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How to Clean a Puppy Without Bathing: 3 Effective Techniques | Pupford

August 4th, 2023

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You need to learn how to clean a puppy without bathing in many instances!

Maybe they’re scared of water, they have a wound that can’t go underwater, or you aren’t in a location with a good bath option.

No matter the reason, we’ll dive into how to clean a dog without a bath. And these tips will even help you keep your pup smelling clean between baths! These tips are for dogs of all ages.

And at the end of the article, we’ll also let you in on a little-known secret for helping your puppy enjoy grooming!

Let’s dive into it. 👇

Note: Puppies generally shouldn’t be bathed before 8 weeks old due to their inability to regulate body temperature.


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you should not use human products to clean your dog

Whenever we’re discussing bathing, grooming, and cleaning your puppy it’s important to remember that our dogs’ skin is very different from ours.

Dog skin has a different makeup and composition and we shouldn’t use human products on our dogs. Differing pH levels and chemicals that can be perfectly safe for human use can cause serious skin irritation for dogs!

If you’re in a serious bind and have to use a human product, it’s probably fine once, but it’s never something you want to do frequently.

You risk your dog’s skin and coat becoming itchy, coarse, and even painful!

Now that we’ve given fair warning about human product use let’s dive into how to clean your pup without a bath. ⏬

🐶 Don’t miss out! Shop our Dry Shampoo for Dogs to leave your pup smelling and feeling fresh and clean. Shop & save here! 🫧


a dirty puppy who needs to be cleaned

As mentioned, puppies shouldn’t typically have baths until they are older than 8 weeks. Talking to your vet about when your puppy can start having baths is a good idea.

When you’re in a pinch and need to clean your dog without a full bath, it can feel daunting…

Kind of like when you realize you need to leave the house but don’t have time for a shower and find yourself spraying body spray or Febreze on yourself or maybe even rubbing your car’s air freshener on your clothes for a quick smell boost. 😜

No rubbing air fresheners on your puppy, so let’s look at some real solutions.

Generally speaking, you have a few main options for cleaning your puppy without bathing:

  1. Dog wipes
  2. Bucket/spray/spot cleaning with a rag
  3. Dry shampoo

Let’s look at each way below. 🔽


Dog wipes can be an effective way to clean a puppy without bathing them. And when you pair it with a good brushing routine you can really help your pup smell and feel clean!

A quality dog wipe is typically made with natural ingredients and is hypoallergenic. It’s essential to get wipes specifically for dogs and not everyday ‘baby wipes’ as they can be harsh on your dog’s skin and coat.

dog wipes can be used to clean your puppy without bathing them

The wipes can be used relatively frequently to clean your dog’s coat, paws, and other parts of their skin. Whenever I take my dogs on vacation, I try to pack some dog wipes so I can give them a quick cleaning without a full bath if needed!

While most are scent-free (to be safer on the skin), cleaning can help your puppy smell fresher!

This isn’t always the best option if your dog rolls in something or is especially dirty. I’d recommend our next puppy cleaning technique for that! 👇

🐶 Don’t miss out! Shop our Dry Shampoo for Dogs to leave your pup smelling and feeling fresh and clean. Shop & save here! 🫧


The easiest and most effective way to clean a dog without a bath (or between baths) is with a general spot-cleaning method.

You can accomplish this with a bucket of soapy water and a towel (we recommend using Sudsy shampoo bars), a spray bottle with a soapy solution, or even a warm rag with some soap on it (or no soap if you’d like).

You should also use warm (but not too hot) water when cleaning your dog, especially for puppies younger than eight weeks old who aren’t great at regulating their body temperature.

someone giving their dog a dry bath

You’d want to rub the rag or spray the soapy solution on your dog’s coat. You can rub it in with your hands or a rag for extra cleaning power.

It’s usually best to have an extra towel or rag that you can use to clean off excess soap and make sure your pup is dry. If you leave soap on your pup’s skin it can cause irritation.

You’re accomplishing the same thing you would with a bath, but your dog doesn’t have to be fully in the water! It’s a great option for “bathing” a dog that hates baths!

Of course, be careful around your dog’s eyes, ears, and mouth, as those places are usually more sensitive to soap and other potential irritants.


While each option has advantages and disadvantages, I LOVE using dry shampoo for my dogs between baths!

Using wipes is good for general cleaning, and the spot-cleaning method has its time and place! But I’ve found using dry shampoo to be the most effective way to help my dogs smell clean without a full bath.

Here’s how you can use dry shampoo to clean a dog without a bath:

  1. Give your dog a quick brush/combing to remove loose hair
  2. Shake dry shampoo on your dog’s back
  3. Rub the dry shampoo into your dog’s coat
  4. Brush your dog’s coat again for the full effect
how to clean a puppy without a bath using dry shampoo

When you choose a high-quality dry shampoo (more on that in a minute), you often get the benefits of ingredients that clean your dog AND ingredients that help them smell fresh!

Pupford’s Dry Shampoo for dogs has some truly powerful ingredients that not only clean and freshen your dog, but also repel bugs and pests!

We’ve made our dry shampoo with arrowroot powder and baking soda to clean your pup’s skin and even soak up excess oils. Plus, with a proprietary blend of dog-safe essential oils, it’ll leave your dog smelling fantastic!

Shop Dog Dry Shampoo here!

🐶 Don’t miss out! Shop our Dry Shampoo for Dogs to leave your pup smelling and feeling fresh and clean. Shop & save here! 🫧

And now, let’s get to our bonus tip for helping your puppy enjoy grooming time. ⏬


a lick mat can help a dog be less stressed during baths or other grooming

All dogs don’t love grooming time. Some dogs get extremely nervous or anxious during bathing activities.

The first thing to remember is that you should always slowly introduce new grooming experiences (baths, nail trimming, etc.) and use proper desensitization techniques to help them be more comfortable. You can learn how to desensitize a dog here.

And on top of desensitization, you can use a secret weapon to help your pup more enjoy grooming… A dog lick mat!

Lick mats are flat dog toys with grooves perfect for spreading things like peanut butter on and letting your dog lick off! You can even freeze the lick mat for extra mental work for your pup.

Using a lick mat while cleaning or brushing your dog can help keep them distracted and reduce their stress!

Check out our Pure Focus Lick Mats here.


one of the best ways to clean a dog between baths is with dry shampoo

Cleaning a puppy (or older dog) without bathing can sometimes feel tricky.

Hopefully, this article has helped you learn new ways to keep your puppy clean and smelling fresh, even between baths.

As a recap, here are three main ways to clean your puppy without bathing them:

  1. Dog wipes
  2. Bucket/spray/spot cleaning with a rag
  3. Dry shampoo

Be sure to snag a bottle of our Dry Shampoo today. It’s made with unique ingredients formulated to remove excess oil and dirt, freshen your dog’s coat, and leave them smelling AMAZING!

Shop Dog Dry Shampoo here!

How else do you clean your dog without a bath? Tell us in the comments below.

🐶 Don’t miss out! Shop our Dry Shampoo for Dogs to leave your pup smelling and feeling fresh and clean. Shop & save here! 🫧


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