A Homemade dog shampoo is perfect for dogs. Their skin and hair pH is more acidic than ours and this natural recipe delivers what they need.
Although it’s still winter, the temperatures in my area went into the 60s today. Being the cautious sort, I left my plants alone (sigh) and took my dog Sadie for a ride. Five minutes into the ride in a warm car convinced me that she needed a bath!
Homemade Dog Shampoo Basics
Homemade dog shampoo bars are a lot like face & body bars, but your dog’s skin and hair pH is a bit more acidic than ours so a few changes are necessary. And adding some extra moisturizing ingredients and suds never hurts.
This recipe is for a Shampoo Bar that is made using the cold process method. The basic recipe is the same as the others I have written about in the past, but you will have two sets of ingredients.
NOTE: If you have not made cold process soaps before, we highly recommend you read our other (very thorough) posts on making soap before you try this recipe:
- Homemade All Natural Soap for Face & Body – this is a great beginner’s guide to making cold process soap
- Homemade Natural Soap for DIY Cleaning Recipes – this post includes pictures and a full supply list
- Can You Make Soap Without Lye? – for tips on working safely with lye
Homemade Dog Shampoo Recipe
- ¼ cup lye – also called 100% sodium hydroxide (find it here or at local hardware stores)
- ⅔ cup olive oil
- ¾ cup distilled water
- ⅔ cup coconut oil (find organic coconut oil here)
- ⅔ cup other oil – I’ve been using a blend of safflower and sunflower
- Mix the lye into the distilled water and set aside.
- Blend all of your oils together, and heat slightly if the temperature of the mixture is under 100°F.
- Add the lye to the oils, stirring constantly.
- After 5 minutes of stirring, you can use a stick blender to mix thoroughly. When the mixture is thick and looks like vanilla pudding (this is called “trace”), add the next set of ingredients.
- ⅛ cup castor oil (find organic castor oil here)
- ⅛ cup lemon juice or white distilled vinegar
- 15 drops each of lemongrass, cedar, and eucalyptus essential oils (find all these essential oils here)
Blend these ingredients in well and pour the mixture into molds. After 24 hours, take out of the molds and cure 3-4 weeks.
Using Your Pet Shampoo Bar
Rinse the animal until thoroughly wet. Lather the homemade dog shampoo into the hair and let sit for 5-10 minutes…if you can! Rinse well. Repeat if the pet is really dirty. When the weather is good, I use a kiddie swimming pool and keep the hose nearby. My dog loves cold water, but if you want it warm, you can hook the hose up to a faucet (in the laundry room or a kitchen sink) and run it out a window.
The castor oil in this recipe creates more lather in the final product than you would normally get from just the base oils. It’s important to add the castor oil at trace because you don’t want this oil used up by the lye, you want it as an additional ingredient.
Lemon Juice and/or Vinegar
The lemon juice or vinegar brings the pH of the homemade dog shampoo down from around 9 to about 8. Seven is considered neutral. Your soap will not actually be neutral, but it will be closer than leaving it alone. Allowing it to cure for 6 weeks or more will also help create a milder bar.
The essential oils listed are used as a bug deterrent. They will not only repel fleas but also ticks and mosquitoes. Since essential oils will evaporate after a while, I also make a spray with the same oils. Add 10 drops of each of the oils to a spray bottle with warm water and a tablespoon of alcohol. Shake each time you use it to disperse the oils. Spray around the ears and top of the head, avoiding the eyes. I don’t usually spray the back since the hair is thicker there.
Make a Liquid Homemade Dog Shampoo
You can also make this homemade dog shampoo into a liquid.
After the soap bars are cured, grate the soap with a box grater, use the large grate. Place a handful of the soap shavings in a quart jar and fill with warm water. Let sit overnight or for a few days. The soap shavings will soften up and eventually liquefy. When all are dissolved, gently shake the jar and then leave it to set up for a week or so. This will allow any large pieces to settle to the bottom. Carefully pour the liquid into a bottle (recycled dish soap bottles with the spout tops work great!) and use this to shampoo your pet.
I keep a jar liquefying all the time so I don’t have to wait for it when I need it. It will keep under the sink for a few weeks until needed. You can also use additional essential oils in the liquid shampoo. Use 5 drops of each and shake gently.
Have you ever made homemade dog shampoo bars for your dog or liquid shampoo? Tell us about it!