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

goldendoodle dog's cute face, photo
Happy-Go-Doodle Chloe’s here with a helpful hint for dog mats!

Ready to pull your own hair out when you find a mat in your dog’s hair? 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 a DIY dog mat hack that my Goldendoodle sidekick, Happy-Go-Doodle Chloe, and I thought was share-worthy.

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 dog mat hiding behind a fluffy ear, underneath an “armpit,” or along the collar area. Even with consistent brushing, at-home grooming, or taking your fur baby for professional grooms, mats can happen.

The culprit is basically friction. Rubbing causes the hairs to tangle, and 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. But the reality is that mats can creep up quickly, so having dematting solutions at the ready is the next logical option in giving your dog a healthy coat.

So rather than pull your own hair out trying to tame the dog tangles, watch the video below for tips on how to use cornstarch for matted fur. Or read on for step-by-step instructions.

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 or is severely matted, it will be in your dog’s best interest to consult a trusted grooming professional or your vet. The last thing you want to do is tug at or pull on mats and potentially hurt your furry bestie.

Goldendoodle dog investigating the table with cornstarch and comb used for removing mat, photo

Chloe’s mat was not close to the skin and was small—about the size of a quarter—so cornstarch and a comb were my tools of choice. Here are our step-by-step tips:

1. Gather your supplies ahead of time.

  • 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 as examples of items needed for removing a mat from dog's hair with cornstarch, photo

Since the mat was small, I had good control and precision using first the wide-tooth end and then the narrow-tooth end of the stainless steel comb. However, a slicker brush would work too. I use the Chris Christensen brush because I think it’s the best brush for Goldendoodle grooming.

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

Chloe was happy to hop up on her grooming table that we use for at-home grooming. (Side note: If you’re interested in grooming your Goldendoodle at home, check out our tips and video on how to trim a Goldendoodle’s face. Suesan Watson, a groomer of the year at the Westminster Dog Show, demonstrates her techniques.)

I gave Chloe a peanut butter-filled Kong toy as a distraction. It kept her occupied and happy. (Warning: As integrative veterinarian Dr. Julie Buzby explains in her article on xylitol, some brands of peanut butter include this artificial sweetener that is highly toxic to dogs. Always check the label. Consult your vet if you’re not sure what treats to give your dog.)

Also, this is probably obvious, but it is worth mentioning: Cornstarch is messy! Choose a location that’s easy to clean or place a towel on your work surface.

3. Sprinkle cornstarch onto your dog’s mat.

hand holding paper cup and cornstarch with goldendoodle dog in background, photo

I poured a little cornstarch into a Dixie® cup and used my fingers to sprinkle a liberal amount onto Chloe’s mat.

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

This will help prevent your dog from feeling an accidental tug. Also, I like to separate the matted hair a bit with my fingers.

hands working the mat at one of the steps for using cornstarch for matted dog hair, photo

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, photo

6. Sprinkle more cornstarch on the mat if needed.

7. Keep it positive and give your dog lots of verbal praise.

Chloe didn’t even notice when I worked on the mat. She was totally focused on her treat.

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

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

close-up of goldendoodle's face after using cornstarch to remove a dog mat and title says, all done all smiles, photo

Then give your dog a high paw. You and your dog make a great team!

Other helpful tips for using cornstarch for matted dog hair

  • If your fur baby has quite a few mats or is severely matted, talk with a professional 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 will tighten the mat and make it harder to detangle.
  • Frequent grooming is your best defense against mats. For helpful hacks on brushing your dog, please check out my article, Goldendoodle Grooming 101, which includes my daily grooming infographic.
  • Since Goldendoodles are a cross between a Poodle and Golden Retriever, coat types vary from straight to wavy to curly. 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.

Thanks for taking time out of your day to stop by and get the 4-1-1 on a dog mat hack that could help turn a “hairy” mess into a smooth success.

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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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