The Best Dog Shampoos You Can Make Right at Home

A person is using dog shampoo to wash a dog in a bathtub.

Dogs can be stinky. They can also be expensive considering the price of grooming. But there’s a solution that can help with both of these concerns: make your own dog shampoo.

Bathing your dog keeps his skin and his coat healthy, but that doesn’t mean your dog has to be exposed to chemicals that you can’t pronounce. Homemade dog shampoo is a great way to cut down on the cost and to protect a dog with sensitive skin from many of the irritating ingredients including preservatives found in commercial dog shampoo.

Making your own doggie shampoo may sound complicated, but it’s actually easy. More than likely, you already have some of the ingredients around your home.

You can choose a recipe to combat any issue, including dry skin, fleas, allergies and sensitive skin. Because you are making it in small batches, you can customize the ingredients to best suite your dog. You can even use organic ingredients.

Related: What to Do When Your Dog Absolutely Refuses to Wear a Coat in Cold Weather

Here are some of the best homemade dog shampoo recipes around. Remember: NEVER use human shampoo on a dog.

Shampoos for Dry Skin

These recipes are good for dogs with itchy, dry or sensitive skin. They’re also recommended if you bathe your dog frequently.

Aloe Vera and Glycerin Shampoo

For this Aloe Vera and Glycerin Shampoo, mix the following ingredients gently in a spray bottle:

1 quart of water
1 cup of baby shampoo or nontoxic dish soap
1 cup of white or apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup of glycerin
2 tablespoons of aloe vera gel

After wetting your dog’s coat with warm water, spray the mixture on and lather. Avoid the eye area. To wash the dog’s face, wet a washcloth with warm water and a little shampoo; rinse the washcloth free of shampoo and rinse your dog’s face.

Related: 7 of the Coziest Dog Pajamas Your Pup Needs for Staying Warm Inside

Oatmeal Shampoo

You’ll need a food processor or a coffee grinder for this Oatmeal Shampoo:

1 cup oatmeal
½ cup baking soda
1 quart warm water

Cut the recipe in half for small dogs.

Grind the oatmeal into a flour. Pour into a large bowl and mix in baking soda. Add the warm water and stir into a thick mixture.

To use this, wet your dog first, pour on the mixture, and lather. Massage it in, and if possible, let it soak in for five minutes. Rinse off.

Shampoos for Flea Control

Flea Shampoo that Relieves Itching

This flea shampoo is made to be left on for 5 minutes. It will soothe the skin and repel fleas for days after bathing. Gather these ingredients:

½ cup dye-free, unscented dish soap
1 tbsp colloidal oatmeal
1 tbsp aloe vera juice
1 tbsp lemon or orange oil
1 tbsp lavender oil
2 vitamin E tablets dissolved in one cup hot water

Mix everything together and pour into clean bottles. Wet your dog, lather, and soak. Rinse off after 5 minutes (or as long as your dog will stand still).

Flea Shampoo for Sensitive Skin

This flea shampoo only uses 3 ingredients that repel fleas and are less likely to irritate sensitive skin.

½ cup of water
¼ cup of white vinegar or apple cider vinegar
¼ cup of baby shampoo or nontoxic dish soap

Dawn dish soap kills fleas. It can be irritating (or worried it will get in your pup’s eyes), but it is diluted here with water. If your dog has sensitive skin, choose a natural baby shampoo. Mix ingredients together and pour into a spray bottle. Work into your dog’s fur, paying special attention to hard-to-reach areas like under the arms. Leave on for five minutes, and brush or comb your dog to remove dead fleas. Rinse.

Shampoo for a Stinky Dog  

Moisturizing Rosemary Shampoo

Some dogs have a stronger doggie smell than others. If you love your dog but not the stink, try this dog shampoo potion to leave your dog’s coat soft and shiny and (best of all) smelling fresh. You’ll need:

3 cups of water
A sprig of fresh rosemary with stem
1 tablespoon (for big dogs) of Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil (reduce for smaller dogs)
5 tablespoons of Dr. Bronner’s Baby-mild Liquid Soap
3-4 drops of Lavender Essential Oil

Boil the water, and drop in rosemary to steep. Remove from heat, and let it cool until it’s slightly warmer than room temperature. Remove the rosemary and pour the cooled water into an airtight glass bottle. Add the coconut oil, Dr. Bronner’s soap, and lavender essential oil. Close the lid and shake gently. Shampoo as usual.

Dry Shampoo

If you have a dog that’s, ahem, aromatic by nature (or a dog that spends a lot of time outside), a dry shampoo can be used between baths to eliminate odors. This powder only uses 3 ingredients:

1 cup of corn starch
5 to 10 drops of essential oil (lavender or rosemary are particularly effective)
1 cup of baking soda

Mix together and apply all over your dog. This can be messy, so use it outside or in the bathtub. Massage it firmly into the dog’s body. Remove excess with a brush or a comb. That’s it!

Related: Here’s How to Keep Your Dog’s Teeth Healthy Between Dental Cleanings




By Jillian Blume

Jillian Blume is a New York City–based writer whose feature articles have appeared in magazines, newspapers, and websites including the New York Observer, Marie Claire, Self, City Realty, the ASPCA,, Best Friends Animal Society, The Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals, The Pet Gazette, and many others.

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