How to Clean a Dog Crate

Three Methods:Maintaining a Clean CrateWashing a Plastic or Wire CrateWashing a Soft-Sided Crate

Dogs naturally keep their crates tidy. After a while, however, it can begin to stink, and accidents can happen. Whether you are doing a routine cleaning or washing up after an accident, you should make sure that you are using the best method for the type of crate you own. There are three types of crates that dog-owners normally use. Plastic crates with a hard shell and wire crates can be cleaned using the same methods. Soft-sided crates require a different set of procedures. You should clean your dog’s crate every two to four weeks or if there has been an accident in the crate.

Method 1
Maintaining a Clean Crate

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    Remove toys, blankets, beds, and other objects from the crate. Wipe down the toys if they have urine or feces on them, but otherwise, you do not need to clean them. Set these aside where they will not be in the way.
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    Wash the dog’s bedding. It is a good idea to routinely wash your dog’s bedding or blankets, especially if there has been an accident.[1] Use warm or cold water and a mild detergent.
    • If you want to remove odors, you can add a box of baking soda to the washing machine.[2]
    • If the bedding cannot go in the washing machine, you may need to hand wash it in the sink. Use cold water. Spot treat the bedding with mild detergent.
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    Take the crate outside or to a closed, ventilated room. Washing a crate can be messy. The best place to wash the crate is outside. That said, if you are unable to go outside, choose a room with tiled floors, such as a kitchen or bathroom. It should be well-ventilated so that the cage can dry without mildewing. Make sure that the dog is nowhere near the crate as you clean it. Keep him in a separate room.[3]
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    Choose a cleaning solution. Dogs can handle most types of bleach or cleaning solution, as long as the crate is dry once they use it again. Ammonia, however, smells like urine to dogs, and it may encourage them to pee in their crate.[4] You can also make your own cleaning solution from products around the house. In a bucket, combine the ingredients and stir. After mixing your solution, put it in a spray bottle to make cleaning easier. There are a few different solutions you can try:
    • Half a cup of bleach to a gallon of water.[5]
    • One part dish detergent to ten parts water.
    • Half a cup white vinegar to one gallon water.[6]
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    Remove debris. If your dog had an accident, you will need to remove any solid clumps of feces before you can clean the rest of the crate. Place the feces in a plastic bag, and throw the bag away immediately. If your dog sheds, you may find large clumps of fur in the crate. Make sure that you have either swept, dusted, or vacuumed the crate.

Method 2
Washing a Plastic or Wire Crate

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    Pull out the removable tray at the bottom. Wire crates tend to have plastic trays on the bottom. Slide it out, and clean it separately from the rest of the crate. Removing the tray will help make cleaning easier.
    • Some crate designs do not have a removable tray. If yours does not, you will have to bend or crawl inside the crate to make sure that it is fully cleaned.
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    Get rid of fluids and stains. Fold several paper towels together, and press them down on the wet spot to absorb any loose fluids, such as urine or diarrhea. Let them rest for a minute. Throw away the towels. Repeat if necessary with clean paper towels.[7]
    • If your dog had an accident, you may need to scrub to get rid of any marks. Soak a rag in bleach solution, and wring out the excess water. Scrub the stain with the rag, making sure to rinse the cloth every few minutes.
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    Rinse with a garden hose. If you have access to a hose, you can also blast off stains and fluids with a hose. Direct the hose both inside and outside of the crate. Focus the water on encrusted or stained material. After you have rinsed it out, wipe it down with a dry cloth. Make sure to dump out any excess water from the tray or the inside of the shell.
    • If you do not have a hose, you can fill a bucket with water and rinse off the cage by pouring small amounts of water over the soap. You can also use a wet rag to wipe away soap suds.
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    Spray the crate down with the cleaning solution. Make sure that you spray the tray, the walls, and the roof of the crate. Let it sit for ten to twenty minutes to kill off any bacteria. If you have removed the bottom tray, you should spray it separately off to the side.
    • If you have a wire crate, you may not be able to spray the sides efficiently. Dampen a rag with your cleaning solution, and wipe down the sides instead.
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    Dry the crate. Use a dry paper towel to remove any extra water and cleaning solution from the crate. This will quicken the drying process and prevent wire crates from rusting. Leave the crate outside to dry.
    • If you are worried about chemicals from the cleaning solution, you can wipe down the crate with a damp paper towel before wiping it down again with a dry one.
    • If you are unable to put it outside, keep it in a well-ventilated room. Do not let your dog inside until it is completely dry.

Method 3
Washing a Soft-Sided Crate

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    Remove stains with club soda. Club soda is effective on acidic stains, like urine. Use the soda cap to measure a small amount of club soda. Pour it directly on the stain, and let it soak for a few minutes. Once it has soaked, you can blot it with paper towels and let it dry. Do not rub or scrub; this will only drive the stain deeper into the fabric.[8]
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    Hand-wash in a sink or with a hose. Using warm water, dilute a dish detergent with water before scouring the fabric with a rag or paper towel. You can scrub difficult stains with a sponge or bristle brush.
    • Crates for smaller breeds can be washed in the sink.
    • Medium and large-breed crates will need to be washed outside with a low-powered hose.
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    Put in the washing machine. Check with the manufacturer to see if the crate can be machine washed. You can look on the manufacturer’s website, on the crate’s tag, or on the crate’s packaging. If you can, collapse the crate so that it fits into your machine. Use cold water and your normal detergent. You can add a box of baking soda to remove odors.[9]
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    Air-dry the crate. No matter if you hand-washed or machine washed your fabric crate, you should allow it to dry in a ventilated room or outside. Do not place it in a dryer. Make sure that the crate is completely dry inside and out before allowing your dog to use it again.
    • If the inside is taking too long to dry, you can use a hair dryer to speed the process.
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    Sprinkle with baking soda to deodorize. Baking soda is a dog-friendly substance that can remove unpleasant smells from fabric. Sprinkle a handful of powder inside the crate, and let it sit for fifteen to twenty minutes. Vacuum it up when you are done. Baking soda can be used after you’re finished cleaning or between cleaning sessions to keep the crate smelling fresh.[10]


  • Keep an ammonia-free, dog-safe cleaning solution on hand at all times.
  • Do not let your dog return to the crate until it is completely dry.
  • Make sure to put his bedding and toys back in the crate when you are finished. Everything should be completely dry.
  • Clean your dog’s crate every two to four weeks to prevent bad odors and stains.[11]


  • If your dog is having repeated accidents in the crate, consult a vet. Dogs normally do not like to defecate or pee where they sleep, and your dog may be sick.

Things You'll Need

  • Bleach solution
  • Spray bottle
  • Dishcloths or rags
  • Paper towels
  • Rubber gloves

Article Info

Categories: Dog Accessories