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Can I Use Dove Soap On My Cat? Cleaning Efficiency & Alternatives

Cassidy Sutton

By Cassidy Sutton

tabby cat taking a bath

So, you need to wash your cat, but you don’t have any cat shampoo. It seems like every time you need something for your pet, you suddenly don’t have it. Don’t fret! It happens to all of us pet owners at some point.

Every pet professional will tell you that cat shampoo is the only product you should use to wash your cat, and it’s true. Cat shampoo is the best option. But sometimes, we don’t have what we need, and we try to improvise.

Today, we’re answering your questions about Dove soap. Can you use it on your cat? As a general answer, no. Let’s find out the details.

Can I Use Dove Soap On My Cat?

Here’s the plain answer: No, you shouldn’t use Dove soap on your cat. We don’t recommend this for a few reasons. The primary reason is that animals have a different skin pH level than humans.

Our skin ranges from 5.4 to 5.9 on the pH scale. This means our skin is more acidic. On the other hand, cat skin is more alkaline, resting between 5.5 and 7.5 on the pH scale.

Looking at these numbers, it’s clear that there’s an overlap. This can happen since many factors affect skin pH level, like location, climate, and skin type. The breed can even affect an animal’s skin pH.

However, that doesn’t mean using human soap on cats is okay.

Using a human soap like Dove may clean your cat’s fur, but it can lead to skin irritation with dry skin, rashes, hot spots, etc.

We know it’s tempting to reach for that soap bar, especially in an emergency. Instead, try the following options until you can find some cat shampoo.

cat taking a bath
Image Credit: Irina Kozorog, Shutterstock

Safe Cat Shampoo Alternatives

It helps to know that you have options for bathtime emergencies. Luckily, you can use a few natural products to keep your cat clean. You might already have these products on hand.

1. Dawn Dish Soap

The great thing about using Dawn dish soap? Almost everyone has it in their home. Many people know that wildlife rescue centers use Dawn dish soap to clean wildlife of oil and other impurities.

You can use Dawn dish soap on your cat, although we wouldn’t use it on a regular basis. As we said before, it is always better to use an actual cat shampoo. This is a great option for kitties who have motor oil on them.

Unfortunately, we can’t speak for other dish detergents. If you use another dish soap brand, it’s best to avoid using it on your cat.

Since Dawn helps strip harmful oils from wildlife, it will do the same for your cat’s natural oils. Keep in mind that your cat’s skin may feel dry after the bath.

2. Castile Soap

Castile soap is a popular alternative cleaner for many reasons. It’s non-toxic, natural, and can clean almost anything, including your cat. Many castile soaps have coconut oil, castor oil, or hemp, which are all fine for your cat’s skin. Because castile soap is natural, you’ll need to dilute it. Otherwise, the pure form may be too harsh on your cat.

Only use fragrance-free, 100% castile soap. You don’t want fragrance on your cat’s delicate skin since some essential oils are toxic to cats. Unfortunately, castile soap often comes with added fragrances from essential oils. If you have a bottle of plain castile soap, feel free to use it for this bath until you can purchase some real cat shampoo.

3. Baby Shampoo

Scientists have formulated baby shampoo to gently cleanse a baby’s fragile skin without irritation. Technically, baby shampoo is human shampoo, but it has a different effect on animals than adult shampoo.

Baby skin pH levels are higher than adult skin, around 6.34 to 7.5. These levels change as we age. Because baby skin is more alkaline, baby shampoo is safe for cats.

Baby shampoo isn’t something you want to use on your cat regularly. This option won’t work for everyone since it’s unlikely to have baby shampoo if you don’t have children. You must only use fragrance-free baby shampoo as well.

Keeping your pet's skin and coat clean and healthy is very important, but finding a great shampoo can be harder than the actual grooming! We love our Hepper Pet Shampoos because they makes grooming so much easier. These pH-balanced formulas are made with natural ingredients like oatmeal, cucumber, and aloe. They are free of phthalates, sulfates, and soaps and very gentle on your pet's skin. Now you just need to decide which formula is best for your fur baby! Here’s a quick guide to help you choose the right option for your pet’s next bath!

Hepper Oatmeal pet shampoo
Hepper Colloidal Oatmeal Pet Shampoo

Hepper Waterless No Rinse Pet Shampoo
Natural cucumber & aloe scent
Natural cucumber & aloe scent:
Natural cucumber & aloe scent:
Safe for cats & dogs
Safe for cats & dogs:
Safe for cats & dogs:
Rinsing required
Rinsing required:
Rinsing required:
Free of harsh chemicals & nasty ingredients
Free of harsh chemicals & nasty ingredients:
Free of harsh chemicals & nasty ingredients:
Lathers easily
Lathers easily:
Lathers easily:


baby shampoo
Image Credit: Monika Wisniewska, Shutterstock

4. Vinegar

Vinegar is a natural flea and tick repellent and helps neutralize odors. It may even help with dandruff. As long as you dilute it, vinegar could be a suitable method for cleaning your kitty.

This method is a watery solution, so don’t expect any suds. You can use white distilled vinegar or apple cider vinegar. You don’t want to use too much, though. It’s best to avoid your cat’s face since the scent alone is powerful.

5. Baby Wipes

If you have some baby wipes onboard, you can effectively clean your cat without needing to put them in a bath. Pet wipes can also work since they have ingredients that are non-toxic to pets. Either option will do!

You have to be cautious of the baby wipes you use. Different brands of baby wipes come with a variety of ingredients. It’s better to use Water Wipes if you can. Also, you can’t remove tough grease or stains, so don’t expect a deep cleanse.

cat's ear is being cleaned with ear cleaner wipes
Image Credit: NONGASIMO, Shutterstock

6. Baking Soda

Baking soda is another natural product with several benefits for cooking, cleaning, and even cleansing your cat. Realistically, you won’t get a deep cleanse like a fully immersive bath can offer since you’re limited to how much baking soda you can use. Plus, stains and oil won’t wash away.

However, this method is ideal for nervous cat owners wanting to deodorize their cat’s coat to smell fresh. Try applying baking soda to your cat’s coat and massaging it into your cat’s skin. Thoroughly remove the baking soda with a dry washcloth afterward.

7. Cornstarch

Cornstarch won’t offer a deep cleanse for your cat’s coat and won’t wash away oil and stains. However, you can use it to absorb excess oil and remove stains. It can even help remove mats and tangles.

Your cat should be fine with cornstarch if it has a corn allergy, but it may be best to try baking soda instead. Or, you can use arrowroot powder, a non-toxic plant-based thickening agent.

Image Credit: Halil ibrahim mescioglu, Shutterstock

Wrapping It Up

Dove soap isn’t a good option for cleaning your kitty, even if it is an emergency. It might make your skin soft, but it could have the opposite effect on your cat.

You’re not always thinking about the little details when you need to wash your cat in a jiffy. It’s hard not to reach for the nearest bottle of soap. Thankfully, there are plenty of options to help clean your cat effectively without disturbing their sensitive skin.

Featured Image Credit: Marie-Claude Lemay, Shutterstock

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