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How To Wash A Dog’s Face (Complete guide to safe cleaning)

Key Takeaways

  • To wash a dog’s face, you’ll need clean, warm water, a soft washcloth, and a gentle soap or shampoo.
  • Simply clean your dog’s face with a wet cloth with soap, then rinse it using the fresh wet cloth.
  • Gently clean the areas around your dog’s eyes too without soap or shampoo. Be sure to remove tear stains and eye gunk.

If you are just beginning to learn how to wash a dog’s face, there’s no need to panic. Using a soft cloth with soap and water, just gently rub your dog’s face. Spread any skin folds to clean the areas in between. Finish off by rinsing the cloth with clean water and rubbing your dog’s face to remove the soap. Repeat the rinsing process if needed.

It’s never a bad idea to try to keep your dog clean, it’s part of basic dog grooming. I like to groom my dogs myself as I feel like it a good bonding time for us. After all, doing so not only helps my dogs look great—it can also greatly improve their smell. While washing a dog’s body isn’t always that hard, you may be a little worried about washing his or her face. It’s easy enough to do, though, once you learn how to wash your dog’s face in a safe manner. Let me teach you how.

How to Wash a Dog’s Face Using Wet Cloth

In reality, not every dog is going to put up with a full bath which makes it hard for many pet parents to keep a pup’s face clean. Fortunately, there are some other options that you can try out. 

One of the most common ways to clean off a dog who won’t sit in the bath is by simply using a wet cloth or baby wipes. Use a wet cloth to wipe down your pet’s face, making sure to avoid the eyes. Do this in several soft strokes to clean the face thoroughly. Then add some shampoo to wipe the dog down again. Take the third pass with a clean bit of cloth and you should be done.

If you’re looking for something immersive, you can use a bottle or cup to pour water over your dog. You can actually do this one outside, which makes it a great alternative for those dogs who are deathly afraid of going into a bathtub. 

A Guide to Safely Washing a Dog’s Face and The Rest Of His Body

It’s important to remember that a bath can be a scary experience for your dog. Even dogs with webbed feet who have water in their genetics might not love a tub, so you’re going to want to take a few extra steps to make this washing process easier. 

Get Everything Ready To Wash Your Dog’s Face Ahead of Time

One great way to help your dog get through this process is by being ready to go as soon as you have your dog in the room. For most, this means getting the necessary materials together. You’ll need dog shampoo, a sprayer or cup, and a cloth or sponge to wash your dog. You may also want to consider getting some cotton balls to block up your dog’s ears.

Make sure that you also get the water poured before your dog gets in. Keep the temperature lukewarm, as most dogs are quite sensitive to temperature changes. 

Wet the Dog’s Head

Starting the washing process involves getting the top of your dog’s head wet. You can do this by using a wet cloth with soap or a sprayer.

Dog being washed with dipper.

Clean Around Your Dog’s Eyes and Removing Tear Stains

Your next step is to clean around your dog’s eyes – remember, not in! You can get rid of ever-present eye gunk with a soft cloth or cotton ball and slowly clean the entire area. Don’t use shampoo here – it could seriously irritate your dog’s eyes. 


This is the hardest part for many pet owners, but the right shampoo can help you to avoid some stress. If you get a tearless, dog-friendly shampoo, you can simply place some of the product at the top of your dog’s head on his or her snout. Once it’s in place, you can gently scrub the shampoo into your dog’s skin, working against the grain to dog’s facial fur to stand up. Do this properly by lifting your dog’s chin to tilt his head and working on the shampoo.

Rinsing Off

Next up is rinsing. Again, gently spray water on the top of your dog’s head. You’ll work your way down this time, getting rid of all the soap on your dog’s body. Once you feel comfortable that the soap is mostly gone, you can rinse the dog down again to ensure that there’s no skin-irritating shampoo that’s been missed. 


Finally, make sure you dry your dog off. Start by patting your dog down with a towel, then let your dog shake off all the excess moisture. It is also a good idea to brush your dog’s facial hair, and not just his body hairs. Don’t be surprised if your dog starts running around like a lunatic – drying off after a bath is one of the common reasons why dogs get the zoomies. 

Cleaning Off a Dog’s Eye Crust

For some, the whole purpose of cleaning a dog’s face has to do with their eyes. If your dog tends to accumulate gunk around his or her eyes, you’ll want to follow some very simple steps in order to remove this substance. Fortunately, all you’ll really need is a clean cloth and some water. 

Take your clean cloth and wet it until it is damp. Once you’re ready, simply rub away the gunk until it is gone. You might have to rinse out your cloth a few times, but it’s a fairly easy process. 

How to Bathe The Rest of Your Dog

Now you know how to wash a dog’s face, but what about the rest of the dog? Dogs do tend to get a little nervous about getting a bath, but you can use much of what you’ve learned about washing a dog’s face to help with the rest of his or her body. You’ll use the same tools, for example, and you’ll also use almost all of the same methods to get your dog clean. 

The most important thing to remember about your dog is that you’ll need to go fairly slowly. Don’t make your dog scared of the bath – he or she is already dealing with enough terror as it is. Instead, slowly get your dog wet down with a cloth and then use that same cloth to ensure that your dog gets enough shampoo on him or her. You’ll go back again with a clean cloth to get all of the soap back off of your dog’s body.

Dog paws and bathing essentials.

Your goal during all this is to make the process as calm as possible. Pups that enjoy CBD oil for dogs may benefit from a medicated treat for this process. Praise your dog, talk to him or her gently, and make the bath seem as positive as you can. In time, your dog will learn how to tolerate a good bath. 

What to Avoid When Cleaning Your Dog

Now that you know what to do with your dog, you can figure out what not to do. You should definitely avoid getting water in your dog’s ears or eyes when possible, and you need to go out of your way to avoid getting shampoo in either of those places. Take some time to ensure that you don’t yell at your dog while he or she is in the bath, and certainly keep your dog away from any products meant for humans. Cleaning your dog’s face should be simple, as long as you pay attention to what you’re doing. Follow my guide and your dog will have a happy bath time experience every time.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How do you clean a dog’s head?

Cleaning a dog’s head isn’t a very difficult process. Start by getting a cloth and some dog-approved shampoo. Opt for a lukewarm bath for your dog, then wet your dog’s head using the cloth. Once it is sufficiently wet, work the shampoo against the grain of your dog’s fur, taking special care to avoid your dog’s eyes. Once you’ve done this, you can start to rinse off the dog’s face with the cloth, ensuring that you leave no shampoo behind. 

2. Can you use baby shampoo on a dog’s face?

Yes, you can use baby shampoo on a dog’s face as long as the product is labeled tear-free. As a rule, you really should try to use a product that is specifically meant for dogs, as these products have been approved by vets and they don’t have anything in them that can hurt your dog. If you can’t get a dog shampoo, though, your best bet is to get a baby shampoo that is meant to be tear-free and that is also meant to be used on babies that have very sensitive skin. 

3. How do I get rid of my dog’s Stinky Face?

The best way to keep your dog’s face from smelling is to make sure that it regularly gets washed. Even if you can’t wash your dog’s whole body, you should still try to wash his or her face. Get a cloth, then wet it down. Use that cloth to get your dog’s face wet, then use a dog-friendly shampoo to ensure that your dog’s entire face (and not his or her eyes) gets completely soaped up. When you’re ready, you can use a wet cloth to wash away all of the soap – something that should also take away a fair bit of the smell. 

4. How do you wash a dog without a showerhead?

There are some dogs who can definitely be washed by a showerhead. In fact, this can be a very efficient way to both wet down your dog and to make sure that you can work out all of the soap suds once he or she is properly shampooed. With that said, you don’t want to use a showerhead to wash a dog who is easily spooked, as the noise and the sudden pressure can cause the dog to become even more afraid of getting a bath than he or she was before. 

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