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How to Wash Dog Harnesses and Leashes

August 8, 2023

There are two ways to walk your dog – you can either use a harness or a collar.

Harnesses are designed so that the pressure is distributed across the chest, making injuries less likely, while collars go around the neck, against your dog’s skin.

At the end of the day, the type you choose depends on the type of dog that you have as well as personal preference.

Picking a Leash For Your Dog

Leashes are just as important as harnesses and dog collars. Without them, you wouldn’t be able to walk your dog safely outside.

While most leashes are six feet long, some are shorter and some are longer. For example, you may want a longer lead if you’re training your dog as it’ll allow you to maintain distance while still having control.

Cleaning Your Dog’s Gear

how to wash dog leashesAs a general rule, you want to wash your dog’s gear once every few weeks – that includes the dog’s collar, harness, and leash.

Having said that, you may want to clean them more often if they’re visibly dirty or if your dog has a tendency to roll in mud or swim in water.

How to Wash Dog Collars and Harnesses

Machine Washing Your Collars and Harnesses

Depending on the material, you may be able to put the harness or collar in the washing machine. For example, you can run a polyester or nylon dog collar through the wash.

When in doubt, check the label – it’ll tell you whether or not the item is machine washable.

Tip: Never machine wash a leather dog collar – those should be cleaned with a specific dog-safe leather cream.

Before you wash a dog harness or collar, close all buckles and straps – that’ll prevent them from getting caught on other things. If necessary, you can also use a soft brush to remove any dirt or stains.

how to wash dog collarsOnce you’ve done that, place the harness or collar in a laundry bag. Not only will it prevent snagging but it’ll also prevent them from being thrown around, which can damage both your machine and the harness/collar.

Add one scoop of ACTIVE Detergent to the tub after placing the harness/collar in the washer. If odor is an issue, you can add one cup of white vinegar – it’ll help neutralize the dog smell. Baking soda also works.

Select a gentle cycle and let the machine run with hot water. If possible, skip the spin cycle – it can damage the metal buckles.

After washing, take everything out of the machine and allow them to air dry. Avoid using the dryer – the heat can cause the materials to shrink and warp.

Washing Dog Harnesses and Collars By Hand

Hand washing is much gentler than using the washer and is less likely to damage the items.

Start by filling a large container or sink with warm water. Add half a scoop of ACTIVE Detergent powder and mix until it’s completely dissolved. If necessary, you can also add half a cup of baking soda or vinegar for extra deodorizing power.

how to wash dog harnesses by handCarefully place your dog harness or collar into the sink and press down on them so that they’re fully immersed in the water.

Let the items sit in the soapy solution for about 10 minutes.

After soaking, scrub the material against itself to remove any excess dirt or debris. Pay extra attention to the inner layer as dirt and grime tends to accumulate in that area.

Drain the water once it’s visibly soiled and add fresh water from the tap, using it to rinse your harness or collar. Continue to rinse everything until all the soap suds are gone.

Let them air dry afterward in a well-ventilated space, away from direct sunlight.

How to Wash Dog Leash Properly

Putting Your Dog’s Leash in the Washing Machine

Most nylon, polyester, and cotton leashes can be put in the washing machine. To be sure, however, always check the cleaning instructions before washing.

Place the dog leash in a mesh laundry bag and add it to the washing machine. If you don’t have a laundry bag, you use a clean pillowcase. Avoid putting the leash directly in the tub as it can damage your washer.

best laundry detergent for dog harnessesWhile it’s not recommended that you wash leashes with other items, you can put in a few towels to help balance the load.

Measure one scoop of ACTIVE Detergent powder and add it to the detergent drawer or directly to the tub, depending on your washer. You can also add white vinegar or baking soda if there’s a noticeable odor.

Run the machine on a delicate setting with hot water.

Wait until the wash cycle is finished before opening the door and retrieving the leashes. Avoid using the tumble dryer, let them air dry instead.

Washing Your Dog Leash By Hand

Prepare a bath by filling a bowl or sink with warm water.

Add half a scoop’s worth of ACTIVE Detergent and agitate the water until the powder is completely dissolved – there should be lots of soap suds.

dog leash washing tipsPlace the leash in the sink and let it sit in the soapy water for at least 10 minutes, longer if it’s excessively dirty. You can add baking soda or white vinegar to the mixture if you want extra deodorizing power.

Scrub the leash together with your hands to remove any stubborn stains.

Rinse the leash under the tap until there are no more soap suds and the water runs clear.

When you’re finished rinsing, press out the excess water and let the dog leash dry naturally. Do not place it in your dryer.

Other Tips

Here are a few other things to keep in mind about your dog’s harness, collar, and leash.

  • Always inspect the harness, collar, or leash for damage before washing
  • Don’t leave them in the sun for prolonged periods as it can damage the material
  • Consider washing their harness or collar together with their leash at the same time
  • Make sure everything is thoroughly dried before using them again
  • You can run a towel along the length of a leash to help it dry faster
  • The same dog shampoo that you use to bathe your dog can also be used to wash their gear

Washing Your Dog’s Leash, Collar, and Harness – FAQs

Can you wash your dog’s leash and collar with dish soap?

You can wash your dog’s gear with dish soap in a pinch, however, it won’t be as effective as ACTIVE Detergent, which is formulated to dissolve dirt, sweat, and oils.

What’s the best way to clean your dog’s leather collars?

We recommend using Saddle Soap or a gentle leather conditioner. Avoid using soap and water as it can damage the leather material.

Should you wash your dog’s gear with cold water or hot water?

It’s best to use hot water as the heat will help remove stubborn residues.

Can you wash collars and harnesses with dog shampoo?

Yes, you can wash your dog’s collars and harnesses with dog shampoo. However, it may not be as effective as using detergent.

Is it better to hand wash dog leashes?

Hand washing is more gentle and is less likely to damage your leashes. Having said that, it’s perfectly fine to put them in the washing machine as long as you use a laundry bag.

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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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