Pro Cleaning Tips for Muddy Dogs and Messy Paws

Muddy paws are fun when they're outside, but once they come inside, they've gotta go!

Updated November 28, 2023
Man with dog in muddy forest

If you find yourself constantly dealing with muddy paw prints at your doorstep, let's chat about some strategies to keep both your home and your furry friend spick and span. Not only will these tricks help maintain a clean house, but they'll also ensure your dog's paw health is top-notch. Paw-cleaning not only keeps those paws pristine but also prevents any irritation or infections.

The Best Ways to Clean Muddy Dog Paws

When it comes to cleaning your dog's muddy paws, there are several options available, but the key is to pick one that matches the amount of mud they're bringing in. 

Dog Cleaning Wipes for a Little Mud

If your dog tracks in a little mud every time they walk in the door, pet-friendly cleaning wipes are your go-to solution. They're perfect for those times when your pup's paws aren't super dirty, just a little cruddy. They're great for a quick wipe-down, and you can get between the toes and around the nail bed more easily than with a towel.

Helpful Hack

Keep a pack by the door and give your dog's paws a quick swipe before they come inside. They're gentle, too, so no worries about using them pretty often.

Moderately Dirty Paws Do Well With Mudbusters

If you've never seen these before, they're pretty cool. Gadgets like the Mudbuster are great for moderately dirty paws — they're convenient and easy to use for a quick clean-up. You just stick your dog's paw in, swish, and the mud is washed off. They're portable, too, so can be used before your dog gets in your car after a hike. You'll want to bring in some extra water and towels, though, for those muddier pups.

A Wash Station for the Mud Monster

If your dog comes in covered in mud, looking like they've had an adventure in a swamp (and you know they're oh-so-proud!), the Mudbuster won't cut it. In these cases, take a more thorough cleaning approach, like a dedicated paw washing station or even a quick bath with some pet-friendly soap. My dog's station has:

  • A dog-specific towel, or one I don't mind using roughly
  • A removable shower head with a tub
  • A restraint that I can hook my dog to, so she doesn't jump out of the tub
  • Everything positioned within reach of my kneeling, so I don't have to walk away
  • A shower curtain, so I can pull it in front of my when my dog "shakes off"

Grab a rag and use lukewarm water and your fingers to gently separate each dog's toes. This dislodges any caked-in mud and debris that could scratch your dog's skin. If you're concerned about chemicals in the mud, use a hydrating dog shampoo. You can use it on your dog's paws alone, or all over their bodies.

Quick Tip

A removable shower head with an extra-long hose has been a game-changer for me and my dog. The shower head has different spray strengths that let me use the water pressure to gently rinse out the worst of it, and I don't have to battle my pup to stay under the shower or faucet.

Washing muddy dog in bathtub at home

Preventing Muddy Paws 

Adding preventative measures to your routine can be super effective to minimize the mud being trailed through your home and to ensure your dog's paws remain in good health. 

Dog Booties

Opting for a pair of dog booties can be a real game-changer when it comes to managing the mud and dirt your dog brings into the house. These little boots not only cut down significantly on the amount of mud tracked indoors, but they also serve a protective purpose. Think about it — when your dog is romping around outside, their paws are exposed to all sorts of things, from rough terrain to potentially harmful objects like thorns or sharp rocks. Dog booties act as a barrier, reducing the risk of cuts, scrapes, or other injuries to their paws. 

Quick Tip

Booties can be handy in extreme weather conditions, like hot pavement in summer or icy paths in winter.

Keeping Furry Feet Trimmed

Got a pup who's not too keen on those doggie booties? No worries — there's another trick to keep those muddy paws in check. Try keeping the fur on their feet trimmed. Excess fur between and around the pads of their paws can easily trap mud and dirt, making the mess harder to clean up. Plus, less fur on their paws gives them more grip on slippery surfaces. It's a win-win. 

Quick Tip

If you're not comfortable cutting your dog's paw fur, take them to the groomer nearby. 

The Best Doormat for Dogs

Try finding a doormat that's got a rough texture or is super absorbent — this kind is great for catching dirt or mud from your dog's paws as they come in. There are even doormats designed especially for dogs, made with microfibers, that are awesome at reducing the amount of dirt tracked inside. Put these mats at every door your dog uses to go in and out. You'll probably notice a big drop in the amount of dirt around your house.

Make Your Entry Way Mud-Friendly

Keeping your dog's paws clean doesn't have to break the bank or involve fancy gadgets. There's no need to splurge on expensive stuff to prevent them from tracking mud all over the house. You can easily set up a simple de-mudding station right in your mudroom or at the back door. 

dog walking in mud with stick

Here's what you need to gather from around the house:

  1. A large basket for holding clean, folded towels
  2. A rack with hooks on it to hang the dogs' leashes, coats, and sweaters
  3. A small, dedicated area to keep dirty dog booties
  4. Another basket to hold the dirty towels
  5. A plastic box or milk crate to hold wipes, brushes, a small water bucket for washing off the mud and ick, and pet-friendly soap

Run your dog through like they're a car at the car wash. Get them all prepped and wipe them down with a towel. Rinse their muddy paws to get all the chunky mud off, and apply the pet-friendly soap. Give them another rinse, throw the dirty towel in the bin, and grab the clean towel from the basket. Viola — your very own DIY dog de-mudding station.

Quick Tip

Place a bench or ottoman by the back door so you have a comfortable place to sit down when cleaning dogs or leashes.

Getting a Hold on the Muddy Paw Situation

No matter how diligent you are with these tips, it's pretty normal to still find a bit of dirt around the house. After all, it's not just your muddy dog who might bring in some grime — we humans are just as likely to track in a little dirt from outside. But regularly cleaning your dog's muddy paws can definitely cut down on the amount that ends up on your floors. It's all about minimizing, not eliminating, the dirt. Plus, keeping those paws clean isn't just about keeping your house tidy; it's also about looking after your dog's paw health.

Pro Cleaning Tips for Muddy Dogs and Messy Paws