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How to Bathe Your Dog Without Dog Shampoo

By Cuteness Team
published: June 22, 2017 - updated: August 22, 2022 • 2 min. read
golden retriever puppy in bath

Got a smelly pup but no dog shampoo to clean him with? Not to worry — everything you need is probably already in your kitchen cabinet. Here’s what you need to know to make homemade dog shampoo.

Why You Shouldn’t Use Human Shampoos

Skin provides a barrier against bacteria, viruses and other contaminants normally present in the environment. When you alter the skin’s pH, you affect this barrier and may make your dog vulnerable to infection. The normal pH of your dog’s skin is in the range of 5.5 to 7.5, while humans have a skin pH from 5.2 to 6.2. This means that using shampoos designed for humans may cause problems for your dog, especially if he gets a small cut or scrape. Bathing him with shampoo designed for people can cause him to smell worse than he did before his bath, due to the presence of large numbers of bacteria.


Make Your Own Homemade Dog Shampoo

If your dog is in serious need of a bath and you don’t have any suitable shampoo on hand, it’s possible to make your own with just two simple ingredients. Mix equal amounts of non-toxic soap (like Dr. Bronner’s unscented castile soap) and apple cider vinegar, and use in place of shampoo. It is a safe solution that will leave him smelling fresh, and it has the added benefit of killing fleas. As with any shampoo, keep the mixture out of your dog’s eyes and ears. Rinse him thoroughly to remove all traces of the detergent to complete the job.

Dry Baths

To freshen your dog without water, try rubbing baking soda into his coat and brushing it out. Not only will it remove dirt and other contaminants, it will help him to smell clean. Cornstarch can be used the same way on an oily coat, but doesn’t deodorize as well as baking soda. Mix it half and half with baby powder to add a pleasant scent. Another option for quick cleanups is to wipe him down with doggy wipes, which are helpful between baths and to clean a dog who doesn’t like the water.

Interested in more dog washing tips? Check out How To Wash Your Dog’s Face, Can I Wash A Puppy With Baby Shampoo?, and How To Make Homemade Dog Shampoo on!

This article is provided by Cuteness—the go to destination for passionate pet parents. Cuteness has answers to all of your health, training, and behavior questions – as well as the cutest, funniest, and most inspiring pet stories from all over the world.

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By Cuteness Team

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