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If I Have No Dog Shampoo, What Can I Use? 6 Alternative Options

dog taking a bath

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Dr. Lorna Whittemore

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It can be stressful to find yourself with a dirty dog and no dog shampoo. Luckily, there are a few alternatives to dog shampoo you can use to clean that pooch of yours so he’s as fresh as a daisy once again!

Some of these shampoo alternatives are simple, while others take a bit of preparation to make. You might not even have to fill the tub with water at all, as some of these shampoo substitutes are simply applied to your dog’s fur without needing any water.

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The 6 Alternative Options To Dog Shampoo You Can Use

1. Baby Shampoo

Baby shampoo in clear bottle
Image Credit: Karolina Grabowska, Pexels
Supplies: Baby shampoo
Difficulty level: Easy
Effectiveness: Good

If you have some baby shampoo on hand, you can use it to bathe your dog. Baby shampoo is gentler than adult shampoo because it contains fewer ingredients and perfumes. However, it’s still intended for human skin, which is different from dog skin.

Baby shampoo is safe to use for a one-time bath when you’re out of dog shampoo and need to get your dog cleaned up fast. Just don’t get into the habit of using it all the time because it’s made for humans and not canines! Overusing any human shampoo on a dog, including one made for babies, can easily dry out the animal’s skin.

To use baby shampoo, simply dampen your dog’s fur, then apply the shampoo and lather it up. Then just rinse away the soap bubbles with clear warm water, and you’re good to go! This method may not work great if your dog is extremely dirty or muddy as baby shampoo is not very powerful.

Pros
  • Simple
  • Very budget-friendly
  • Limited ingredients
Cons
  • Can dry out a dog’s skin if overused
  • Not as effective on very dirty dogs

2. Homemade Shampoo

Homemade shampoo in a bottle
Image Credit: Mareefe, Pixabay
Supplies: Dish soap, vinegar, water
Difficulty level: Easy
Effectiveness: Great

You can whip up a quick batch of homemade shampoo you can use for bathing your dog. All you need is some dish soap, apple cider vinegar, and water. To make homemade shampoo, mix 1 quart of water with 1 cup of apple cider vinegar and 1 cup of dish soap. Then lather the soap up on your dog’s fur, let it soak for a few minutes, then rinse it off. If you don’t have cider vinegar you can just use Dawn dish soap.

It will take a few minutes to rinse all the dish soap off your dog’s fur, and especially if he has a long thick coat. However, once you finish, your dog’s coat should be very clean as this simple shampoo works great! Your dog may smell a bit like dish soap and vinegar when you’re done, but at least he’ll be clean!

Pros
  • Uses common household items
  • Effective on dogs with long coats
  • Inexpensive
Cons
  • Can leave dog smelling like dish soap and vinegar

3. Baking Soda

baking soda
Image Credit: NatureFriend, Pixabay
Supplies: Baking soda
Difficulty level: Moderate
Effectiveness: Fair to good

Baking soda is a natural cleanser and deodorizer that you probably have on hand. You can use baking soda as a dry dog shampoo, and it doesn’t take any mixing at all! If you decide to use baking soda to clean your dog, do it outdoors because it can be messy.

Start by brushing your dog to remove loose hair and dirt. Then rub the baking soda into your dog’s fur while massaging it into his skin. Leave the baking soda on your dog’s fur for a few minutes, then brush it out. This method works best on a dog that’s not overly dirty. It simply won’t cut through heavy dirt and grime so don’t use this method if your dog is filthy dirty.

Pros
  • Inexpensive
  • No mixing required
Cons
  • Messy
  • Not effective on very dirty dogs

4. Cornstarch

Cornstarch on a table
Image Credit: Michelle Lee Photography, Shutterstock
Supplies: Cornstarch
Difficulty level: Moderate
Effectiveness: Fair to good

If you find yourself in a real pickle and your dog isn’t overly dirty, you can use cornstarch as a dry dog shampoo. This is another job that should be done outdoors if possible because it can be messy like the baking soda method above.

To use this alternative to dog shampoo, shake cornstarch over your dog’s body, then work the powder into the fur. Let it sit for a few minutes, then remove the cornstarch using a grooming comb or dog brush. Cornstarch absorbs foul odors so it will freshen up your pooch if he smelled terrible before you started. Like the baking soda method, using cornstarch isn’t your best choice if your dog is terribly dirty as it simply won’t cut through heavy dirt and grime.

Pros
  • Inexpensive
  • Absorbs foul odors
  • No mixing required
Cons
  • Messy
  • Not super effective for very dirty dogs

5. Baby Wipes

Supplies: Baby wipes
Difficulty level: Easy
Effectiveness: Fair

If your dog isn’t overly dirty and just needs some freshening up, you can use baby wipes to clean his fur. Baby wipes are very gentle, and they leave behind a fresh, pleasant smell. To use this method, simply rub your dog’s fur with some baby wipes, making sure to avoid the areas around his eyes.

A downside to this method is that you may have to use many baby wipes to get your dog clean from head to tail. Plus, it will take quite a bit of time to clean your dog’s entire body, so be patient. Just be prepared to go through many wipes while getting your dog clean and smelling pretty!

Pros
  • Inexpensive
  • Gentle on dog’s skin
  • Easy to do
  • Leaves behind a fresh clean scent
Cons
  • Not effective for overly dirty dogs
  • Time-consuming
  • Can sting the eyes

6. Castile Soap

Castile Bar Soap by Kirk’s

Supplies: Castile bar soap
Difficulty level: Easy to moderate
Effectiveness: Great

Castile soap is a skin-friendly gentle soap containing all-natural ingredients like coconut oil. This soap makes a great substitute for dog shampoo if you’re in a pinch. Maybe you have a bar or two of this popular soap tucked away in your bathroom cabinet. If so, great!

To use this dog shampoo alternative, you’ll need to put your dog in the tub or shower and get his fur wet. Then lather up his coat with the Castile soap, work it in well, then rinse thoroughly. The coconut oil in the soap will leave your dog’s fur silky smooth and moisturized.

This soap works great on even the dirtiest dog, but it can’t be used regularly because it’s not made for dogs. If you were to use this soap every time you bathe your dog, his skin will likely dry out and itch, so only use this method if you’re in a real bind!

Pros
  • Cuts through dirt and grime
  • Can be used on very dirty dogs
  • Coconut oil helps smooth and soften fur
Cons
  • Can’t be used regularly
  • Can cause skin dryness

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Choosing the Right Dog Shampoo

To ensure you don’t run out of dog shampoo in the future, buy yourself a couple of bottles of shampoo for your four-legged friend. To help you navigate through the myriad of dog shampoos on the market today, consider these factors when choosing one.

  • Your dog’s age: If your dog is a puppy, look for a shampoo designed for younger dogs. Puppy shampoo is much gentler on the skin.
  • Any skin conditions your dog has: A moisturizing dog shampoo is perfect if your dog has skin issues such as dryness, flakiness, or itchiness.
  • Whether your dog has fleas or ticks: There are special flea and tick dog shampoos on the market that fend off these tiny pests.
  • Odor: If your dog’s fur doesn’t smell good, look for a deodorizing dog shampoo that eliminates unpleasant odors.
  • Your dog’s fur type: If your dog has fur that tangles, a dog shampoo-conditioner will help you tame your dog’s mane.

See Also:

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Conclusion

Discovering you’re out of dog shampoo can be stressful and more so if your dog is a dirty, sloppy mess. Use one of these smart alternatives to dog shampoo if you find yourself in a pickle. Just remember to buy a bottle or two of dog shampoo suitable for your pooch, so you always have something on hand to clean your dog from head to tail.


Featured Image Credit: Masarik, Shutterstock

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