Caring for Your Dog Collar

Our dog loves spending time at the cottage. She loves running around the property, heading out for a boat ride, leaping off the dock for a swim and rolling in the pine needles and leaves, before plunking down beside the fire for a nap at the end of the day. She loves the outing, but it takes a toll on her collar and when we head home at the end of the weekend her collar heads right for the laundry room.

As dog owners, we know that when collars and harnesses do get dirty or wet, it’s important to clean them up and let them dry out. Leaving a collar or harness on your dog that is wet and dirty is an invitation for permanent stains, potential mold or mildew and a very uncomfortable dog. 

Whether your dog has a leather or nylon collar or harness, there are a few ways you can clean them regularly to keep them looking great and comfortable for your dog.

Cleaning Techniques

One great way to clean your  nylon collar or harness is with warm water, baking soda and apple cider vinegar (or vinegar will work too). The combination of these ingredients cleans, and expels dirt and mildew in the material of the collar and leaves it fresh.  Mix two teaspoons of apple cider vinegar and baking soda into a bowl of hot water. Let the collar soak for 15-20 minutes, then scrub it clean with a stiff brush or toothbrush. Rinse thoroughly in hot water and let dry. This natural and convenient way to clean your collar is a process you can do when required or once a month to keep it fresh. If vinegar is not an ingredient you would like to use try lavender instead.

Another great and convenient way to clean a nylon collar or harness is with water and dog shampoo. Add  2 tablespoons of dog shampoo (which will help prevent skin irritation) in a bowl or bucket and fill the bowl with hot water. Let your dog's collar soak for about 15 minutes. Scrub the collar against itself or with a stiff grooming brush to extract any ground-in dirt and stains. Rinse thoroughly and hang to dry.

For leather dog collars we suggest using a glycerin soap bar such as saddle soap or sno-seal, which contain ingredients like beeswax, coconut butter, almond butter and other oils which will clean and condition the leather. First wipe the collar down with a damp cloth to remove any caked on mud and dirt, then work the soap into the leather to ensure you thoroughly clean and condition the collar. Once complete, wipe the collar down thoroughly to make sure all of the soap is worked in well, then lay flat overnight. 


It’s a good idea to condition your dog’s leather a few times a year too, to ensure it doesn’t become dried out, get brittle and possibly crack. Leather saddle soap conditioner is a great choice for regular conditioning, but any leather conditioner will do. Work the conditioner in with a cloth thoroughly across all areas of the collar to keep it supple and moist.

Next time your dog’s collar or harness is ready for a good cleaning remember one of these simple and effective approaches to having it clean, fresh and ready for your dog to wear.