What Can I Wash My Cat With?

What Can I Wash My Cat With

Cats are fastidious and conscious self-groomers. They rarely need a bath unless they smell and look filthy, usually from an accident such as falling in the mud. Felines should only be bathed every four to six weeks to keep their skin healthy and their fur clean and shiny.  Vets recommend that they should only be bathed with a regular cat shampoo that is specially formulated for them and has a pH level around 6.5.

What can I wash my cat with?

If for any reason you run out of regular cat shampoo, you can always use an alternative that is safe for your cat. 

Here are some safe and effective alternatives to cat shampoo that you can use to wash your cat:               

1. Baby shampoo

If you don’t have any cat shampoo at home, you can wash your cat with baby shampoo (preferably Johnson’s Baby Shampoo). It has a gentler formula compared to regular shampoo and won’t harm a cat’s delicate skin. However, this will only work if you have a consistent supply of this product. 

pH level:  around six to seven 

Ingredients: water, citric acid, Cocamidopropyl betaine, PEG-150  distearate, fragrance and sodium trideceth sulfate, others

2. Dawn dish soap

Dawn dish soap is normally used in rescue centers to remove oil from rescued animals that have been affected by pollution.  It can also be used to clean your cat’s coat if she is covered with dirt, grime, or sticky residue. You should not use it in its concentrated form. Mix at least one-fourth cup of it with one-half cup of white vinegar and two cups of water. Lather the mixture into your cat’s coat and rinse well.  This is the only brand of dish soap that is considered safe for cats to use since the safety of other brands has not been established yet. 

pH level:   between 8.7 and 9.3 

Ingredients:  water, triclosan, sodium chloride, sodium lauryl sulfate, sodium Laureth sulfate and PPG 26, others 

3. Castile soap 

Castile soap is an all-natural, vegetable-based soap that is free of synthetic ingredients and animal fats. It is 100% pure and chemical-free. It comes in bar or liquid form and this biodegradable soap can be made from coconut, almond, olive, and other plant-based oils. Bathe your cat with the soap and rinse well to ensure that her skin won’t get irritated by the residue. 

Other uses of Castile soap include dish soap, dishwashing detergent, window cleaner, face and body wash, deodorant and  wound cleansing agent.

pH level: 8.9 

Ingredients:  coconut, hemp, almond, jojoba, olive, sunflower seeds, sodium hydroxide ( for soap) / potassium hydroxide ( for liquid form) 

4. Baking soda

This common baking ingredient and leavening agent can also be used to freshen up your cat. You do not have to moisten your cat’s fur; simply sprinkle the baking soda over her coat while avoiding her face. Rub it to the base of the coat and massage well before brushing it out.  It will strip away the dirt and your cat will smell good. 

pH level: eight

Ingredients:  sodium bicarbonate 

5. Cornstarch 

Cornstarch is widely used for culinary, household, and industrial purposes. It is most commonly used as a thickening agent for sauces, soups, and marinades. Surprisingly, it can also be used as a dry cat shampoo alternative. Simply sprinkle it over your cat’s fur, use your fingers to work it in, and brush it out thoroughly. Your cat will feel fresh and smell good. However, it cannot remove sticky or oily residue in your cat’s fur. 

pH level:  around seven ( if mixed with water )

Ingredients: contains carbohydrates, extracted from the endosperm of the corn 

6. DIY oatmeal shampoo

If you run out of cat shampoo but you have ground oatmeal and baking soda, you are in luck. You can use this to wash and bathe your cat. Combine one cup of ground oatmeal with one-half cup of baking soda and four cups of water.  Mix well and pour the mixture over your cat’s fur. Use your fingers to massage it through the fur and skin. Leave it for up to five minutes and rinse thoroughly with warm water.  

pH level: around 6.7 to seven 

Ingredients: Oatmeal is made of hulled oat grains; baking soda  is made of sodium bicarbonate. 

7. Baby wipes

Baby wipes are meant for babies, but they can also be used as an alternative to spot clean and remove stains in your cat’s fur.  Use only those that are fragrance-free and hypoallergenic to avoid skin irritations.

pH level: 4.5 to 5.5 

Ingredients: citric acid, glycerin, phenoxyethanol and aloe barbadensis, others 


Cats are fastidious groomers and they only need to be bathed every four to six weeks with regular cat shampoo. However, should you run out of it, you can always use equally-effective cat shampoo alternatives. These include baby shampoo, Dawn dish soap, and Castile soap. Baking soda or cornstarch can be used as a dry shampoo to freshen your cat’s fur and make her smell good.

Image: istockphoto.com / frantic00