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A Non-Toxic, Frugal Way To Wash Your Hair Without Buying Shampoo

Hair Without Shampoo

I had heard of “no ‘poo” methods of washing your hair, but I was scared of the “transition periods” people wrote about, and the nebulous “just use vinegar and baking soda” methodology. I had a tough time finding concise instructions, and I was happy with my own shampoo. Plus my skin is extremely sensitive, my hair gets greasy pretty quickly and is extremely straight (which is a bad combination). So… I put it off, I made excuses, and life got in the way.

But now the economy isn’t doing well and we’re trying to tighten our belts a bit. My favorite online store stopped selling my favorite shampoo and I’m trying to buy locally. Plus, since I researched all those crazy chemicals in shampoos, I’ve been leery of getting them near my body. So despite any reservations, about 3 months ago I decided to try the “No ‘Poo” method.

The Results

I loved it the first time I tried it! No kidding. My hair looked great and my scalp felt invigorated! Since then, I’ve fallen more and more in love with this method of washing my hair. My hair has a slightly deeper color and shine. There it is, in the picture above. My hair doesn’t get any greasier than it did when I used my shampoo, and it feels, looks, and smells clean and wonderful!

It is a little strange and a little difficult to get used to, because you don’t shampoo with sudsing action like we are used to. But there’s that redefining normal thing again! We’re only used to a certain way because some marketer packaged this bottle of stuff and told us how to use it. So – this is how I clean my hair….


I started out using one recipe, which worked pretty well. But about 2 weeks ago, I did some experimenting and found a solution that works better for me. I’m listing both methods here, as we all have different hair types.

Recipe #1: The Paste Method

1. In a small dish or ramekin, mix 2T of baking soda with a couple of tablespoons of warm water, until it forms a thick paste. Add more water as needed – it should be a bit thinner than toothpaste. (Note: I have medium-length hair, so you may need to adjust the amount of baking soda if you have shorter or longer hair.)

2. Taking the paste into your hand, massage it into your dry scalp. Massage your scalp all over, for at least 30 seconds. (This will probably feel pretty good!)

3. Leave on your hair for a minute or two. Then rinse well.

4. In an old (and well rinsed) shampoo bottle, mix 1 part Apple Cider Vinegar to 4 parts Water. You can add essential oils or herbs if you like.

5. Coat your scalp and hair with the vinegar, and allow to sit for at least 30 seconds.

6. You can either rinse or leave it in your hair. (I rinse.)

Recipe #2: The Simple Method

There are two reasons why I switched to this recipe: 1. The paste idea was a bit messy for my taste, and 2. The apple cider vinegar smelled too strong for me. I’m much happier with this version!

1. Use an old shampoo bottle (well-rinsed) or a squeeze bottle of some variety (I reused one we’d bought from a local kitchen supply store). Mix 1 part aluminum-free baking soda to 3 parts Water. Each time you use this solution, shake well to mix. [Update: after writing this post, a number of readers have researched and found that baking soda is aluminum free - it's baking powder that often contains aluminum. My own research confirms this.]

2. Squeeze the baking soda solution onto your dry scalp, then massage your scalp for several seconds.

3. Leave in for 1-3 minutes, and rinse completely.

4. In an old shampoo bottle (well-rinsed) or a squeeze bottle, mix 1 part Organic White Vinegar to 4 parts Water. You can add essential oils or herbs if you like – I add 1 cinnamon stick (which lasts through several bottles of mixture) and 1/2 t vanilla. This masks the vinegar smell, and leaves your hair smelling spicy and lovely.

5. Leave on hair for several seconds, then rinse.


I will tell you there have been two times when I’ve washed my hair with shampoo during these two months: both times when I helped clean years of stuff out of my parents’ garage, and them made several trips to the municipal waste and recycling center. I… needed my hair to be super clean after I came home!!!! But other than those two times, I haven’t needed shampoo at all.

Other Resources

Several others that I know and love have used this method as well. Riana wrote about it recently. Green Bean does this, though I’m not sure she’s written much about it (correct me if I’m wrong, GB). Beth has gone no ‘poo. Katecontinued as well. Mon wrote a good article on the subject hereHere’s an inspiring post from Sarah, who has been shampoo-free for nearly a year. Here’s a whole lot more info.  In fact here is a whole forum dedicated to the subject.

I Encourage You To Try This!

I can honestly say that I feel liberated! I no longer have to deal with finding good shampoo and conditioner. Plus it’s much cheaper: I buy a package of baking soda and a bottle of vinegar, and they’re enough for months. I know it’s safe because I know where the ingredients came from. I also use fewer materials – there are only 2 ingredients (or 4, if I use cinnamon and vanilla), plus I only have to use this method once or twice a week. And lastly, it’s easy!

Will You Try It?

Will you try it? Or if you’ve tried it before, please give us your 2 cents – what method works for you? Please feel free to ask me any questions, too!

2/17: For more, check out my update here: No ‘Poo: New & Improved!

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329 comments to A Non-Toxic, Frugal Way To Wash Your Hair Without Buying Shampoo

  • I’m so glad you posted this. A few weeks ago I saw an out of context reference to “no ‘poo households” and I assumed it meant something TOTALLY different. LOL.

  • deb

    I tried something like this before and didn’t like it. Your version sounds more doable.

  • Love the pic — squeaky clean!! I had been drifitng toward the idea of a weak Dr. Bronner’s solution but I will try this.


  • Hi Melinda. I’m glad you took the plunge. Your hair looks gorgeous in the photo. I have not used shampoo for over three years, it might even be four years. I use either baking soda or, if I’ve forgotten to put more in the shower, I use my homemade soap. Both give a good clean with no scalp problems. Like you I had no transition period. It worked perfectly when I tried it and I’ve loved this method of cleaning my hair since day one.

  • Hi Melinda,

    I’ve also been no ‘poo for months and love it as much as your do – I use your second method as I just couldn’t be bothered mixing up a paste every time LOL. I *love* the cinnamon and vanilla in the vinegar idea – I’m totally pinching it! Thanks :-)

  • Hi Melinda,

    I have to admit to trying three different “no poo” methods including both methods described here at various times over the last 18 months, the longest experiment was about 3 months before I gave up, with the results always being revolting.

    My hair just seems to get to the point that its starts sticking together and grabbing dust from the air and generally being icky. It quickly starts to look dull, and being straight like yours but long seems to have their own set of problems. The methods generally seem to get rid of the immediate greasy look but as I said over time my hair just seems to have this buildup that starts sticking to everything.

    Kind Regards

  • N.

    I just use a bar of our homemade soap and for the first time was able to go without any conditioner. My hair tends to get frizzy and puffly but the soap works great and I don’t have those problems. I’ve been using it for over 6 months now.

  • Some questions for you:

    1. Do you wash your hair in the shower or outside the tub then jump in? Or…?

    2. I have straight hair like you do though mine is longer (about mid-back). The biggest problem I’ve had is not being able to brush my hair after washing it because it gets tangled. This is the sole reason I use conditioner. Is your hair brushable without tons of tangles?

    3. Are you washing every day?

    4. Currently I wash my hair once a week with commercial shampoos and conditioners. I very much want to stop using them however haven’t found a method which works. The things stopping me are the tangles (number 2) and how flaky and itchy my scalp gets by about day 10. Have you experienced this flaky itchy thing?

    Thanks for this post. I’ve been looking for an alternative to washing my hair for a while. You can see a post I wrote about hair care here.

  • [...] too difficult to make your own shampoo. Thus, I was really glad, I found a great post regarding hair care over at One Green Generation. It’s full of ideas relating to the post about shampoo and [...]

  • I’ve moved to a “rarely shampoo” mode. Only when my head gets itchy. My wife wonders why she never has to buy any shampoo for me, I just shrug and say “short hair”

  • LHT Rider

    Great post!! I’ve been using conditioner-only for several months and I prefer how my hair turns out compared to when I was using shampoo. I’m currently trying to use up old conditioner that I didn’t like when I was shampooing, but now works perfectly fine. I’m looking forward to trying your recipes when I finally use up that old conditioner!

  • Your hair looks gorgeous, Melinda. I appreciate how measured and controlled your experiments and methods are detailed for others to follow. Especially for new concepts like this, it seems to help so many take the leap if step by step measured instructions are followed.

    Then there are the people like me who ignore rules or simply barge ahead. Let me jump in for these peeps, my peeps . . . I put a pile of baking soda in my hand and rub it, massage it into my wet hair (in the shower). Then I pour some watered down vinegar I have put into some available cup or container onto my “soda’d” head. I like the fizzing – like when you clean a drain. I massage some more before rinsing.

    Every once in a while I smell a faint bit of vinegar. This will fade pretty soon, but if it annoys me I put a drop of peppermint essense (vanilla can be used too) on my finger and rub it into my scalp. The minty smell wins.

  • Mon

    I love that more and more people are trying this. I’ve been doing it for a long time. If you want more ideas I hope you won’t mind me adding a link to my post over here:

    It’s important that people know that baking soda can be very harsh for certain hair types.

    I love the addition of cinnamon.

  • I had a horrible time with it when I tried to go no poo. I don’t know if it’s my hair type or what. When I wrote about it, someone mentioned that I was probably doing it wrong, but what I did is pretty much the paste method. I had crazy long hair at the time. I don’t know if that had anything to do with it. Your hair looks amazing! I really wish it had worked for me. I currently use conditioner only most days of the week and only shampoo every 4 or 5 days, and it’s working out well. Still, I’m disappointed that the baking soda & vinegar thing didn’t work out.

  • I’ve been using the baking-soda-and-vinegar method for about a year and a half and am totally happy with it. No transition period, just happy clean hair. I do find that I need to be more careful to get the baking soda solution everywhere, since it doesn’t foam up, and then to rinse it off thoroughly afterwards, but that’s been my only issue. I add some natural perfume oil to the bottles…the heat in the shower volitilizes the oil and makes the bathroom smell all pretty, but it’s not strong enough that my hair sets off people’s allergies afterwards like some shampoos do.

  • I use Bronner’s liquid soap on my hair these days. Used to be I was fine with only using a cleanser once a week – I’d just do the usual hair-washing motions under the hot water of the shower and that was enough to keep my hair from being too oily. What oil was left in my hair acted as natural conditioner. Then we moved, and I think there’s something about the water here that makes my scalp itch if I don’t actually use soap. So Bronner’s it is for me!

  • I’ve been “No ‘Poo” for more than a year now. I just blogged about my experiences last month. This has been one of the best decisions for my hair. I love how my hair has transformed over the last year. I just rinse with water now. I tried baking soda and vinegar in the beginning. I wasn’t really as happy with the results as I am with water. Occasionally I will rinse with lemon juice if I need something more than water.

  • Rob

    I will probably not try this melinda. I have no hair and haven’t bought a bottle of shampoo in years. But I will try to encourage martin to try this- it would be nice to go into the shower not surrounde by a bunch of half empty shampoo bottles!

  • I’ve been using baking soda, herb infused cider vinegar and coconut oil on my hair on and off for a few years. I’ve tried many things over the last decade… Dr Bronners and other soaps were way too drying for my skin, causing frizzies+flakes, and anything w/ artificial fragrance gives me an unbearably itchy scalp… I use a beaten egg mixed w/ 1T. of oil for extra conditioning, (rinsed w/cold h20), when I have time/inspiration…

    Head shaving and many hats are great solutions too!

  • Thanks for your awesome comments and questions! I will answer them when I get out of a string of meetings this afternoon – sorry for the delay. : ) Hope you’re all well and enjoying the day!


  • I’ve been no poo for more than 3 1/2 years. I didn’t have a transition period either and have loved it. I used shampoo and conditioner for a month about two years ago when I was traveling and couldn’t wait to get back to my baking soda and vinegar routine. I use a method close to your second one, but I use apple cider vinegar.

    Howling Hill-The vinegar acts as a detangler. In fact, when my girls’ hair gets extra tangled, I will use vinegar after washing their hair, which I don’t generally use, because I use natural soap on them and not baking soda. I’ve never had tangle problems and my hair has been from chin length to halfway down my back at various times since I have been using baking soda and vingear.

  • My hair is very long- waist length. I have problems with tangles, too, so that’s what I’d be worried about. Anybody have a good experience using these methods for long hair? Also very straight hair.

    I’m too worried about the transition period or having it come out bad and going to work like that. The teenagers in my classes… they notice everything!!! But maybe over the upcoming winter break.

  • Abbie — my hair is currently only shoulder-length, but I started going no-poo when it was down to mid-back, almost straight, and very thick. I never had a problem with tangles, and it took a log longer for it to get to the ratty tangly need-a-haircut stage than it did when I used regular shampoo. The vinegar seems to be what really helps, as Lisa says above.

  • I’ve been doing no-poo for 6 months now and I love it! Glad to see others love it too….

  • Einat, That is hilarious. Glad to clear that up! ; )

    deb, It’s surprisingly easy, I’ve found – and once you get used to it, this really doesn’t take any more time or effort than conventionally shampooing and conditioning.

    risa b, Thanks! I also tried straight soap (not homemade, but from a local company and made as I would make it at home). I found that soap didn’t clean the oiliness from my hair, so it looked greasy all the time. This worked much better for me. I hope you have the same result!

    Rhonda Jean, Thanks for the compliment! I’m also glad I took the plunge – VERY. I love it!

    Julie, Good to hear! Glad I could help with the scents!

    Belinda, Huh – do you use hair gel or anything? Mine doesn’t get sticky or icky at all. Though I should have mentioned that my hair looks a whole lot better if I brush it in the morning and at night. Maybe you could try an alternating method, where you alternate between baking soda and shampoo?

    You know, come to think of it, when I tried to use straight soap, my hair got a little like how you describe. So I wonder if you weren’t massaging your scalp enough with the baking soda? That makes a huge difference… just a thought!

    N, I’ve heard several people say the bar soap works very well for them – very interesting!

    Howling Hill, Great questions!

    1. I wash my hair in the shower. If you like, you can turn off the water while you scrub, though it doesn’t take long.

    2. As Lisa and Sarah mentioned, the vinegar basically works as a conditioner. I’ve heard several short-haired people say they don’t even need it. I do, however! When I was a kid my hair got so tangled I cried every time my mother washed my hair. But the vinegar does the trick for me.

    3. I only wash once or twice a week.

    4. I have experienced the itchy flaky thing! I find that the baking soda massage does an amazing job of taking all that away. I’ve heard that the flaky thing is a buildup of waxes and/or products and shampoo. And the baking soda just opens up those pores and makes my scalp feel really good. Feel free to ask any more questions if they come up!

    Kory, It’s amazing how much less you need to buy when you wash infrequently! And hair does seem to adapt pretty well, especially if you gradually change the frequency.

    LHT Rider, Thanks! Enjoy – I’m guessing that the vinegar will be a perfectly fine substitute for your conditioner. You may even find that you can go without using the baking soda, given how well you do without shampoo!

    Katecontinued, Thank you. Not having a good resource for exactly how to do this was a major barrier for my not trying this earlier…. so I hope this helps others!

    I have heard of this fizzy version – I haven’t tried it, but now you’ve got me intrigued! I will say that the faint vinegar scent was not to my liking… I tried to redefine normal in that arena – I really did! – but alas, I much prefer a bit of cinnamon and vanilla. : ) In the summer, though, I’m thinking the minty smell would be really nice. Hmmm…

    Mon, Of course I don’t mind your posting a link, as long as it pertains to the discussion! The more info the merrier – thank you! I did find that my hair got a bit dry when I first started using the baking soda, but it quickly got used to it and now it’s fine. I’ve heard some curly hair is more difficult to adapt.

    Allie, Bummer! Maybe try it again sometime, when you’re feeling adventurous. Even try replacing your conditioner with vinegar, maybe. Or try using a handmade soap instead? That seems to work for a lot of people

    Sarah, I did find that putting the baking soda into the squeeze bottle made a huge difference for me – much easier to spread it evenly. And occasionally I’ve found I didn’t rinse my ears well enough, and there is a bit of baking soda behind my ear or something! The heat – of course – that makes sense! Ah.

    Emily, Mmm. I do have a water filter that takes out the chlorine – that may be the problem in your new place. But if using straight soap works, I wouldn’t worry about it too much!

    Sarah, That’s great! I wonder if I could start tapering off my washing… hmmm…

    Rob, LOL. Ok. You’re off the hook! But your roommate – definitely is on the hook now. Let me know how it goes!

    Renee, Interesting. I should have included a link to some of the other remedies for added conditioning, as I’ve heard coconut or jojoba oil works well, as does egg. Fortunately I’ve not had to use these, as my hair seems to have adapted well. Btw, I have the same issue with fragrances.

    Lisa, Awesome! Good to hear from someone who’s been doing this for a while!

    Abbie, My hair is straight and prone to tangles. Actually, this method has given it a bit more body! And the vinegar seems to detangle quite well, as Lisa and Sarah mentioned.

    It looks like I’m not the only one here who did not have a transition period. I’m not saying you won’t have one, but I believe the transition period happens more when you just stop washing your hair or just use vinegar. But the baking soda is what gets rid of the greasiness. It’s great.

    My hair used to get greasy if I didn’t wash it with shampoo & conditioner every day. Gradually, I bit the bullet and drew that out, so that I was only washing every 2-3 days. (As it was transitioning, I wore my hair up a lot.) And then I started with this method, and I was able to stretch it out to 5-7 days. So you may have to take gradual steps. But it is soooo nice to not have to buy so much shampoo and conditioner, and to not have to wash often. I love it! Let me know if other questions come up, and I’ll try to help.

    Sarah, I agree!

    Hair On The Brain, Isn’t it? I love all of your stories & ideas!

  • sue

    I do this but rinse with a teaspoon of honey in a cup of water…what a lovely conditioner it makes….as per Riana’s site.

  • ooer interesting
    ive been doing the no poo thing for about 3 weeks
    ive hated it!, my hair has totally looked unwashed and greasy as, it hasnt been out of a hair band in weeks. the first week it started to come good and i was excited. i even said so on frugal green coop, but last week oh my god last week it was so horrible! i almost gave up,,,it took all my strength.
    so much reading needed, i didnt give up but changed.
    im using your second method now…2T in a shampoo squeezy bottle with 500 mls water. it cleaned a heap better, i hope it settles down now and looks as good as yours.
    on a side we put lavendar in our vinegar, cause the kids wouldnt come at it at all…i do love the vinegar rinse we have been using that for ages

  • I’m curious that you say to use an aluminum-free baking soda… Does baking soda normally have aluminum? I mean, I am pretty sure last time I looked at a box of Arm&Hammer it just listed sodium bicarbonate as the ingredient.

    Also, I really want to try this really really really a lot. But I’m a little worried about my parents think I’m going insane. And I still have half a bottle of shampoo. I suppose when I go abroad and next need shampoo it might be easier to try to find baking soda rather than an ‘environmentally friendly’ shampoo. Do you think the vinegar rinse is absolutely necessary? I haven’t used conditioner in years — hair is too greasy for it — and the vinegar, I gather, is used as conditioner.

  • Sue, Interesting addition – if I need an extra conditioner I will definitely try it.

    Jacqui, I hope it works better! Were you using just water before? That wouldn’t work for me, as the greasiness is a factor for sure – but the baking soda takes care of it perfectly. And the vinegar gives it a nice condition and shine.

    Stephanie, You know, I am not sure exactly how baking soda is made, but I know there are two ways to make it. One method requires several chemical reactions that pollute the environment (and presumably use aluminum?) and the other uses only water. I buy Bob’s Red Mill Aluminum-Free Baking Soda, which uses the water method.

    LOL. My parents used to think I’m insane, but slowly they have come around to some of my “crazy” ideas. It takes a critical mass of people to change the status quo – what used to look insane has now become more normal. I used to talk about the problems of climate change and everyone looked at me like I was insane. And now it’s a given.

    The vinegar rinse – some people don’t use it. Try it with and without and see which works better for you. The vinegar does work as a conditioner.

  • I pretty much follow your second method with slight variations. If my hair is really nasty greasy (and it gets that way sometimes when I don’t shower often enough), I squirt a few drops of highly diluted “shampoo water” in with the diluted baking soda. For the rinse, I use rosemary-infused white vinegar diluted about 1 to 8.

    I used to have to wash my straight oily hair every other day. Now I wash it twice a week (usually) and it looks fine.

  • I switched to the baking soda method about two months ago and I like it. My hair is definately a different texture, not bad, just different. It has more body and seems to tangle a bit easier. I had to try this method out three times before it worked for me. It just always seemed like my hair was a big ball of yuck. I don’t know if this had anything to do with it, but once I cut my hair to shoulder length I had great success with the no poo method.

    Now I doubt that I’ll be turning back. I did use shampoo once, while we were staying as house guests…the temptation to use shampoo was too great!

  • I once used red wine vinegar when visiting family and that was all they had. I wouldn’t recommend it. My hair was fine but where it got on my face turned redder than the vinegar and puffy. So much for beauty. It didn’t last long though and my hair was pretty. I also like a tea rinse of lavendar, rosemary or anything fragrant from the garden steeped in hot water. It’s fun to make and lasts about a week. You hair looks great Melinda!

  • Chile, Interesting idea to mix diluted shampoo with the baking soda… I’ll try that if I need an extra wash. (Once or twice I’ve followed the baking soda watered-down soap, but hadn’t thought to combine them!) I’ve heard rosemary is a good herb to use…. I’ll try that when I tire of the cinnamon.
    Kendra, I have pretty long hair, and no yuck… but I wonder if maybe it helped that I had already trained my hair to not be washed as often. But I’m glad it did end up working!!

    Katrina, Goodness, I’ll stay away from the red wine vinegar!! The tea rinse sounds very soothing – I will have to try it some time. : )

  • kaythegardener

    Years ago, my godmother, a hairdresser, gave me some tips for my long, babyfine, oily hair —
    1) Use much less shampoo — only a 1/4 ” cube the first time, rub thoroughly, rinse well till no bubbles persist in the rinse water;
    2) Use about 1/2 the amount of shampoo, the second washing, since the hair is half cleaned anyway, again — thoroughly rinse,
    3) put about 1/2 cup hot water in a mug, add ~ same amount of vinegar, thoroughly rub into hair, wait a minute or so, then really rinse in as hot a water as you can stand — the vinegar cuts the soapy, greasy residue —
    Wrap hair in towel for a few minutes, then let damp dry & start detangling using a large tooth comb from the ends upward.
    I also found that if I used natural bristle brushes, rather than nylon bristles, my hair didn’t split as much when gently brushing.
    I find that my oily hair still needs cleaning about 2x/ wk, but other textures, regular or dry, might need different schedules.
    If pregnant or nursing, then hair reacts differently to your flood of hormones & you have to play it by ear…
    Hair is to be cared for, not attacked, my godmother said…

    Best wishes to all in this holiday season from thawing Oregon,

  • Thank you for sharing your godmother’s tips, Kay! Hope you’re having a wonderful holiday.

  • [...] used these directions. I went with the simple method though instead of using old shampoo bottles I used some canning [...]

  • [...] clean shower at home, I desperately searched for an alternative.  I reasoned to myself that if baking soda works on my hair, why not try it on my underarms?  Afterall, it’s an ingredient in many [...]

  • rachel

    I’ve been using baking soda/ACV for 5 months, and I love it too. I did go through a transitional period, but it wasn’t too bad, and I just wore my hair up a lot. Since the colder weather, however, I have noticed that my scalp is much more dry and itchy, with small flakes.

    I found some helpful information on this website ( – so now I do a white vinegar rinse before washing, and add a little brown sugar to the baking soda to exfoliate. It seems to be working so far!

    Thanks for posting about this, and I am so glad that there are so many other people trying it out!

  • Hi Rachel, thanks for the info! I’m glad others are trying it too – it’s such a cheap way to simplify and reduce our impact.

  • Jade

    I have tried this before (using water only) but I only managed to stay with it for about.. 16 days.. but then I had to go back to work and it all just kind of fell through. Any tips on how to keep hair looking decent and not so greasy? Even when I’ve used baking soda my hair still feels and looks greasy after just a day of not using anything. Please help? I’m so desperate, lol.

  • rachel

    @jade: When I went through this, I kept my hair up, but I know that’s not always possible. One of the tips on is to sprinkle some corn starch on your dry (and greasy) hair, and then brush it through. I tried this recently, and it seemed to work! Best of luck!

  • Jade

    Okay, I’ll definitely try that. thanks, rachel. =] I know everyone’s one different, but how long did it take for you before your hair started looking better? I have a feeling it’s going to take me more than 4 weeks (like most people have said), probably more like.. 8 weeks.

  • rachel

    @Jade: Hm, good question! I’m not really sure, but I think it was in the 4-6 week range.

  • Jade

    Before that, had you been washing your hair on a daily basis? I’ve been washing mine basically everyday as far back as I remember. Which is why I would assume it might take longer for my scalp to adjust because it’s been producing more sebum than necessary for such a long period of time. =P

  • Jim

    I am an older guy with fairly long hair and I’ve been looking for shampoo alternatives. I currently wash my hair about once a week. Can’t wait to try this out. I like the cinnamon and vanilla idea.

  • Jade, I agree with rachel – if your hair is used to being washed daily, there will probably be an adjustment period simply because you’re no longer washing daily. I haven’t heard of sprinkling corn starch on your dry hair, but that sounds like a good idea!

    Also, make sure you’re a. applying the baking soda solution to dry hair, b. using enough baking soda, c. you’re really massaging it into your scalp, and d. you’re leaving it on long enough to soak up the grease. You may want to try Recipe #1, as it uses a greater concentration of baking soda. And then as your hair gets used to it, you can move to Recipe #2.

    As I said, I didn’t actually have an adjustment period. But my hair was already used to going several days between shampoos.

    Jim, You sound like you’re pretty much in the same boat I was a few months ago. You’ll probably find this works very well for you!

  • euria

    would there be any risk of wearing a wig while my hair transitions to less frequent washings? very interested in trying this ^^ i read that the scalp needs air so there is blood circulation.. otherwise it may cause balding.

  • Hmmmm…. OK, you’ve got me curious now. I promise I’ll give the no ‘poo thing one more shot, using your spiced vinegar and baking soda method. Will post the results sometime next week, hopefully, and let you know how it goes. Thanks for this!

  • Awesome, Vanessa! You’re welcome – I’m excited to hear how it goes! : )

  • euria, I am stumped and just don’t know the answer to that. But before you even go the wig route, you might try this when you have a few days off and see if you really need to hide your hair. I didn’t at all – my hair looked good from day one.

  • Una

    What a great idea. I have thought about using baking soda, but never got around to it because it seemed so messy. Your way sounds very simple and user friendly; I will definitely give it a try. Cornstarch “dry shampoo” was something we did occasionally back when I was in high school, in the’60′s – it was very handy on cold winter days when I didn’t want to get my hair wet. My mother always used to rinse my hair with apple cider vinegar, and then have me sit in the sun to air dry – it gave nice highlights to my hair, and made it feel “squeaky clean”, but I haven’t done that in years. Thanks for reminding me. Apparently, my grandmother did the same when my mother was little – lemon juice for my mother (blonde), and vinegar for her sister (redhead). The only reason that I can see for the difference is the color similarity. I am a redhead, but would use the vinegar anyway as it is cheaper. I find that once my hair is thoroughly dry the vinegar smell is totally gone. My hair is below waist length, still fairly thick, and wavy; I wash it about once every 4-5 days. I will be very interested in seeing how the “no-’poo” regimen works. And BTW, a rosemary “tea” rinse is recommended for brunettes, as it supposedly helps keep dark hair shiny; Chamomile tea is sometimes used by blondes.

  • Hi Melinda
    I’ve just had a go at your recipes & dried my hair.

    I’ve been using a “natural” shampoo twice weekly for a couple of years. But I’m loving these recipes of yours. Wonderful & thank you.

  • Meg

    Hi Melinda,

    I am desperate to give my shampoo and conditioner up, although I am not yet ready to stop colouring my hair with chemicals.

    I wanted to ask you and any of your readers if they know how these recipes go on dyed (red) hair?



  • What a popular post! I just wanted to chime in a couple of things -

    1. I love the corn starch suggestion. My mom actually used to tell me to do that when I was little and didn’t want to take a shower but my hair was really really greasy. Suppose I’ll take that back up sometimes.

    2. I’ve read somewhere (possibly that you can add baking soda to your shampoo for something. I think that might help as a transitioning device, and I’ve started doing so myself. Here the water seems to be super hard, so though I’m used to taking a shower every other day my hair was really greasy even just after washing. I added some baking soda to my shampoo the other night – just put it in my hand and then the shampoo on top of it – and it seems to be helping. I think that might definitely help with transition problems.

    Unfortunately baking soda is not as cheap here (Germany) as in the US. Hope it still lasts as long though. Running out quickly would suck.

  • [...] Melinda over at One Green Generation convinced me that her homemade system would leave my hair shiny and clean without also leaving me [...]

  • [...] there with you – read her comments for an overview of opinions about whether it works.  And Melinda at One Green Generation posted detailed instructions and a picture of her beautiful shampoo-free [...]

  • Well I have never heard of this but I am definately going to try it. Thanks I am always looking for baby step ways to go a bit greener!
    Miriam … Australia

  • I really like your webpage.
    I have been using conditioner to wash my hair for a month- since I bleached it, and it is extremely dry :-)
    Afterwards I put extra virgin coconut oil- on towel dried hair (only the size of a nickel) and comb through.
    Wow what a difference it has made. Plus I have sensitivities to the sodium larylsufayte in the shampoos….
    All of the cosmetics industry is putting way too much garbage into our skin and hair products!
    And for the last 5 years I have been using olive oil for face cleansing/makeup removal, and jojoba/almond oil for face moisturizing.
    ** everyone just needs to demand better quality products, among other things like no animal testing, ect.

  • Simone

    Hi folks,
    please try to whrite in your mother language. The translation in the german language was so difficult to understand.
    What a pitty, so wunderfull ideas from a nice lady. Thanks for this.

    I tryed to understand many ideas and comments and sometimes I was sad that I could not understand it!!!
    The German whritings were totally wrong in the grammatic basics. ;-(
    But I hope the it will going better. Thank you anyway.

  • dianna

    i guess i am still on my hair journey. sigh. i’m 49 and i used weleda’s rosemary shampoo for many years – even though it contained SLS it worked well for me – i used rosemary oil as a conditioner. when weleda stopped making this shampoo (to reformulate or something and they are reformulating still…) i was lost… i tried other ‘natural’ shampoos and found that i was actually allergic to many of them or they would dry my hair out to the point where it would actually break off. so i decided to try conditioner only washing. this actually made my hair drier – seems like the conditioner removes even more oils… i tried indian herbs and water only washing… too much work and i didn’t like having to buy ‘specialty’ stuff like the herbs that i couldn’t find in my area and had to order.
    water only washing really worked but seemed like a bad waste of water to me – i always felt guilty about it.
    so finally i started using soap. at the time i had chandrika soap and i found it made my hair very shiny and soft and smooth. it works especially well if i pre-treat my hair overnight with virgin coconut oil. also i only wash my hair once a week or even less.
    funny – my sister in law felt sorry for me not being able to use shampoo – and gave me a huge bottle of phyto phytojoba shampoo. i decided to try it even though it has a version of SLS in it and parabens (i don’t think it is tested on animals) and it actually seems to work ok without conditioner.
    personally, i think conditioner is really the biggest problem for me. they sink deep into your hair and pull out oils from your hair and that makes it drier the next time and you need more conditioner….
    i probably will not keep using the shampoo as i already miss my soap… but it is nice to find out i am not allergic to everythng – LOL

  • Hi,

    I sure have and do use this method (the second). I tens to get a drier scalp in the winter, so I add a bit of tea tree to the first part and I alternate between lavender and mint with the final rinse (vinegar). We started with this method that requires you to grate a bar of Dr. Bronner’s soap- what a messy chore! There were a ton of steps, cooking, the works! We kept it up for a few months at best. Also, my hair would get dull and heavy from excess build up- ugh! The consistency mirrored shampoo exactly, but not at all worth it. I am quite satisfied with this method. It’s simple, a great value, a great gift (rosemary sprigs- oh la la) with homemade bath salts & a knit wash cloth!! Thanks for this excellent post!! Found you by way of “peculiar momma”. Off to read your past posts- I’m hooked!!


  • Sasha

    i love the idea of this, but i have to admit i am now very leary about using any amount of baking soda in my hair. i previously tried a mixture of an all natural multipurpose cleaning agent with some borax (i added the borax myself). i got wonderful results! my hair was so clean and soft and would hold any style (i used a regular commerical brand conditioner after shampooing). i washed my hair about once every 5 days.

    **i must point out that i applied this mixture to SOAKING WET HAIR–NOT DRY. i used this all over my head–from root to tips and not only on the scalp.**

    over a period of time i noticed that my naturally very dark brown hair, almost black, with natural red highlights was getting LIGHTER! I HATE THAT!!! one day i had my hair pulled up in a ponytail and i could see light brown streaks! it was especially noticeable in the sunlight and under bright lights. i started looking more closely at my hair and noticed that it was getting lighter all over and not on just the top layer of my hair.

    i found out that BAKING SODA will lighten the color of your hair if used continuously. the multipurpose cleaner base i was using as a shampoo had “Sodium Bicarbonate” as one of their 4 ingredients. BINGO!! i did NOT add any extra baking soda. it’s been about 2 months since i stopped using it.

    have you noticed your hair getting lighter in color? can i use this all over my dry hair–from root to tip? i use heat protectant cream after i towel dry my hair because i blow dry my hair every time i wash it.

    is your hair able to “hold” any style now?

    anxious to hear your feedback!!


  • Sasha, I’ve been using baking soda and vinegar for almost four years. I have very dark brown hair and I haven’t seen it get any lighter during the time I’ve used it, except for those few gray hairs I find popping out now and then, but those can’t be attributed to the baking soda and vinegar, I would assume. ;)

  • Sasha

    Lisa, i have a couple of theories about why my hair may have lightend. now, it’s not dramatically different in color mind you. it’s just lighter in the overall TONE. it doesn’t look chemically altered like i went to a salon for a lighter shade. it looks like the sun lightened it only my hair and NEVER EVER been this way no matter how long i’ve been out in the sun!! another way i can tell my hair is getting lighter is that my normally RED highlights are now a dull REDDISH BROWN. YUCK!i it looks like my hair is dull and lacks shine.

    i was thinking that A.) the lightening effect was due to me using my “mixture” on my already wet hair, or B.) maybe i need the vinegar rinse to neutralize the “stripping” effects that the baking soda does to the hair. i’m not a scientist by any means. just thinking of possibilities out loud.

    can i use the baking soda ALL OVER my hair from roots to tip? if i use styling products all over my hair shouldn’t i use the baking soda all over my hair, too?

    do you use the b.s. on dry hair?

    thanks so much!

  • Sasha, I apply the baking soda & water mixture only on my roots, but use the vinegar mixture from roots to ends. This is because most of the oils are in the roots only. And I do this 1-2 times per week.

    My hair hasn’t become lighter at all. It has become richer in color (not the dull color that was stripped by chemicals, which made me feel I had to add toxic coloring to).

    It is, I would say, just a bit more stylable than before. Or, rather, it holds style a bit more and falls more nicely.

    I’ve done a lot of research on how other people do this, and haven’t found anyone else who has mentioned their hair getting lighter. This makes me think it could be the Borax.

  • Simone, Sounds like the Google translator didn’t do a great job on the translation. I’m hoping it will get better!
    earthmama, Welcome! I’m glad you’re enjoying the blog!

  • Sasha, I put a wet solution of baking soda and water on my already wet hair. I apply it to the roots, but work it throughout my hair.

    I agree with Melinda that it could be the Borax.

  • My hair is a LOT longer now than when you last saw me… haven’t cut the length since August! I say this because conventional shampoo is really rough on my hair and I don’t need to wash it as often when it is this long. It is very curly and the oils from my scalp are actually something I don’t want to strip from my hair like most shampoos do.

    I will definitely try this method (recipe #2) tonight and post on how it goes. Definitely looking forward to how it works out.

    Thanks for the post!

  • [...] my first article about washing hair without shampoo spurned such a tizzy of interest, that I thought you all might enjoy an [...]

  • Thank you!

    It’s just what I needed to know to continue in my experiment.

    Will do better in a couple of days, and less crunchy the way I had originally done it.

  • [...] with water while in the shower. So we never got around to it. However, last night, I ran across this recipe for no ‘poo that offered a convenient delivery system, so I mixed up some no ‘poo for [...]

  • [...] A Non-Toxic, Frugal Way To Wash Your Hair Without Buying Shampoo [...]

  • Caitlynn

    I’ve been using this “no-poo” method for about a week now and I absolutely love it. It’s so satisfying to know that my hair is clean without any crazy chemicals and that there is nothing unnatural left over. My hair is curly and the only issue I am having is that my gets really frizzy when I wash it this way. Does anyone have an suggestions on how I can get it to not be frizzy?

  • Erik

    Hur i helvete skriver du?! för det första bygger du meningarna som en 5åring, helt seriöst alltså, för det andra undrar jag varför i helvete du skriver fullt med citattecken överallt helt osammanhängande

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