Self-Service Pet Washes

DIY Guide to Self-Service Dog Wash:

A trip to the groomer can cost a pretty penny, but many of the tools you need to clean your dog should be available at your local self-service dog wash.


As a dog owner, you’re likely familiar with the joy of a freshly bathed pup. Soft skin, bright eyes, and the fluffiest fur on the block. The benefits of bathing aren’t just superficial; keeping your pet clean can also help prevent itching in dogs with allergies and heal inflamed skin and damaged hair.

Here is a DIY guide to bathing and grooming your favorite roommate:

First, check the calendar: how often do you actually have to bathe your dog? A general guideline is that most dogs should be bathed at least once a month using dog shampoo to prevent their skin from becoming too dry.

Factors like weather and daily activities can affect how often your pet needs to hop in the tub. If you and your dog like to go hiking or swimming during the summer, you may need to plan for a couple of extra baths per month. Your dogs may also appreciate a cool bath every other week in hotter months, especially if they spend a lot of time sweating outdoors.

Toys and play are essential before you even get your pet into the tub. Play with them in the dog wash and bring in favorite toys before you get to scrubbing. Basically, you’re teaching them the dog wash is not a scary place. Of course, like kids, toys in the tub are fun for your pet.

If it’s your first visit to your dog wash do a little reconnaissance ask to be taken on a tour to make sure the facility has everything you need to clean your best friend. Bonus points if the dog wash has a savings card for frequent users!

  1. Ask them how frequently they clean the tubs and bath area.
  2. Hopefully, the dog wash has a long water-proof apron available for you to wear while cleaning your pup.
  3. Your self-service dog wash tub should have a bathmat down to prevent slipping in the tub. Your pet will have something to cling to and bathing won’t be traumatic — or seem like a bad rehearsal of Ice Capades.
  4. The water supplied should be lukewarm making sure it’s not too hot or too cold!  For instance puppies and kitties are very sensitive to hot and cold. Just make sure the water is lukewarm, so their sweet, sensitive, baby skin won’t burn. Your dog wash should be using a handheld shower head type sprayer to help control the water delivery.
  5. A selection of shampoos should also be available varieties can include oatmeal shampoo for instance to help relieve a dry, itchy coat and make sure a conditioner is also available.
  6. Once you place your pup in the tub, gently apply one of their shampoos until your dog is fully lathered, taking care to avoid the ears, nose, and eyes. Almost done!
  7. Make sure you remove all the shampoo before bringing out the towels, as any lingering remnants can lead to skin irritations. Fresh clean towels should be available for drying your pup as many as you believe you might need depending on the size of your best friend.
  8. After you’ve done your best to remove as much water as possible a gentle blow dryer should be available that is not too hot, it should be set cooler to warm to dry your clean pal off.

Campaigning for pet parent of the year? Go the extra mile after bath time and pay attention to those eyes, ears, and nails.

If your dog tends to get stains or gunk around the eyes, a quick clean will do wonders. To clean around your dog’s eyes, use a damp (and clean) washcloth and gently wipe around the eye area to help loosen and remove any build-up. Avoid using the shampoo near their eyes as it could lead to irritations.

If you’re up for it trimming your dog’s nails is actually not as difficult as you might think. To begin, use a pair of dull children’s scissors to clip any excess fur surrounding your dog’s nails. You’ll need a scissor-type clipper made especially for dogs for the next step.

Separate each individual nail using your finger and clip nails at a 45-degree angle. Clip only small sections of nail at a time, until you see the white inside and a small spot of black inside. Do not go any further than this point, as you can cut the quick and cause your dog to bleed. If this happens, you can use the corn starch at the end of the nail to stop the bleeding.

Ear cleaning, the last frontier, is trickier than nail and eye cleaning. A dogs’ ears are very sensitive, and one wrong move can cause serious damage. Get your pup accustomed to ear cleaning by slowly associating it with something positive, like fresh treats.

Once your dog is familiar with all the action around his ears, start using cotton balls – not swabs – and a dog-safe ear rinse. Wet the cotton ball with the ear rinse solution and start out wiping the outer part of their ear, followed by the inner section. Make sure not to go too far to avoid potential damage. Add ear cleaning to your weekly roster to prevent any dirt build-up or infections.

With a few key purchases, you’ll be able to keep your dog (and home) cleaner using your neighborhood dog wash.  Oh by the way, they do the cleaning up after you’re gone.