Homemade dry-wash dog shampoo

The royal family at 3623 HATES getting a bath.  It is not just that they hate being washed, they intensely dislike water in general.  Miss Priss once went to the farm with me and it was only after she got a good ribbing from the farm dogs for being such a city sissy that she joined in the fun to be had in the ‘fonteindam’.  That is the one and only time she willingly got wet.  The rest of the time she and Loxton steer clear of anything that is more than a cup of water, unless it is in their water bowl, of course.  

As you can imagine this aversion to water makes bath time especially stressful and not just for the dogs.  What with Freyja’s proclivity to show her displeasure with her teeth, the humans are rather weary of this process as well.  But dogs don’t brush their teeth and they certainly do not go gaga for the latest fragrance from whatever celebrity figures herself a nose. So it is a necessary evil that happens at least twice a year in our house.  In between baths there is a LOT of brushing, which they love, and keeping their sleeping quarters clean.  Keeping their bedding clean goes a LONG way in keeping that particular dog smell at bay, but not always.  And that is where this awesome little solution comes in handy.

I was initially researching homemade dog shampoos when I came across the dry wash recipe.  As anyone who knows me will tell you, of late I have become rather essential oils ‘befok’.  I use it daily, rosemary oil as a final hair rinse, jojoba and geranium as a night time moisturiser, lavender and chamomile as a nightly linen spray. So naturally I was going to subject the poor mutts to aromatherapy at some point.  And what do you know, essential oils work great for keeping your best friend smelling like a daisy, or lavender more to the point.

IngredientsThe ingredients for dry wash shampoo

  • 1 cup Maizena
  • 1 cup bicarbonate soda
  • ½ cup table salt (optional)
  • 3 – 6 drops of lavender, tea tree or citronella essential oil (optional)


  1. Sift the dry ingredients together in a container that you will be able to close tightly.Sift the dry ingredients together to remove clumps and lumps
  2. Add the drops of essential oil, I went for 3 drops lavender and 3 drop tea tree oil.Add the essential oils
  3. Close the container and shake what your mama gave you.

    Shake all the ingredients together                 The finished product - dry wash shampoo

I had an unused Parmesan shaker standing around in the kitchen so I scooped the powder into that, but an empty spice shaker will work just as well.  Just be sure to clean it properly beforehand so that you don’t have a turmeric flavoured pooch hanging around you all day.

  1. Shake some powder onto the dog’s coat taking care not to get any into eyes and ears.
  2. Massage the powder into your best friend’s coat.  If you use salt in your mixture, the salt will loosen and lift stubborn dirt particles.
  3. Leave the powder on for about 10 – 15 minutes.  This gives the baking soda and corn starch a chance to absorb smells and excess oil.
  4. Now give your pooch a thorough brush.  Between the brushing and the inevitable dog shaking the powder will get out of the coat.

So how did it work out for us and the royal family?
Fantastically!  A resounding success!  Both dogs came out smelling great and their coats felt a lot softer as well. Initially there was some canine skepticism about the powder being sprinkled on their backs, but getting a massage straight away dissolved any resistance.  And then after that a brush!  This must be doggy heaven!  Which is a far cry from the stress of having a cold water bath from the hosepipe.

How does it work?
Dry shampoos are generally made from one powdery and one granular substance.  The powdery ingredient, the Maizena in our case, absorbs excess oil from the skin and hair.  The granular ingredient helps to loosen and lift dirt and in the case of baking soda absorbs any nasty smells.  Baking soda also helps to relieve itchy skin so I would recommend baking soda as a permanent ingredient.  As for the oils, both tea tree and lavender oils are antiseptic and on top of that bug repellents.  As a bonus the lavender smells great too.

For those of you whose pooches are a little more tolerant to water, this oatmeal and baking soda recipe seem to work wonders for itchy and dry skin.

Fresh beds
To keep the royal family’s sleeping quarters fresh and clean smelling we sun their mattress beds daily, nothing like a bit of sunshine to freshen things up.  I also use a couple drops of lavender and citronella oil on their mattresses.  Lavender for the smell and citronella for keeping flies, fleas and ticks away.  I also mop their room once a week with a mixture of apple cider vinegar and water.  When the flies get too pesky in summer I use ‘sink salf’ with a few drops of citronella oil on their ears and necks, the ‘sink salf’ helps to heal the bites while the citronella keeps the mozzies and flies away.  They are not crazy about this, but so far it has been the most successful solution for keeping the flies off their ears.  I have also read that a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in their drinking water will keep flies away, but I have not tried it yet.  Will let that one lie over until next summer.

Okedokes, well that is it for today.  Until next week happy pet ownering!