Rabbits, like a lot of small mammals, don’t actually need to be bathed as we humans do. In fact, baths as we know them - warm, soapy affairs - wouldn’t be very enjoyable for the rabbit at all. They are very averse to being submerged even partially in water, and their body temperatures can drop rapidly between finishing the bath and becoming completely dry.
Rabbits don't need, or like, human baths
A rabbit can go through life quite happily without a bath, but some pet rabbits will need a little help from time to time, particularly as they age. There are two main times at which you will need to intervene in your pets’ hygiene routines: when they get a substance on them that they shouldn’t try to clean off themselves, or if they have a build-up of excrement on their rear.
In both cases, an actual bath should be the absolute last resort. Spot cleaning is a much better option. Spot cleaning is a method in which the owner simply cleans their pet with a damp cloth or a piece of kitchen towel. Dabbing at the affected area with the cloth and drying thoroughly with the paper towel is a good solution most of the time, as long as the substance can be extracted that way. If it’s a little tougher to get out, for example an oil-based issue, then a special water-free shampoo for rabbits (available in pet shops) may be required.
If your rabbit is really filthy, and you have absolutely no other option, then you may ultimately have to give them a bath. Do your utmost to only wet the part of your rabbit that needs cleaning, so, if it’s just their leg that needs cleaning, simply dip their leg into a bucket of lukewarm water and remove it again quickly. Sit your pet on your lap, then gently work a rabbit-friendly shampoo into the leg. Finally, rinse the appendage very thoroughly. If any soap is left, it can irritate the skin.
Once you’re sure that all of the shampoo has been rinsed out, gently dry your rabbit with a clean towel. If your hair dryer has a cool (but not cold) setting, it may be a good idea to gently dry your rabbit off that way, being careful to keep the hair dryer moving so it doesn’t chill or heat up your rabbit’s skin too much. It’s advisable to keep a bathed rabbit in the house overnight so that it won’t be exposed to any chilly night temperatures outside that could expose it to hypothermia risk.