Castile Soap Miracle Wash for Dogs & Leashes

Are your dog’s leashes, collars, and harnesses smelling up the RV?

In such a small space, it doesn’t take much before the odors become overwhelming.

So let’s give those pet leashes, collars, and harnesses, not to mention the dog himself, a good cleaning and deodorizing.

Castile Soap Miracle Wash for Dogs and Leashes

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Smelly Pets in the RV

Normally, I only travel with one dog. And while Burdell can be smelly in his own right, that’s nothing compared to my parents’ dog, Missy.

She’s an older black lab rescue and she’s a nervous one. She’s not particularly fond of traveling, but when the parents left me to dog-sit for most of football season while they went gallivanting around the globe (Ok, it was really just international travel for work but gallivanting sounds so much better) Missy was going to be going to a few RV tailgates.

And yes, that meant she had to travel in the RV. Not what she would call fun on any day.

And you probably know what happened next. Nervous dogs put out some really strong odors. It can be pretty overpowering in the RV after awhile.

So after the first trip, it was time to start finding some ways to reduce the smells coming from Missy and even my own dog Burdell.

See Also: Tips for Dealing with RV Odors

Cleaning Dog Leashes, Collars, and Harnesses

Burdell, being the typical boy dog, loves to play in the dirt. His nose is permanently brown from digging in the dirt in my backyard (yeah, it’s not just the poop bombs you have to worry about in my backyard, it is random holes too).

All this means that he is in a permanent state of dirty.

And his collar and harness doesn’t escape the dirt. And after awhile, the collection of dirt, sweat, and dog odor made the collar and harness worse than the dog himself.

It was time to give them a good washing!

Is Castile Soap Safe for Dogs?

Have you ever used Castile Soap in your home or RV?

This stuff is awesome! I keep a large bottle of liquid Castile soap on hand pretty much all the time.

It’s biodegradeable and non-toxic, so it’s great for the environment, unlike many soaps and cleaning products out there.

Add in the peppermint essential oils and it smells great. Dr. Bonner’s Peppermint Castile Soap has just a 2% concentration of essential oils making it safe for dogs.

Some say that peppermint even helps to repel bugs, like say flea and ticks that may want to go for a ride on your dog.

Essential oils, and peppermint oil specifically, are generally safe for dogs. However, you should not let the oil or Castile soap get in your dog’s eyes or let them ingest it (ie lick or eat the oils or soaps).

Washing Dogs with Castile Soap

You can even wash the dogs with the same Peppermint Castile Soap that is used in the dog collar wash.

My dog getting washed - he looks naked without the dog harness onMost medium to large dogs can handle the soap in its undiluted form. However, smaller or sensitive dogs may need the soap diluted some before you add it to their coats for washing.

(Doesn’t Burdell look naked without the harness on? He does to me! Poor thing really doesn’t like baths but he’ll tolerate them because I said he has to have them.)

If you or your dog is particularly sensitive to scents or essential oils like peppermint or lavender, then I recommend that you try the unscented Castile soap.

And for really smelly dogs, you can dilute the Castile soap with water and add baking soda. I’ve found that this combination is really effective to help combat smelly dogs. Even to the point that the wet dog smells are minimized after the bath.

Baking Soda Helps Deodorize

While the Castile soap does the cleaning action, baking soda helps to really neutralize the odors that have built up on the dog collars, harnesses, and leashes.

And you probably have lots of baking soda on hand… after all, you use it in the RV Black Tank Cleaning Bombs that you use for your black tank. You’ve probably also used the baking soda + vinegar trick to unclog your slow moving shower or sink drains. Or you know, for baking all those delicious Tailgating Desserts.

In any case, you probably already know how awesome baking soda is at deodorizing stuff. And that’s what we are using it for in this DIY dog leash wash.

Tips for Cleaning Dog Collars and Harnesses

I recommend that you start this process by rinsing all the items in warm water. Even scrubbing them a bit to get the first layer off or at least loosened up.

Then, heat up the water in your pan to just before boiling. It needs to be very hot. Add in the Castile Soap and baking soda and mix well. Then you’ll add the leashes, collars, and harnesses to the soapy water.

Once you get the collars and leashes into the hot, soapy water, the Castile Soap, made from olive oil, will feel pretty slimy on the items. Don’t worry – it should do this!

How to wash dog collars, harnesses, leashes with Castile SoapOnce you begin rinsing the collars under clean, warm water, this sliminess will go away very quickly.

While you can probably get most of the dirt and grime away just using your fingers, you may need to use an old toothbrush or similar brush to get all the really old, ground in dirt out.

I let the items soak for about an hour, rinsing them under warm water at the 30 minute mark. This provided the best results, to get everything clean and smelling good.

See Also: 10 Tips for RV Tailgating with Dogs

Peppermint Smells

Do know that the peppermint smell can be pretty strong when it is warm. If you are sensitive to strong smells, make sure the area is well ventilated while you are cleaning everything.

Once the leashes, collars, and harnesses are all clean and dry, the peppermint smell is quite mild and you’ll really only smell it when you are giving the dogs some love.

Seriously, your nose will have to be right up on the collars to smell the peppermint after a few days.

But weeks later, the dogs’ collars and harnesses are smelling much better.

Burdell’s Collar and Harness

Burdell, my rescue brown dog, wears both a collar and a harness all the time and has since I rescued him (or he rescued me).

I can’t say enough good things about the Kong padded dog collars.

And while the one he has isn’t this one, this one is even better. Because now they are reflective, which is great if you are out in the RV campground, at the tailgate, or on a nighttime walk. Just a bit of added safety for your dog!

When Burdell was young, he was a bit of a wild child and pulled on his leash a lot. Once a friend put him in his harness, he calmed down and behaved. While he probably doesn’t need it now, he still acts better when it is on. So I leave it on.

It is not padded like his collar but that doesn’t seem to bother him. It is also not crash-tested for a safety harness to buckle him in while I am driving. But he rides in a crate while I am driving the RV.

See Also: The Ultimate Dogs’ Guide to RVing

Simple Dog Collar and Harness Wash Results

Let’s take a look at the results of using this simple Castile soap wash method.

The dirt and grime are gone. The harness is a bright blue again instead of a dingy dark blue.

And they smell so much better. Just be glad that computers still don’t have that smell-o-vision technology on that before picture. Because eeeewwww!

Before and after pictures of the dog collar and harness after washing with Castile soap

How to wash dog collars, harnesses, leashes with Castile Soap

Dog Collar, Harness, Leash Wash

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Active Time: 15 minutes
Additional Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Difficulty: Easy
Estimated Cost: Less than $1

Clean smelly dog leashes, harnesses, and colars with this simple and effective cleaning method.



  • Dirty dog collars, leashes, harnesses
  • Large pan
  • Stove
  • Small brush
  • Clean towel
  • Fresh water to rinse


  1. Pre-rinse the dog collar or harness before adding to the washHeat 8 cups of water on stove in large pan to just under boiling. While water is warming, rinse dirty dog collars, leashes, and harnesses under running warm water to get top layer of grime off.
  2. Castile soap, baking soda, and hot water will look cloudyTurn off heat. Add baking soda and Castile Soap to hot wter. Mix well. It will likely look cloudy.
  3. Adding the dog harness to the Castile Soap washAdd dog collars, leashes, harnesses to water and soap mixture. Make sure that they are all completely submerged in the water.
  4. Let soak for 30 minutes. Remove from soap mixture (caution: water and metal buckles may be hot)
  5. How to wash dog collars, harnesses, leashes with Castile SoapUse small brush to clean grime off leash, collar, and harness under fresh running water. Return to hot soapy water.
  6. Let soak for an additional 30 minutes. Remove from water and brush again.
  7. Lay the leash, collar, and harnesses on a towel or hanging to air dry.

Did you make this project?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Facebook

Prepping the Dogs for the RV Tailgate

Castile soap miracle wash for dogs and leashesSo while Burdell got a bath with the Peppermint Castile soap, Missy did not.

But both of their collars and Burdell’s harness were washed and this made such a big difference on the next RV trip.

While the nervous dog smell coming from Missy was still strong, it wasn’t nearly as bad as it was before her collar was washed. It was amazing the dirt and grime that came out of that little piece of webbing. So you know the smells were really strong as well.

Now on to more RV adventures with your pups!

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You may also like:
The Ultimate Dogs’ Guide to RVing
10 Tips for RV Tailgating with Dogs
Protect Your Pet with RV Pet Temperature Monitors
RVs and Pet Disaster Preparedness Month

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