Dogs shed their winter coat this time of year, making way for a lighter summer coat. Removing all that pet hair from your bedding, clothes, or the pet’s bed can be a real chore—for you and your washing machine.

"Pet hair is definitely a challenge to remove from most fabrics," says Randy Radtke, a spokesperson for laundry appliance maker Speed Queen. "Once water is added to the equation, it becomes that much more difficult."

The mix of water and pet hair results in clumps that stick to fabrics and the sides of the washer drum, and that clog drain pumps.

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The wet clumps of hair can prevent water from draining properly, stressing your home's plumbing. That’s why it's important to reduce the amount of pet hair on your bedding and clothing before you put the laundry into the washer.

Start by brushing your pet every day to keep loose hair to a minimum. 

For clothes, the best way to remove hair is with a lint roller or masking tape. Most pet hair, however, ends up where your dog or cat sleeps, whether it's your bed or theirs. If your bed is your pet's chosen spot, pet hair can become embedded in the fibers of your sheets, blankets, and clothing.

Here are some tips to clean pet hair from your bed or theirs. 

Your Bedding

For your bedding, put on a rubber glove, dampen it with water, and run your hand over the sheet or blanket. The hair will cling to the glove, and you can more easily gather it and throw it away.

When you've removed as much hair as possible, follow these steps:

  1. Before washing, run clothes or bedding through a 10-minute no-heat dryer cycle. This loosens the pet hair, which winds up in the lint trap. Throw in a dryer sheet, because any static buildup can keep hair bonded to fabric. Take the items out of the dryer, give them a good shake to remove any remaining pet hair, then toss them in the washer. (Clean the lint filter after every load, and the dryer duct annually, or more often if you notice your dryer is taking longer. That might happen if you regularly put your dog's bed in the dryer).  
  2. Add a half-cup of white vinegar to the machine’s rinse cycle. Vinegar is a natural fabric softener that helps relax fabrics and loosen the pet hair.
  3. Clean your washer by running a wash cycle without laundry. After the cycle ends, wipe down your washer tub with a wet cloth.

Their Bed

When washing your pet's bedding, try the heavy-soil setting when things are messy. And for rinsing away stubborn pet hair, use the extra rinse cycle. 

Here's what the American Cleaning Institute recommends for cleaning your pet's bed:

  1. Use a vacuum, lint brush, or sticky tape to remove as much fur as possible from your pet’s bed, paying special attention to corners and around any buttons or tufting.
  2. Remove the bed cover, if possible, and use a stain remover on any extra dirty or funky spots.
  3. Check the label for washing instructions, then load the cover or the entire bed in the washer (if it doesn’t fit, the bathtub will do). Washing in hot water can help kill any insects and eggs that may be on the bed.
  4. Dry the bed in your dryer, if it will fit. A dryer sheet helps reduce static and will remove any remaining hair. Clean the dryer’s lint filter halfway through the cycle, because the cleaner it is, the more hair the filter can catch. If you put the bed out to dry, place it in a well-ventilated area to help prevent mildew and mold.
  5. Afterward, wipe the washer tub with a damp paper towel to remove any hair.
  6. If you still see a lot of hair inside your washer, allow it to air-dry, then use the soft attachment of your vacuum cleaner to remove the rest.