Homemade Dog Shampoo — 3 Simple Recipes

Combating fleas? Soothing dry skin? Looking for a dry shampoo for dogs? There's a simple homemade dog shampoo recipe for all needs.

A chihuahua in a bathtub getting shampooed.
Homemade dog shampoo is easy to make and allows you to try different ingredients for your dog's needs. Photography by toons17 / Shutterstock.

Dog grooming is a huge business, and many dog parents are excited that their puppy pals should look and smell their best when they go out in public. Of course, not every dog is going to strike a pose on the show stage, and it can be fun to craft your own homemade dog shampoo for DIY dog grooming. These homemade dog shampoo recipes you can make in the comfort of your home with your family and friends. There’s one to fit any need, any budget, and whatever time you have available.

The ingredients for homemade dog shampoo are easy to acquire, most being ready-at-hand in the home, and most recipes are for single use, meaning there’s no need for storage containers. You can try a new one each time you wash your dog. Exactly how to give a dog a bath is a different matter. As anyone who has tried can tell you, convincing your dog to submit to a bath can be a challenging proposition. Thankfully, making homemade dog shampoo is only as complicated as you want it to be.

How to make homemade dog shampoo: Common ingredients

Making homemade dog shampoo is easy. Jack Russell Terrier getting a bath by Shutterstock.
Making homemade dog shampoo is easy. Photography by Steve Bruckmann / Shutterstock.

Things as simple as vinegar and baking soda show up as components in many a homemade dog shampoo recipe. Other ingredients that can be picked up in grocery stores or drug stores include castile soap, which is olive-oil based, and glycerine, a sugar-based alcohol compound. In many cases, your standard baby shampoo or nontoxic dish soap is often incorporated into a homemade dog shampoo recipe to bind ingredients together. The recipes for homemade dog shampoo that we’ll focus on here are very simple and require minimal preparation.

1. Homemade dog shampoo to combat fleas

There are several recipes out there for homemade dog shampoo for fighting fleas, one of which is not only very simple to concoct, but is also ideal if you dog has sensitive skin!

This homemade dog shampoo for fleas requires:

  • 1 quart of water
  • 1 cup of white vinegar or apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup of baby shampoo or nontoxic dish soap (many sites recommend Dawn by name)*

For a lower-volume homemade dog shampoo to fight fleas or for a smaller dog or puppy, try:

  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 1/4 cup of white vinegar or apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup of baby shampoo or nontoxic dish soap*

Apply either solution with a spray bottle or a thoroughly cleaned-out condiment bottle to minimize waste. Work the homemade dog shampoo into your dog’s fur, particularly along hard-to-reach areas down the spine, the base of the tail, the chest and under the forearms, and let it soak in for at least five minutes before rinsing. Comb or brush your dog during that time to remove dead fleas.

*Dawn and baby shampoo should not be used too frequently on dogs as it may dry out a dog’s skin and should not be used on dogs with a dry skin condition. Instead, you may want to try a liquid castile soap, like Dr. Bonner’s.

2. Homemade dry shampoo for dogs

If you bathe a dog too frequently, more than once a month or so, you run the risk of drying out your dog’s skin. Between baths, a dog’s natural hair and skin chemistry reassert themselves, and you should give them time to do so. One potential solution between traditional baths is a homemade dry shampoo for dogs. These DIY dry dog shampoos tend to involve baking soda, another item found in most homes and easy enough to get at any grocery store.

Massaging a dry shampoo into your dog’s skin will give the dog the sensation of being petted and caressed without the resistance you might face in the traditional wet bath scenarios.

Several homemade dry shampoos for dogs also include baking soda. These tend to involve:

  • 1 cup of baking soda
  • 1 cup of corn starch
  • A few drops of an essential oil* — lemon and lavender seem to be the most popular.

Not all essential oils are good for dogs, so only use one that is veterinary recommended as dog-safe and in a dog-safe quantity.

Sprinkle the mixture on your dog and massage it into the dog’s skin with your hands or with a comb or brush. It is best not to use too much baking soda at a time — a cup for a mid-sized dog, half a cup for a very small dog or puppy— and not to apply this method too frequently, since the residue from the powder can accumulate, no matter how much a dog shakes himself afterward. A dry homemade shampoo for dogs is a good stopgap, but nothing beats the fun of having your dog shake water all over you or your bathroom from time to time.

Discover more homemade dog shampoo and grooming products.

3. A homemade dog shampoo for dry skin

A dog in a bath with bubbles on his head.
You can easily make a DIY dog shampoo for dogs with dry skin, too. Photography © MargaritaKeller | Thinkstock.

If you bathe your dog more frequently, or if your dog tends to have sensitive, itchy or dry skin, you might want to try a homemade dog shampoo that will bring some degree of relief. Adding ingredients such as aloe vera gel or glycerine can help relieve itchy and dry skin. Glycerine is a sugar-based, water-soluble alcohol compound, much less frequently found around the house than vinegar or baking soda, but can easily be found in drug stores, pharmacies and online.

A typical recipe for dogs with sensitive skin involves:

  • 1 quart of water
  • 1 cup of liquid castile soap, like Dr. Bonner’s
  • 1 cup of white vinegar or apple cider vinegar
  • 1/3 cup of glycerine
  • 2 tablespoons of aloe vera gel

This recipe’s addition of glycerine and aloe vera provide soothing elements for dogs with sensitive or dry skin.

Plus, discover some helpful information on hypoallergenic dog shampoo >>

What are your favorite recipes?

Have you ever created your own homemade dog shampoo? Are you a do-it-yourself aficionado? Do you prefer more sophisticated recipes? Do you enjoy the process of creating the shampoo as much as the results?

If you like putting things to boil, enjoy using specialty ingredients for fragrance and shine, or find that some methods work better for particular breeds of dog, let us know! Please, share your favorite homemade dog shampoo recipe in the comments!

Thumbnail: Photography by toons17 / Shutterstock.

This piece was originally published in 2013. 

Read more on shampooing and bathing your dog right here:

90 thoughts on “Homemade Dog Shampoo — 3 Simple Recipes”

  1. Not very pleased with recipe using Dawn! (Are you kidding!!! It does wonders on grease and stains, it has to be pretty caustic to cut away that gunk so why use on a dog’s skin??). I tried the Castile soap/water/white vinegar recipe and wasn’t happy with results. The ‘shampoo’ curdled and I couldn’t rinse it off. End result was a puppy with oily matted fur despite repeated rinsing. Yuck! My mistake even trying this concoction. 🙁

  2. If you use cornstarch combined with baking soda on your dog’s muzzle your dog will instinctively lick and absorb some of the baking soda (and corn starch). This is bad for your dog because baking soda is high in sodium and dogs need low sodium diets.

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  5. I am also making my own organic pet shampoo at home and believe me the results were amazing. I use it for my Himalayan cat since he was a kitten. It is amazing and I have no complains.
    He goes for grooming in 3 months, but I always air dry him. I have no issues because if you include vitamins and supplements in their diet chart it helps. Even his food is home cooked and he sits and eats by his baby bowl and spoon. Anyways, if you really want to get a good shampoo from outside try Maine n Tail. It’s amazing.

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  7. I used dawn on my dog and it worked great! He lived to be 17 and it never dried his skin out and poisoned him in any way. You can over bathe a dog too! Whatever.

    1. I agree, I have been using Dawn on my dogs (Maltese and a Lab)for years, with no complications at all. And I might add, I have no problems with fleas or ticks.

  8. Please be careful with essential oils on your pets!! Many are TOXIC to dogs and cats – this article is highly irresponsible & uninformed

    1. Wow everybody! Could you possibly be more rude? And all the know-it-alls and experts here. Who knew there were so many genius and righteous dog owners?!You’re all ragging on THIS article – and the writer, obviously – calling “it” irresponsible , stupid and uninformed. It’s really sad when people lack the vocabulary or communication skills to make their point without name calling. If a person listened to all of the experts here I would be “stupid and irresponsible” if I used ANYTHING to bathe my dog. You all are arguing and putting everyone else down. Knock it off! If you had a bad experience – share that. If you had a good experience – share that. And cut out all the name calling and belittling. Even the true experts are in disagreement about what to use and what not to use. Unless you’ve experienced something, it’s just hearsay. You KNOW nothing. Other than that someone else said it – or write it. So if you heard it or read it, it must be true ?? Back off.

  9. You’re kidding right? Dawn? Baby shampoo? Essential oils? Ugh! Please people, contact a groomer to help you concoct your own shampoo. Just DONT use the above 3 listed ingredients. You are only asking for trouble!

    1. I’m not sure a groomer is a reliable source. Based on my experience, not all groomers have the same interests. Some are into the perfumey, foofi grooming products. Some use whatever is cheapest. Some are inconsistent. Some buy their products, some make their own. And some don’t even like dogs. (And if they’re having a bad day, they are rough and careless and cause bodily harm to your sweet little dog). The best thing is to gather as much information as you can, and make your own decision about what is best for you and your dog. No matter what you do, some rude knowitall will tell you you’re stupid, irresponsibe and uninformed.

  10. Christina McAlister

    As a dog groomer dawn is ok for one or two washes. I add a drop or two into my pet shampoo if they are greasy. I don’t recommend baby shampoo.

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  12. I have been washing my dogs with baby shampoo for years and I can honestly say there have been no side effects. I dont bath my dogs every week just when I get that ‘doggy’ smell then I know it bath time. I normally use Elizabeth Ann No tears shampoo (I think Johnson makes it as well). If it is good to use for babies then surely it cant be bad for dogs

  13. Re: the addition of detergents, Users should be advised that
    My little guy lost an eye to it.
    Groomer accidentally splashed suds in his left eye, and the last time it happened, the cornea couldn’t recover and he lost the eye. A very expensive and sad lesson. Be careful, Folks!

  14. I want to make the shampoo for itchy skin. Does anyone know how long it will be good after it is made? He is small so a quart would last a long time, Thanks!

  15. It almost killed my dog, he had a severe allergic reaction to the dry itchy skin shampoo. I have a 25 lb
    Chihuahua mix and 3 days after exposure he went into a systematic allergic shock due to a reaction to the ingredients in the shampoo. Now this was my experience not saying every dog will react that way.

  16. Noticed a lot of people in the comments suggesting using Dawn. That really isn’t what the product is designed for and you would be better off finding a natural dog shampoo or using one you make yourself with natural products.

  17. Everyone mentions adding aloe. What product am I looking for and how much. I see aloe creams, etc. is there some type of liquid aloe or do I need an aloe plant? How much would I put in say a couple quarts of water?

  18. I’m a dog groomer and I would never and have never used Dawn on a dogs coat. It can be used to get grease off their feet but that’s about it. If you get Dawn in a dogs eyes u will be paying a hefty vet bill. Just look for all natural shampoos or make your own with aloe, glycerin and Castile.. essential oils are a nice additive but do your homework on how much to use.

    1. Glycerin is not good for dogs, and that is absolutely incorrect, first off you shouldn’t be putting any soap or shampoo or much less get any oils in their eyes, both my chiuhauha’s never had any problem, but your not i repeat your not supposed to put any type of wash in their face or eyes, the only thing you should use in their face is a warm wash cloth.

  19. Please don’t use baby shampoo or any human shampoos on your pets! dogs skin has a completely different Ph and this will burn their skin

  20. American Kennel Club lists dishwashing soap as an ingredient in one of their homemade dog soaps. I used Dawn on my dog and it got rid of his flakes. So hard to know what you should and shouldn’t use when you see something that works but everyone says not to use it. I contacted Dawn and the reason they gave me not to use it is because they haven’t tested it for the purposes of continued use. I suggested to them that maybe they should and expand their product line. I’m going to continue to use it along with trying some of the other suggestions as well.

    1. Yes you should. If all you have is dawn, don’t sweat. Just dilute it with a hypoallergenic shampoo or if you don’t have any hypo, be sure to rinse the dawn immediately after scrubbing. Dry your Pup off and apply a generous amount of neem oil all around their body avoiding their head. And the most important part after all of these steps is that you do crate your pup for at least 10- 15 minutes for the neem oil to do it’s work ! All of the adult fleas and flea eggs that will most likely be struggling to survive on your animal should die. This also depends on how bad the infestation has gotten.
      Once you have finished with this step, it’s very important to again rinse well and towel dry. I highly recommend running an extensive fine-tooth comb through the coat while using a blow-dryer just to make sure that all of the fleas are dead and have been removed from your pets coat. You will need to repeat this process in about three to four days after any larvae may have hatched that you were unable to get on the first bath! Or of course, if you see any signs of fleas within a week.

      GOOOD LUCK!!??????

  21. Dawn is used on animals from an oil spill bc it cuts grease & it’s a once or twice thing. Dawn customer service when asked about using it to bathe dogs with said basically…NO…do NOT use it for any other use than washing dishes…it is NOT RECOMMENDED to be used to bathe dogs or cats…

  22. Kristin Caufield

    I’m going to second Dr. Bonners. Also, watch what EO you use. Lavender has estrogenic properties, and citrus can be a skin irritant.

  23. any “soap” will kill fleas during the bath. i prefer liquid castille soap such as Dr. Bronners for all bathing needs. Few nontoxic soaps will repel fleas after bath time – herbal rinses are nice and can be applied between baths as well. The bath is only going to get the fleas that are active on the dog at the time of the bath. 🙂

  24. Liquid castile soaps such as Dr. Bronners work great, are non-toxic, and already contain natural glycerin. They are also far more economical than “dog shampoo”. I would not use a dish soap unless i was deliberately trying to strip greasy residue from the coat, and even then i would use a nontoxic one, not Dawn. Herbal rinses are nice afterward, super simple, just plants & water. Vinegar can be added if a dog already has an oily coat, but it can be drying to the skin. I have found that an herbal rinse is good between baths for dry skin, if you are trying to minimize the number of times you use “soap”. 🙂

  25. Do all of these recipes apply to all dogs? For the homemade flea shampoo, can the second one be used as an ordinary shampoo as well bc I saw another page and it does not state anything about fleas… Anyways, thanks for these recipes!

  26. My pup had a bad case of mites that caused her to lose hair and have itchy skin, I tried the diy shampoo for dry skin with baby shampoo and it worked tremendously. It’s important not to wash your dog too often as that can lead to stripping of natural oil on dogs fur. The diy shampoo helped ease the scratching and make her fur soft again. 10/10 recommend

  27. I made this shampoo with Dawn and apple cider vinegar . It dried there hair out and made mats . I used it for one summer season and the hair just keep getting harder to keep brushed out. It is ok for one or two washes but not for every wash . I have St. Bernards .

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  30. I’d sure like to see comments from people who have made their own and how it worked out for their dog. Criticism and arguments aren’t at all helpful. Experience is.

    1. Used the shampoo for sensitive skin. My dog almost jumped out of the shower, when it touched his belly (no visible breaks in the skin). Far too much vinegar.

    2. I made the above concoction using liquid Castile soap, white vinegar and water. It was awful to use. Should have known with the initial mixing; the oil in the castile soap along with vinegar made a curdled goop that was difficult to spread and even dry, my dogs fur is oily and looks matted. It was definitely a trial and error with more error! Will seek out another solution.

      1. Howdy. I use just Bronner’s Peppermint soap then I rinse with the vinegar full strength then finish with a clear water rinse. If there are hot spots I treat with coconut oil (if really bad I use tea tree oil or oil of oregano first then coconut oil). Just my two cents.

  31. A groomer at Petsmart once told me “I might get in trouble for telling you this, but you can use dish soap like Dawn instead of dog shampoo.” I wouldn’t be suprised if that’s what they use for baths.

    Which makes sense if you’ve seen the Dawn commercial where they clean birds that were involved in an oil spill. It does cut grease afterall.

    All shampoo strips oil. But baby shampoo couldn’t be more gentle. If it’s gentle enough for a baby, certainly it’s gentle enough for a furbaby.

    Soooo…maybe the article isn’t the stupid one?

    1. Dawn has formaldehyde in it….NEVER use DAWN and if Baby Shampoo has sodium lauryl sulfate or any sulfates in it do NOT use it, or any PARABENS – they cause cancer.

      1. Dawn is recommended by vets, and aka it os what they use to help every wild life animal from human oil spills, and honestly it depends on your dog, every dog is different just like ppl, some are more sensitive or have allergies, some don’t, but you should never wash more than 1 time and you should use a conditioner, and honestly most other dog shampoo ingredients have the same and or worse ingredients

    2. I agree. Maybe the article is not the stupid one. Personally I enjoyed the article. It gave me some ideas and knowledge. I have a dog that HATES bath time. She’s pitiful! Trembles like I’m going to drown her! Bless her heart ❤

    3. Yes! Fleas have a wax on them and you must strip the wax with the grease cutting soap that is gentle for animals like you said the commercials etc. some people just don’t understand LOL

  32. Really stupid article. All dish soaps, and even baby shampoo, are designed to strip oils and are not the correct pH. Do a bit of work on this, please, Dogster…

    1. Here is the link that supports the soap recipes that she is suggesting and the link comes directly from AKC. https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/lifestyle/easy-natural-homemade-dog-shampoo/

      By the way, great job on the article and getting this information out there to share with everyone.

  33. Totally agree, Barbara! Dawn or even baby shampoo is NOT recommended for use on pets because the pH is way too harsh for them. Better to use liquid castile soap that can be purchased at any health food store. BTW–fleas will DIE with the use of ANY shampoo–all it needs is to left on the pet long enough to drown the insects, and harsh chemicals are not needed. Just soap and a flea comb.

    1. Castile soap was not used on animals, when oil spilled and vet can not say its safe, i can say dawn is, but like i mentioned it depends on the skin type, but you also don’t wash them every day, week and you should wash them 1 time and conditioner . It is not necessarily the soap, and dawn was vet recommended by at least 3 vets to me that stated it was safe, no human shampoo period even baby shampoo is not recommended for animals because they are different from humans

    2. Dawn is used to care for all types of animals during an oil spill or natural disaster. It Is perfectly safe. Dishpan hands occur because your hands are in water (hard or soft water, city treated or well water) multiple times a week for long periods of time.
      Dawn has a picture of a furry little duck on the front. It’s safe for your dog.

    3. Then why do they wash baby wildlife that gets oil drenched and almost die with dawn? Because it is not toxic..lol. DO YOUR RESEARCH LADIES

      1. While Dawn is non-toxic, it strips the natural and very needed oils on a dogs skin in an extreme way. This is why it is used on animals in an oil spill. It is too good at stripping oils to use on a dog not covered in oil. Most dogs will show signs of dry skin with a bath every 3 months with a mild castile soap or baby shampoo. Dawn is not what you should use on a dog unless he/she has been rolling in motor oil or crisco.

    1. Considering what Dawn does for stains and grease, I would never apply to a dog especially seeing what it does to my own hands after hand dishwashing. I would suggest something much milder. Just saying…….

    2. i’ve been working with dogs for about seven years I’m a dog groomer to be specific and Don dish soap is the best thing to use on your dog for fleas if they can’t have harsh chemicals or if they are under 10 weeks of age you should do a little bit of research. Now other disturbs will do that yes but Don specifically the original formula is perfectly safe

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