Homemade Dog Shampoo Recipes

There are a number of homemade dog shampoo recipes that dog owners swear by. They’re easy to make as well.

We are indebted to Jill of PurestPets, Florida, for the following information:

“Homemade dog shampoo recipes are a great solution to the problem of dog allergies because commercial shampoos often contain TRICLOSAN, an antibiotic that not only kills bad bacteria but good bacteria as well.”

Jill continues with: “This can be problematic for dogs with yeast problems or when trying to strengthen sensitive skin in general. At least that is what my research has taught me.”

Dog digging in dirt is going to need a bath
Dirty dog face, bath needed.

Benefits of Homemade Dog Shampoos

Reported advantages are:

  • you know what ingredients you are adding to your dog’s skin
  • the dog’s coat becomes nice and soft when dry
  • strong doggy odors disappear
  • tangles and excess fur comb out easily
  • dogs may stop scratching all the time
  • the dog’s skin doesn’t dry out
  • the dog’s coat is no longer greasy
  • you can save money!

Why Human Shampoos Should Be Avoided

According to Pet MD, there is a protective layer of oil on the skin of people and dogs called the acid mantle that wards off bacteria and viruses. Soap and shampoo remove this mantle temporarily – the skin will form a new one in about half a day. 

The pH of this oily layer lies in an acidic range under 6.2 for humans. Therefore, most human soaps and shampoos have a specially prepared moisturizer added to restore the proper pH level. An ineffective soap can allow bacteria or viruses to cause dry, flaky skin, or an itchy rash.

The pH of a dog’s acid mantle is generally less acidic and may even be alkaline (between 5.5 and 7.5). So if you use human shampoo, your dog is likely to have problems. You basically want to create a shampoo that is fairly neutral.


Regular Shampoo from 3 Ingredients

One that has received rave reviews as working on a wide variety of breeds is the Sham Pooch Dog Shampoo by Titanium Chef. Most other shampoo recipes we’ve seen are a variation on this.


Mix a pint each ofwater, Ivory, Dove or Castile liquid dishwashing soap, and apple cider vinegar.* Then add 4 oz of glycerin, which you can get from a pharmacy. Simply mix everything together and put it in a container.

*Please note: Diane, a visitor from California, wrote in to say that “if you use Castile soap you will end up with a slimy mess as the vinegar breaks down the Castille into the oils it’s made of” (the soap is a base [or alkaline] and the vinegar an acid). You may have better results by lathering with just the soap and glycerin, and then rinsing with the vinegar. 

Russ Richer, a dog lover featured on Article City, says he recommends a rinse made of a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar mixed with a pint of warm water to restore the pH balance of your dog’s skin after using store bought (or other) shampoos.

Here’s another comment by Jill from PurestPets in Florida: 

Hi. I loved your article. My own dog has had allergies, so for the past three years I have been researching and learning as much as I can about it. I have been making his allergy shampoo for two years now. In addition to what you explained about the pH balance specific to dogs, I noticed that it also keeps the skin from drying out with frequent bathing.  


Work as much as you need into your dog’s coat, let it sit for about 5 minutes, and then rinse your dog completely with warm water (or half vinegar, half water). Towel dry or let your dog dry off in a sunny place. Make sure the dog does not have access to fresh mud or manure shortly after the bath.


It is best to bathe infrequently if possible, about once a month or so. Your dog can swim or be washed in plain water in between, as this will not interfere with the oil layer on the skin.


A few drops of tea tree or lavender essential oil can be added in for a nice smell. However, we think this is not necessary since, although the recipe can smell strongly of vinegar during the bathing process, that smell disappears when the dog’s coat is dry. Any use of essential oil should be researched and tested on one little area of your dog to make sure there will be no allergic reaction to adding it to shampoo.

One person says she now uses the shampoo for her own hair! Makes me want to try it!


The vinegar can sting so make sure that you do not get this mixture into a dog’s eyes and cover open sores or cuts before use.


Oatmeal or Baking Soda Dog Shampoos 

If your dog has a skin problem that needs soothing, we have made oatmeal or baking soda shampoos, and also tried a combination. 

If what you are using appears to bring relief to your dog from itching, repeat every few days.

If not, talk to a vet about the symptoms and things you’ve tried.


  • For the oatmeal to work, you need to use raw rolled oats (the old-fashioned kind), and turn it into a flour by using a coffee grinder or food processor. [A blender will not work since blenders need liquid mixed in.] 
  • For the baking soda, simply buy a large box.
  • Mix either of these items into your dog’s coat down to the skin, let the ingredient sit for a while – at least 5 minutes – then brush it out. 


  • Take the oatmeal flour, also known as colloidal oatmeal because the particles are fine, and mix it with an equal amount of room temperature water. (We found with F.B. that warm water is more irritating than water at a lower temperature if the dog is already having a skin problem.)
  • Then rub the paste into the coat, making sure it reaches the skin. After at least 5 minutes, rinse the mixture out and patthe dog dry rather than rubbing the fur.
  • Be sure to clean the tub right away, using lots of water to rinse, else it may stick to the sides and clog the drain.
  • Some people add an equal amount of baking soda to the oatmeal flour and water and use that. The baking soda neutralizes odors. It can also be added on top of your dog’s bedding in between baths.

Other Homemade Dog Shampoo Recipes 

Russ Richer also has an inexpensive homemade dog shampoo recipe consisting of a handful of aloe vera gel diluted with some water, applied to a dog while its coat is dry. You can add a little baby shampoo if you want foam. Then rinse your furry friend with warm water.

His last suggestion is about deodorizing a dogTake a teeny bit of essential oil that has an aroma you like and dab on the skin along the dog’s spine where the dog can’t lick it. Again, we recommend you test one spot first to make sure it won’t irritate the dog’s skin.

For homemade dog shampoo recipes that deal with flea problems, dogs that have been skunked, or dogs that have rolled in smelly things like manure, see more homemade dog shampoo information.

Fleas on Dog

Based on our experiences with a cute black Lab mix named FB, we’re inclined to agree with the views expressed by someone named Jesse that fleas are more of an indicator regarding deficiencies in your dog’s diet so we do not recommend a particular flea shampoo. See Fleas: Friend or Foe? 

We have heard that giving a dog apple cider vinegar internally gets rid of fleas. We have not tried this out on our dogs so would recommend you read the following article regarding this issue.

If you immerse your dog long enough, you can drown a lot of the fleas off, which is what we did with F.B.

To get rid of flea eggs in the home, keep your dog(s) and and other furry pets, if you have any, in a bathroom or other place with non-carpeted flooring while you do some thorough vacuuming. Repeat as often as possible till you feel flea control has been established.

There is a homemade recipe that may avoid your having to vacuum as often as Jo did with F.B. (click on the link then Page Down to Fleas in the home.

Skunk Got Your Dog (or Cat)?

A cat climbing the pool steps. Going to need a bath from getting sprayed by skunk.

Our thanks to Denise, from Albion, NY provided us with the following homemade dog shampoo recipe for pets that have been skunked – wish we’d known about this the night Comet tangled with one:

“Try 2 cups of hydrogen peroxide, 1/2 cup baking soda, and a little pet-safe shampoo.This mixture breaks down the skunk oils so it can be shampooed away! 

We did it for our cat Tazz..who wasn’t so lucky prowling one night..he actually didn’t mind a bath..seen here..thinking about a swim.”

P.S. You may want to print out or write up the recipe and put it in a handy place if there are skunks in your off leash areas.

Dog Rolled in Stinky Stuff

Does your dog like to roll in horse, cow or dog poop or dead animals? It’s thought that this is an instinctive behavior inherited from wolves to disguise themselves when hunting.

Of course that’s no comfort if you’re the unlucky owner! Mitsu, the Dachshund I had in childhood, would sometimes enjoy finding a pungent pile of horse or other poop to roll in, so a bath was the first thing she’d get.

I believe my mother used baby shampoo and someone who posted on Yahoo Answers about this problem said baby shampoo was the only thing that took away the smell. 

Note that this is human shampoo, so due to pH concerns, it is best to avoid using it on a regular basis.

You may also want to try the Superb Homemade Dog Recipe listed on that page to see if that works instead of baby shampoo, since it includes baking soda, a common odor remover, as an ingredient.