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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 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 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, photo
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,” or along the collar area. Even with consistent 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 tips on how to use cornstarch for matted fur. For step-by-step instructions, 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 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 Chloe’s mat was small, I found that I had the best control and precision using a stainless steel 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, the grooming table was the obvious location. Chloe is used to hopping up on the 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 labels.)

3. Sprinkle cornstarch onto your dog’s mat.

Hand holding paper cup and fingers holding cornstarch for removing dog mat. Goldendoodle dog in background, photo

I poured a little cornstarch into a Dixie® cup and used my fingers to sprinkle a liberal 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, 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 working the dog mat as 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. 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 worked on the mat.

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

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!

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

  • 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 may tighten the mat and make it harder to remove.
  • 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 routine and 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 using cornstarch as a dog mat hack. We hope we’ve helped you turn a hairy mess into a smooth success.

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Hands combing cornstarch through dog mat and title how to remove dog mats with cornstarch, photo

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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