Seven expert tips for cleaning your dog’s outdoor gear
April is national pet month and it's also a great time for a spring clean. After winter walks, our dog's leads, collars, harnesses, and more have been subject to rain, mud, and every weather condition in between.
From mud-caked harnesses to strange smells from your dog’s gear, the dog adventure specialists at Ruffwear share their expert tips on cleaning your dog's dirty gear to help keep things fresh and preserved for all of the exploring ahead.
1. Clean your dog’s harness and lead with mild soap and warm water once a month
If your dog enjoys exploring and rolling on the ground, you’ll know how often the harness and lead are covered in mud. To help your gear last longer, wash the harness and lead once a month. If you’ve had a very muddy walk, wash them sooner - straight after your walk, ideally - to avoid further bacteria build-up and stop them from becoming hard and crunchy.
To wash, first shake off any dirt or debris. You can hand wash your dog’s harness, lead, and collar with a mixture of warm water and mild soap to avoid any harsh chemicals irritating your dog’s skin. Then, rinse thoroughly, and leave to air dry.
If there are any particularly tough stains on your dog’s harness, try a soft brush (a toothbrush works great) and soapy water.
2. Wash your dog’s outdoor clothing on a gentle wash
To keep your dog’s clothing as fresh as possible, wash their outdoor apparel - such as coats and jackets - as needed, or at least once a month.
Before washing, make sure any fasteners are secure. Then, you can place it in the wash on a very gentle, cold water cycle with a mild detergent and hang the clothing up to dry. A gentle wash cycle will avoid the gear from shrinking or becoming misshapen.
3. Your dog’s boots can be cleaned, too
Fun fact: Dogs sweat through their paws when out on their trails. It’s a good idea to give their paws a chance to breathe once in a while if their boots are on for longer periods of time. And cleaning them helps to make sure bacteria and germs are kept at bay.
Before washing, rinse off any loose dirt or debris and secure any straps. Wash them on a cold, gentle cycle and only use a mild detergent. The same can be done for your dog’s boot liners. You can then leave both the boots and the boot liners to air dry.
4. Use these household products to remove smells from your dog’s gear
If you’ve washed your dog’s harness or clothing and they still smell, use a mix of 1-quart Hydrogen Peroxide, 1/4 cup of baking soda and 1 tsp of dish soap. Soak whatever it is you need to clean in the mix for 20 to 30 minutes and then rinse thoroughly. You can then air dry the garments.
5. Always wash your dog bowls after each use
After using your dog’s bowl for food, clean with a mixture of warm water and mild soap. Rinse the soap thoroughly and leave them to air dry.
For water bladders, use chopsticks to hold up the water bladder to allow any water to escape after you’ve cleaned it. Then, inflate the bladder and hang them upside down to fully dry before putting them in storage.
As an additional tip, store the water bladders in the freezer with the caps off to make sure mould doesn’t grow.
6. Watch out for any black spots growing in your dog’s water bladder
Water bladders are a great way to bring fresh water for your dog when out on the move, and after a walk, completely empty and dry with no water left sitting in them. To prevent future mould buildup, wash the water bladder using warm water and soap after each walk and let air dry thoroughly before putting them away.
7. If your sidekick has their own pack, don’t forget to wash it
If you go on adventures and long trails with your dog, they may have their own pack. Just like our own packs we wear, these can become dirty after several outings.
To clean, remove all contents from the bag and shake off any excess dirt. Then, hand wash the pack in warm water and mild soap and thoroughly air dry. You can also use a soft toothbrush to get rid of any tough stains.