Can I Wash My Dog With Laundry Detergent
Dog Care Tips · Dog Grooming Tips

Can I Wash My Dog With Laundry Detergent? 9 Ingredients That Say No!

Last Updated/Info Checked on October 20, 2023 by Scott

Ask yourself first – why do you want to use your laundry detergents when there are dedicated dog shampoos?

You should not wash your dog with laundry detergent because it has 9 ingredients that could harm their coat. It may ingest those ingredients that cause allergies, vomiting, and diarrhea. 

You may have run out of them and you’re searching for something to wash your dog with because there’s no time. Even in that case, I don’t recommend using the detergent at all. Owning a dog is not that easy. Make sure you understand the basics of dog grooming. Do not use a detergent to wash your dog.

Can I Wash My Dog With Laundry Detergent - Infographic

Can I Wash My Dog With Laundry Detergent?

There are several pet-safe laundry detergents but again, what’s the point when you could buy a pet shampoo?

pet-safe laundry detergents

Alkalies Cause Diarrhea And Dryness

Alkalies present in the detergent could wreak havoc with the intestines of the dog. 

It is one of the major ingredients in detergents, so you should be wary of it in the first place. 

I do agree that they could be used in the shampoo also. That quantity, however, isn’t a lot to cause diarrhea or dryness. 

In both ways, their main function is to remove dirt. Excessive quantities in your household detergents could strip the dog of its natural oils, thus, causing dryness afterward.


According to ASPCA, the surfactants, whether ionic or anionic, when ingested could lead to detergent poisoning. 

These substances are known to cause digestion problems along with respiratory complications. 

Your dog may end up aspirating which could lead to aspiration pneumonitis. 

I’ve seen many dogs fall victim to that and lose their fight for life. 

pH Modifiers

Most of the pH modifiers used in the detergents are there to do the obvious job – regulate the pH of the water. 

They don’t allow it to be too acidic or basic – just the right environment for soil to leave the fabrics. 

Your dog’s coat is quite different from fabrics, that’s basic knowledge. 

It’s mostly alkaline as FurEvolved notes. Even a slight disruption in the overall pH could send an invite to all sorts of bacteria to invade and make their colonies. 

Then, the god-awful itch, redness, and inflammation ensue. 

Optical Bleach Adds Little Benefit

You know the good ol’ bleach, right? How does it give a distinct shine to whites? There’s even an advanced form present in detergents. 

It reflects light to the advantage of the white color. The end result you see is brighter-looking clothes too good to be true. 

While your dog’s coat may benefit a little from that perspective, considering the fur color is white, the disadvantages still weigh much over that. 

You might as well use the optical brighteners available, especially for dogs. 

Enzymes Could Overload The GI Tract

We all thrive because the enzymes in our tract help break down the food we eat. 

The same is true for other animals, including dogs. They have them in their gut and there’s no plausible explanation as to why they should have them on their coat. 

They are like optical bleach – they may be used in dog shampoos to remove organic soils but ingesting them could lead to complications. 

That happens especially when your dog is healthy. 

Vets only recommend digestive enzyme supplements when the dog is suffering from such a deficiency. 

Overloading your dog’s GI tract with these even by accidental ingestion wouldn’t go well. 

Water Conditioners Could Cause Dryness

This type of conditioner is different from what you use with your dog’s shampoo.

It manages the water’s hardness, making it suitable for the foaming agents to take over. 

Imagine how well they’ll prepare your dog’s fur for foaming agents such as Cocamidopropyl betaine (CAPB). 

That’s a no-go area for any dog owner. 

Preservatives Can Cause Dermatitis

The top preservatives in dog shampoos are parabens. 

Parabens and waxes cause acute dryness in a dog’s coat that could lead to an extremely uncomfortable condition called dermatitis. 

Your dog may not die but it will go through unwarranted itching sprees that could potentially cause a wound! 

The wound may get septic and you know the rest of the story. 

Fragrances Could Be Toxic

Experts warn that you shouldn’t expose your dog to fragrances in any form – either applied on their coats or however. 

They contain substances that are toxic to these pets, leading to several complications that could attack their GI, respiratory system, and so on. 

Not just your household detergents such as laundry detergent, but you should even avoid dog shampoos with fragrances.

Different Dyes Could Fade Fur

Dyes unnaturally introduced to the dog’s fur have the potential to disturb its original color. 

That’s what we call fur-fading agents. 

Your dog’s coat could end up fading from different places. It may look like you’ve brought home a mutt or an inexperienced breeder has tricked you. 

While that may not happen in the first go, chances are still ripe that it could happen. 

Dr. Catherine also recommends that you use dedicated shampoos recommended by your vet!

People Also Ask

Answering some frequently asked questions related to dog washing.

What can I wash my dog with?

You could either concoct a home-based shampoo for the dog or invest in a harmless dog shampoo. There’s no other way I would recommend anything else beyond these. 
Home-based DIY shampoos shouldn’t have more than 3 ingredients, otherwise, what’s the point?

Can laundry detergent harm dogs?

They can absolutely harm dogs before you would know. 
They are not listed as harmful products for pets on many websites and consumer products, but the presence of some ingredients like enzymes, surfactants, dyes, fragrances, and preservatives causes dryness. 
In worst cases, they could lead to respiratory diseases, ending up in a hospital in an emergency. 

Can I wash my dog with laundry soap?

Laundry detergents and soaps are essentially the same things. They are made with more or less the same ingredients. 
Therefore, their mode of action and tendency to cause diseases are nearly equal. 
Do not use either of those to keep your dog safe from all sorts of allergies and diseases. 


Laundry detergents have a host of chemicals that do not do well with the fur of a dog. 

They could dry out their undercoats, thus, leading to inflammation and itchiness. 

Or, they could cause internal health problems by being ingested. One such example is digestive enzymes that are present in detergents.

You can buy detergents safe for your dog only to wash their laundry. That’s it.

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