| Pet Care Advice By Veterinarians |

What Can You Use To Wash a Dog Without Dog Shampoo



Reviewed By: Dr. Joel Robertson

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When it comes to keeping your furry friend clean and smelling fresh, dog shampoo is the go-to for most pet parents.

But what happens when you run out of dog shampoo unexpectedly or if your pup has a skin reaction to their usual product?

Fear not! There are several household items and natural alternatives that can be used to wash a dog without dog shampoo.

From baking soda and apple cider vinegar to baby shampoo or dish soap, let’s explore these options to ensure your pet stays clean and healthy.

Key Takeaway

  • In the absence of dog shampoo, you can use a gentle, hypoallergenic baby shampoo or a diluted mixture of apple cider vinegar and water to wash your dog.
  • It is generally not safe to use human conditioner on dogs as it can lead to skin irritation and other potential problems.

What Can You Use To Wash a Dog Without Dog Shampoo

What Can You Use To Wash a Dog Without Dog Shampoo

If you’re out of dog shampoo, you can use plain water, diluted baby shampoo, mild dish soap, an oatmeal bath, or a DIY dog shampoo made from baking soda, vinegar, and water to clean your dog’s coat.

Here is what you can use to wash a dog without dog shampoo:

Plain Water

If your dog isn’t overly dirty, a good rinse with warm water can help remove surface dirt and freshen up their coat. This is the safest option as it doesn’t involve any substances that could potentially irritate your dog’s skin.

Baby Shampoo

Baby shampoos are formulated to be gentle on the skin, making them a decent alternative to dog shampoo. Dilute the shampoo with water to make it even milder.

Mild Dish Soap

In a pinch, mild dish soap can help clean your dog. Opt for fragrance-free and dye-free varieties. Be sure to rinse thoroughly, as dish soap can strip essential oils from your dog’s skin.

Oatmeal Bath

Oatmeal baths can soothe irritated skin and help absorb oils. Blend oats into a fine powder and mix it with warm water to create a bath for your dog.

DIY Dog Shampoo

You can make a simple homemade dog shampoo using baking soda, vinegar, and water. These ingredients can help clean and deodorize your dog’s coat.

Remember to always consult with your vet before introducing new products or methods into your dog’s grooming routine.

What Soap Can I Wash My Dog With?

Yes, you can use dish soap to wash your dog as a last resort. However, it is not recommended as it can cause skin irritation and dryness.

Instead, there are several alternatives to dog shampoo that you can use to wash your pet.

These include baking soda or cornstarch, all-natural plant-based glycerin bars, unscented castile soaps, and even bar soaps scented with dog-safe botanical oils.

Make sure to avoid any strong scented or artificial additive dish soaps when washing your pup.

Is Dawn Dish Soap Safe For Dogs?

In small amounts and for occasional use, Dawn dish soap is generally considered safe for dogs. It’s often used by animal rescuers to remove oil from wildlife affected by oil spills.

However, it’s important to note that Dawn dish soap and other similar products are not formulated for regular use on a dog’s skin.

Dawn dish soap can strip the natural oils from your dog’s coat, leading to dry, itchy skin over time. It’s also not pH balanced for dogs, which could potentially cause skin irritation, especially for dogs with sensitive skin.

Moreover, if not rinsed thoroughly, soap residue can further irritate the skin and even lead to gastrointestinal upset if your dog licks their fur.

Therefore, while Dawn dish soap can be used in a pinch or for specific situations like removing sticky substances from fur, it’s not recommended for routine bathing.

Always consult with your vet if you’re considering using dish soap or any other non-pet-specific product on your dog.

Can You Wash Your Dog With No Shampoo?

Yes, it is possible to wash your dog without using shampoo. Shampoo can be drying or irritating for some dogs, so an alternative bath method may be preferable.

There are several different ways you can clean your pup without shampoo.

One option is to use a mixture of apple cider vinegar and water as a rinse after scrubbing your pooch with warm water and a soft cloth or brush.

This will help get rid of dirt and odor while also helping maintain skin pH balance. It’s important not to use too much vinegar as it can dry out the skin and coat if overused.

Another solution is to bathe your pup in plain, lukewarm water only. Use a gentle scrubbing motion with a soft cloth or brush and make sure to rinse all the shampoo residue off.

You can also add a small amount of oatmeal, which is known for its moisturizing effects, to help soothe any areas that may be irritated or itchy.

Can I Use Hand Soap To Wash My Dog?

No, it is not generally recommended to use hand soap to wash your dog. Hand soap is formulated for human skin and frequently contains fragrances, dyes, and other ingredients that can be irritating to a pet’s sensitive skin.

Additionally, many hand soaps are antibacterial and contain harsh detergents that can strip the natural oils from a pet’s coat or cause skin irritation.

For these reasons, it’s best to avoid using hand soap when cleaning your pet. Instead, opt for products specifically designed for pets such as medicated shampoos or hypoallergenic formulas made with gentle cleansers.

If you do use traditional dog shampoo, make sure you dilute it according to the product instructions to avoid irritating your pet’s skin.

Is Human Conditioner Safe For Dogs?

No, human conditioner is not safe for dogs. Dogs have different skin than humans and using human conditioner on them can lead to skin irritation and other more serious problems.

Human conditioners contain fragrances and chemical compounds that can disrupt a dog’s natural chemistry, so it is best to use products specifically designed for dogs.

Dog-specific conditioners are formulated with ingredients that are gentle on their skin and coat, such as oatmeal, aloe vera, jasmine, and vanilla.

These ingredients help keep your pup’s coat smooth and silky without causing any harm.

How Do You Make Dog Shampoo?

Let’s dive into some DIY recipes for dog shampoo.

Recipe 1: Basic DIY Dog Shampoo

For a straightforward and easy-to-make dog shampoo, all you need are a few basic ingredients:

  • Dish soap
  • Vinegar
  • Water

Recipe 2: Oatmeal Dog Shampoo

If your dog has itchy or irritated skin, an oatmeal shampoo might be the perfect solution. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Ground oatmeal
  • Baking soda
  • Warm water

Recipe 3: Natural Flea Repellent Dog Shampoo

If fleas are a problem, consider a homemade shampoo with natural flea-repelling ingredients:

  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Liquid dish soap
  • Water
  • Fresh rosemary

Remember, while these homemade shampoos can be handy in a pinch or if you prefer natural products, they should not replace veterinary advice if your dog has skin issues or fleas.


Q: Can I use human shampoo to wash my dog?

A: While it is not recommended to use human shampoo on dogs, in case of emergency or if you have no other options, you can use a mild, fragrance-free, and pH-balanced shampoo. Just make sure to rinse it thoroughly to avoid any skin irritation.

Q: Is it safe to use dish soap to wash a dog?

A: No, it is not recommended to use dish soap to wash a dog. Dish soaps are designed to remove grease and can be harsh on a dog’s skin, causing dryness and irritation. It is better to use proper dog shampoo or one of the alternative options mentioned earlier.

Q: Can I use coconut oil to wash my dog?

A: Coconut oil can be used as a natural moisturizer for your dog’s skin and coat, but it is not meant to replace dog shampoo. It can be applied after washing your dog with a proper shampoo to help soothe and hydrate the skin.

Q: How often should I bathe my dog?

A: The frequency of bathing a dog depends on several factors such as breed, size, coat type, and activity level. In general, most dogs only need to be bathed every 4-6 weeks. Overbathing can strip their coat of natural oils and cause dryness.

Q: Can I use baby wipes to clean my dog?

A: Baby wipes can be used to clean your dog between baths, especially for quick touch-ups or to freshen up their coat. However, they are not a substitute for a proper bath and should not be used as the sole method to clean your dog.

Q: How can I make homemade dog shampoo?

A: To make homemade dog shampoo, you can mix 1 cup of gentle baby shampoo with 1 cup of water and 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar. This mixture will help remove dirt and odors from your dog’s coat. Always test it on a small area first to ensure your dog doesn’t have any adverse reactions.

Q: Are there any natural remedies to get rid of fleas on dogs?

A: Yes, there are some natural remedies you can try to get rid of fleas on dogs. One option is to use a mixture of equal parts apple cider vinegar and water as a spray. Another option is to bathe your dog with a mild shampoo that contains ingredients like neem oil or tea tree oil, which have natural flea-repelling properties.

Q: Can I use essential oils on my dog?

A: Essential oils should be used with caution on dogs. Some essential oils can be toxic to dogs if ingested or applied directly to their skin. Before using any essential oils on your dog, do thorough research, consult with a veterinarian, and always dilute the oils in a carrier oil before applying them topically.

Q: How can I keep my dog smelling fresh between baths?

A: To keep your dog smelling fresh between baths, you can use pet-friendly deodorizing sprays or wipes specifically designed for dogs. Regular brushing and grooming can also help remove dirt and odors from your dog’s coat. Additionally, maintaining good dental hygiene and providing a balanced diet can contribute to overall freshness.

In Conclusion

In conclusion, running out of dog shampoo or dealing with a pet’s adverse reaction to a product doesn’t mean compromising their cleanliness.

There are various household items and natural alternatives that can serve as effective substitutes.

However, it’s essential to be aware of your dog’s skin sensitivity and always opt for mild and non-toxic options.

Remember, maintaining your pet’s hygiene is crucial for their overall health and well-being.

So, even in the absence of dog shampoo, you have the resources to ensure your furry friend stays clean and happy.

Please take the time and leave a comment below if this article helped you, or you have any additional questions.

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