How to Clean a Dog Collar

10 - 15 Minutes
1 Month


Buffy, the Cocker Spaniel’s collar is getting pretty funky. 'Not sure what she was rolling in, but not only does she need a bath, so does her collar. 

It is not uncommon for dogs to roll and rub their necks and collars in the dirt--after all, the collar area is where it is itchy--this can result in a badly soiled collar.Also, dogs that swim in lakes or sloughs can get their collars soaked with dirty water, and if left to dry naturally that funky wet dog smell can permeate the collar as well. Even if your dog is a diva and avoids wallowing in muck, her body oils will eventually start to seep into her collar and cause it to look and smell pretty yucky. Dog collars come in different kinds of material, synthetic fabrics like nylon or canvas, or smooth or rough leather. Some have metal fasteners or chains, some have plastic parts. Depending on the kind of collar your dog uses, you will need to vary how you clean different materials. Whatever type of collar you have, regular collar cleaning is important for good hygiene.

Dog's Perspective

Collars are itchy, so rubbing them in the dirt seems like a pretty good idea to your dog. He also scratches his neck with his hind paw, and whatever that paw is currently covered in. A dirty collar can harbor bacteria that creates skin sores or worse, a poorly fitting, dirty collar that rubs can create hot spots and serious skin infections. Make sure your dog's collar is clean and fits well to avoid these problems, and if your dog has gone for a swim, remove your dog’s collar so that a wet collar does not chafe on your dog's neck and cause sores.

Caution & Considerations

  • Wear rubber gloves when working with vinegar to clean your dog's collar as it can dry and irritate skin.
  • Make sure your dog's collar is completely dry before putting it back on your dog. A wet collar will chafe and cause sores and presents a perfect breeding ground for bacteria trapped in the moist warm area between the wet collar and your dog's skin.
  • Be cautious using commercial leather cleaning products as they may irritate your dog's skin or even be poisonous to your dog.
  • Avoid submerging leather collars in water, which can ruin leather.


Your freshly groomed and bathed dog will still smell icky if his collar has not been cleaned. Clean collars as often as you clean your dog to remove dirt and body oils. Never leave a wet collar on your dog, as bacteria and fungal infections can result from organisms taking advantage of the warm moist area between your dog's collar and neck. Clean synthetic collars with soap and water, and leather collars carefully by wiping or scrubbing and using saddle soap. You can even apply lavender oil to your dog’s collar to make it smell better and combat microorganisms your dog's collar is harboring. Your dog's collar will look and smell a whole lot better with regular cleaning.

Success Stories and Grooming Questions

Book me a walkiee?
Sketch of smiling australian shepherd