Alternatives to Soap for Bathing a Dog

Get your pooch squeaky-clean without soap.
Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images

If you're used to washing your dog in fancy shampoos, you may panic when you run out. It's important to know that you do not need soap to wash your pet. Whether you choose to do a dry or wet bath, you have several products from which to choose. This gives you a number of options for both quick and thorough baths. Understanding these options can even help you should your pet develop an allergy to regular shampoos.

Baking Soda

Chances are you have a box of baking soda in the cabinet; you may even keep another box in the refrigerator to absorb odors. An inexpensive box of baking soda can actually become your best friend when you have a smelly dog and no soap. All you need to do is sprinkle the baking soda on the dog's fur and brush it through the coat. The baking soda will absorb the foul odor, leaving your dog smelling fresh. You can also mix salt with the baking soda to help remove any loose dirt.


If your pooch is in need of a good soak, oatmeal is a great alternative to soap. Fill a stocking with rolled oats, tie off the end, and place under warm running water in the bath tub. Once the bath water is at room temperature, place your dog in the tub and allow her to soak for five to 10 minutes. This bath not only removes odors, but can also help with dry, itchy skin.


Something every dog owner should keep on hand is doggie wipes. These wipes are similar to moist towelettes and allow you to clean your dog without soap and water. Run the wipes over the dog's coat to remove any dirt and he's good to go. Wipes are especially good for muddy paws and dirty behinds. Wipes can be found in both scented and unscented versions.

Waterless Shampoo

Waterless shampoo is another lifesaver for dog owners. The shampoo is sprayed onto your dog's fur and worked into a foam to remove dirt and oil. You then use a towel to remove the excess moisture and brush the coat to remove any tangles and debris. The dog is then free to air-dry. The only negative is that your dog may not like being sprayed, especially if you used the spray bottle method to correct bad behavior when she was a puppy.