When it comes to bathing I never thought to dilute the shampoo or conditioner, especially because the directions on the type I most frequently use (Cowboy Magic) does not say to dilute, but I’ve recently learned this is the grooming secret most pet owners don’t know. Grooming salons dilute, breeders dilute, show handlers dilute – pretty much across the board shampoos and conditioners are diluted before being applied, even those that do not specify you should dilute are diluted by the professionals in the dog world. So why don’t pet owners know this? Well, first, not many basic books geared at your average pet owner discuss this. Second, have you ever taken a course on grooming? Probably not, but kudos if you have! Third, and probably the most obvious, you buy more products if you are using more of them.
I’ve started diluting 2-to-1 – two parts water for every one part shampoo. I’ve found it makes it much easier to evenly apply the shampoo or conditioner, and I can now get a nice thick lather all over. It is easier to rinse, because you are using less shampoo, and the shampoo is evenly dispersed. I like to keep my shampoo in an easy to dispense bottle, and a ketchup bottle is perfect! You can either buy the plastic kind seen at hot dog stands (that you fill yourself), or recycle an empty bottle around the house. I prefer the kind from hot dog stands, because it’s easier to squirt from. Simply fill the bottle with 1 part shampoo, and then two parts water, and shake before use. You’ll want to have a very gentle water stream as you fill the bottle to prevent lots of bubbles, and so you can actually fill the bottle with water. I’ve marked my ketchup bottle with lines so I know where to fill to with shampoo and water. I’ve found one bottle of diluted shampoo is 3-4 baths, and it is less than the amount of shampoo I was using on one bath before I began diluting.
Once I’ve applied my diluted shampoo mixture I like to use my hands to really massage the coat, but if you are bathing very frequently, you will want to massage a little less to make sure you aren’t over doing the bathing and damaging the coat.
Want to know another way companies are getting your pennies? One of the most expensive words ever created for consumers was “Repeat”. Ever read the instructions that say, Wash… Rinse… Repeat? If you are giving a good bath, and really massaging the coat and evenly applying the shampoo you won’t need to repeat. Rumor has it, this step was added to shampoo instructions decades ago when a shampoo company was trying to figure out how to improve profits without raising the price. This could be an old wives tail, but it makes sense. There really is no reason you would need to repeat a bath, but yet this instruction step remains on dog and human shampoos alike.
For detail work, or to keep your dog’s coat fresh between baths, you might be familiar with the no-rinse waterless sprays on the market. I dilute these A LOT. I put just a few capfuls of the product (yup, none of the ones I own say to dilute) in a spray bottle, and add water. Shake before using. I find when diluted the spray nozzle is less likely to become clogged, and the product works just as well diluted.
Want to save even more money? You could make a dog shampoo with products found around your house. I’ve never tried this recipe, but I’ve heard great things about it:
1 part Soft Soap (antibacterial handsoap, the clear kind, generic works fine)
1 part white vinegar
1 part water
Put all products in a bottle, and shake before use. The vinegar does a great job of cleaning the coat without damaging it and removing product build up, and the Soft Soap actually cleans and conditions.
Update: I also wanted to let everyone know that Rachel's families dogs have been found, and despite a small scrape on one's nose they are in great shape, and happy to be home!