How to Wash a Dog Without Dog Shampoo: Grooming Guide

No one enjoys coming into contact with a filthy or stinky dog. So, what should you do when you have an unclean, stinky dog and pet shampoo is not available? If you don’t have access to dog shampoo, several household items can suffice.

Make sure the item you choose is suitable for your dog before you give him a bath. Do you want to know how to wash a dog without dog shampoo? Let’s get started with this!

Can You use Human Shampoo on Dogs?

Puppy playing in sand
Dogs needs a special shampoo for their fur and skin.

If you have a dirty dog and no dog shampoo is available, consider using your own. Is it safe to use human shampoo on your dog’s coat, though?

Yes, you can clean your dog with human shampoo but it can cause some issues.

Human shampoo, of course, is created to be used on human skin and hair. Because we have a different pH balance than our four-legged companions, the shampoos we use for ourselves aren’t always the best fit for dogs.

Bathing your dog with human shampoo can cause minor or even moderate skin problems. You may sometimes notice that your dog has itchy, dry, or irritated skin after bathing with human shampoo.

5 alternatives to a dog Shampoo

How to Shampoo a Dog Properly
Homemade shampoos can be just as safe and effective as dog shampoo.

Of course, commercial dog shampoos are almost always the ideal choice for your pup’s grooming requirements.

Here are some alternatives to commercial dog shampoo. You may even have the ingredients for these alternatives at home.

Dish soap and white vinegar

Dawn dish soap has been used as an alternative to dog shampoo for a long time, and your pooch would not be the first animal to bathe in it. It can safely and effectively remove build-up and filth from your dog’s coat.

Before you use your dish soap from under the kitchen sink, make sure it is fragrance-free. Most standard formulas of dish soap make safe substitutes for dog shampoos, but not all dish soaps are appropriate for your pet. Check the ingredients to be sure.

You can also make a safe shampoo for your dog with these ingredients:

  • 2 cups of warm water
  • 1/4 cup of dish soap
  • 1/2 cup of white vinegar

Apply a small amount of the conditioner to your dog’s damp fur. Gently lather their coat while ensuring that the mixture doesn’t get into his eyes.

Baking soda

Baking Soda is another wonderful option for dog shampoo. Not only does baking soda eliminate odors from your dog’s coat, but it can also remove dirt and filth.

If you’re in a rush, baking soda may be applied to your dog’s coat dry. You can also make a shampoo out of baking soda and oatmeal:

  • One cup of oatmeal
  • Half a cup of baking soda
  • one teaspoon of dish soap
  • Four cups of warm water

Corn starch

Dry shampoo is another good alternative, and baking soda is not your only option. Corn starch may also be used to remove grease and absorb unpleasant odors from your dog’s coat.

Rubbing cornstarch over your dog’s entire coat is the greatest method to use to freshen up your dog. You may then work the powder into their fur and spread it evenly throughout the coat, removing any extra with a regular grooming comb or brush.

Although a homemade dry shampoo won’t entirely replace a bath, it may help your dog stay fresh longer if you don’t have access to proper dog shampoo.

Baby shampoo – The finest human shampoo for dogs

Dog Shampoo
Frequent bathing with dog shampoo helps your dog maintain proper Ph balance.

The best human shampoo for dogs is baby shampoo since it is far milder than its adult-oriented counterparts, not as harsh on your dog’s skin and fur.

You can use baby shampoo in the same way as you would a regular dog shampoo. However, if at all possible, it’s better to use dog shampoo.

Baby wipes

For when you don’t have dog shampoo on hand and your dog has gotten into some mud or other mess, skin-safe wipes are an excellent substitute.

Baby wipes are the softest choice, but facial tissues can also be used. If you’re not sure whether a certain wipe is safe, it’s better to be cautious and move to a safer option.

While most skin-safe wipes are benign, those with strong fragrances or other harmful chemicals may irritate your dog’s skin.

You can spend a little money on some dog-specific wipes for quick cleanups if your dog enjoys rolling around in the yard after you just gave him a bath.


If you want to clean your dog, dog shampoo is always the best option. But with all of the above-mentioned alternatives, even if you are out of dog shampoo, you will still be able to bathe your dog.

In a pinch, dish soap, baking soda, baby shampoo, cornstarch, and mild wipes can clean your dog. As a last resort you can use human shampoo.

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Jesse Hopping, CCDT

Jesse is a natural-born dog-lover certified dog trainer (CCDT), dog foster, and former volunteer at Richmond SPCA and surrounding dog shelters for over 10 years. Her pack includes a Bernedoodle and 3 Boston Terriers. She’s sipping caramel coffee and watching her pack play in the sun when she’s not writing blogs. Jesse has her Certified Dog Trainer designation from CATCH Canine Trainers Academy since 2018 and and majored in English from the University of Virginia.

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