Money-Saver! Best Dog Accessory Cleaning Tips!

Yes, it’s true that knowing the best dog accessory cleaning tips can save you money! As a pet parent, we can spend a lot on collars, leashes, bowls, sweaters, toys, beds, and other accessories. But if we don’t properly care for these often well-loved dog accessories, we can be hit with more vet bills and more supply costs. No one wants that, right? I know I keep my dog, Henry’s, accessories clean. It helps him and me. So, today, let’s grab a scrub brush and discover the big money-saving ideas that come with knowing the best dog accessory cleaning tips. 

A smiling white pup is healthy due in part to simple dog accessory cleaning tips
disclaimer note
Budget tip:

While you may not think that keeping your dog’s accessories can save money, it can by reducing possible vet bills. Specifically, keeping your dog's gear properly cleaned, you reduce the risk of skin irritations, eye infections, allergies, and more. Additionally, this simple task reduces the need to replace dog accessories as often due to being worn out or unable to get clean. Consequently, taking care of your dog’s products not only helps to keep him/her healthy but your wallet as well. That’s a major WIN-WIN for your dog and you!

What’s the difference between cleaning and disinfecting dog supplies?

Cleaning removes dirt, grime, and germs from the surface. However, disinfecting kills germs and bacteria on a deeper basis. And yes, you can disinfect your dog’s accessories without using chemicals. Although, I always avoid chemicals for Henry. It keeps him safer and it’s cheaper as well. 

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What should I use to clean my dog’s supplies?

There are a few household items that are great for not just cleaning, but also disinfecting pet accessories. These include:

  • Dawn blue liquid soap – 1 part
  • Distilled white vinegar – 1 part
  • Baking soda – enough to make a paste for stubborn stains

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When should I clean my dog’s gear?

There are times you’ll want to wash your dog’s accessories more often. These include:

  • Swimming season
  • Hiking season
  • Camping season
  • Allergy season
  • Tick and flea season 
  • Rainy season
  • Post-surgery
  • Senior dogs
  • Puppies
  • Immune compromised dogs

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How should I wash my dog’s accessories?

While it may seem daunting to wash your dog’s gear, it’s really very easy. Moreover, you can even find dog-safe cleaning products on the market. However, you can also use a DIY approach to cleaning, such as the following:

  • Shake or vacuum to remove loose dirt and stickers as needed
  • Go over the item with a lint roller, packing tape, or a damp paper towel to remove loose dog hair
  • Use a natural disinfectant
    • Dawn blue dish soap – 1 part
    • Water – 2 parts
    • Distilled or white vinegar – 1 part
    • Or a store bought pet friendly mild detergent
  • For stains or extra dirty areas, scrub with a paste mixture
    • Dawn liquid soap – 1 part
    • Distilled vinegar – 1 part
    • Baking soda – enough to make a paste
  • Use a nail scrubber or toothbrush to scrub dirt, stains, and hand wash items
  • Machine wash if label indicates it’s safe
    • Use pet friendly mild detergent such as
      • Dawn and vinegar mixture as described above
      • Or store bought pet-friendly mild detergent
  • Extra stinky or dirty accessories soak for at least 15 mins in Dawn soap and vinegar mixture 
  • Air dry if the label prohibits tumble dry
    • Dry flat if the accessory can stretch or more delicate, like a sweater or plush toy
    • Hang to dry if a dog collar or other more sturdy accessory

How does washing dog gear properly keep my pup safe?

By keeping your dog’s accessories clean you are also keeping him/her healthy and keeping your vet bills down. This is simply because when you clean your dog’s gear you are eliminating:

  • Fleas and ticks
  • Stickers
  • Bacteria and viral germs 
  • Fungus, such as mold, yeast
  • Parasites

Also, washing your dog’s supplies helps to keep pet odors down in your home. 

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NOTE: Some bacteria and infections can survive up to 12 months on fabric. Additionally, stickers, which can get into paws, mouth, and eyes, will stay until they are removed. 

What’s the best frequency and method for washing my dog’s supplies?

It will depend on the specific dog item and your dog’s needs as to how often you should clean each. However, the following is a good guideline.

Food bowls and water bowls

  • Frequency – Daily
  • Method
    • Dishwasher if marked dishwasher safe
    • Hand wash if label indicates
      • Hot water, Dawn soap, and distilled vinegar
      • Rinse with clean hot water
  • Dry – Wipe dry with a clean cloth

NOTE: It’s best to toss dishes that are cracked or chipped to prevent injury and infections. 

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Travel water bottles used for hiking, walking, camping, vacations

  • Frequency – After every use
  • Method
    • Dishwasher if the label indicates
    • Hand wash if label advises
      • Hot water, Dawn soap, and distilled vinegar
      • Rinse with hot water
    • Air dry

Collar, Leash, Harness

  • Frequency – At least 1x/month or as needed
  • Method
    • Hand wash with hot water, Dawn soap, and distilled vinegar
    • Scrub with nail scrubber or toothbrush to remove dirt and stains
    • Use paste of Dawn soap, distilled, and baking soda for stains
    • Rinse with hot water
    • Air dry

NOTE: I’m also shocked at how clean I get Henry’s dog collar, leash, and harness with this simple method. They always look brand new and saves me from buying new ones.

Henry after being bathed and groomed and with a clean dog collar
Henry post bath and grooming with his clean dog collar.

Leather collars

These take a bit more care but still can be cleaned. 

  • Frequency – At least 1x/month or as needed
  • Method
    • Make a bowl of soapy Dawn soap, distilled vinegar, and baking soda
    • Dip a scrub brush into the bowl of soapy water and scrub clean
    • Wipe clean with a wet cloth
    • Air dry
  • Restore – Use saddle soap, leather conditioner, or coconut oil to restore to looking new


  • Frequency – Every 14-30 or as dirt/grim requires
  • Method
    • Most dog boots require hand washing
    • Soak in hot water, Dawn soap, and distilled vinegar mixture
    • Scrub with a nail brush or toothbrush as needed for dirt removal
    • Rinse with hot water
    • Air dry

Sweater, jacket, clothing, cooling vest

  • Frequency – 7-30 days depending on the use
  • Method
    • Machine wash according to label (If machine wash, then put on delicate cycle)
    • Hand wash with warm to hot water with Dawn and vinegar(as the fabric label indicates) 
    • Rinse with warm to hot water
    • Air dry flat or hanging (sweaters should dry flat)

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NOTE: Other dog gear items like strollers, backpacks, and life jackets, should all be cleaned regularly as well. Each should come with cleaning instructions. However, if there’s no cleaning label then err on the side of caution and hand wash with the Dawn soap and distilled vinegar mixture. 

Plastic dog toys

  • Frequency – Every 7-14 days
  • Method
    • Dishwasher top shelf
    • Soak in soapy water of Dawn and vinegar if very dirty (even before placing in the dishwasher)
    • Hand wash if more delicate with hot water, Dawn, and vinegar mixture
    • Scrub with a nail brush or toothbrush and paste of Dawn, vinegar, and baking soda for stains
    • Rinse with hot water
    • Dry completely

Note: Rotate toys as washing. Thus, your dog stays more engaged with his/her toys. Additionally, the dog toys are always relatively clean.

Fabric or plush dog toys

  • Frequency – Every 7-14 days
  • Method
    • Machine wash if label indicates it’s safe. However, wash it on the delicate cycle.
    • Hand wash with hot water, Dawn, and distilled vinegar mixture
    • Soak in the mixture of soapy dawn, vinegar, and hot water for 15 minutes if toys are very stinky or extra dirty
    • Scrub with a nail brush or toothbrush for stubborn stains
    • Rinse with hot water
    • Air dry

NOTE: Clean dog toys really are essential for your pup. They play with them daily and germs can fester in these beloved items. 

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Rope toys

  • Frequency – Every 7-14 days. Although, if your dog is a huge rope toy fan, you may want to rotate every 3 days and wash each at least every 7 days. 
  • Method
    • Machine washing should be fine for rope toys. They are sturdy.
    • Soak with Dawn soap and vinegar if extra dirty or stinky
    • Air dry or tumble dry

NOTE: Distilled vinegar will keep colors from running. In fact, I put a ¼ cup of vinegar in my washer when I’m washing bright (and especially red) colored clothes so everything doesn’t come out pink.

Dog beds

  • Frequency – Every 7-14
  • Method
    • If it’s machine washer safe, then wash it on the delicate cycle
    • Hand wash
      • If label indicates with hot water, Dawn, and distilled vinegar mixture
      • Rinse with hot water.
    • Tumble dry on low heat for fluffier beds
    • Air dry when label indicates

NOTE: This method is a great odor eliminator for beds and other dog supplies. 


  • Frequency – Every 7 days or more often as needed
  • Method
    • Wipe down with Dawn and distilled vinegar
    • Hand wash removable tray
      • Hot water, Dawn, and vinegar (soak for 15 minutes if very smelly)
      • Use a paste of Dawn soap, vinegar, and baking soda for stains
      • Rinse with hot water
    • Dry with a clean cloth

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Blankets (including couch and car blankets)

  • Frequency – Every 7 days
  • Method
    • Machine wash with hot water
    • Scrub spots a nail brush or toothbrush and a paste of Dawn soap, vinegar, and baking soda
    • Tumble dry on high heat or as the label indicates

Dog brushes and dog combs

  • Frequency – Every 7 days or more often during shedding seasons
  • Method
    • Soak in a bowl of soapy Dawn and vinegar mixture for 15 minutes
    • Rinse with clean hot water
    • Air dry on a clean dry towel

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Your bedding (if your dog sleeps with you)

  • Frequency – Change bedding every 7 days, more often if your dog is a drooler or dirty
  • Method
    • Wash as you would normally wash your bedding or as the label states. Although, keep in mind that if your dog sleeps with you, then you may want to use a mild detergent, especially if your dog has allergies or is immune compromised.
    • Tumble dry as the label indicates

Rugs (such as door rugs and kitchen rugs)

  • Frequency – Vacuum every 3-7 days (depending on use); Wash every 7-30 days (for smaller door rugs and bath mats)
  • Method
    • Machine wash if label indicates
    • Spot wash with mild detergent of water, Dawn, and vinegar
    • Use a paste of baking soda, Dawn soap, and vinegar

NOTE: Large rugs that aren’t machine washable should be professionally cleaned every 3-6 months or as use indicates.

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What are the money-savings I can see by using these dog accessory cleaning tips?

This is always the fun part of an article. It helps to put everything in dollars and cents. With this in mind, consider the following possible expenses without properly caring for and cleaning your dog’s gear:

Possible IssueCost savings
Ingestion of foreign items such as stickers$2,000 – 10,000
Fleas$27 – 35
Ticks$50 – 150
Infection$530 – 1,285
Skin irritation$175
Eye irritation$115+
Respiratory issues$219
Replacing worn out or stinky dog gear$7-500

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Summary of Money-Saver! Best Dog Accessory Cleaning Tips!

I bet you never thought that simply cleaning your dog’s accessories could save money until now, right? However, a clean bed, collar, harness, toys, crate, blankets, and bowls can keep your dog healthy by keeping germs and health issues at bay. Additionally, not having to replace items as quickly is a great benefit as well. While it may seem overwhelming to clean your dog’s gear more often, it’s super easy and only takes a few minutes. Then knowing your dog’s environment is clean and your pocketbook is fatter is a reason to celebrate. I think Henry would say it calls for a fun hike at his favorite spot. That sounds like a great celebration!

a beautiful husky is healthy and happy because his parents learned about simple dog accessory cleaning tips

Did you know that keeping your dog’s gear clean could save you money? Will you wash your dog’s accessories more often now? 


12 thoughts on “Money-Saver! Best Dog Accessory Cleaning Tips!”

  1. This is so inspiring! There is so much you can do to extend the life if your dog’s accessories.

    I know some toys end up looking ratty and that goes with the territory, but there are so many other things you don’t realise actually matter! I know Henry looks super cute (great photo!) but a clean collar looks much smarter than a grubby and ragged one!

    • Thank you, Marjorie! Yes, I love the simple steps a pet parent can do that actually saves money. Sometimes the simplest things are overlooked though. Henry says “Thanks!” as well for the kind words. 😉

  2. Fabulous article with interesting points as to the importance of cleaning our dog’s accessories! I imagine this will get a lot of people thinking about how often they do it, myself included. I love the money saving tips by using every day items. Pet parents need to save money where they can!

  3. I always love to see your budget breakdowns! That first one – wow!!! These tips are all excellent and the frequency of cleaning is so important and can be easily overlooked, like the collars. I used to use Dawn, a great soap! And vinegar is still a staple in my now dog-less household as I use it for cleaning/disinfecting. Dog beds…oh! dog beds with five Huskies kept me busy cleaning! It’s so great you point out the recommended frequency and crate cleaning – I think those could be easily overlooked, but so important. Super article, Terri! Pinning and sharing to my pages!

    • Thanks, Dorothy! I admit, I LOVE the cost break downs too. But I’m a huge numbers nerd. I’m glad others are enjoying it as well.

      You know, I do love pointing out those simple things we can all do that helps to save money, but is often overlooked. This types of types just make me smile with glee!

      Oh, I bet you were always cleaning with your sweet FiveSibes. You probably needed a separate washer just for them. Those fur kids are worth all the extra effort.

      Thank you so much for the kind words and sharing!

  4. Fantastic post, I wash everything of Layla’s at least once a week in the washing machine or hand wash using mainly apple cider vinegar plus her bowls i hand wash as I do not have a dishwasher. This is a real eye opener for pet parents and a must know also, cleanliness is the essence to a healthy dog, thank you

    • Awe, thank you! You are absolutely right …. clean=healthy! Great point!

      You know I forgot about apple cider vinegar. I have used that occasionally. I just don’t remember it. I’ll have to do an update on this article and include it. Thanks for that reminder.

      Pets to sweet Layla from me and Henry!

  5. Keep everything clean is definitely a good way to keep furbabies healthy and can extend the life of something things. (Catnip toys not so much though)

    Sunshine is a help for somethings too. My show shelters aren’t machine washable so I spray them with a kennel safe disinfectant that won’t bleach out the color and then put them out in the sun to dry between shows so I’m not potentially exposing anyone to anything.


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