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How to Clean a Dog Collar: A Simple Guide

Dogs can be messy animals, and you never know what they’ll get into next! If your dog frequently finds muddy puddles to dive into or piles of leaves to roll around in, bath time is likely a regular routine for you now. But how often do you wash your dog’s collar as well?

Even if your dog’s collar isn’t covered in mud, the material absorbs all of the oils, dirt, grime, and dry skin from around your dog’s neck, leaving it smelly and filled with bacteria.

Cleaning your dog’s collar regularly will keep it looking and smelling fresh. Read on to learn the most effective methods to clean dog collars, no matter what material they’re made from.

A brown and white dog lying down

How to Clean a Nylon or Fabric Dog Collar

The best way to prolong the life of your dog’s nylon or fabric dog collar is to wash it by hand. Fill a clean bowl or your sink with hot water and add dog shampoo or a gentle soap. Then, let the collar soak in the shampoo-water mixture for 10-20 minutes.

You can also use a mixture of hot water and vinegar or water and baking soda instead of soap or dog shampoo.

If the collar is especially dirty, you can scrub it with a soft-bristled brush like a toothbrush to remove additional dirt and grime. The toothbrush is especially helpful for crevices where the dirt can be harder to reach, as well as any metal parts of the collar like the clasp or D-ring.

When you’re done scrubbing, rinse the collar under hot water to remove all of the soap and then hang or lay flat to dry.

Some collars can be machine washed in a garment bag on a gentle cycle, but you should still hang or lay the collar flat to dry instead of using the dryer. Avoid your typical laundry detergent, as the chemicals can irritate your dog’s skin, causing it to itch.

Always read the manufacturer’s cleaning suggestions before opting to machine wash, as some synthetic dog collars may not be able to handle the washing machine.

How to Clean a Leather Dog Collar

Leather can be a sensitive material to work with when it comes to cleaning. Unlike nylon and fabric collars, leather collars should not be soaked in a cleaning solution, and they should never be thrown into the washing machine.

Instead, prepare the cleaning solution in a bowl as mentioned above. Mix hot water with a small amount of dog shampoo or gentle soap or try a mix of water and vinegar or baking soda.

Dip a soft-bristled toothbrush or a gentle cloth into the mixture and test on a small, non-obvious section of your dog’s collar to ensure it won’t affect the leather.

Once you’ve tested the mixture and your dog’s leather collar appears unchanged, you can use the toothbrush or damp cloth to wipe it down. Make sure to pay special attention to any crevices that could hold onto dirt and grime.

During the cleaning process, you want to keep the collar as dry as possible, only using a small amount of the cleaning solution. When leather gets too wet, it can crack or be damaged.

Once you’re done wiping down your dog’s collar, lay it flat or leave it hanging to fully dry. Make sure the spot you choose is far away from sunlight or a heat source, as both of these things can also cause the leather to crack or break down.

Three Boxer dogs wearing collars

How to Clean an Electronic Collar

If your dog’s collar features built-in electrical components, like those for an invisible fence or a GPS device, it can make cleaning a little more difficult.

First, always read the manufacturer’s suggestions for cleaning. Many of these collars are weather-resistant, but they’re not waterproof, so soaking them in a cleaning solution could ruin the electrical components. Reading the manufacturer’s instructions will give you a better idea of what you can and can’t do with the particular brand of collar.

If you’re still unsure of whether your dog’s collar can be submerged in water, it’s best to err on the side of caution. Instead, use a damp cloth or soft-bristled toothbrush that you’ve dipped in the same cleaning solution from above, and scrub all of the areas you can reach on the collar. To rinse, simply wipe off with a clean, damp cloth.

To dry, wipe with a clean, dry towel to pick up excess water and protect the electronic components. Then, let the collar air dry on a flat surface.

How to Clean the Metal Parts of Your Dog’s Collar

For the metal parts like the D-ring, clip, or buckles, you can use the same cleaning solution and a soft-bristled brush to scrub off any grime.

If these areas of your dog’s collar are looking discolored or showing signs of rust, you can use a paste of water and baking soda.

Let the paste harden on the discolored areas, and then scrub it away with a toothbrush. Rinse or wipe off those areas with a damp cloth, and then allow to hang or lay flat to dry.

A Corgi with a patterned collar

Deodorizing Your Dog’s Collar

Nobody likes a stinky dog collar! If your dog’s collar is especially smelly, use a mix of apple cider vinegar and water or baking soda and water to cut through the smells. Vinegar may leave more of a lingering smell, but baking soda is a natural odor absorber that’s fragrance-free.

You can also add a few drops of pet-safe essential oils to your cleaning solution to help freshen up the scent even more. Be sure to spot check this solution on any leather collar that you use to make sure it won’t damage the leather material.

How Often Should You Clean Your Dog’s Collar?

To keep your dog’s collar looking and smelling fresh, it’s important that you regularly clean it. A clean dog collar is not only more pleasant to look at but it’s also safer and healthier for your pup, too!

At minimum, you should wash your dog’s collar each time you give them a bath. However, your dog’s collar may need more frequent washing depending on how active your pup is and how quickly it builds up dirt and grime.

With regular cleaning, you can extend the life of the collar and keep both your dog and the collar looking their best.