DIY Guide: How to Clean and Condition Your Leather Dog Collar to Keep It in Top Shape

Your mischievous dog will always be up to something that adds more dirt to its collar. Whether they venture into muddy puddles or enjoy a good ol’ roll on the grass, their escapades will often leave you amused, while their collars are left begging to be cleaned.

There’s no need for professional leather cleaning. As long as you arm yourself with a leather cleaner, conditioner, a cloth, and lukewarm water, you’ll tackle your dog’s collar effectively, leaving its rugged, full grain surface ready for new adventures with your dog.

Leather is a resilient material that takes beatings well. It’s also comfortable on your dog’s neck and has a natural texture and color.

All these qualities are worth preserving for as many years as possible, mainly because your dog’s collar is a symbol of the adventures and special bond you share.

We want your dog’s collar to stay in shape as much as you do, so we’ve compiled this DIY guide to take you step-by-step through the process of cleaning and conditioning collars.

Here’s what we’ll be discussing in this DIY guide:

  • Materials and products you need and how each will benefit the collar during the cleaning and conditioning process
  • The correct way to clean and condition your leather dog collar and what you shouldn’t do during the process
  • Additional tips to help you keep your leather dog collar in pristine condition in order to enhance your dog’s comfort and its longevity

When you follow our cleaning, conditioning, and maintenance guidelines, your dog’s leather collar will look great, and you’ll also add more years to its life.

Let's start by gathering the necessary materials you’ll need for this leather care journey.

Materials and Products You’ll Need to Clean and Condition Your Leather Dog Collar

Leather Balm

Cleaning and conditioning your leather dog collar is essential to maintain its appearance, comfort, and durability.

Fortunately, not much labor is required. With a few basic materials and products, you’re all set to start cleaning. 

Here are the materials and products you need:

1 - Lukewarm Water

The first thing you’ll need is lukewarm water, which should be at a temperature of 98–105o F (36.5–40.5o C). We insist on lukewarm water because extreme temperatures, whether hot or cold, will have negative effects on the leather.

Hot water will strip the leather of its natural oils and moisture, causing it to dry, become brittle, and possibly crack.

On the other hand, cold water is not very good at dissolving grime, so you’ll need to scrub the leather more to lift the dirt, which isn’t good because too much friction may damage the leather. So, stick to lukewarm water.

2 - Cloth for Cleaning

You’ll need a lint-free cloth. Microfiber cloths are the best because they won’t scratch or leave fibers on the leather collar. This means that you should avoid cleaning with paper towels or rough sponges and cloth.

Did you know that the strands in microfiber cloths measure less than one denier in thickness? That’s thinner than a human hair strand—1/5th the diameter of a hair to be precise. 

These fibers are then split during manufacturing to give the cloth a large surface area with a positive charge, which easily attracts the negatively charged dirt and grime. 

For effective cleaning, make sure the microfiber cloth you use to clean the leather collar is solely dedicated to the collar. This precaution will avoid the transfer of chemicals that happens when you use one cloth to clean multiple items.

Did You Know? In the Middle Ages, dogs of nobility wore leather collars studded with precious stones as symbols of their status.

3 - pH-Balanced Leather Cleaner

Leather cleaners come in various forms, such as foam, spray, or lotion. These are the most suitable to clean your leather collar. 

Leather has a pH of 4.5–5, so it’s acidic. By all means, avoid cleaning it with an alkaline cleaner (pH 8+) that contains ammonia or other harsh ingredients. They will strip away natural oils from the leather or cause discoloration.

Instead, check the label to ensure that the cleaner is suitable for leather (pH neutral or slightly acidic). Such cleaners contain mild surfactants, emollients, and oils that maintain the suppleness of leather.

4 - Nourishing Leather Conditioner

Leather conditioners are designed to nourish and moisturize the leather, maintaining its softness, flexibility, and durability.

They come in the form of creams, oils, balms, sprays, and lotions. Our conditioner—the Last Stand Leather Balm—contains triple-filtered beeswax, seed oils, and tallow (animal fat) that protects, restores, conditions, and waterproofs your dog’s leather collar.

“Excellent purchase. Softened leather nicely and not oily.” — Paul S., Verified Buyer

However, note that you shouldn't apply conditioner to any type of leather. Each leather type has its conditioning needs. For example, our conditioner is suitable for full grain leather products, but it’s unsuitable for suede.

Now that we’ve gathered the materials and products you require, let’s start the cleaning process.

Step-By-Step Guide to Cleaning Your Leather Dog Collar

dog in Standard Dog Collar

Cleaning your leather dog collar promotes good hygiene by removing grime, dirt, and sweat that would cause odors or irritation to your pet’s neck.

It also improves the leather collar's visual appearance as it ends up looking fresh and well-maintained.

The following are steps to cleaning your dog’s leather collar:

  1. Remove any attachments on the leather collar. These include tags, charms, and other accessories.
  2. Using a soft, lint-free cloth, wipe the collar back and forth to remove loose dirt your dog may have picked up. Pay attention to the edges, patterned areas, and hardware (buckle, D-Rings, and rivets).
  3. Dampen the cloth with lukewarm water, then apply a small amount of cleaner to the cloth. Rub it on a small inconspicuous area of the collar and see if there’s a reaction like discoloration or texture alteration.
    It may happen immediately, but if there’s none, wait several hours to see if there’s a change.
  4. If there’s no adverse reaction after the wait, proceed to clean the entire collar using firm, circular motions, reapplying the cleaner where necessary.
  5. After you’re done cleaning the whole collar, rinse out the cloth and use it to wipe off all traces of the cleaner. Repeat until clean.
  6. Use a dry lint-free towel to dry all the moisture from the collar, then air dry it. Don’t hang the collar in direct sunlight or use an artificial heat source to dry it, it may warp or become brittle.

You can hang the collar on your clothesline where there’s no direct sunlight. If you choose to dry it on a flat surface, spread it flat on a wire mesh to allow air circulation, and periodically turn it over so that it dries on both sides.

If the weather favors you with a warm temperature and low humidity, your dog's collar will dry overnight and be ready for conditioning the next day.

Key Takeaway: Regular and proper cleaning of your leather dog collar ensures it remains hygienic, visually appealing, and durable. This process entails the removal of dirt, careful stain treatment, and appropriate drying methods.

The Most Efficient Way to Condition Your Leather Dog Collar 

Leather Balm

Conditioning your leather dog collar is an essential step in leather care as it helps to keep the leather soft and pliable, which in turn prolongs its life.

You don’t have to wait until you clean the collar to condition it. If it’s relatively clean, you can just condition it to keep it supple till its next wash.

For leather conditioning, you’ll need a gentle conditioner such as our American Bench Craft Leather Balm, then proceed as follows:

  1. Apply a small amount of leather conditioner onto a soft cloth and rub it on the leather in circular motions.
    Again, apply it on a conspicuous area and see if there’s any change in texture. Conditioners usually darken full grain leather to some extent, so what you're looking for is excessive darkening or change in texture.
  2. If there’s none, cover the entire collar with conditioner, applying sparingly but adding a bit more to areas that are particularly dry.
  3. After applying the conditioner, let the collar sit for the time recommended by the manufacturer. This allows the conditioner to seep in slowly, but don’t use heat to speed up the process.
  4. After drying, check for any areas that you may have applied too sparingly and redo them. If the leather was particularly dry, it may have gobbled down the conditioner and you’ll have to reapply the whole collar again.
  5. When the leather is finally dry, use a dry lint-free cloth to buff until all conditioner is absorbed and you get a non-greasy feel with a smooth, even finish.

After buffing, your dog’s leather collar is ready for use. 

During rugged outdoor activities, there’s a possibility of your dog’s collar getting snagged on a fence, bush, or another dog’s mouth, which can cause entrapment and turn into strangulation pretty fast.

To prevent this from happening, our Center Ring Dog Collar has an O-Ring that enables the collar to flip, allowing your dog to slip out of the collar and out of danger.

Center Ring Dog Collar

Rugged leather products such as dog collars and leashes require proper care and maintenance to ensure longevity and durability. With the help of these DIY guidelines, you’ll keep your pet's leather accessories supple for years to come.

Additional Tips for Getting the Most Out of Your Leather Dog Collar and Other Dog Accessories

dog in Martingale Dog Collar

To ensure that your leather dog collar remains in top shape, there are a few more tips that will help you along the way:

1 - Use Leather Care Products Designed for Full Grain Leather

Full grain leather is a type of leather known for its durability and rugged appearance. If your dog collar is made from full grain leather, it’s important to use leather care products specifically designed for this type of leather.

Using the wrong type of conditioner or cleaner could damage the leather or cause it to lose its natural texture and appearance.

2 - Use Products From Reputable Brands 

Don't risk using a substandard product that could damage your leather dog collar. Instead, choose trusted leather care products made by respected manufacturers.

“I have been buying my leather conditioner from American Bench Craft for about 5 years and this product is phenomenal… It conditions leather and does an excellent job protecting leather from the elements.” — Christina M., Verified Buyer

3 - Invest in Proper Leather Maintenance

Proper leather maintenance involves more than just cleaning and conditioning your dog collar, it also means taking other steps to ensure that it lasts for years to come.

Avoid exposing your dog collar to extreme temperatures to prevent it from cracking or drying out. In that case, you should store it in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight.

The table below outlines recommended storage conditions for leather dog collars, detailing ideal temperature, humidity, sunlight exposure, and storage location.

Storage Factor Recommendation Reason
Temperature 50–75°F (10–24°C) Extreme temperatures can cause the leather to dry out, crack, or shrink
Humidity 40–55% relative humidity Too dry conditions can cause the leather to crack, while too humid conditions can encourage mold growth
Sunlight Exposure Avoid direct sunlight Prolonged exposure to sunlight can fade the color and dry out the leather
Storage Location Cool, dry place Storing in a cool, dry place prevents damage from temperature fluctuations and humidity

4 - Rely on Honest Recommendations 

When it comes to pet care and pet accessories, it can be tempting to rely on advice from different unreliable sources. However, not all recommendations are helpful.

Stick to trusted, honest recommendations from credible sources to ensure that you’re taking the best care possible of your pet's accessories.

“This balm moisturizes and protects! Plus it's got clean ingredients. It does a great job.” — Maggie W., Verified Buyer

By following these additional tips, you’ll extend the longevity and durability of your leather dog collar, and keep it looking as good as the day you bought it.

Maintaining Your Leather Dog Collar Starts With Proper Cleaning and Conditioning

Taking care of your leather dog collar is crucial to maintain its appearance and maximize its longevity. By regularly cleaning and conditioning it, you’ll keep it looking great for years to come.

You don’t need to take it for professional cleaning because with a leather cleaner, conditioner, cloth, and some warm water, you’re set to begin cleaning.

To get the most out of your dog’s leather collar, use full grain leather collars and leather care products designed for full grain leather. Also, don't forget to follow the step-by-step guide we’ve provided.

At American Bench Craft, we offer a range of full grain leather dog collars such as Standard Collars, Center Ring Collars, Personalized Collars, and Martingale Collars

The table below shows our range of leather dog collars. Visit the collection page for more options.

Martingale Dog Collar


Personalized Center Ring Dog Collar


Small Dog Collar


Standard Dog Collar


With dedicated leather maintenance, your dog's collar will maintain its natural rugged look even after many adventures.

“We ordered these collars for our puppies and they have outlasted 5 other collars and still going strong, they are so worth the money. Not to mention everyone who works there is so kind and helpful. This is our only shop for collars now.” — Rania, Verified Buyer