Washing Your Hair With Baking Soda and Apple Cider Vinegar

baking-sodaA.K.A. “No Poo”

Why go no-poo?

It is better for your hair!
It is better for the environment.
You won’t need to wash your hair as much.
No more mystery ingredients.
It saves you money.
The list goes on….

Most commercial shampoo are full of toxic chemicals. [See Do You Know What’s in Your Shampoo?] There are many options you can use to achieve beautiful, healthy hair…NATURALLY! I am posting this recipe so you can apply it easily at home.

*If you have hard water, see the instructions at the bottom of this article

Here is the basic recipe:

Shampoo- 1 tbs. baking soda to 1 cup water (make sure baking soda is completely dissolved)
Conditioner- 1-2 tbsp apple cider vinegar (or lemon juice) to 1 cup water

How do these ingredients help your hair?

ACV-225x300Baking soda is a weak alkali. It is quite powerful though. A little goes a long way. It helps to remove dirt and build up without stripping your hair of its natural oils. When pouring it on your head it will actually move the oils down your hair shaft and to the ends. But don’t worry because this is a good thing. The natural oils your body creates are meant to protect your hair. For longer hair you may need a bit more than a cup of the mixture. Just make sure to keep the same baking soda water ration. So use 2 tbsp baking soda and 2 cups of water.

Apple cider vinegar (ACV) is a mild acidic and a natural antiseptic. It promotes circulation and helps reduce scaling and peeling of the scalp. It also reduces build up by dissolving fatty deposits. Overall it will help detangle your hair, balance the PH level and closes the cuticle. The strong vinegar smell dissipates as your hair dries. If it doesn’t then you are using too much. It can be taken internally too! I think it tastes pretty yummy with some honey. 🙂

How do you put this in your hair?

I find it easiest to pre-mix these before you get in the shower. You can add essential oils as well.
First wet your hair and then slowly pour the baking soda mix on your scalp only. Massage your head softly with your fingertips, not your nails. Do this for about 30 seconds covering your whole scalp. Let the mix run down to the ends. It may seem a bit weird because there are no suds but you will get used to it.
Now rinse out the baking soda and wait to condition right before you get out. The conditioner is more of a final rinse. You don’t wash it out. I recommend using cold water with your final rinse to close the cuticle even more. You don’t need to use the ACV every time you wash.

Although it is a bit strange, it is quite simple! The best part is you can cater it to your needs. This will be different for each person. Most people will have a transition period though. Since your hair is so used to being stripped of the oils it may be greasy after using baking soda for the first few washes and up to 3 weeks. Just follow these tips and stick it out if it takes that long. Then you can go around bragging to your friends by saying “I haven’t used shampoo in 3 weeks!” I know I did.

Tips on getting your formula just right:

For an itchy and dry scalp, try essential oils. I use tea tree and rosemary in both my wash and final rinse. Make sure to only use 1-3 drops because it is very concentrated. You can also try applying oil to your scalp the night before showering (Ex. coconut oil, almond oil, jojoba oil, olive oil). You can rub pure aloe on your scalp after you shower. Make sure you are not using too much baking soda or leaving it in your hair too long. This may also be linked to dandruff which could be cause by hard water. Scroll down to find more about how to get around hard water.
For limp hair, use less ACV and cut back on any oil if you are using it.
For greasy hair, try using less ACV rinse or use lemon juice instead. Remember there will be a sort of detox period when you first start out. So, don’t over wash it and let it pass.
For dandruff, that just won’t wash out try using brown sugar while in the shower to gently remove dead skin cells. You can also try a bit of sea salt right before your shower while your hair is dry. If that doesn’t work then it may be because of hard water. So, scroll down to find out more.
For long hair, try brushing some of the oils to the ends of your hair before the shower. I have long hair and find it helpful to massage my head beforehand because that gets the oil glands going. My hair is mid back length and I use about 1 ½ cups of the baking soda solution with great results. Again, don’t overdo it with the baking soda because it will cause your hair to be brittle and dry.
For frizzy hair, you may be using too much baking soda. If you have thicker dryer hair then try using a bit of oil on the ends before washing. I have fine hair and I find that even a little bit of oil makes my hair look greasy, so a little goes a long way with the oil as well.
For dry hair, you may be using too much baking soda. You could try using more ACV. You can also try vegetable glycerin. It is a humectant, which means that it attracts water from its surroundings. Just make sure to apply it with water or while your hair is wet so it doesn’t take the moisture from your hair. I read that it helps with curly hair and I find that it helps a bit with my staticy hair.
For hard water, boil the water you use for your wash. Hard water has a lot of minerals and causes build up. If you have it, you will notice it leaves a white film on pots and pans. It’s really hard on appliances as well as your skin and hair. 85% of Americans and 60% of Canadians have hard water. If you are unsure, see How To Determine if You Have Hard Water. Also here is a recent map of the U.S. showing what areas have hard water.HardnessMap

Hard Water

If you are having issues with washing out the baking soda, because of hard water, then follow these instructions. Fill a pot with 8 cups of water and bring it to a boil. Once it boils turn it off and add a ½ cup of baking soda. It will fizz up a bit. Then take it off the burner and let it cool. Put it into an old juice bottle (64 oz.) and keep it in the bathroom. You will have enough for several showers. It makes the water feel slightly slimy and actually feels better when you put it on your hair. I don’t know how this works but it was a miracle for me. I thought my greasy stage was never going to end. Before discovering this, I tried no-poo for almost 2 months and gave up. On my second attempt, 3 weeks in, it finally clicked that something wasn’t right. So I researched hard water and found someone else with the same problem. Now I hope to pass this great information on.

When you finally find what works for you, your hair will be smoother, shinier, and bouncier without the use of unnecessary products, such as leave in conditioner, mousse, hairspray, gel, etc.
If you still would like to use some products for styling, then there are some great natural alternatives that are affordable and easy to use.

Try these great recipes:

1 lemon
2 cups of water
Boil the water and sliced lemon until half the water is gone. If it is too sticky add more water. Strain the lemon and put it in a fine mist spray bottle. Keep it refrigerated. It should last about 2 weeks without preservative. A bit of alcohol can be added so you can leave it at room temp.
½ cup water
2 tsp sugar
Boil water, add sugar, and remove. Let cool and put in a fine mist spray bottle. Make sure you spray lightly and allow it to dry on your hair between applications so that is doesn’t flatten your hair. Keep applying until you get the hold you want. This should also be refrigerated.
You can add essential oils for a nice natural scent.

1/2 to 1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
1 cup warm water
Dissolve gelatin in 1 cup warm water. Keep refrigerated and use as you would a purchased gel.

You can also use pure aloe gel as a really light hair gel and a sort of leave in conditioner. It doesn’t make your hair greasy so you can apply it to your scalp.

Good luck! I hope this is helpful. If you have any questions feel free to email me or post a comment.

Have you ever tried No Poo?



About Angela Vullo

I am a mother to three wonderful children. I love to read and write. I created this blog to share my experience and tips on trying to live a green lifestyle.

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  1. When I originally commented I clicked the “Notify me when new comments are added” checkbox and now
    each time a comment is added I get four emails with the same comment.
    Is there any way you can remove me from that service? Thank you!

    1. This is the first comment on this post. I’m not sure why you’re having a problem. You should be able to unsubscribe.

  2. I’ve got super hard water where I live, and yours is the first post I have found that really says much about washing in hard water. Will I need to rinse with distilled/boiled water as well, or is washing it with it good enough? I’ve got. . . A lot of hair, and the rinsing part would get rather tricky if I need to do that as well. . .

    1. Hi Danae,

      I never boiled my rinse water. It was just the baking soda mixture part. I’m pretty sure some chemical reaction happens with the baking soda and the minerals in the water to make it easier to wash with. I hope this method works for you. Good luck and thanks for stopping by. 🙂

      1. That works for me 🙂 I had great results with it when I lived in CO, but since I have moved to FL, my hair is always gross feeling and nearly impossible to even comb through after a couple of days when I’ve tried it this way. Thank you!

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