How to Clean Dog Collar: Expert Tips for Maintenance & Hygiene!

How to Clean a Dog Collar

Dogs get dirty. That’s just a natural fact of life, and if your pup is anything like mine, baths are a very regular thing in your household. But what about your dog’s collar?

If you wash a dog but not the collar, you’re not really getting your pup as clean as you possibly could. Clean dog collars are a testament to how well you’re caring for your pup. 

There are a number of reasons why it’s important to clean a dog collar properly. First and foremost, it can severely affect their health if the collar gets too dirty. The build-up on the collar can irritate their neck, lead to a skin rash, or worse, infection, that can spread but also cause your dog some serious discomfort. 

Plus, a stinky dog collar makes your dog smelly in general, and someone who smells the collar isn’t likely to distinguish that from the pup. So, let’s take a look at the different types of methods for cleaning a dirty collar so you can protect your pet and eliminate those pesky odors from your dog’s collar. 

How to Clean Dog Collar

How to Clean Dog Collar​

Before you wash a dog collar, make sure you know what type it is first. There are different methods available, and not everyone is suitable for each collar type. For example, you can’t machine wash a metal dog collar or a leather collar. 

Here are just a few methods we recommend, depending on the collar type.

Cleaning Synthetic Dog Collars

Cleaning a synthetic dog collar is pretty straightforward. You’ll need a few cleaning supplies, including: 

  • Dish soap or shampoo

  • Warm, not hot water

  • Cleaning brush

  • Sponge 

Use the water and the cleaning solution of your choice — the detergent or dog shampoo — to create a soapy water mix. For synthetic collars that are extra dirty, you might want to pre-soak them to loosen up the dirt and grime. Then, use the brush to scrub the collar, going in the same direction as the fibers for best results. 

Once you’ve used the brush to scrub the soap or shampoo solution into the synthetic dog collars, rinse them under room temperature water from the tap. 

Use the towel to pat out the excess water, then lay the collar flat to air dry either inside or in direct sunlight for faster drying time. Depending on how thick the collar material is, this can take a few hours or longer. 

The overall cleaning process for synthetic collars takes about 15 minutes to 20 minutes, not including drying time.

Cleaning Leather Collars

How to Clean a leather Dog Collar

If you’re looking to clean a leather collar, you’ll need more specialty materials. This is because leather collars are more sensitive to water and chemicals, and they can discolor. To clean a leather dog collar, you’ll need: 

  • Saddle soap or leather cleaner

  • Warm water

  • Soft-bristle brush

  • Leather cream or conditioner

Before you clean leather collars, make sure you use the brush to gently clean their surface of dirt or built-up grime. Then, lightly dampen a sponge or soft cloth and add the leather cleaner or saddle soap to the cloth or sponge. 

Move along the grain of the leather when you clean; that way, you won’t damage the material. If the leather is particularly dirty, you’ll want to apply the leather cleaner directly to the collar itself and scrub the collar gently. 

Do not soak the leather dog collar or run it under tap water to rinse it. Instead, use the damp cloth to gently work the solution off. 

Use a Soap/Shampoo

Using soap or shampoo is the easiest way to clean fabric collars. It also works on e-collars, too, such as those that come complete with the best wireless dog fence systems.

If you’re looking to soak the collar to give the cleaning agent some extra time to work into the fibers, use a soapy water blend. Just a few drops of dish detergent or dog shampoo will work in a cup or so of water mixed in a bowl. 

Make sure the cleaning formula you use is compatible with the collar fabric type.

how to clean dog collars

Use Baking Soda

Baking soda is not only an excellent cleaning agent, it’s also a natural deodorizer. So, it makes sense that it’s highly recommended to use a baking soda formula to clean your dog’s collar. There are two ways you can do this: 

  • Create a baking soda paste to work into the collar using a brush

  • Add baking soda to the water mixed in for a deodorizing effect

Scrubbing your collar with either a new or old toothbrush is a good idea when using baking soda because it allows you to work the solution into the fibers. The brush bristles will push the baking soda further in than soaking in a bowl of water would.

This process should only take about 15 minutes or 20 minutes in total.

Use the Dishwasher

how to wash a dog collar

Dishwashers aren’t just for dishes! Did you know you can wash your pet collar in the dishwasher, as well? If not, you just learned something new. 

If you choose to use the dishwasher, make sure you place the collar on the top rack only. And make sure it’s secure. You don’t want it to slip down to the bottom of the machine and get tangled on the spinner. I typically lay the collar flat across the top rack and make sure one of the buckles is looped over the brackets.

You can use straight hot water or add your regular detergent to wash the collar. There’s no need for dog shampoo using this method.

Use the Washing Machine

The washing machine is probably the easiest cleaning method you have available to wash dog collars. You can use regular detergent — or if your dog has sensitive skin, you can use a scent-free formula — and just wash it with the rest of your clothes, but use the gentle cycle and cold water. Again, like the dishwasher, you can avoid the use of dog shampoo with this method.

If you’re worried about the metal components, such as a buckle or D-ring, there are washer-safe bags you can place the collar in to prevent the metal from touching the surface inside your machine. This method is not for leather dog collars.

How to Wash E Collars

When washing electronic collars, you have to be careful of the electronic parts. You can’t just throw the smart dog collar in the washing machine. The first thing you’ll need to do is gather up your cleaning supplies which may include: 

  • Dish soap (mild detergent)

  • Sponge 

  • Cotton swabs

  • Warm, not hot water

  • Rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide

From there, you’ll want to prep the collar inside, which means disconnecting it from the charger and making sure it’s off before you start cleaning. 

If you can remove parts, such as the collar strap or a cover, do so before you start cleaning. Then, focus on the strap part, using a mild detergent and warm water in a bowl. You can use dog shampoo for this method, but a mild dish detergent will suffice. A sponge or soft cloth is ideal for washing them, but you can use a toothbrush, too, if it’s a nylon strap to get inside those fibers. 

Don’t forget to clean the electronic part! While it’s tempting to put it to the side and avoid cleaning it for fear of damage, it’s critical to do so to maintain its function. One very important note about cleaning the electronics is not to submerge the device in water or use a cloth with excessive water that can get inside and cause damage. 

Rather, use a damp cloth (squeeze it out really well to eliminate excess water) and rub it over the housing. Then, use cotton swabs to get inside those little nooks and crannies that every device seems to have. The rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide will help clean those spaces without water.

Before you reassemble and turn the collar back on, make sure you let it finish drying — let it dry naturally either on a counter or by hanging it up. Check out our Halo collar review or our best bark collar for small dogs, and you’ll see how easy they are to clean.

What Makes a Dog Collar Smelly?

There are a number of factors that can make dog collars smelly. First, the accumulation of dirt, mud, and food plays a significant factor in the collar’s cleanliness. Second, if you have a dog that makes a huge mess when they drink water, or if they’re an excessive drooler like Saint Bernards or New Foundlands, that will cause quite the stink, too, especially when you mix that moisture with the aforementioned dirt and food. 

Your dog’s skin oils and sweat — yes, dogs do sweat — can also build up, causing a foul odor over time. Sometimes, if your pet has a rash or parasites, that can contribute to their collar smell, as well. In those cases, though, it’s a good idea to keep the collar off as much as possible in order to let the rash or infection heal. 

Finally, it only takes your dog rolling once in something stinky to cause quite a foul smell, as well. Sadly, it’s not something we can always prevent, but luckily, there are many methods to get the smell out. 


There’s no set time frame for you to wash a dog collar, but I like to do it once every two weeks or so. That’s because I have a very active dog who likes to run outside all the time, and he collects dirt like people collect playing cards. 

However, your mileage may vary. Washing your dog’s collar with dog shampoo may last you a few weeks or a few months, depending on whether you have active dogs or those content to laze around. But you should wash your dog’s collar regularly.

Washing a dog leash is essentially the same process you would use when you wash a dog collar. It will just take a little more time than a collar because it’s longer unless you choose to toss it in the washing machine. The same applies to a dog harness.

A loose dog collar can pose a safety hazard, allowing your dog to escape its confines. Therefore, you should make sure the collar is in good condition before you put it on and that it isn’t worn out. Leather collars, for example, tend to stretch when they get older.

If you’re wondering how tight should a dog collar be, just follow the two-finger rule. Make sure you can only slip two of your fingers through the collar, no more or less. This way you can adjust a dog collar properly!

The answer to this question depends on the type of fabric that your collar is made of. Some tend to shrink in the wash, so it’s always a good idea to check the manufacturer’s instructions that come with your collar. Nylon, polyester, and cotton are often safe for machine washing, but leather dog collars require a special cleaning formula. 

The same collars that are machine washable are also dryer safe in the normal setting, though the metal parts may cause damage. You can solve this problem by placing it in a special washable bag and turning it on low heat or by letting the collar air dry either on a counter or in direct sunlight. You can also hang the dog collar up.

The metal parts of a dog collar are the easiest parts to clean. Most of the time, you can just wash them with soap and water. If you want to disinfect it, try using rubbing alcohol on the ring by applying it to a paper towel and then rubbing it on the metal surface. 

Metal dog collars, like all types of dog collars, need cleaning. The dirt can become trapped in the links, and saliva and food particles build up on the surface of these collars as well. You can let the collar soak for a while or do a scrubbing clean with a toothbrush. 

Deodorizing a dog collar is easy, although not necessary. You have a few options if you decide to go this route. You can spray a deodorizer on the dog’s collar itself, or you can opt to use a detergent that has a lovely smell, as this will add a fragrance. Another method is to use a touch of apple cider vinegar or white vinegar.

Final Thought

Cleaning your dog’s collar is a vital part of not only their health and overall wellbeing, but it’s also sanitary and can help improve their comfort. There are multiple ways to wash a dog collar, but it depends on the type of collar it is.

Some are machine washable — such as placing them in the washing machine or, in some very rare cases, the dishwasher — while others require handwashing in order to prevent damage. 

If your dog has sensitive skin, you can find formulas made with natural ingredients. 

To dig deeper into different kinds of dog collars, check out our Fi vs. Halo Collar review or our best citronella bark collar

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