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Cornstarch for Matted Dog Hair: A Heck of a Hack!

Ready to pull your own hair out when you find a mat in your dog’s fur? Good news! There’s a solution for matted dog hair that may be as easy as looking inside your own pantry!

Using cornstarch for matted dog hair is one DIY dog mat hack that Happy-Go-Doodle Chloe (my Goldendoodle sidekick) and I couldn’t wait to share with you.

Goldendoodle dog's cute face looking into the camera after her pet parent used corn starch for her mat
Happy-Go-Doodle Chloe’s here with a helpful hint for dog mats!

What’s the rub about mats?

If you’re the mom of a Goldendoodle, Poodle mix, or a long-haired dog, you’ve probably encountered a nasty mat hiding behind a fluffy ear, underneath an “armpit,” under the hind legs, or along the collar area.

Even with regular brushing, at-home grooming, or taking your fur baby to a professional groomer, mats can happen.

The culprit is basically friction. Rubbing causes the hairs to tangle. Over time, the tangle turns into a mat—a combination of loose and attached hairs.

Of course, preventing mats in the first place is ideal. However, mats can creep up quickly, so having dematting solutions at the ready is the next logical option in giving your dog a healthy coat.

Cornstarch for Matted Dog Hair: A Heck of a Hack

Rather than pull your own hair out trying to tame the dog tangles, please watch the video below for my go-to tips on how to use cornstarch for matted fur.

For step-by-step instructions and pictures, read on.

How to remove a dog mat using cornstarch

First of all, in my opinion, this hack is for detangling small mats.

If your dog has large mats, large matted areas, is severely matted, or the matting is causing skin irritation, it will be in your dog’s best interest to consult a trusted professional groomer or your vet.

The last thing you want to do is tug at or pull on mats and potentially hurt your furry friend.

Red dog with curly fur investigating the dog grooming table where tools sit for removing a mat including cornstarch and a wide tooth comb

My dog’s mat was not close to the skin and was small—about the size of a quarter. So cornstarch and a comb were the best tools of choice.

Here are our step-by-step instructions:

1. Gather your supplies ahead of time.

Having the right tools for the job is the first step for success. Gather these supplies before you begin.

  • Cornstarch
  • Stainless steel dog comb
  • Dog brush
  • High-value treats
  • Towel—if you’re concerned about the mess from cornstarch
Cornstarch container, stainless steel dog comb, and dixie cup of cornstarch sitting on a dog grooming table,  which are great tools for removing a mat from dog's hair with cornstarch

Since my dog’s mat was small, I found that I had the best control and precision using an Andis stainless steel fine-tooth comb.

However, you could use a slicker brush in place of a comb. (I’ve also had success using the Chris Christensen brush for mats. I think it’s the best brush for Goldendoodle grooming.)

2. Find a spot in your home (or even outside) that’s comfy for your dog.

In choosing your work surface, keep in mind that cornstarch is messy! You may want to choose a location that’s easy to clean, or try placing a towel over your work surface.

For our session, our dog grooming table was the obvious location. Chloe is used to hopping up on our grooming table for brushing and grooming.

Yes, I groom my fluffy Muppet dog myself and even enjoyed learning how to trim a Goldendoodle’s face.

Before beginning, I gave Chloe a peanut butter-filled Kong toy as a distraction. It kept her occupied and happy as I worked on the mat.

Also, it’s always worth mentioning that some brands of peanut butter contain xylitol, an artificial sweetener that is highly toxic to dogs. Please check your peanut butter label.

3. Sprinkle cornstarch onto your dog’s mat.

Hand holding paper cup and fingers holding a pinch of cornstarch for removing a dog mat. A curly haired Goldendoodle dog is standing in the background.

I poured a little cornstarch into a Dixie® cup and used my fingers to sprinkle a generous amount on my dog’s mat.

4. Hold the mat at the base (near the skin) with your fingers.

To prevent your dog from feeling an accidental tug of the comb, don’t start combing at the base of the mat. Instead, hold the mat in your fingers near your dog’s skin. Also, you can loosen the matted hair a bit with your fingers before combing.

Hands at the base of the dog's mat gently loosening the mat a bit after cornstarch was applied to the dog mat

5. Starting at the tip of the hair, comb or brush the mat and gently “work” the tangle out.

It’s important to start at the tip of the hair and comb it first. Then keep working toward the root. The cornstarch helps the comb glide through the mat.

stainless steel comb running though the tips of the dog's mat after applying cornstarch

6. Sprinkle more cornstarch on the mat if needed.

As you’re combing out the tangle from tip to root, it might be a good idea to add more cornstarch if needed.

7. Give your dog lots of praise and sweet talk as you work.

I talk to my dog all the time, but my sweet talk really ramps up when I’m working on a dog mat. Between my praise and the Kong treat, Chloe didn’t even notice as I combed through the cornstarch-covered mat.

red goldendoodle dog intent on licking dog kong toy while cornstarch was applied to mat and it was combed out

8. Once you’ve worked the tangles out, smooth the hair by brushing or combing.

After you’ve worked the tangle completely out of your dog’s coat, run the comb through the detangled hair one last time. Then give your dog a high paw for being patient!

Close-up of a curly haired Goldendoodle dog's face after using cornstarch to remove a dog mat and title says, all done all smiles

Other helpful tips for removing a mat from your dog’s coat

  • If your fur baby has thick mats or has severe matting, talk with a professional dog groomer and come up with a plan that is least painful for your dog.
  • Don’t give your dog a bath before removing mats. Water may tighten the mat and make it harder to remove.
  • Frequent grooming is your best way to defend against mats. For helpful hacks on brushing your dog, please check out my article on how to groom your Goldendoodle, which includes my daily grooming routine and infographic.
  • Since Goldendoodles are a cross between a Poodle and Golden Retriever, coat types vary from straight to wavy to curly hair. This means some coats are more prone to matting and require significant daily care while other coats are easier to maintain. However, all Goldendoodles need frequent brushing to keep mats at bay. This is especially true for dogs with long hair.

Thanks for taking time out of your day to stop by and get the 4-1-1 on using cornstarch as a dog mat hack. We hope we’ve helped dog owners turn a hairy mess into a smooth success.

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Hands combing cornstarch through dog mat using a comb and the title says, How to remove dog mats with cornstarch

Do you have tips for removing a mat from your dog’s hair?

Please comment below! It’s a joy to learn from each other.

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Wednesday 25th of October 2023

I have two Aussiedoodles with completely different coats. One loves being brushed, the other which needs daily brushing does NOT!

Jenise Carl

Wednesday 25th of October 2023

Aussiedoodles are so adorable! Our two Doodles have very different coats too. Have you tried the Chris Christensen brush? It's a favorite tool in my grooming kit along with the Ice on Ice Detangler. Thanks so much for stopping by. Tail wags from our pack to yours.

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