Dog Washing with Dr. Bronner’s Soap

Dog Washing with Dr. Bronner's

Tucker totally steals the show here, but before you get enamored with him, let’s talk about dog washing with Dr. Bronner’s.

The simplicity that makes Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile Soap great for our bodies, also makes it great for dogs. You’ve got that blend of saponified plant-based oils—coconut, olive, palm, jojoba, and hemp seed—which is exceedingly nourishing as it cleans thoroughly. And then you’ve got all the benefits of the various essential oils. No junk. No fillers. No irritants or cloying artificial fragrances. Plus, true soaps like Castile Soap kill fleas and other insects. It won’t give long-term protection, but it does clean them up beautifully.

In the video, I mention that I don’t predilute the soap. Tucker’s fur is so thick and holds so much water that once the soap hits it, it’s going to get diluted on the spot. However, you can certainly predilute it if it works better for your pooch based on their size and coat . Cut it in half or more with water, wet your dog, and lather away.

Tucksie, Chucks/Chuckers, Captain Peanut Butter, Tuckermort, Darth Tucker. His nicknames capture altogether his essence: a sweet, bumbling, uncomplicated, nose-less, loud-breathing pup. And that’s why we love him!

Essential oils and pets

Dr. Bronner’s products are scented only with essential oils, and because of this, I frequently get asked about the impact of essential oils on dogs and other pets. I am glad to hear that people are being mindful of essential oils, because when they’re undiluted, essential oils can be quite potent—which of course is why they’re utilized for various forms of relief. But as with all therapies, the dose makes the poison—or the cure.  

With Dr. Bronner’s Castile Soap, the concentration of essential oils is less than 2%. This then gets further diluted by water either in predilutions or during the use. Lastly, soap is a rinse-off product, which means that there is not a long exposure as you would find with a lotion or other leave-in product. Altogether, the level of exposure to essential oils is minimal. However, tea tree essential oils is not recommended for any animal, and if you have reservations about the interaction of essential oils and pets, opt for the Unscented Castile Soap.

Bathing cats

Cats are the exception. Because cats are such assiduous self-bathers—I have one beside me doing just that as I write—and also lack certain liver enzymes that can break down essential oils, in case there is any accidental unrinsed soap left on the fur, it is recommended to use the Unscented Pure-Castile Soap if you’re going to wash your cat.   

Further reading

This use and many more are in my book, Soap & Soul: A Practical Guide to Minding Your Home, Your Body, and Your Spirit with Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps, available now in hardback on or at your favorite bookseller, and as an eBook and audiobook (read by me!) from wherever you download or listen.  

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Rosalie says:

Can your unscented bar soap be used on dogs? We have been using the unscented liquid soap, and it works well but can be a little drying.

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Rosalie- Yes, it sure can! Lather up the bar in your wet hands to apply.

Megan says:

How frequently can you bathe your dog with Castile soap. I know too much bathing tends to dry out their coats but I was hoping I could wash my dog more often using Castile soap

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Megan- It will vary by dog based on hair length, oiliness of skin, breed, and such. In general, do be cautious of bathing your dog too often though, because as you mention, their skin has natural oils and over-bathing can cause dryness and irritation. If your dog needs more frequent bathing, use a mild scent, such as Citrus, Rose, or Baby Unscented, which is our most gentle of all.

Kim says:

Hi there, after using Dr. Bronner as a shampoo, would I need a conditioner for my maltese mix?
Thank you

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Kim- My two pups both are short-haired and I don’t use a conditioner. But if your dog’s coat needs some extra smoothing or detangling, you could use the Organic Hair Rinse or apple cider vinegar, very diluted, and then rinse off.

Maralee Bisio says:

I just purchased the Peppermint Dr. Bronner’s and I would like to try this on my dogs. However our Beagle cross has sensitive skin and we’ve struggled to get it his rashes and patchiness under control, I am wondering if this would be ok on his skin??

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Maralee- Our Castile Soap is gentle on sensitive skin, but peppermint essential oil can be intense and drying to skin. Instead, try the Unscented Castile Soap on your pup. It’s free of essential oils and extra gentle on sensitive skin.

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Danielle- Yes, that would be fine to mix in for your pup.

Aleysa says:

I love Dr. Bronners soaps not only do I use the soap to bathe my child. I also use this soap for my dog and cats as well. It saves me money and also a clear mind that the soap wont break them out. Thanks for making such a universal soap!!!

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Aleysa- Thanks for sharing that! It’s great to hear you find our products helpful for all of your family members!

STACI says:

I love Dr. Bronners soaps and I never thought about using them on my dog, which by the way is a rescue German Shepherd. I will definitely have to give this a try. Thanks for all of the great tips!!

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Lisa- There are a couple factors at play here in my answer. First, dog skin is generally found to be alkaline, as opposed to human skin which has an acidic pH. Castile soap is also alkaline. However, despite the fact that both dog skin and Castile soap are mildly alkaline, pH is not the foremost consideration in which soap or shampoo to use on your dog. What is more important is the aggressiveness of the surfactant (or cleaning agent). A surfactant can have the exact same pH as a dog’s skin, yet be far too aggressive and cause irritation by stripping the skin of needed oils. Their skin is not as impacted by pH as by the aggressiveness of the cleaning agent. (This is all true of people skin as well, which you can read more about in my article on the issue: All that to say, the surfactants in the Castile soap – which are saponified olive/coconut/palm oils – are mild, non-aggressive cleansers that gently remove dirt and grime without stripping the skin of its needed oils.

Loni Huerta says:

I use the peppermint on my dog it helps with her with the itchy, would this work on cats too?

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Loni- Because cats are fastidious bathers, we recommend the Unscented Castile Soap for cats. It contains no essential oils, which can be toxic to cats.

Mrs Z says:

We really like Dr Bronners soaps but noticed that it doesn’t rinse off of our shower stall and tub well, unless we scrub it off the walls with a cheap shampoo like Suave. We have hard well water so this is a problem that we have with natural soaps.
Our last dog had skin problems after using so I am glad to hear that an apple cider vinegar rinse works well in removing soap residue from a dog’s coat and skin. Thanks for the tip!
We are adopting a black lab rescue dog this week and he’ll need a good bathing once we get him home from the dog pound. The peppermint will be his initial bath soap throughout the summer and fall months, followed by your Gentle Baby Bronners throughout the dry winter months, along with apple cider vinegar rinse of course. 😇

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Mrs. Z- Congratulations on the new family member! Speaking from experience, black labs are such a joy! As you’re aware, a true soap like Castile, reacts with the minerals in hard water and leaves behind soap scum. It can be removed easily with more natural methods, such as vinegar or baking soda, which I discuss in my blog post, Scum, Scum, Go Away (

Jenna says:

Haha I like that you call him captain Peanut Butter! I have a lab/Aussie rescue and I call her Mrs. Peanut Butter 😂 Can’t wait you try my lavender soap on her!

Lisa Bronner says:

Glad to hear it’s not just us who come up with funny names for our pets!

Hua says:

Hi! I am glad you share this post!

We recently noticed that our husky mix has been itchier after a bath with the Peppermint soap. Do you think the soap is drying out the skin because of the peppermint? Or it might just be we didn’t rinse her enough? She is also shedding too. Maybe I worry too much since so many pups have no problems with the soap.

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Hua- The Peppermint is a drying soap, which works well with many dogs, but not all. Definitely try one of the soaps with milder essential oils. Lavender is nice for dogs, or even the Almond. Mildest of all would be the Unscented Baby-Mild. Thorough rinsing is important, too.

Deborah says:

Hi. Can I use dr Bonner’s all in one hemp citrus pure Castillo bar soap to wash my small dog. He has allergies and irritated itchy skin scratching ,licking etc I give him benydryl and he had dog skin rx shampoo , meds rx like prednisone which really don’t help. When I was at supermarket I picked up bar of soap for me but wondered if it would help my dog and his skin issues. Are oils citrus lemon lime etc ok for dog? Thanks

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Deborah- Yes! Wet your pup thoroughly. Massage bar into fur to create good lather. Rinse thoroughly. Avoid getting soap in eyes and water in ears. Any of our scents are safe for dogs. The essential oils in our soap are already highly diluted, which will be further diluted during bathing and then rinsed way.

Cristy Erickson says:

Please check your dog’s diet. its possible your dog’s allergies are food based rather than shampoo based. A sure sign of this is excessive paw licking

Catherine Pruitt says:

I was so excited to see this as I was searching the web-world for a homemade dog shampoo recipe.
I have used Dr. Bronner’s for at least 25 years now and just love every bit of it!
I have almond castile soap on hand currently, would this be okay for my dog? I have seen all the other scents mentioned but not almond. Just curious.
Thank you so very much for putting out this information!

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Catherine- You sure can! Use whatever scent you have on hand.

Savannah Aliy Jackson says:

Can I was my young 8 week old pup with Bronners lavender liquid soap? I was planning on diluting it. Thanks1

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Savannah- Yes, this is safe. As always, take care to keep away from your little pup’s eyes and face.

Patricia Vance says:

years ago, I used to make my own soap because I didn’t want all the extra gunk that is found in commercial soaps. since I knew what was in it I never hesitated to wash my dogs with it. however, since I started using Bronner soaps for myself I decided to try it on my fur babies. loved how it cleans and rinses so well. one of my girls, Greta, is a boxer, known to have dry skin issues; the other, Zelda, is a rescue w/long and short hair. Zelda was always frustrating when it came to bathing her because she has natural oils that dirt seemed to cling to, making it necessary to lather her two or three times. with bronners it is one good lathering and done! found that the bar soap is easiest because I can get her under-carriage better than with the liquid. I have used the lavender but I am switching to the baby unscented just because i think it will be gentler on Greta’s coat. by the way, love that tucker! what a happy boy!

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Patricia- That’s great to hear! Bar soap is a great idea for those hard-to-reach areas!

Simplicity says:

I just purchased the 18 n 1 hemp peppermint soap can I use it on my bull dog?

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Simplicity- Tucker loves the Peppermint! Start with a small amount and add more soap as needed.

Simplicity says:

Thank you Lisa. I waited on your response before trying the peppermint on my dog. I will keep you posted. God bless!

Olivia says:

Hello! I love, love the castile soaps! 😍 What kind of soap would you recommend if the dogs are currently itching & have hotspots? I’m so over with those shampoos that have chemicals! Will peppermint be ok or should I stick with the unscented one or can I combine both? We have big, hairy & happy dogs😄

PS: Tucker is sooooo cute😍😍😍

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Olivia- Your poor pup! Hot spots can be caused by so many things. Tucker gets them, and his are caused by allergies. The most gentle soap is the Unscented Castile, although Tea Tree Castile could help too.

5 things you didn't know you could use Dr Bronner's Castile Soap for... – Low Tox Life says:

[…] so switching to a soap that you already have on hand makes it super easy. Here’s a great little how-to video on giving your pups an effective clean with Dr Bronner’s. Don’t use peppermint on doggies, […]

Erika Maus says:

I just recently bought what I thought was the Dr. Bronner’s unscented baby castille soap, which we have used on our dachsunds, but upon closer inspection it is actually hemp unscented baby castille soap. Is hemp safe for dogs? Additionally we found, for the first time, the hemp Earl grey castille soap. Is this safe for dogs as well? Thank you in advance for your help. Bless you and your family for keeping the Dr. Bronner company going.

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Erika- All of our Castile soaps contain hemp oil because it is so nourishing for skin. As with all the oils in our soaps, the hemp oil is turned into soap during the saponification process. Tucker has gotten more baths with our soaps than either of us can count with no ill effects. Any of our scents are safe for dogs as the essential oils are at a low concentration of 2%, are then further diluted during bathing, and then rinsed off. We do recommend only the Unscented soap for cats though.

Käthe says:

I am currently living in an area with extremely hard water (434 ppm) and using Dr. Bronners castile soap on my own hair left me with a coating of soap scum (although I’ve had no trouble before). Is this also going to happen to my dog?

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Käthe- That is some hard water! Yes, build-up could happen on your pup’s coat. We just don’t notice it because their coat is stiffer. If you notice residue, rinse with a highly diluted apple cider vinegar – a couple of tablespoons in a cup of water – after bathing.

Bernadette Reilly says:

Just getting started with the dr bronner products. Going to wash my dog with the castille soap.

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Bernadette- Excellent! Hope your pup likes it as much as Tucker does.

Kristen says:

Hi! As with many dog shampoos they recommend letting it sit for a few minutes. I’ve been using bronners on my frenchie-babe but I’m wondering if I should be letting it sit – I’ve just been rinsing it after the scrub down. Any feedback?

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Kristen- No, no need to let the soap sit before rinsing off.

Dawn Palmby says:

My dog is itchy! She has a combination of char pei dry skin and allergies so I’m wondering if I should use lavender or the baby soap

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Dawn- The baby Unscented Castile Soap. It’s best for sensitive skin and allergies.

GIY Bubble Solution with Dr. Bronner's says:

[…] awesome nephew and niece for their bubble blowing (and popping!) help!  And to Tucker, the noseless wonder, for his super brief […]

Julie says:

Tucker is such a Beauty! What a gift from above he must be! I was looking at the lavender Castile soap for my fox terrier Ella Hope. She has a very bad habit of licking the soap while we are in the bath. Will this hurt her if she was to ingest a little bit of it? Thanks!

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Julie- Most likely it’s not a problem, but since Ella Hope is a little dog, use the Unscented Castile to be extra safe. Consider smearing some peanut butter on the shower wall during bath time. It will give your girl something else to lick. I’ll pass your sentiments along to Tucker. And for the record, we agree!

April Bryan says:

I’m getting two little Yorkies and plan on using the Dr Bronner baby castile soap on them. Can I use the citrus rinse on them to or no because of the citrus oils?

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi April- You sure can. Use diluted at 1/2 tsp. in a cup of water. You can also use a 1:3 dilution of apple cider vinegar and water. Enjoy your new littles!

Christine B says:

I wouldn’t recommend tea tree oil
Soap on dogs. But I love all the Dr Bronner soap’s are use lavender or unscented for my My rescue dogs.

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Christine- Both of those are excellent, mild scents for your pups. Yes, at too high of a concentration, tea tree oil would very well make a dog ill. However, the tea tea essential oil in our soaps is 2% – a very small concentration. It is then further diluted during the wash and rinsed off, leaving a very small window of time for absorption, and is no danger. Dogs also don’t clean themselves as laboriously as cats, so even if there were some residue from the tea tree oil, they would be unlikely to ingest it.

Nancy Jones says:

I have a bottle of your castile soap that is really old. Like 15 years old. Does it go bad? I love the idea of using your products to wash my dog since he has super sensitive skin.

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Nancy- Wow! I’m curious where your bottle has been hiding out all this time! We only guarantee our soaps for 3 years. We have heard of customers having it for much longer though. Trust your nose on this one. If it smells off, then it should be dumped. If not, try it out on your own hands before using it on your pup.

Samantha says:

just washed my golden retriever with the peppermint soap. i love how clean her fur is, i can definitely tell a difference. p.s. i would die for tucker

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Samantha- Excellent! I’d bet your pup is as happy as you are!

Kaitlyn says:

Is there a specific kind you use for your dog? Like peppermint, tea tree..etc? That you’ve found works best for getting rid of fleas?

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Kaitlyn- I like the Peppermint and Eucalyptus. My dad would mix them and call it the Euco-Peppo Bear Wash. Any of the Castile soaps will kill fleas and other bugs, as it dissolves their exoskeletons, but only while it is wet. Once it dries, it does not have much of an effect. Peppermint essential oil does have bug-repelling qualities, although there isn’t a great amount left on the dog after rinsing.

Dilutions Cheat Sheet for Dr. Bronner's Castile Soap says:

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Washing the Dog with Dr. Bronner's Liquid Castile Soap says:

[…] Check out this updated 2018 video: Dog Washing with Dr. Bronner’s Soap […]

Handwashing Delicates with Dr. Bronner's Castile Soap and Sal Suds says:

[…] the very same Castile soap, wash the kid and wash the clothes.  Why stop there?  Wash the tub, wash the dog, wash the sink, wash the rug…  Maybe I’m getting a little carried away here.  But then again, […]

Karen Mitchell says:

Hi, can I add a few drop of neem oil to some. Neem is great for fleas to kill them, as well as repellent and also great for receiving itchy skin from flea bits


Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Karen- I don’t have any experience with neem oil, but adding a few drops into the Castile soap for a mild dilutions should be fine.

Cleaning Stone with Castile Soap & Sal Suds says:

[…] mindset.  And that’s not even taking into consideration kids and a particularly exuberant, nose-less black dog.  However, don’t let me deter you from your marble floors.  I am so very glad there are people […]

Leah says:

Thank you for the video and commentary. Also, thanks for responding to the question on frequency of bathing. A previous video and this one mentions to avoid the face and ears. How do you clean the face and ears?

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Leah- Dampen a soft cloth in a very dilution mix of Castile soap and water and gently wipe your pup’s face, taking care to avoid the eyes. Rinse off by wiping the area again with a cloth dipped in plain water. Repeat this process on the exterior of your dog’s ears, avoiding getting water into the ear. Confer with your vet for cleaning the inside of the ears.

Sal Suds or Castile Soap - Which One Should You Use? says:

[…] animals – Any Castile soap scent on my dog. Baby Unscented on my […]

Courtney says:

Hi and thank you for posting/sharing! I’m sure it depends on each dog, but is there a recommended number of times per month a dog should be bathed with the castile soap? Thank you.

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Courtney – It really does depend on so many things. If your dog has long hair that catches dirt and grime, you’ll want to bathe him or her more often than a short-haired dog. Same with a pup who is outside and active, digging holes and such, versus a dog who is more often snoozing indoors. In general, your nose can be a good guide here. Do be cautious of bathing your dog too often though, as their skin has natural oils and over-bathing can cause dryness and irritation.

Mary says:

I just wanted to let you all know that the lavender soap works like a miracle if your dog has been skunked!!!! I have tried tomato soup and all the other remedies but this soap takes all of the scent.

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Mary – I’m so sorry you had to go through that! But I sure appreciate the tip!

Deborah Schaffer says:

Thank you, I’ve been using this for years I’m going to give my Lulu a bath today, I’ll give it a try!! Save some money as well. I have the peppermint straight out of the bottle right???? Thanks again.

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Deborah – Using it straight depends on weight and thickness of your furry friend’s coat. Tucker’s coat is very thick and holds so much water that the soap is instantly diluted. If your dog’s coat is thin, or if you’re not sure, dilute it first. You can add in more soap if needed.

Julie Wendorf says:

I have a 13 yr old shitzu/poodle mix that weighs 15 lbs. She is going thru a pancreatic flare up and pretty sick. We just found fleas on her for the first time in her life. Is the 18-1 Hemp lavendar safe for her right now? I’m not putting any toxic chemicals in or on her ever again. She has been fed a healthy home cooked diet with probiotics and 2 other supplements for the past 2 years.
These fleas got to go!

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Julie – Poor pup! Yes, the Lavender Castile soap is safe for bathing her. It will kill the fleas it comes into contact with while wet, but once it dries it has no effect. Also, since it doesn’t kill the eggs, you’ll want to bathe her more frequently to stay ahead of the fleas. Be sure to also wash her bed/bedding frequently. You can do this with the Castile soap – use 1/3 cup in a top loading washer and add 1/2 cup vinegar to the rinse cycle (halve these measurements for an HE washer).

Jessica says:

I just got the tea tree soap and was very shocked to see “wash your dog” on the list of uses because tea tree is extremely toxic for dogs. :/

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Jessica – I always appreciate a fellow label reader! At too high a concentration, tea tree oil would very well make a dog ill. In our soaps, the tea tree essential oil is at a low concentration of 2% tea tree oil. That, combined with the fact that the soap further diluted during the wash and then rinsed off, leaves a very small window of time for absorption, and is no danger. Also, dogs also do not clean themselves as arduously as cats, so even if there were some residue from the tea tree oil, they would be unlikely to ingest it. And of course soap should always be kept away from a dog’s face during bathing. If you’re not comfortable using the Tea Tree Castile soap on your dog, the Peppermint, Eucalyptus or even Unscented all work equally well on dogs.

Elly du Pre says:

What about cats? Can I use the soap on my 16 year old long haired cat?

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Elly – Yes, you can! We recommend using our unscented Baby Mild Castile on cats. As they are more sensitive to essential oils than dogs, you will want to avoid them with your cat, and our unscented has none.

Michelina M says:

Tucker is awesomely cute. How do you keep his teeth so clean?
Rescue dogs forever!

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Michelina – On Tucker’s behalf, thank you! I can’t take responsibility for his teeth. Other than feeding him dry kibble, which I hear helps, I don’t do anything for his teeth. He’s not a chewer, so he’s never been interested in those dental chews. I bought him a toothbrush once with the best of intentions, but I never used it.

Johnny says:

Is there any concern with getting it in their eyes? I still use “no more tears” baby shampoo because I worry about eye irritation. I’ve gone “Full Bronner” for my own cleaning rituals, would be happy to switch my pups too!

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Johnny – Soap would irritate dogs’ eyes just as it would ours. I just am careful to wash well away from them and make sure the water sprays or falls back away from the eyes.

Margarita Cramer says:

Wish I would have known about Dr. Bronner’s soaps when we had our two black labs. Will keep it in mind if we decide to get another lab. For now, I will share the success with my friends with dogs.

Lynn says:

Sweet, sweet Tucker—he’s got a cute little manatee look going on! So glad he’s doing well! I gave up on “dog soaps” long ago and just use my Dr. B’s without any issues. No more itching, irritation, or chemically-smelling dogs. Simple and better….that’s the way we roll around here.

Lisa Bronner says:

I’m with you, Lynn! The simplest is way is usually the best!

Jennifer says:

Right now I am using Dr Harveys Herbal Protection Shampoo, which is also COMPLETELY non-toxic.
When the bottle is empty I plan on saving the bottle and making my own version of Dr Harveys Herbal Protection Shampoo using Dr Bronners Lavender Liquid Castile Soap, to which I will add the flea/tick repelling essential oils.

Leonbience says:

Great video and lovely gardens. I have been using it on my dog for years. I love how well it lathers and how easily it rinses out of his coat, and talk about shiny coats. Great product, we love it and use it in our home for our own body wash and shampoo, and absolutely love this product. My fave is the citrus.

Lisa Bronner says:

So glad to hear it! Thank you for your kind words. For full disclosure, that’s not my garden, but isn’t it gorgeous? You can tell how thrilled Tucker is with the grass.

About Lisa Bronner

My grandfather was Dr. Bronner, my family makes soap, and I share ways to use it plus tips on greener living.

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