait two weeks between deep cleanings unless you notice any odors or noticeable grime that spot cleaning or vacuuming won't be able to take care of. 

Where Do You Keep Your Covers When They’re Not Used?

If you don't use your seat covers daily, and you don't keep them set up in your car at all times, how you store them between uses can affect how often you should deep clean them.

If you store your seat covers with other, otherwise clean fabric, for example, in a linen closet, then you'll want to machine wash your covers before you store them away, even if it's been less than two weeks since you last cleaned them.

This way, you won't spread any germs to your clean fabrics.

Suppose you keep your seat cover stored on a shelf or in its own storage box or the trunk of your car. 

In that case, you can probably go with the recommended two weeks to deep clean your covers if you anticipate using them aga