No Dog Shampoo? What can you use to wash a dog?

All owners should be washing their dogs regularly. Of course, not as regularly as we do, but according to their appropriate bathing schedule. It keeps their skin fresh, protects the oils in their fur and generally keeps nasty hygiene issues at bay.

The problem, however, is the bath products. Unlike ourselves, we can’t try different products on dogs to see what suits their bodies best.

In short, it’s totally understandable if you have not been able to get your hands on a good shampoo for your doggo. Let’s talk about alternate solutions.

Dog Shampoo Alternatives to Use at Home.

1. Warm water and a brush

If you have already ordered some proper product for your dog but need a quick wash ASAP, then some warm water and a brush will be enough to wipe away the dirt and keep the skin clear. 

Just wash them as you would normally and use a gentle temperature from a showerhead to get deep into the fur.

2. Baby Shampoo

While you can’t use regular shampoo or “adult shampoo” on your doggo, you can use baby shampoo. They’re much gentler and will not cause problems for a few infrequent uses. However, baby shampoo isn’t a permanent solution. It will make your dog’s skin dry with frequent usage.

Read More: Are dog clippers different from human clippers? Are they interchangeable?

3. Homemade Shampoo with water

Only use this method until you can sort yourself a permanent solution as the washing up liquid can dry out your dog’s skin with repeated use. However, it should not cause any allergic reactions or adverse effects.

To make some homemade dog shampoo, you’ll need 

  • vinegar,
  • washing up liquid,
  • water, and
  • spray bottle

It’s important to make the mixture’s work easier by getting rid of any loose dirt and malting hair with a brush. Get deep in there to leave only healthy hair.

Mix half a cup of vinegar and a quarter cup of washing up liquid into a spray bottle with 2 cups (or more) of warm water. Shake thoroughly.

Put your dog into a bath like normal and spray over the dog’s fur whilst massaging gently. Careful not to get any in your dog’s eyes or ears. Rinse thoroughly with warm water with a showerhead and then dry off.

Dog Playing in Mud

4. Homemade Shampoo with Oatmeal

I bet you never imagined reading oatmeal in this article. But Oatmeal is an amazing deodoriser, especially for doggos with irritated skin.

You can rinse oatmeal in hot water so the latter soaks up all its ingredients or makes a proper solution.

Here’s the composition of your oatmeal shampoo:

  • 1 cup of ground oatmeal
  • ½ cup of baking soda
  • 4 cups of water.

5. Dry Shampoo using Baking Soda

This solution is ideal for those who don’t want to wreck their bathroom or don’t have a dog washing station.

Just like we did before, start by brushing your dog to get rid of loose hair and dirt, which will allow the dry shampoo to be more effective.

For this step, you’ll need baking soda. Baking soda is a relatively gentle powder with no parabens, perfumes, dyes or anything unnatural. The only ingredient is sodium bicarbonate. Therefore, it’s unlikely to cause any allergic reactions or nasty side effects but still effective enough to wipe away a lot of dirt and leave their pH levels intact. 

Sprinkle between a quarter and a full cup of baking soda, depending on the size of your dog and the length of their coat. Massage it into the coat gently and firmly, ensuring it gets underneath the external layer of fur and into the skin.

Do not get any in your dog’s eyes, ears, nose or mouth. Do this outside as your dog will shake when done. 

Read More: How to remove dog hair from your carpet?

6. Dry Shampoo using Corn Starch

Corn Starch is a good alternative to baking soda and works similarly. It binds the grease molecules and carries them away from the war when rinsed thoroughly. 

Put corn starch over your dog’s dry fur and rub it throughout their body. Use a natural dog bristle brush to spread the corn starch evenly before rinsing them clean.

dog playing outside

A final word of caution: you can’t just use anything.

Know that you can’t just use any old shampoo, no matter how hygienic or gentle it says it is on the bottle.

A dog’s fur is an extension of their bodies with a delicate pH level which keeps the fur protected from the elements and external intruders such as fleas. The pH levels also keep their delicate skin free from irritants.

You cannot use human shampoos or other animal products to wash a dog. It will cause more harm than good. The acid mantle on human skin is more acidic (5.5-5.6 pH), while dogs are much closer to neutral (6.2-7.4 pH). Disrupting the acid mantle on your dog’s skin will leave them vulnerable.

Don’t be tempted to use any detergents or shampoos on your dog, even if you plan on using the tiniest amount, and never overwash. You could accidentally cause allergic reactions and dry skin issues, which may need medical intervention to resolve.

You’ll find dozens of solutions to any problem on the Internet. But they’re not always the right choices, at least not all of them. You’ll also find Dawn dish wash liquid being promoted on various websites, but I’d stay away from such commercial liquids.

We recommend ordering some proper dog shampoo ASAP or one of the above suggestions if you simply can’t wait. Although, using the methods mentioned above is unlikely to get more stubborn stains such as saliva.


  • Jonathan Spaeth

    I'm a professional business person who loves dogs. I'm motivated by a passion for dogs and a deep understanding of pet care and behavior. I have more than 10 years of experience in animal healthcare—my lifelong passion for helping dogs.

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