How to Wash a Dog Harness

How to wash a dog harness

We’ve all experienced it – a lovely day beckons you to take your dog for a stroll, but as you reach for the leash, you find a tangled, smelly mess. Your dog’s harness has transformed into an odor factory, making your pet even more pungent on its walk. This issue arises frequently because many people aren’t sure how to wash their dog’s harness effectively or which dog shampoo works best for eliminating odors.

Today, we’re here to help by offering tips on cleaning your dog’s harness to keep it fresh and ready for use.

Can You Machine Wash a Dog Harness?

You can machine wash a dog harness, but you should always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the best results. Even if the instructions recommend hand-washing, adhering to the guidelines ensures a proper clean. For example, Ruffwear Harness recommends the following steps:

  1. Remove all buckles and straps.
  2. Place the harness in a clean tub of cool water, mixed with a teaspoon of mild detergent and a squirt of dish soap. Optionally, add ¼ cup of white vinegar to help eliminate stains and odors.
  3. Soak the harness for 15-20 minutes to loosen dirt and odor.
  4. Gently swish the harness in the water before removing, draining excess liquid, and placing it on an old towel.
  5. To speed up the drying process, hang the harness outside or use a low-heat cycle in the clothes dryer.

Cleaning a Smelly Dog Harness

Dogs are notorious for their odorous antics, and sometimes they leave their harnesses and leashes in a stinky state. When it’s time to freshen up your dog’s gear, white vinegar is a proven solution for removing odors from fabric items. Here’s how to clean a smelly harness:

  1. Fill a clean sink with water and add one cup of white vinegar.
  2. Swirl the harness in the water to release trapped dirt and stubborn stains.
  3. Soak for 15-20 minutes.

Cleaning a Stinky Dog Collar

If your dog has been rolling in something unpleasant, like mud or feces, it’s essential to clean more than just their harness. Start with the collar, wiping it down with a damp cloth or paper towel and rinsing with cool water. Then, create a cleaning solution by filling a sink halfway with room-temperature water and mixing it in a cup of white vinegar.

Add an eighth of a teaspoon each of dish soap and laundry detergent, swirling the harness in the mixture to release dirt and stains. Soak for at least 15 minutes, then remove, drain excess liquid, and lay on an old towel.

How Often Should You Wash Your Dog’s Harness?

Dog owners should aim to keep their pet’s equipment and fur clean and fresh without overdoing it. Avoid excessive washing and harsh products like bleach that can harm your furry friend. Wipe down dirt with a damp cloth and use dish soap for stains.

Air-dry both the collar and harness before using them again. Ideally, clean the harness after each outing to prevent skin irritations and potential infections.

Washing and Sanitizing Your Dog’s Collar, Harness, and Leash

Regardless of the material used (e.g., nylon, leather, or cotton), it’s crucial to sanitize worn areas with alcohol wipes or spray cleaner. If your harness or collar is worn or frayed, consider replacing the straps with a new set of the same size to ensure a secure fit.

Avoid using bleach when washing these items, as it can damage the color and weaken the material over time.

Leashes and Water Sports

If your pet enjoys water activities, don’t forget to clean their leash occasionally. Leashes can be made of leather, nylon, or cotton, and each material requires proper cleaning with cool water and soap to prolong its lifespan.

  • Nylon Leash: Replace worn or frayed straps with new ones of the same size to maintain a secure fit. Always trim any worn or frayed areas before continuing to use the leash.
  • Leather Leash: When washing leather leashes, avoid using bleach to prevent color damage and weakening of the material. Allow ample drying time after each wash to avoid mildewing or other issues.
  • Cotton Leash: Replace worn or frayed straps with new ones of the same size to ensure a secure fit. Trim any worn or frayed areas before continuing to use the leash.

Inspect the stitching along the length of a nylon leash for signs of wear. Faded or frayed stitching could indicate that the leash is no longer safe for use, as it may cause cuts or abrasions. When in doubt, retire a leash showing signs of wear.


Proper maintenance and cleaning of your dog’s harness, collar, and leash are essential aspects of pet care that contribute to a healthy and happy lifestyle for your canine companion. Regular cleaning helps reduce unpleasant odors, prevent skin irritations, and minimize the risk of infections.

By adhering to the guidelines and tips provided in this guide, you can ensure that your dog’s gear remains in optimal condition, promoting comfort and safety during walks and outdoor activities.

Additionally, inspecting your dog’s gear for signs of wear and tear, such as frayed stitching or worn areas is crucial. Timely replacement of damaged components not only extends the lifespan of your dog’s equipment but also guarantees a secure and comfortable fit.

By staying proactive in maintaining your pet’s gear, you can cultivate a positive and enjoyable bond with your dog while exploring the great outdoors together.

In conclusion, investing time and effort into the upkeep of your dog’s harness, collar, and leash demonstrates responsible pet ownership and a commitment to your dog’s well-being. By implementing the cleaning techniques and maintenance practices outlined in this comprehensive guide, you will foster a cleaner, safer, and more enjoyable experience for both you and your furry friend.