Tips for Keeping Pets Fresh and Clean

Natural ways to skip a trip to the groomer.

Baby Powder

Is the dog’s coat in need of a pick-me-up? Vigorously rub a handful or two of baby powder into your pet’s fur. Let it settle in for a couple of minutes, and follow up with a thorough brushing. Your dog will both look and smell great!

Baking Soda

  • The next time your pup rolls around in your compost heap, pull out the baking soda to freshen him up. Just rub a few handfuls of the powder into his coat and give it a thorough brushing. In addition to removing the smell, it will leave his coat shiny and clean.
  • If your pet is constantly scratching at his ears, it could indicate the presence of an irritation or ear mites. Ease the itch (and wipe out any mites) by using a cotton ball dipped in a solution of 1 teaspoon baking soda in 1 cup warm water to gently wash the inside of his ears.


Fido needs a bath, but you just don’t have time. Rub cornstarch into his coat and brush it out. The dry bath will fluff up his coat until it’s tub time.

Fabric Softener Sheets

If your best friend comes in from the rain and smells like a …well …wet dog, wipe him down with a used dryer softener sheet, and he’ll smell as fresh as a daisy.


Do you sometimes need to skip washing your hair in order to get to work on time? Keep a batch of dry shampoo on hand in an airtight container specifically for those occasions when your alarm clock “malfunctions.” Put 1 cup oatmeal in the blender and grind it into a fine powder. Add 1 cup baking soda, and mix well. Rub a bit of the mixture into your hair. Give it a minute or two to soak up the oils, then brush or shake it out of your hair (preferably over a towel or bag to avoid getting it all over). This dry shampoo mixture is also ideal for cleaning the hair of bedridden people who are unable to get into a shower or bathtub. Plus, it’s equally effective for deodorizing that big ol’ bath-hating mutt of yours.


Did your pet step on tar or roll in what you hope is gum? Rub a tiny amount of shampoo on the spot and gently draw out the sticky stuff toward the end of the fur. Rinse with a wet cloth.

Tomato Juice

Is there a dog alive that hasn’t been sprayed by a skunk at least once? If your dog gets skunked, douse the affected area thoroughly with undiluted tomato juice. Make sure to sponge some of the juice over the pet’s face, too, avoiding its eyes. Wait a few minutes for the acids from the tomatoes to neutralize the skunk smell and then give the dog a shampoo or scrub with soap and water. Repeat as necessary over several days until the smell is completely gone.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest