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How To Clean a Dirty Dog's Dirty Gear

If there’s one thing your dog knows how to do, it’s get dirty. We’ve all seen it. Our dogs rolling on damp grass, itching for that perfect back scratch. Or diving headfirst into a mud puddle, emerging as swamp monsters. Dogs know how to play, and that means splashing and crawling through nature’s biggest mess-makers. 

And joining for the fun is your dog’s gear – less recognizable now than in its brand-new condition. Caked with dried up mud. A mysterious smell wafting from its seams. Despite the mess, we wouldn’t have it any other way.

Well-cared for gear is gear that lasts longer. We’ve got you covered with our gear-cleaning instructions and solutions to your toughest cleaning puzzles. 

How To Clean Your Dog’s Pack

A woman hikes with her dog who is wearing a Ruffwear Approach™ Pack.

  • Remove all contents including water bladders
  • Shake out and shake off dirt and debris
  • Hand wash in warm water, mild soap
  • Rinse thoroughly
  • Air dry
  • If needed, you can spot clean with a gentle brush (toothbrushes are great) or a rag with soapy water
  • For packs that include water bladders, see below 

How to Clean Your Dog’s Water Bladders

An image of the Ruffwear Collapsible Water Bladder.

(In addition to our Collapsible Water Bottle, you can also find water bladders inside the Palisades™ Pack and Singletrak™ Pack)

  • Clean after each use with warm, soapy water and rinse thoroughly
  • Use chopsticks to hold up the water bladder to allow water to escape and dry
  • Inflate bladders and allow to fully dry before storing
  • Hang them upside down in your drying rack or a bottle drying rack
  • Store in the freezer with caps off to prevent mold growth

Pro Tip: If there is old, stale water that has been sitting in the bladder, you can clean it with Bottle Bright Tablets. 

How To Clean Your Dog’s Boots

A woman and her dog run on a desert trail.

  • Remove boots from storage bag
  • Wash off loose dirt and dust with a clean cloth
  • Secure all straps and closures
  • Machine wash in cold water, gentle cycle, with mild detergent
  • Air dry 

How To Clean Your Dog’s Boot Liners

An image of Ruffwear Bark'n Boot™ dog socks.

  • Machine wash, cold water, gentle cycle, mild detergent, no bleach
  • Air dry

How To Clean Your Dog’s Harness

A small dog wearing a Flagline™ Harness runs beside a man who is skateboarding.

  • Shake off dirt and debris
  • Hand wash in warm water, mild soap
  • Rinse thoroughly
  • Air dry
  • If needed, you can spot clean with a gentle brush (toothbrushes are great) or a rag with soapy water

How To Clean Your Dog's Apparel

A couple walks with their dog on a desert trail in Utah.

  • Secure fasteners (if any) 
  • Wash in cold water, gentle cycle
  • Use mild detergent
  • Hang to dry
  • Do not bleach, iron, or dry clean

How To Clean Your Dog's Undercoat™ Water Jacket

A dog wearing a Ruffwear Undercoat™ Water Jacket runs along a beach.

  • Secure fasteners
  • Rinse with cold water after each use
  • Hang to dry
  • Do not bleach, iron, or dry clean

To ensure the Undercoat's neoprene material stays in good condition for many adventures to come, check out these 5 tips for Undercoat Care

How To Clean Your Dog’s Packable Bowls

In a camper van, a dog eats from a Ruffwear Great Basin™ Dog Bowl.

  • Shake off dirt and debris (and crumbs, if any)
  • Hand wash in warm water, mild soap
  • Rinse thoroughly
  • Air dry

How To Clean Your Dog’s Leash & Collar

A woman and her dog walk on a hiking trail using the Crag™ Reflective Dog Leash.

  • Shake off dirt and debris
  • Hand wash in warm water, mild soap
  • Rinse thoroughly
  • Air dry

Pro Tip: For a squeaky-clean feel and good-as-new look (and smell), soak leashes in Oxi Clean.

Hoping to prevent the need for deep cleaning? If your dog spends a lot of time in or around water, consider our Confluence™ Collar – the waterproof, stink-proof collar made of a coated webbing to seal out odor producing bacteria. 

How To Clean Your Dog's Basecamp Mat

An image of the Ruffwear Basecamp™ Mat for dog food and water bowls.

  • Hand wash
  • Mild detergent
  • Air dry

How To Clean Your Dog's Gnawt-a-Cone™ and Gnawt-a-Rock™ Toys

A dog playing with the Gnawt-a-Cone™

Gnawt-a-Rock™

  • Top rack dishwasher safe
  • Dish soap
  • Air dry

Gnawt-a-Cone™

  • Dishwasher safe

How To Get the Smell Out of Dog Gear

A dog lies down on grass and holds a stick in his mouth.

  • 1 quart Hydrogen Peroxide, 1/4 cup of baking soda, 1 tsp of dish soap
  • Soak garment in the mixture in an open container/sink for 20-30 min
  • Rinse
  • Air dry

Tips For Your Toughest Cases 

A man and his dog hike on a damp, muddy trail.

Still stuck with a stain or mystery residue? We’ve got answers. Here, our Pack Support team gets to the bottom of your gnarliest cleaning woes. 

Q: The Chain Reaction™ Collar leaves a dark gray mark on my dog's fur. Do you have suggestions?

A: You can spread a thick paste of water and baking soda on the collar and let the paste harden. Then, scrub the baking soda solution away with a toothbrush, rinse, and allow the collar to dry. As for your pup's fur, normal pet shampoo or Dawn® dish soap can help remove the discoloration.

Q: Black residue is coming off where the Talon Clip™ leash hardware connects with the V-ring and lands onto my dog's fur and gear. What can I do?

A: This naturally occurring process involves oils from a dog's fur "polishing" the anodized aluminum hardware. Sometimes, this shows up as discoloration. Fortunately, it has nothing to do with a lack of quality of the metal. While this process occurs for a very low percentage of dogs, it is not a cause for concern. 

Cleaning the metal hardware can help to prevent this. To clean, we recommend spreading a thick paste of water and baking soda on the hardware and letting the paste harden. Then, scrub the baking soda solution away with a toothbrush, rinse, and dry.

Q: My leash and harness weren’t cleaned immediately after returning from an adventure, and they are now hard and crunchy. How do I get them clean?

A: While cleaning your equipment as soon as possible is ideal, there are ways to get the leash and collar back in shape. You can soak them in soapy water for 20 to 30 minutes, then use a toothbrush or cloth to wipe away the extra grime. If you notice a smell, add some Hydrogen Peroxide and baking soda to the water. Hang to dry.

Q: There are some black spots growing in my dog’s water bladder. Can I just wash them out?

A: Black spots can be just about anything, from dirt to mold. If you suspect that you’re dealing with dirt, then washing and drying the bladder as normal should get rid of the issue. Should you suspect that mold might be growing on the inside, it’s in your best interest to get new bladders.

Scrub-a-dub-dub

Time to get scrubbing. And if you have a particularly mud-loving, dust-rolling dog, check out our Partners in Grime Collection.