Collar Care 101 - Types of Dog Collars & How to Clean your Collar

Alpine Dog Co. ™

Dog collars are the one dog accessory that gets the most wear. Although we recommend having more than one collar at home for safety and in case you need a backup, most dogs wear the same collar on a daily basis. That dirt coupled with the natural oils from their skin will eventually dirty any dog collar you own.

Let me start by saying that there is no dog collar that doesn’t need cleaning. Levels of cleaning can definitely vary, but every collar you own – even metal chain link collars – require some sort of upkeep to ensure they’re clean, hygienic and looking great on your dog. We’ve separated collar types by fabric to make your collar care a bit easier.

Cotton-based Dog Collars

You’ll see this fabric most commonly used in martingale collars, or listed as a cotton blend. They’re incredibly soft and come in either rope (braided) or flat form. The downside to cotton is that is stains – easily. The softness of cotton is also prone to breakage, and in case you’ve ever owned a shirt that just didn’t feel the same after 10 or so washes, then you know what that type of breakage entails. Cotton shrinks and stretches from wash and wear, and is not the most durable fabric for long term use. That being said, if you are in love with your cotton collar and do want to wash it, you can use either a natural detergent or soap, or dog shampoo (stay away from dog shampoo that is for white dogs though, as it can leave a purple hue) to soak the cotton material for 15-30 minutes. About halfway though, lightly scrub any tough stains with a soft towel or sponge base. Stay away from bristles or rough scrub brushes when cleaning cotton, as it can fray the fabric over time. Hang dry in a well-ventilated area that is out of direct sunlight, as sun can quickly fade any cotton based products.

Nylon/ Synthetic Dog Collars

One of the most popular and durable fabrics used for dog collars is nylon. Disclaimer – not all nylon is created equal. This is a large category that covers everything from your dollar store clip-on collar to your heavy duty tactical collar. Nylon is rated by what’s called a Denier, which is the equivalent to a single strand of silk. The larger the Denier, or “D” rating is on the nylon means the stronger that nylon is. Other factors can be important as well, such as the overall quality of the nylon and the width of the fabric as a whole. Collars that you find in the cheaper range can offer D-ratings of anywhere from 100D to 500D, and the latter would be collars offered at most common pet stores. Collars that offer D-ratings of 500-800D are mostly wider collars made for hiking and trailing with your dog, and collars that offer a 1000D rating are generally tactical or sport collars used for large breeds, service dogs, police K9 and agility/ protection work. These collars can be found right here at Alpine Dog Co.

Cleaning nylon is easier than cotton or blended cotton because with a higher D-rating, you can use a scrub brush. Soak your nylon collar for 20-40 minutes in a lukewarm container with dog shampoo (staying away from whitening shampoo as well,) baking soda or any natural detergent. You can also use baby shampoo or spot treatments on the outside of the collar. Scrub clean any remaining stains with a scrub brush, and hang to dry in a well ventilated area that is out of direct sunlight. Sun can fade any fabric, including synthetic materials.

Leather Dog Collars

The one rule of leather dog collars is to avoid soaking. Whether it’s leather or faux leather, just don’t soak it. It’s important to wipe clean leather collars on a constant basis so you avoid the problem of having to remove any built up dirt or grime. Even if your collar doesn’t look dirty, leather can trap and hold smells from your dog so it’s really important to take regular care of it. Stay away from using any harsh detergents or spot treatments; just use water. If a soap is absolutely needed, use dog shampoo in a very small portion. Make sure you pat dry any areas that you’ve wiped so water does not sit on the collar, and hang the collar to dry out of direct sunlight. Sun can crack natural leather, and you want to avoid that at all costs.

Metal Dog Collars

Most people gravitate to metal collars because they think that no cleaning is required. In reality, metal collars can trap oil and dirt and allow them to irritate your dog’s skin. Some dogs are also allergic to certain metals, so it’s important to keep an eye on the area of the neck that is touching the metal to ensure no there is no rashing, irritation or hair loss.

If you own a white or light-coloured dog, you may have at one point in time or another noticed the dreaded “black ring” that can linger around the neck of your dog after repeated wear of a metal collar. That is made up of gathered dirt and oil, as well as any coating from the metal wearing off. You can scrub metal collars clean with a towel and some dog shampoo. If you see signs of rusting, you can use baking soda and water to form a paste that you then apply to the rusting areas. Allow it to dry and harden before using a towel or brush to scrub away the paste and rusting, then dry the collar with a towel. This can also be done to the metal areas of your fabric collars.

Biothane Collars

Biothane collars are often advertised as the wipe-clean alternative to fabric, and they are – in a sense. You can wipe a biothane collar clean with just water, or some dog shampoo/ natural soap. But one thing to note about biothane is that like metal, biothane has little to no natural give, so it can also get buildup if not cleaned regularly. Biothane can be a fur irritant to dogs with sensitive skin, as chaffing can happen along the neckline. As with any collar, always watch for signs of rashing, irritation or hair loss when your dog is wearing a new material. Good and bad biothane collars really boil down to how well they are secured, and if the manufacturer is ensuring that the rivets used to secure the material are strong enough to withstand the pull pressure of a variety of dogs.


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