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How to Wash Dog Harnesses and Leashes

April 13, 2022

Dogs are more than just man’s best friend; they can actually do wonders for your health. For one thing, they can strengthen your heart. Not only that, but their unconditional love can help ward off anxiety, depression, and loneliness. Given all that, it’s not surprising to know that pet dogs are as popular as they are. In the U.S. alone, there are nearly 90 million of them!

Essential Items For Every Dog Owner

Getting a new puppy? Be prepared to spend a bit of money. After all, there are many things that you’ll need to get for your four-legged friend. For example, you’ll need to get a dog crate, dog bed, food bowls, plastic carrier, and grooming products (e.g. brush, shampoo, conditioner). Harnesses, leashes, and collars are must-haves as well. How else would you bring them outside? 

Dog Harnesses vs Dog Collars 

Dog harnesses are designed so that the pressure is distributed across the chest; this reduces strain on their back and neck. Unlike collars, they also discourage pulling. That way, you’ll be able to gain more control on your walks; you also won’t have to worry about your dog hurting himself. Generally speaking, there are four main types of harnesses—step-in harnesses, dual strap harnesses, padded chest harnesses, and Halti harnesses. 

dog collars and harnesses

Dog collars are much smaller in comparison. Put around the neck, they’re often used in conjunction with leashes for walking. Keep in mind, however, that they do have their cons. For one thing, they can contribute to neck injuries—this is especially true for dogs who are pullers. For this reason, they’re not recommended for some dogs. Some of the most common types of collars include Martingales, flat collars, and pinch collars.

Picking the Right Dog Harness

There are several things that you want to consider when you’re getting a dog harness. For starters, you want to make sure that it fits your dog. To do that, you’ll have to measure your dog’s ribcage. From there, you’ll be able to select the one that’s right for him. 

You also want to make sure that the type of harness is right for your dog. For example, it might be a good idea to get a no-pull harness if your pup is a puller; that’ll prevent them from hurting their neck, throat, and windpipe area. 

Choosing the Right Collar For Your Dog 

When it comes to choosing a dog collar, the first thing that you want to do is decide on a style. Do you want a traditional buckle collar or a Martingale collar? At the end of the day, it depends on what you’re looking for. Whatever you choose, though, you want to make sure that the size is right and the only way to do that is to measure your dog’s neck. Generally speaking, it should be loose enough so that you can fit two fingers between their neck and their collar. You don’t want it to be too snug, otherwise, it can hurt your pup.

Picking a Leash For Your Dog 

Leashes are just as important as harnesses and collars. Without them, you wouldn’t be able to walk your dog safely outside! As it is, there are several kinds including slip leads, harness leads, flat leads, and rubber leads; there are even some that are retractable. Aside from the type, you also want to consider the length. While most leashes are 6-feet long, there are some that are shorter and longer. For example, you may want a longer lead if you’re training your dog; it’ll allow you to maintain distance while still having control.

Cleaning Your Dog’s Gear

Chances are, your dog’s gear will get dirty with regular use. For instance, their harness might come into contact with mud if they roll around on the ground. Smell can also be an issue, especially if they’ve worn it for a while. Fortunately, they are washable so it’s not like you have to buy a new set every time they start to stink. 

dog collar

Are Dog Harnesses and Collars Machine Washable? 

Depending on the material, you may be able to put your harness or collar in the washing machine. For example, both nylon and polyester are both machine washable. When in doubt, check the label; it should tell you whether or not it’s washer safe. Remember, leather should never be machine washed.

Assuming that it’s machine washable, you want to start by closing all the buckles and straps; that’ll prevent them from getting caught on other things. Once you’ve done that, place the harness or collar in a laundry bag—this is especially important if you’re washing it with other items. Not only will it prevent snagging, but it’ll also prevent it from being thrown around, which can damage both your machine and the harness/collar. 

Add one scoop of ACTIVE detergent 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. Once everything has been added, select a gentle cycle and let the machine run. If possible, skip the spin cycle—it can damage metal buckles. 

After washing, allow them to air dry. It’s important that you do not put them in the dryer. The heat from tumble drying can cause the materials to shrink and if that happens, the harness/collar might not fit your dog anymore. 

Washing Dog Harnesses and Collars By Hand

It’s not that difficult at all to wash your dog harnesses and collars by hand. If anything, it’s also much gentler. All you need is a large container (sink preferred), detergent, and water. Start by filling the container with warm water. Add in half a scoop of ACTIVE detergent and mix until it’s dissolved. Add your harness or collar to the container and press down so that they’re immersed in the water.

hand wash dog collar

Note: Feel free to add a bit of white vinegar or baking soda if odor is an issue. 

Let the items sit in the soapy solution for about 10 minutes. From there, you can scrub the material against itself to remove any dirt or debris; pay extra attention to the inner layer as it tends to be dirtier. Remember to be gentle—you don’t want to weaken the material. Drain the water once it becomes visibly soiled. Add in fresh water and use it to rinse your harness or collar. You may have to do this multiple times before the water turns clear. Remember, you can rinse them under running water as well.

Once they’re free of soap, let them air dry. Once again, do not tumble dry.

Putting Your Dog Leash in the Washing Machine

Nylon, polyester, or cotton leashes can be put in the washing machine. Keep in mind, however, that there are exceptions to the rule. Always check the cleaning instructions before putting them in the washer.

For those that are washing machine safe, you want to start by lacing the leash in a garment bag. If you don’t have one, you can put it in a pillowcase. Avoid putting the leash in by itself as it can damage your washer. While it’s not recommended that you wash them with other items, you can put in a few towels; it’ll help protect the machine from scratches and dings.

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Load the garment bag in the washing machine. Pour in a scoop of ACTIVE detergent. Vinegar or baking soda can also be added if there’s an obvious smell. Run the machine on a delicate setting with hot water. Spin cycles should be avoided as they can harm your washer.

Retrieve your leash after the cycle’s complete and hang it up. Air dry is always best. Do not tumble dry; you don’t want to expose the leash to heat.

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. Stir or mix the powder into the water until it’s fully dissolved—you should end up with lots of soap suds. The next step is to add the leash into the water. You want to make sure that the entire thing is submerged. Let it soak 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.

washing dog leash

Scrub the leash together with your hands to help remove any stubborn stains. Once they’re gone, you can rinse the detergent off with clean running water. Continue to rinse until there are no more soap suds on the leash. You may have to rub the material with your hand a few times.

When you’re finished rinse, let the dog leash dry naturally. Do not place it in your dryer—that can easily weaken the webbing. You can squeeze excess water out of it with a towel if it’s dripping.

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
  • It’s a good idea to wash them after a day at the beach or hike in the woods
  • Don’t leave them in the sun for prolonged periods of time as it can damage the material
  • Consider washing their harness or collar together with their leash at the same time
  • Make sure that everything is thoroughly dried before using them again
  • You can run a towel along the length of a leash to help it dry faster
  • Dog shampoo can also be used, especially for collars that come into contact with their necks
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