6 Of The Best Alternatives To Dog Shampoo

Let’s face it. As much as we love snuggling and cuddling with our lovely fidos, no one likes a smelly pooch. So what do you do when you end up with a muddy, filthy, stinky pup and no dog shampoo on hand?

Dog shampoos are specially formulated by keeping your pet’s delicate skin in mind. Their purpose is to keep your fido’s skin and coat healthy and in their best shape.

However, if you are in a tight spot with no way to wash your furball, some household items can serve the purpose.

Can I use human shampoo on my dog?

Many pet owners make the mistake that when they find themselves with a dirty pup and no pet shampoo in the house, they grab a bottle of their own shampoo. Seems pretty simple, right? But is it good to use human shampoo on a dog’s fur?

Probably not!

Yes, we agree that human shampoos will remove odor, dirt, and germs from your dog’s skin and fur, but they will also remove a lot more. These shampoos are formulated to use on human hair and skin, and since we have different Ph. levels than our canines, our shampoos are not suited to our pet’s unique skin needs.

Using human shampoo on a pupper can lead to a wide range of mild to moderate skin issues, including dryness, itching, and irritated skin.

Safe alternatives to dog shampoo

Human shampoo is a big no, but there are some other safe alternatives you can try. Of course, it is always advisable to invest in a good quality commercial dog shampoo for your canine’s grooming needs, but these alternatives can also do the job when needed.

Just bear in mind these substitutes are not for regular use and can cause dry skin when used in excess.

1. Dish soap

As weird as it seems, your pooch definitely won’t be the first animal bathing in dish soap. Many wildlife rescue organizations use this soap to clean crude oil from rescued animals, including waterfowl. It can safely remove dirt buildup from your furry companion’s coat.

However, before you grab your dish soap from the kitchen sink, ensure it is free from harsh additives and fragrances. While some dish soaps can make a good pet shampoo substitute, not all soaps are okay to use on your pup.


Apply to your pup’s wet fur and massage gently. Avoid getting it in the mouth, eyes, or nose.

2. Baking soda

Another cost-effective alternative to pet shampoo is baking soda. Not only does this alternative removes the stinky odor from your dog’s coat, but it can also wash the dirt away, leaving the fur smelling fresh.

If you are short on time, don’t hesitate to rub the baking soda straight into your pet’s coat. But you can also create a baking soda shampoo with oatmeal.

Mix four cups of water with half a cup of baking soda and one cup of ground oatmeal. Gently apply this mixture to your dog’s coat and wash thoroughly.

3. Baby shampoo

While using regular human shampoo on pets isn’t advisable, you can opt for a specially formulated baby shampoo. These shampoos are the best alternatives to their dog-oriented counterparts because they are much gentler than adult human shampoos, making them less harsh on your pet’s fur and skin.

Though baby shampoos are a smart alternative to dog shampoos, their regular use can lead to moderate irritation.

4. Corn starch

If you are in need of dry shampoo, baking soda won’t do the trick for you. Cornstarch can help you wick the grease away and absorb foul odors.

The best way to use this readily available ingredient is by shaking it over the entire fur of your fluff ball. You can also use your fingers to work the powder into the coat, spreading it evenly. Pull out any excess starch with a regular grooming brush.

While a DIY dry dog shampoo won’t replace a commercially made product, it can prolong your pet’s freshness until you have access to a proper grooming product.

5. Skin-safe wipes or baby wipes

For the times when your pup has gotten into a pool of mud, and you don’t have pet shampoo on hand, baby wipes are a pretty decent alternative. They are gentle and can be used in an emergency.

While most baby and facial wipes will work fine, those with harsh ingredients and pungent fragrances may cause harm.

You can also invest in some pet-specific wipes for swift cleanups.

6. Castile soap and essential oils

If you don’t want to use any dish soap to wash your pup, you can opt for castile soap, an all-natural olive-based soap with exceptional moisturizing properties. This soap isn’t only safe for dogs but is also suitable for other pets with sensitive skin.

Castile soap works well with essential oils. These oils are especially beneficial if you wish to eliminate the unpleasant odor coming from your dog’s coat.

However, like all other DIY ingredients, not every essential oil is pet safe. Thereby it’s best to consult your veterinarian before using any of these products.