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How to Wash Dog & Cat Collars

July 22, 2023

Dogs are the most common pets in the USA with nearly 50 million homes having one or more pups. Cats aren’t that far behind—they’re in second place, just behind the canines.

As far as accessories go, there are numerous options, both for dogs and cats. For example, you can buy sweaters, jackets, and even pajamas for your pet.

But they’re not nearly as important as cat and dog collars. Not only do dog collars look cute but they also provide your pet with much-needed identification, which is crucial if they accidentally run out of the house.

As with most of your dog’s gear, however, it will get dirty with built-up grime – especially if you have active dogs.

In fact, we guarantee that you’ll be dealing with a stinky dog collar sooner or later as a dog owner. Don’t worry, though, it is possible to wash dog collars – either with dog shampoo, commercial cleaning solutions, or at-home products such as baking soda, apple cider vinegar, and hydrogen peroxide.

Even leather collars can be cleaned. If anything, you just have to be more careful with them.

What’s the best way to wash a dog collar properly? Can you use dish soap? What cleaning solution is best? For the answers, be sure to keep reading.

We’ll be going over everything that you need to know about how to wash a dirty collar below (the same applies for cat collars, of course).

Types of Cat and Dog Collars

how to wash dog and cat collarsFlat Cat/Dog Collar: The standard collar for dogs and cats clean a dog collar, which is designed to lay flat against their neck. Made from nylon, leather, or rubber, they come with a plastic snap closure or buckle and have a ring at the front for a leash and identification tags. Available in various colors and designs.

Martingale Dog Collar: Also known as greyhound collars, these dog collars are designed so that your pet can’t slip out of their collar while walking on a leash.

If they tug, the collar will tighten slightly around their neck, though not to the point of causing discomfort. This makes them great for dogs with narrow heads such as greyhounds.

Head Dog Collar: These dog collars or halters are a little different in that they go around the pet’s muzzle. This allows the owner to have more control of their dog’s collar and head, which allows them to redirect the animal if unwanted behaviors happen. They also discourage pulling.

Synthetic Dog Collars: Synthetic collars are made from manmade materials such as nylon and polyester.

Leather Dog Collar: A type of dog collar made from cowhide. Compared to other types of collars, they have a lower chance of irritating your dog’s skin.

Knowing How to Wash Dog Collar

You can machine wash or hand wash your dog’s collar. Both works. For example, collars made from polyester or nylon are typically safe to wash in the machine.

As a general rule, however, you should check the care tag found on the collar before throwing it in the washing machine – it’ll tell you whether or not you can use certain products (e.g. dish soap, dog shampoo, detergent).

For a leather collar, your best bet is washing them by hand – not in the washing machine (more on them later).

Note: You can wash a dog harness in the same way as a dog collar using the washing machine.

A Step-by-Step Guide on How to Machine Wash Dog Collars

washing dog collars

Step 1: Place the Fabric Collar in a Laundry Bag

Close all the straps and clasps; that’ll keep the collars from getting snagged during the wash cycle. The next step is to put them in a mesh laundry bag. That’ll do two things- that’ll prevent them from banging around inside the machine, which can potentially damage the collar, and from snagging on your other items.

Tip: Throw in a few towels if you’re washing the dog’s collar by itselfs. That’ll help balance the load so they won’t be tossed around as much.

Step 2: Add Your Detergent

Place the garment bag inside the washing machine and add a single scoop of ACTIVE detergent. If it’s been a while since you last wash a dog or washed the collars and there’s an odor, you can also add 1/2 a cup of standard vinegar to assist in neutralizing the odors.

You can also create a baking soda solution.

Once all the leather dog collars have been added to the machine, run a gentle cycle on cold water or warm water. And avoid using the spin cycle if you can- the spinning action can damage the metal buckles.

Step 3: Let the Collar Air Dry

Take the collars out of the washing machine once washing is finished and let them air dry. We do not recommend putting collars in the dryer; the heat can cause the material fabric dog collars to shrink. Not to mention it can also cause damage to the dog collar.

Note: Metal dog collars (e.g. metal dog collars for training purposes) should never be put in the washing machine as it can damage the machine.

How to Wash a Dog Collar By Hand with Detergent

how to wash shock collarsHand-washing is great in that it’s less likely to damage the fabric dog collar itself. It’s also quick and easy- you just need a a sink (or large bucket), soapy water, and some mild detergent.

Step 1: Prepare the Sink

Fill the sink half-way with warm or cold water. You don’t want it to be too full as that can increase the chance of it spilling out later. Also, avoid using hot water as it can damage certain fabrics.

Step 2: Add ACTIVE Detergent Powder

Measure a bit of ACTIVE detergent powder and add it in, agitating the warm water around with your hands to help it dissolve.

Step 3: Give the Dog’s Collar a Good Scrub and Let it Soak

Lay the collar inside the sink so that the material is completely immersed in the detergent solution. Give it a good rub with your hands to loosen any dirt and do a collar soak for 10 to 15 minutes.

That will let the detergent penetrate into the fibers of the collar so that it’ll get rid of any dirt and gunk on the fabric.

If necessary, you can also use baking soda to clean the D rings. Mix it with a bit of water to create a thick paste and apply it onto the collar with your finger.

Tip: If there are stains, you can scrub them gently with a soft-bristled brush (e.g. old toothbrush).

Step 4: Rinse the Collar with Clean Water

Turn on the tap and rinse the collar under running water after soaking. Continue for a couple of minutes, until all of the soapy water residue is washed off. Allow the collar to air dry afterward. Do not tumble dry.

How to Wash Leather Dog Collars

how to wash leather dog collarsLeather collars are a little trickier since they can’t be washed in hot water (wetting leather will cause it to weaken over time)

Step 1: Wipe the Leather Collar with a Damp Cloth

What you want to do instead is wipe the surface with a damp cloth. If necessary, you can also add a bit of mild hand soap to the dirty area. Just remember to remove all of the residue using a clean cloth.

Step 2: Buff the Leather With a Dry Cloth

Once you’re done cleaning the dog collar, use a dry cloth to buff the leather and dry the surface.

Step 3: Let the Collar Dry Naturally

To dry the leather dog collar off, hang it up and let it air dry. Do not leave it in direct sunlight or near a heat source as it can cause the leather to crack or dry out.

Step 4: Apply a Leather Conditioner Onto the Collar

Once the leather wash a dog collar has is dry, it’s best to apply a layer of leather conditioner to the material- that’ll help keep it in tip-top shape.

Tip: You can safely apply baking soda to your dog’s leather collar if odor is an issue.

Tips for Maintaining Clean Dog Collars

how to sanitize dog collars

  • Wipe down the dog collar with a wet cloth saturated with dog shampoo after each walk to prevent dirt from being embedded in the fabric – this is especially true if you’re using a leather collar
  • Clean your dog’s collar regularly – you want to try to get rid of any mud or dirt before it has a chance to set in
  • You can use a pet-friendly deodorizing spray to keep your dog’s collar fresh in between cleanings
  • Make sure your dog’s collar is completely dry before putting it back on your pet, otherwise, it can lead to odors
  • ACTIVE detergent is made of natural ingredients and is the best choice when it comes to washing dog collars

And there you have it- a guide on how to wash your dog’s collar! As you can see, it’s not that difficult at all to wash your pet’s collar, especially if you have a washing machine. If anything, you just need the right products.

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Picture of Sophia Grant

Sophia Grant

Sophia Grant brings her extensive knowledge of laundry and clothing care to the masses with her intensive cleaning guides. Her thorough understanding of fabrics, detergents, and washing techniques helps readers master the art of maintaining their wardrobe. Sophia's advice ensures that anyone can achieve professional-level results at home, keeping their garments looking pristine and lasting longer.

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