How to Make Natural Homemade Dog Shampoo at Home DIY Style

There’s a big trend at the moment of making your own soaps, shampoos and lotions, but can you make shampoo for dogs at home and is it better than a shop-bought professional animal shampoo?

The good news is: Yes, you can and although there are lots of natural dog shampoo options these days, homemade natural dog shampoo is much better than a cheap shampoo filled with harsh chemicals.

So, how to make natural homemade dog shampoo? It’s pretty easy and you will probably have some of the ingredients around the home already.

As well as homemade dog shampoo recipes, we will also look at;

  • What’s in Dog Shampoo? – Nasties you need to avoid
  • Why PH Balance in Shampoo is important
  • Other ways to make sure your pup’s coat is in prime condition
  • A quick guide on how to bath your dog
  • Some frequently asked questions about shampoo

What’s in Dog Shampoo?

Apart from saving you money, homemade dog shampoo could be better for your pooch than regular shampoo some of which have decidedly dodgy ingredients.

Artificial Fragrances

Not necessarily bad, but they can be made from hundreds of ingredients that don’t have to be listed on the label. Some synthetic shampoo smells have been linked to cancer and can also cause developmental and reproductive toxicity in dogs. They also contain Phthalates which have been found to cause hormonal issues.

 Artificial Colours

Artificial colours may be linked to organ damage, congenital disabilities, cancer and allergic reactions. Used to enhance the product’s appearance, many are contaminated with nasty by-products that can penetrate your dog’s body.

Sodium Benzoate Preservative. 

It is perfectly safe on its own but not when mixed with citric or ascorbic acid, 2 ingredients often found in shampoo for dogs. It then becomes benzene which is a carcinogenic associated with blood disorders, including leukaemia.

Ammonium Laureth Sulfate 

Used to create foam, this is a surfactant proven to cause skin irritation and definitely should be avoided if you have a pooch that already suffers from allergies. Homemade dog shampoo has the benefit of you knowing exactly what you are putting on your dog.


You won’t see this listed for obvious reasons, but it’s still in there. If you see any of these on the bottle of shampoo, put the product back on the shelf and make your own DIY dog shampoo.

  • Bromopol,
  • Doazolidinyl urea,
  • DMDM Hydantoin
  • Imidazolidinyl urea,
  • Quaternium-7, -15, -31, -61, S
  • Sodium hydroxymethylglycinate.


These have been linked to reproductive issues and cancer in dogs, so always make sure any shampoo you purchase is Paraben-free or better still; get some aloe vera gel, some Castile soap, a couple of drops of lavender and make some homemade dog shampoo.


Often listed as isopropyl and drying to both hair and skin oils, this ingredient is found in many shampoos and ear cleaners; it also increases skin absorption meaning any other toxins in the product will enter the dog’s system more easily.

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate 

Found in lots of cleaning products (SLS) is a detergent, emulsifier and surfactant; it is a known skin irritant in its powder form and the manufacturing process of ethoxylation is also an environmental pollution toxin, definitely, one to be avoided and yet another reason to try making homemade dog shampoo.

Why PH Balance is Important

A dog’s skin is very different to ours. Humans have a PH balance of around 5.2-5.5, while a dog is approximately 7.0-7.52, making it more alkaline. Also, a dog only has 3-5 layers which is a lot less than us, making theirs much more sensitive skin.

Using products designed for humans means you are subjecting your pup to ingredients that can damage their skin and coat, cause skin irritations and dry it out. That’s why you shouldn’t use human shampoos on a dog and now you have a homemade dog shampoo recipe, there’s no need to reach for the Head and Shoulders.

Can you Create Your Own Homemade Dog Shampoo?

Yes, its really easy to prepare homemade dog shampoo and it may be a lot better than shop-bought alternatives; here are a few reasons why:

  • You know your dog’s skin and if there are any problems so you can add specific ingredients to help, for example, one to fight fleas, oatmeal or apple cider vinegar to soothe itching.
  • Homemade dog shampoo can save you lots of money; some dog shampoo can cost upwards of £10 a bottle.
  • You can avoid harsh chemicals and you won’t need preservatives if you whip up a small batch of your own homemade dog shampoo.
  • You can add authentic organic ingredients to your DIY dog shampoo, so if your pup licks himself after a bath with oatmeal shampoo, it will be perfectly safe.
  • You can add safe essential oils to remove that “Eau de Wet Dog” smell we all love

10 Homemade Dog Shampoo Recipes

Homemade Shampoo to Combat Fleas


  • 2 parts water
  • 1 part baby shampoo or dish detergent
  • 1 part white vinegar or apple cider vinegar

Combine all the ingredients in a container and bathe your dog as normal, leaving the shampoo in for around 5-10 minutes to get rid of pesky fleas before rinsing thoroughly.


  • 8 tablespoons liquid Castile soap
  • 12 tablespoons distilled water
  • 4 tablespoons of liquid coconut oil
  • 3-4 drops lavender essential oil
  • 3-4 drops rosemary oil

Mix ingredients and put in an old bottle, use weekly for best results.


  • 10 ounces of distilled water
  • 2 ounces aloe vera gel
  • 1 tablespoon Castile soap
  • 2-3 drops of peppermint oil
  • 2-3 drops of eucalyptus oil
  • 2-3 drops of lavender oil
  • 2-3 drops of rosemary oil

Once again, mix thoroughly and use as required; this recipe will also make your pup smell sweeter.

Shampoos for Itchy Skin


  • 1 cup of uncooked oatmeal
  • 1/2 cup of baking soda
  • 1 quart of warm water

Use a food processor to grind the oatmeal until it resembles flour, mix with remaining ingredients, and use it as necessary. Let the shampoo sit on the coat for a few minutes before rinsing; this oatmeal shampoo can also be used as a paste to soothe hotspots.


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

Combining the ingredients and using a spray bottle when bathing the aloe vera and vinegar will relieve itching in many dogs.


  • 1/2 cup distilled water
  • Squeezy bottle
  • 1/4 cup liquid castile soap
  • 1 tsp. white or apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp olive oil

This simple to make hypoallergenic shampoo cleans your dog’s fur without irritating their sensitive, itchy skin, combine ingredients well and store in a bottle for when needed.

Natural Dog Shampoo for a Shiny Coat


  • ½ cup castile soap
  • ¾ cup distilled water
  • ¼ cup coconut oil
  • 5 drops lavender oil

The coconut oil in this homemade dog shampoo recipe is fantastic for dry skin and will leave your pup’s coat glossy and healthy if used regularly as well as smelling sweet.

Homemade Dog Shampoo for Puppies


  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 cup distilled water
  • 1/4 cup liquid Castille soap
  • 3-4 drops rosemary essential oil
  • 3-4 drops lavender oil
  • 2 teaspoons glycerin

Mix all ingredients and transfer into a glass jar; this mixture can be kept up to 3-6 months and is ideal for a puppies sensitive skin.

Odour Removing Dog Shampoo Recipe


  • 1 cup oatmeal
  • 1 cup baking soda
  • 4 cups warm water
  • 1 tsp baby shampoo
  • 5 drops of essential oil peppermint, cedarwood or lavender

Grind up the oatmeal in a coffee grinder or food processor, add to the rest of the ingredients and mix well before decanting into a glass container. The oatmeal will soothe dry skin whilst the baking soda gets rid of odours and the essential oil will leave Fido smelling fresh.

Homemade Antibacterial Shampoo for Dogs


  • 1/2 a cup of apple cider vinegar 
  • 2 cups of warm water
  • 1/4 liquid Castille Soap
  •  A Few drops of lavender essential oil

Mix all ingredients, pour into a spray bottle or jar, and use when necessary to fight bacterial infections or as a preventative measure.

Homemade Dry Shampoo for Dogs

If you haven’t got time for a full scrub or your pooch is a bit pongy, try this homemade dry shampoo to remove odours and absorb grease and dirt quickly. You will need

  • Equal quantities of corn starch and baking soda
  • 3-4 drops safe essential oils such as lavender, lemon or rosemary
  • A container with holes in the lid

Combine all the ingredients, sprinkle over your dog’s coat liberally, avoid the face; work it into the fur with your hands, and then give a good brush to remove the excess powder.

Other Ways to Look After Your Dog’s Coat

5 Tips That Will keep Fido’s Coat in Prime Condition


If your pup’s coat looks dull even after regular bathing, it may be a sign that they are not getting the right nutrition; some lower quality commercial dog food doesn’t contain the essential ingredients to keep your best friend’s coat shiny If your dog suffers from dry skin or is constantly itching it may be a good idea to change their diet.


Regular grooming keeps your dog’s fur looking its best; daily brushing removes tangles, dirt and dead hairs leaving the coat in tip-top condition whilst also distributing your dog’s natural oils and stimulating blood circulation, which benefits the hair follicles and skin.

3. Fatty Acids

Fish oil is great for your dog’s coat as it contains Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, many dog foods contain these nowadays, but you can also buy supplements at the pet store or online. Borage seed oil is also proven to improve skin condition and hair growth.

4.Coconut Oil

We have all heard about the numerous benefits of coconut oil. In fact, it features in many homemade dog shampoo recipes, but you can also add it to your dog’s diet to improve the condition of its coat. Not only that, but it can also aid your dog’s digestion, improve overall health and coconut oil contains over 40% Lauric acid, which has been proven to prevent some cancers.

5.Keep Fleas at Bay

Check your pooch regularly for fleas as these can soon cause deterioration in your dog’s coat; they irritate the skin causing your dog to scratch, which can cause bald patches and a dull coat. You may also want to speak to your vet about internal parasites like worms which can also affect a dogs coat.

Tips for Bathing your Dog

Make bathtime more pleasurable by following these top tips

Have Everything Ready

Preparation is key. Make sure you have a non-slip bathmat in the tub, make sure the water is at the right temperature and gather your supplies.

  • Dog treats,
  • Homemade dog shampoo,
  • Cotton balls for ears
  • Conditioner (if required)
  • Towels
  • Sponge
  • Jug for rinsing

Call the Dog

Not all dogs like a bath. Mine runs and hides under the bed if the words even mentioned. Tempt them into the bathroom and lift them into the bath. Obviously, a smaller dog won’t be a problem but know your limits. Don’t try wrestling a Dogue De Bordeaux into the tub on your own; enlist the help of a friend or family member. Once in calm with lots of stroking and praise. Put some cotton wool in Fido’s ears to prevent water from getting in there.

Top Tip

I’ve found that a lick mat stuck to the tiles and filled with peanut butter takes my dogs’ attention off the undignified washing process.

Lather Up

Once you have soaked your pooch, remember this may take some time as a dog’s coat repels water, you can pour out some of your homemade dog shampoos and start working it into your dog’s coat using long gentle strokes, Avoid the face but make sure you get under the armpits and paws as there are lots of bacteria hiding here.

Never use dish soap or human shampoo as this can upset the PH balance and cause skin issues.

Rinse and Rinse Again

If you’ve used a homemade dog shampoo, it shouldn’t produce too many bubbles (This is what chemicals are used for in regular shampoos). However, it’s still important to get it all out, so keep rinsing until the water runs clear, then keep on for another 5 minutes just to make sure.


Can I use human shampoos on my dog?

Human shampoo is not good for a dog’s skin as it has a different PH balance to dog shampoo. However, we have been asked should you use baby shampoo on dogs? And the truth is it’s more gentle and can be used if you need to bathe your dog but for regular use, stick to doggy options or try making homemade dog shampoos.

How do I make antibacterial dog shampoo?

You can use one of the base recipes above and try adding a few drops of essential oil; not all essential oils ingredients are safe for dogs, but a couple that are and has anti-bacterial properties include Lavender oil, Niaouli and sweet Majoram oil.

How often should I bathe my puppy?

It’s a good idea to bathe your pup once every 1-2 weeks when they are young to get them used to the grooming process. Even if they are a short-coated breed, this will make things easier as they grow up. Why not try the natural DIY dog shampoo recipe for puppies above.

What essential oils can I use in homemade dog shampoo?

Some fantastic essential oil ingredients can be added to your DIY dog shampoos, such as Peppermint, Lavender, Eucalyptus, and Chamomile. However, not all essential oils are safe to use, so do your research and buy from a reputable source. The oils in supermarkets or grocery stores have usually been diluted or are of lower quality.

Different Shampoo Types

There is a great range of shampoos you can choose from, it all comes down to the requirements of your pet. To view the full list of types of dog shampoo, see this page.

Final Thoughts

Making your own dog shampoo will not only save money; it means you know exactly what you are putting on your dog’s skin and you can alter it to address issues such as fleas if need be. They can be made from ingredients frequently found around the home, such as Castile Soap, aloe vera gel, oatmeal and even herbs like mint and rosemary.

A few drops of essential oil in your homemade shampoo will have Fido smelling sweet and some even have antibacterial qualities. Remember though only some essential oils are safe for dogs, be especially careful with tea tree oil. Although it can be found in many over the counter shampoos, it is heavily diluted so as not to cause skin irritation. Take a look at all the shampoos for dogs that itch to help find a solution.

We hope you’ve found this article helpful and feel confident enough to whip up a batch of natural dog shampoo for your best friend as the advert says, ” Because they’re worth it.”

Donna Hepburn

Published author, content writer and qualified dog behaviourist I have owned dogs all my life from Boxers, Rottweilers and Akitas, to Staffies and currently a very demanding Frenchie who is harder work than all the others put together.

I had a collar making business for over 10 years and am involved with several doggy charities. I currently live in the northeast and when I am not writing about dogs I enjoy, travelling, cooking and reading.

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