How to Clean A Dog Collar


Cleaning a dog collar is not a difficult task at all, no matter how dirty the collar may get. If you own an adventurous dog that is not afraid to dive into the mud or water, or the type that enjoys a scratching his back on the grass, you will find yourselves having to deal with dirty collars that stink on a regular basis. Without the proper technique and equipment, it might be difficult to get rid of the dirty stains or the stench.

Cleaning the collar is dependent on the kind of collars we are talking about. In short, is it a synthetic, metal, or leather collar? Different kinds of collar demands different ways to clean them in order to restore to its clean state and get rid of the fetor. However, did you know that there are some types of collars that you should not clean? Not all collars can undergo the same treatment as the rest due to their special features to serve certain functions. I will go through them in a bit. First, let’s talk about why it is important to clean your dog collar properly and regularly.

Why You Should Clean Your Dog Collars Regularly

If these dirty collars are left unattended, they can cause skin infections on your dog at the areas in contact with the collar. This can lead to severe itching and heavy scratching, which in turn can cause open wounds and bleeding.

This is even more true when you are hiking with your dogs. A long hike might cause abrasions at the collar area, exposing the flesh to bacteria thriving in those collars thanks to protracted periods of neglect.

Dogs have sensitive noses as well, so they can totally feel it when they have to put on a collar that stinks. This may cause undesirably negative behaviors or tempers and we, as dog owners, definitely do not want that when we take them outdoors.

Cleaning the collars regularly and properly will ensure that the dogs can wear those collars comfortably, without the worry of infection. They can better enjoy the world outside your house with a smile.

So let’s get down to the cleaning procedure. As mentioned, a synthetic, metal and leather collar have different ways to clean. Do know what kind of collars your are using and employ the correct steps.

Synthetic Collar

Synthetic collars are usually made of plastic or nylon. These materials are artificial and can withstand more extreme conditions during washing. Hence you can soak them in hot water without fear of any long term damage on your collars. Next, add baking soda to the hot water to ease the task of removing the stains. Then, add some dog shampoo to provide the alkaline and foam for washing.

Soak and scrub the collar against itself. Feel free to go all out and do it thoroughly. The material is strong and would not break easily. However, try not to use a scrub as the small surface area of the brush’s tip can do damage to the material if it is rubbed against the material’s surface continuously over time. Do this for a good 3 to 5 minutes.

When you are done, dry the collar with a cloth or a paper. It does not need to be totally dry, just dry enough so that it does not drip all over the place. As these synthetic collars are largely hydrophobic, so water is not well absorbed in the material. This makes it easy to dry. Just hang it somewhere after the initial drying with a cloth and let science and its evaporation magic do the rest.

Leather Collar

Now, leather is ultimately an organic material. It will decompose and it will absorb water, mud and sweat alike. More care is required when you are handling leather collars.

Firstly, put some water in a bowl, and add baking soda. Make sure the water is COLD this time round. Hot water can damage the leather over time, making it lose it strength. Leather is the hide of the cow; its organic. So using hot water is akin to boiling it and the material will thus gain elasticity over time.

Next, get a toothbrush and scrub the stains and dirt on the collar. Do this gently. With the baking soda, it should not break a sweat at all. Stains are harder to remove on the leather, so a scrub like a toothbrush is required to remove it cleanly. However, applying too much force to the scrubbing tears away the very fabric of the leather. Overtime, it will lose its shine and strength and become flimsy and thus useless as a dog collar. So, let me repeat. Scrub it gently.

Once all the stains are removed take the collar out of the bowl and use a saddle soap to give the leather collar a bath. Saddle soap is a special kind of soap that is made specially for cleaning leather items. It contains lower alkalinity to reduce damage to the material, yet without compromising cleanliness too much.

Metal Collars Or Choke Chains

Metal collars are basically chains, while choke chains are made of metal. The greatest fear of handling metal is the possibility of rusting. Once that happens, the choke chain has to be discarded as rust can cause tetanus and dogs ARE as susceptible as humans are to it. This is especially the case for collar. The effects of constant rubbing with the skin of the neck will be amplified on the micro-molecular level once rust starts forming.

I would recommend stainless steel choke chains that are made of alloys with chromium that prevent rusting. Do AVOID those that are galvanized with a mere layer of zinc or tin as improper washing runs the risk of destroying that protective layer, opening the doors to corrosion and kick start the rusting process.

The CHUKCHI High Chromium Stainless Steel Dog Training Choke on Amazon is one such example. The manufacturer has specifically mentioned that the chain uses stainless steel alloy and that is what you should look out for. The alloy ensures the chain is immune the external onslaught by alkaline soap or hot water, or even accidental scratches to give you an immensely durable product.

As for the case of the Inteeon Pet Series Snake Chain Collar, it is made of copper. Copper knows nothing about rusting, and it is proven to neither corrode under hot water nor soap. A bit of chemistry knowledge goes a long way! Although copper is more expensive than steel, thiscorrosion immutability may just pay itself back in the long term.

Unwashable Collars

There are many more types of dog collars available in the market. Some of them are not meant for washing. Here are some of them:

LED Collars

The LED was designed for easy visibility during night activities. Most of the LED collars out there are powered by USB charges. This implies there is a charging input where the electronics of the dog collar are exposed. Washing them is thus suicide as the water will destroy the electronics in the collar and render it useless. Some of them may have a cover to protect against rain, but not for the case of washing the dog collar where the scrubbing action has a high probability of opening up that barrier.

GPS Tracking Collars

Similarly, a GPS tracking collar contains electronic. For the same reasons, you should not wash them with soap and water.

Pheromone Collars

These collars are, in a way, disposable. Basically, they emit pheromone scent for an average duration of approximately 30 days, based on claims made across the major brands in the market. So at the end of the 30 days, they are meant to be thrown away.

If you wash a pheromone collar, you will speed up the rate it loses its pheromones and cut short its lifespan. You end up wasting money.

Shock Collars

These collars come togeter with a remote control that you can press from afar and you can deliver a shock to your dog. to be able to receive the signal from the remote control, they will require electonics. And to deliver those nasty electric shocks, they will need a reservoir to hold the electrical energy. hence, do not wash these collars too like you would with a normal collar.

Dog Flea Collars

These work pretty much the same as Pheromone collars. They also have expiry dates, but they last longer for up to a year. They use essential oils, the nemesis of fleas, to keep the fleas away from your dogs. Hence, if you need to clean them, use a wet tissue instead of delivering it the full-blown washing procedure.

Some dog flea collars like the Amazon's Choice Flea Collar from Petsmont claims to be waterproof. I personally doubt the genuity of that statement and, anyway, it cannot be proven. The manufacturer may have mistaken water-resistant for waterproof, which can mean a world of a difference in terms of answering the question if we can wash a dog flea collar. Stay on the safe side and use a wet tissue or a less rigorous washing routine.

So as a dog owner, you should know your dog collars!

Want to know what other dog collars are there? Check out my article on the, hopefully, complete list of 8 different types of dog collars.

So...How To Wash?

For these collars, I will recommend using a wet tissue to wipe away the dirt on the collar.

If some scrubbing is required for dirt that are more stubborn, use a toothbrush with a bit of toothpaste, but do NOT wet the toothbrush. Once you have scrubbed off the dirt, use a wet tissue to wipe the collar.

In this way, you are in control of the flow of water, from the wet tissue, and you can smartly avoid flooding the vulnerable areas.

Post Cleaning Tips

Once you are done with cleaning, I recommend these after touches.

Hang Out In The Sun

I like drying the collars in the sun during summer. The heat from the sun gets rid of the smell and bacteria. A bonus from mother nature! It is a natural way to dry it without spending any resources.

However, do make sure they are hung somewhere that is not within the reach of your dogs. This ensures that they can’t get their “mouths” on those collars when they want you to take them for a walk.

Spray Some Pheromone

Pheromone is a scent that can calm your dogs, as mentioned in the section on pheromone collar. Some times dog get excited for a walkie, or get anxious when they realise you are taking them to the vet. Using pheromones can help in these situations to keep the dog calm and relieve yourselves of some stress and worry.

Note that this should be done after drying to maximise its effect.

Add Some Lavender Scent

In my opinion, using lavender trumps pheromone as it not only calms the dog, but also emits a fragrance that I love. If you are a fan of lavender, I recommend adding a drop or 2 of Canine Coddler Pet Anxiety Essential Oil on the collar.

Note that this should also be done after drying.

Not a fan of lavender? Check out what other scents can calm your dogs in this article!

Final Thoughts

So, it’s not that difficult to clean a dog collar after all right? I hope this guide has served its purpose and help you in more ways that one.


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