The Bath-Free Way to Keep Your Dog Clean During the Winter

A brown and white dog, after a bath-free dog wash, laying on a bed.

Winter baths can be rough on dogs. It’s too cold for a quick hose down in the backyard, and even dogs small enough for a kitchen sink soak end up shivering. Still, no one wants to live in a house with a stinky dog, especially with all the windows closed and the heat cranked up. But regular grooming is still essential. Snow, ice, sleet, and salt can wreak havoc with a dog’s coat and lead to painful matting and tangles.

There is a Plan B to bathing your dog with water. Dry shampoos, grooming wipes, freshening spays, and a good brush can keep your pup’s fur healthy and smelling sweet.

Brush your dog regularly to remove loose dirt and debris. Dry shampoo is applied to your dog’s coat (avoiding the face) and then rubbed in and under the coat so that it reaches the skin. For the face, spray or sprinkle the product on your hands and rub into the fur, avoiding the eyes, ears and mouth. Let the product sit until it dries, and then brush out and towel dry.

Related: 6 Winter Essentials to Keep Your Dog Safe, Cozy, and Happy

Using grooming wet wipes is even easier. Wipe each paw thoroughly, gently getting in-between the paw pads and toes. If the wipe is visibly dirty, use a fresh one to clean the body. Start at the neck and wipe down the body, under the chest and belly, and over the rear end. Always use a clean wipe to clean the dog’s face but stay clear of sensitive eyes and ears.

These products won’t strip oils from your dog’s coat like too-frequent wet shampooing can. With the proper technique, they will remove dirt, debris, dander and even bacteria while detangling the hair and keeping the coat shiny.

Related: Baby, It’s Cold Outside: How to Keep Your Dog Safe From the Deadliest Winter Dangers

Always make sure to use pet-friendly products and read the instructions to get the best result.

Here are some of our favorite products to help keep your dog clean and comfortable during winter.

Chagrin Dry Shampoo

This organic powder shampoo is a good choice for dogs with oily coats. To use, first shake well to loosen the powder, and then apply to your dog’s completely dry coat. Massage in thoroughly and brush out. In just takes a few minutes, and your dog will smell fabulous.

Zefiro Dog Brush

While some breeds need more frequent brushing than others, all dogs benefit from regular brushing. Dogs with a double-coat and homes with more than one breed often need two types of brushes. And that makes the Zefiro brush remarkable. It features a sustainable bamboo handle with sisal bristles on one side to remove loose hair and metal bristles for thick fur and tangles on the other side.


Related: Winter Aches: Helping Your Dog Deal with Joint Pain

Pure + Good Dog Ear Wash

Keeping a dog’s ears clean will prevent discomfort, unpleasant odors, and the possibility of painful infections. This ear wash can remove built-up wax, dirt and excess moisture that can eventually cause problems. To use, squeeze a small amount into your dog’s ears and gently massage the area to help dissolve wax and dirt. Let your dog shake her head to dislodge debris, and then use a cotton ball or gauze to wipe the outer ear and upper ear canal. Before using any products on a dog’s ears (or eyes), check with your veterinarian.

HOWND Pet Playful Mist

If you dog smells a little, well, funky, grab this body mist spray and transform your pup from a stinker to a breath of fresh air. You can use after a bath or in-between, and it will keep the fur shiny and fresh. Infused with the essential oils of rose absolute, lemongrass, and petitgrain oil from bitter orange leaves, your dog’s coat will smell fabulous and be nourished by argan oil, oat kernel extract and aloe barbadensis leaf juice.

Adios Plastic Dog Grooming Wipes

Grooming wipes are the easiest way to clean on the go or when you get back from your daily walks. These wipes are gentle enough to use on sensitive areas including your dog’s face, paws and back end. They are infused with soothing natural ingredients such as aloe vera and chamomile to moisturize dry paw pads and soothe irritation. These certified compostable, plant-based wipes will biodegrade in one to two months (though never flush them).

Playful Pup Paw and Nose Balm

A dog’s nose, paws, and skin can become irritated, dry and even burned by sun, ice, snow, and salt melt. To prevent painful paws, skin, and a chapped nose, apply this balm to your dog’s nose, paw pads, and any exposed skin before going outside. The balm also acts a barrier between tender paws, snow, ice and caustic salt, and it even contains a dog-friendly sunscreen. It can also be used as a moisturizer to alleviate dry or chapped skin.


Besides being a great towel for dogs after bath time (it soaks up seven times its weight), it’s great to use after a walk to remove dirt and debris. It has pockets for your hands, which make it easier to reach under your dog’s belly. It’s bacteria, odor resistant and machine washable.


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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