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Home > Cats > Is Palmolive Dish Soap Safe for Cats? Vet Reviewed Facts & FAQ

Is Palmolive Dish Soap Safe for Cats? Vet Reviewed Facts & FAQ

liquid dish soap

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Dr. Lorna Whittemore Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Lorna Whittemore

Veterinarian, MRCVS

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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We’ve all seen the commercial ad of a poor duck stuck in oil and how Dawn dish soap comes to the rescue to remove the oil from the feathers and set the bird free. And since Dawn is a relatively similar product to Palmolive dish soap, it’s natural to wonder if it can also be used to wash a cat.

Although effective in saving wild animals stuck in oil during human-caused disasters, Palmolive dish soap should not be used regularly to clean a cat. However, it can be used as an emergency solution if you have nothing else.

Let’s examine why Palmolive dish soap (or any dish soap intended for human use) isn’t safe for regular use on cats.

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Is Palmolive Safe for Cats?

Palmolive soap is not toxic to cats when used as a shampoo and will not harm them if you use it on rare occasions (e.g., your kitty got their paws soaked in oil and is now all greasy). However, it is not suitable for regular use, as this product is designed to remove oil and grease.

On the one hand, the cat’s skin produces natural oils (called sebum) to protect the skin and keep its coat healthy. So, if you regularly use dish soap to bath them, the product may dry out their skin and strip away the natural oils. This can lead to dandruff, irritation, and redness.

On the other hand, cats are perfectly capable of grooming themselves. Therefore, you don’t need to bath them unless they are very dirty or greasy. In these cases, it’s best to use cat shampoos that are specially formulated and adapted to the pH levels of your kitty’s skin.

Is Dawn Dish Soap the Same as Palmolive?

bathing a persian cat
Image By: 135pixels, Shutterstock

Dawn and Palmolive are two dish soap brands widely found in households and offer a wide range of products. Exact formulas vary by brand and specific product, but both brands use similar ingredients. Thus, these dish soaps contain a mixture of water, solvents, perfume, colorants, preservatives, and other ingredients with unpronounceable names (such as C10-16 Alkyldimethylamine Oxide, a surfactant used to boost cleaning).

You can find the complete list of ingredients by clicking on the following links:

But Why Is Dawn Soap Used to Clean Birds and Not Palmolive?

According to wildlife biologists who work at the International Bird Rescue Research Center, Dawn dish soap is the brand of choice used to free poor birds from their prison of sticky oil because it’s simply the product that works the best. It tackles oily material without harming the delicate skin of birds.

And why is Dawn better at this job than Palmolive or other dish soap brands? Nobody really knows because the exact formula of the product is a closely guarded secret. However, according to Dawn spokeswoman Susan Baba, the key is to carefully balance the chemicals that cut the grease.

It's easy to get overwhelmed when you're looking for the perfect pet shampoo. The Hepper Pet Shampoo products are a great place to start because of their all-natural, pet-safe formula that is pH balanced for your pet's skin. Made with soothing ingredients like oatmeal and aloe vera, these shampoos are also free of phthalates, sulfates, dyes, and soaps. Both options will leave your pet clean, moisturized, and smelling like a day at the spa!

Here’s a quick guide to help you choose the right option for your pet’s next bath!

Hepper oatmeal shampoo Hepper dry shampoo
Hepper Colloidal Oatmeal Pet Shampoo Hepper Waterless No Rinse Pet Shampoo
Natural Ingredients
Natural Ingredients:
Natural Ingredients:
Made in USA
Made in USA:
Made in USA:
Safe for cats & dogs
Safe for cats & dogs:
Safe for cats & dogs:
Soothes dry skin
Soothes dry skin:
Soothes dry skin:
Waterless, no rinsing required
Waterless, no rinsing required:
Waterless, no rinsing required:

At Pet Keen, we've admired Hepper for many years, and decided to take a controlling ownership interest so that we could benefit from the outstanding designs of this cool cat company!

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How to Make a Safe Homemade Shampoo for Your Cat?

As mentioned above, you can use a little Palmolive dish soap to remove oil stains or other debris from your cat’s fur if you don’t have anything else on hand.

To do this, make a quick and gentle homemade shampoo that won’t irritate your feline’s sensitive skin. Simply mix the ingredients below in a container:

  • 4 cups of warm water
  • 1 cup of baking soda
  • 1 cup of oatmeal
  • 1 teaspoon of Palmolive dish soap

Gently apply the shampoo to your wet cat, avoiding the eyes and ears. Rinse thoroughly and dry your pet with a towel or with a hairdryer on low heat.

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In Conclusion

Palmolive Dish Soap can be used occasionally on a cat to remove dirt and oil stains from their fur. But keep in mind that this product, although harmless to human skin, is not adapted to cats’ pH levels and can dry out their skin if used often and in large quantities.

Instead, get mild shampoos specially formulated for cats, but don’t overdo it either! Unless your cat is one of those fancy water-loving breeds (like the fabulous Bengal), there’s no reason to regularly drag your poor kitty into the bathtub!

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Featured Image Credit: Jim Barber, Shutterstock

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