If You Don’t Clean Your Dog’s Leash, This Will Convince You to Start

It turns out your dog's leash may be dirtier than you think. Don't worry, these expert tips will have your dog's leash clean in no time.

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Going out for a walk with your dog allows you to stretch your legs and breathe in the fresh air. But when you come back from your walk, do you ever think about cleaning your dog’s leash? Since you’re already following the definitive guide on how often you should clean everything in your home, you might want to add cleaning your dog’s leash to your list of things to clean.

How to Choose a Dog’s Leash

Choosing a dog leash that’s easy to clean is an important part of dog ownership and care.

“Every dog parent knows how easy it is for the leash to slip under their pooch when they stop to squat or lift their leg on their daily walk!” Lorraine Rhoads, an environmental biologist at Dogtopia, the nation’s largest dog daycare, boarding and spa facility, tells Reader’s Digest. “Hands-free leashes are a good way to keep your hands from constantly adding to the body oil grime, plus they free your hands up for better walking or running posture.”

Rhoads recommends having multiple dog leashes so you can rotate cleaning and drying when needed. Check out these 15 pet products with nearly perfect reviews on Amazon.

How Dirty Is a Dog’s Leash?

“Anything we frequently touch or handle has the potential to get dirty and pet leashes are no exception!” says Rhoads. “Body oils, dirt, slobber, and even illness-causing germs can be hiding on your dog’s leash. Although it may be unlikely to transmit illnesses like ringworm, mites, or canine cough germs, it is still a good idea to routinely clean pet leashes.”

Here are 15 everyday items that are dirtier than a toilet seat.

What Is the Proper Way to Clean Dog Leashes?

That depends. “The best way to clean leashes is based on the materials they are made from,” Chewy vet expert Dr. Jennifer Coates tells Reader’s Digest. “For example, a leather leash needs to be cleaned with something like saddle soap.”

dog waiting for walk

But if you don’t have saddle soap on hand, that’s OK. “To clean a leather leash, start with a damp cleaning rag and wipe the leash thoroughly to remove dirt,” says Rhoads. “Use a small bowl of water and a few drops of mild soap to make a cleaning solution. Dip a soft toothbrush in the solution and scrub the leather clean rather than soaking the entire leash. Hang the leash to dry out of the sun.”

Other materials require different washing techniques. For rope or nylon leashes, start with hot water and soap.

“I prefer to use my dog’s shampoo because she has allergies and I know her hypoallergenic shampoo will not cause a reaction,” says Rhoads. “Let your leash soak for ten minutes in the hot soapy water to loosen and break down dirt and oils. If your leash is pretty grimy, take a soft nylon brush (like a toothbrush) and scrub the leash with additional shampoo. Rinse clean and hang to dry.

“Keep in mind that brushing too much may cause the webbing to look worn. Some rope or nylon leashes can be safely washed in the washing machine.”

However, retractable leashes should never be placed in the washing machine. To clean retractable dog leashes, Rhoads says to follow the nylon cleaning directions above “with the leash locked in the fully extended position, leaving the handle dry and out of the soapy water.”

To safely wash your dog’s leash in a washing machine, Coates recommends you lace the (nylon) leash in a lingerie bag and run it through the washing machine with a few towels to protect the machine from dings and scratches. When you’re cleaning, make sure you know these 19 cleaning tips every dog or cat owner should know.

How Often Should Pet Leashes Be Cleaned?

“The ideal cleaning frequency depends on how dirty leashes get,” says Coates. “A leash that is regularly dragged across potentially contaminated surfaces (like a dirty dog park) should be cleaned more frequently than one that rarely touches the ground. Use the ‘ick’ factor as a guide. If the thought of running your hands up and down the leash makes you shudder, it should be cleaned.”

Rhoads recommends cleaning dog leashes once every month, or whenever they become really dirty. Along with dog leashes, your dog needs to be washed, too. Plus: Check out 40 perfect pet projects you can DIY.

When Is It Time to Finally Replace a Pet Leash?

We’re all conscious about our spending habits. But sometimes, like that old fraying T-shirt long past its prime, you may need to let go of old pet leashes, too. “Be sure to replace leashes when they get frayed or damaged in other ways,” says Coates. “Damage makes a leash harder to keep clean and more likely to break.”

Make sure you replace your dog’s leash at the appropriate time and avoid these household items are seriously dangerous for your pet.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published on Reader's Digest

Madeline Wahl
Madeline Wahl is a Digital Associate Editor/Writer at RD.com. Previously, she worked for HuffPost and Golf Channel. Her writing has appeared on HuffPost, Red Magazine, McSweeney's, Pink Pangea, The Mighty, and Yahoo Lifestyle, among others. More of her work can be found on her website: www.madelinehwahl.com