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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

  • Stacy

    I am in week 2 and have the greasy slick hair thing going on. But I’m not going to quit! I’ve learned that adding mroe baking soda will help, as will reducing the amount of vinegar. My hair is normally oily and fine with a natural wave. Since using this method, I’ve noticed that my hair air dries much faster and my hair is much curlier.

    • Chris

      Just wanted to comment on the “all natural” method for hair care. I haven’t tried the baking soda thing yet but it’s the next on my agenda. But for those of you with dryness problems I did try Glycerine and it seems to work great! After your shower just squirt a bit into your palms and rub it around. Then finger it through your hair. Some have advocated mixing it with water and using a spray bottle. Regardless, it does a great job of adding sheen (or shine) to your hair and it works to draw moisture from the air and hold it to your hair strands. I assume this would be great for those with dry hair or that live in arid climates. Let me know what you think. P.S., you can buy natural vegetable glycerine at most vitamin shops.

  • Jennifer

    Hi! I believe your site was one of those I found and consulted last June (2010) when I decided to go ‘poo-free. I began using the baking soda and ACV as instructed, and had FANTASTIC results. I’ve been ecstatic! However, I would offer this caveat: since I am a healthy eater and shun salt as a general rule, I have been forced to conclude that my recent health problems resulting from high sodium — water retention and increased blood pressure — are a result of this baking soda use. When this emerged as a possibility, I switched immediately back to my old Burt’s Bees shampoo, until I can find something I like better, and noticed a decrease in edema (swelling of feet and ankles) right away. I cannot even express how sad and disappointed I am! :(

    I have been forced to find an alternative for my hair yet again. I’ve tried lemon juice, which is inadequate, and am now researching non-toxic botanical/herbal shampoos. At any rate, I would caution those of you who have conditions — particularly cardiovascular conditions — which may be worsened by further salt intake or exposure. Baking soda is, after all, a salt.

    • Corkie Smith

      I’m curious as to how putting baking soda ON your person, caused swelling within? I wasn’t aware that it would saturate the skin enough to cause swelling. When I swim in the ocean it doesn’t cause swelling. I would say the caveat should be check with your pharmacist and doctors.

      • seablue2u

        Living at the beach, this was my feeling exactly. I think the original poster has more going on than baking soda use.

      • Cindy Hallford

        As a nurse of over 30 years, I can tell with all confidence that things that are applied to the skin can CERTAINLY be absorbed through the pores. Salt from the ocean is different from sodium in table salt and baking soda, and is often not discouraged by physicians for those who have hypertension, and other cardiovascular conditions. Absorption through the skin is why many chemicals are used only with protective gear, why many medications that are prescribed for men are not even to be handled by women and children…the examples of absorption through the skin go on and on…

        • cm

          Cindy, salt from the ocean is indeed the same as salt in table salt. Sodium is not the same as salt which consists of both sodium and chloride ions. The overall content is different (iodine, magnesium, etc. present in unpurified sea salt), but what we call “salt” is the same as every other form of salt out there. You are correct in the fact that things can be absorbed through the skin, but it is not the same for everything. The permeability of salt itself is very low. If it readily absorbed through the skin, a person should slip right into a coma (the effect that high sodium concentrations in the body has – disrupting neural signaling and action potentials) upon entering the sea water.

          Yes, baking soda contains positive sodium counter ions, but it does not enter the body topically because you can’t just take out positively charged ions in the presence of the negatively charged bicarbonate ions (like how a magnet has a north and south pole – you can’t separate them into just north and just south).

          All the problems that are introduced by high sodium content in the body is most definitely by digestion. When you sweat and it evaporates, salt is leftover on the skin, but is not reabsorbed because it just does not happen.

          Also, sodium is a necessity in the body – it is an electrolyte and is used for cellular signaling. That said, too much is not a good thing either (and it is definitely too easy to get too much), but the body does a decent job at keeping the concentration balanced by either retaining or releasing water (thus feeling thirsty after a salty meal).

          As for medications, almost all are coated for controlled release or to survive degradation in the stomach. As a nurse, you should know this. The only exceptions are injections or other liquids that contain hormones or hormone-altering substances in a readily absorbed formulation.

          I thoroughly respect your position of being a nurse for over 30 years, but there is an alarming amount of misinformation floating around. I am a chemist by trade and I have studied extensively about biochemistry, drugs, and the accompanying physiological / pharmacological effects.

          I assure you that using baking soda for the hair will not spike your blood sodium levels. It could just be an adverse reaction to either the kind of baking soda you bought or baking soda itself (wouldn’t surprise me if there was some sort of mild allergic reaction there).

    • Dewayne

      Hi Jennifer. As someone who is also battling inflamation, I understand your pain. Have you looked into Omega 6 overload. Google Omega 6 and Omega 3 imbalance. Many who will lead you to foods that heal, don’t realize foods like Walnuts actually create more imbalance in Omegas due to the high Om6 load in the nuts. I have been changing my diet toward Om3s with great results. This could allow you to use the baking soda by really attacking the root problem.

  • Carolyn

    Hey, I started following your recipe with the baking soda and white vinegar about 3 months ago. After changing from shampoo and conditioner to this, I didn’t have the extreme oily reactions that everyone here seems to have had in the transition period and I think it might be because I used Suave Naturals before I weaned myself off completely. Also, I didn’t like the smell of the cinnamon so instead I started just making mint tea, waiting for it to cool, and adding that to the vinegar instead of water and cinnamon. It’s worked very well for me and my hair has never felt healthier! I have very thin, curly hair. I’m afraid i’ll never completely wean myself off the mousse I put in my hair after I wash though!

  • i’ve been suffering from flaky itchy scalp for about a year now, so i decided (upon noticing a ton of ‘no poo’ stuff online), to go shampoo-less. for as long as i can do it. I started up a week and a half ago and just today put stuff in it to truly clean it out thoroughly. i had been waiting a few days and then i’d vigorously massage my scalp to remove the dirt or whatnot from my hair, and just use warm water to get some of the grease out. BUT my hair was staying greasy, so i wore my hair up a LOT. until i decided that baking soda and vinegar were the way to go. I used them today and my hair feels cleaner than when i was using shampoo.
    the recipe i used was
    1 Tbsp baking soda in 8 oz of water.
    get hair wet, pour the mixture through hair and massage in.
    rinse well. then add 2 tbsp vinegar (this time i used white vinegar) to 8 oz water.
    after you’ve thoroughly rinsed the baking soda mixture out of your hair, pour this vinegar mixture onto your hair covering well and massage in.
    rinse well.
    the baking soda takes out the grease and dirt. the vinegar acts as the conditioner.
    sure, you kinda smell like salad dressing for a day, but it’s really worth it.
    the vinegar cut down on the frizz and my hair is nice and smooth.

  • Rachel

    Exactly how much is ’1 part’, I’m going to try this for a while, see how I like it. Btw I love this site.

    • Trevor

      terms like “1 part’ and ’3 parts’ just refer to a general proportion let’s say you use i teaspoon of baking soda you would then use 3 teaspoons of water. This would be interchangeable with any unit of measurement…

  • Rajeev

    Hi…used it .. i was very excited at first..but then unfortunately..the moment i applied the Step1 of Recipe 2…my hair was all matted..sticking to each other and just could not move my hair. sort of became rigid..Then i thougth it may get resolved after the vinegar stuff..but nothing changed..i had to apply lots of oil on my head and shampoo it twice to get my hair back to this a standard behaviour of your solution? let me know.

  • Paz

    How long can be the baking soda – water mix be storaged?? I mean what is its shelf life??

  • Bailey H

    I just went to the “no-poo” method in the beginning of June and I will never go back to using shampoo and conditioner again. I had to improvise during the first few weeks during the transition period, but the baking soda mixture was always enough for my hair to dry out the excess oils. I use 1tbsp baking soda with a cup or so of water in the shower and just rinse with water. If you can fight through the transition period then you will not regret trying this liberating and inexpensive alternative method to haircare.

  • Hi, I just used your first recipe, I’m trying the ‘no-poo’ method just for the hopes my hair will become much healthier (My hair is thin and curl med-length), I’ve only gotten to day four of going ‘poo-less’ and my hair is a terrible greasy mess. I googled the baking soda recipe and this site popped up!
    I tried it this morning and have only one question about it:
    Should you try to avoid getting the baking soda mix on the length of your hair? I tried to and its very difficult my hair made quite a mess of it.
    Other than that, my results:
    Not greasy! :) which I was enormously pleased about let me tell you! My hair doesn’t even smell vinegar-y which is also great.
    Only problem:
    My hair is dry & frizzy in some parts.
    Is this normal? or a result from getting the baking soda on the length of my hair and not just on my scalp?
    It would be great if you could let me know so I can adjust.
    Oh, and is there any recommended usage of this? like a limit per week if your going no-poo? should you only use this in the transition stage and will this set my natural oils back on my no- poo journey?

    Thanks so much for this recipe! It would be great if I could get an answer my questions :)
    Feel free to answer me by email:

    • One key thing that isn’t mentioned here is using a natural (I use boar bristle) brush. It takes the oils from the scalp and distributes them throughout the hair. I generally do it at night before bed. It takes a little bit for the hair to transition, but this method helps the hair from getting overly dry.

  • Meghann

    I’ve been “no-poo” since March. I have thin, fine hair that I thought was stick straight until going no-poo – now I have waves!!!
    I’m still experimenting a bit – the transition period was about 6 weeks, but I just kept my hair up most of the time and was fine. I do the BS mix (abt a TSP to a cup of water) and ACV one-two times a week depending on the weather. I live in the northeast – on humid weeks I need to do it twice, on drier weeks once is fine. I got some large squeeze-bottles and just keep premixed solution in the shower. I usually add some essential oils to the ACV, and then use some rosemary oil afterwards.
    So far I love it, and I see no shampoo in my future!

  • Gina

    Can the vinegar and water mix be kept in a bottle in the shower? I’m a little worried that I’ll be too lazy to make the mix every time!

  • [...] Personally, I find my hair is best if I alternate between commercial shampoo and this effective baking-soda-and-vinegar technique that costs probably about a penny each [...]

  • Vineeta

    I am planning to go ‘no-poo’ after doing a lot of research and primarily because i cant seem to get rid of the frizziness in my hair without using hell loads of products which has eventually made me lose a lot of hair. But i do have a question, can i still apply some leave in conditioner or serum after i am done cleaning my hair this way? and if i do, is this method capable of cleaning out that stuff next time i wash my hair?

  • [...] and I decided to take the plunge into the no-shampoo world. I broke out the baking soda. The blog, One Green Generation, had a recipes I decided to try. I grabbed the baking soda and a glass jar and headed to the [...]

  • [...] So first, here’s the link, if you feel like reading another post: A Non-Toxic, Frugal Way to Wash Your Hair without Buying Shampoo ( [...]

  • Dawn

    I love the baking soda shampoo. I have greasy thick curly colored hair. I use 1 tbsp of soda to 1 cup of warm water and apply it to my dry hair massage and rinse. Them follow it up with 1/4 c apple cider vinegar in 3 cups of water rinse and go. I do apply hair gel but all of the residue is removed with the shampoo and rinse. I love the fresh smell and it keeps lice and mosquitoes away!!!!!! My color is lasting longer and my gray doesn’t show so I color it less and enjoy the savings even more. I had a very short transition period, but my hair is healthier then ever before and growing like a weed..

  • i use pert plus. . it’s shampoo plus conditioner and i don’t have to mix anything. it’s not expensive and a bottle last for months!

  • clare

    Can anyone tell me which brand of bicarbonate of soda is aluminium free? It is not stated in the boxes. The only thing they would say is “non-toxic”. Does that cover the aluminium factor? Thanks

    • Cheryl

      lol If you want aluminum baking POWDER for cooking, you’d go with Rumford or a brand from the health food store. This recipe is for baking SODA and it does not contain aluminum, so pick up some Arm & Hammer. :) I laugh because I went to my cupboard to check and then realized, soda, not powder…

    • Maggie

      All baking soda is aluminum free. Baking soda is pure sodium bicarbonate- that is the only ingredient. If it has anything else it isn’t baking soda. Baking powder sometimes contains alumnium; somwhere along the line, someone probably got them confused and maufacturers seized on it as a marketing strategy.

  • Sandra Barr
    Great advice, I have linked it from my own blog. I have now been 6 weeks without washing my hair, I have used nothing only warm water. Tomorrow I will try the baking soda and apple cider vinegar.
    My blog examines the mystical properties of hair, and how the high dose chemical cocktails we use rob us of these gifts. I would be interested to know if your sixth sense improved when you went chemical free?
    Sandra Barr

  • Vanessa

    I really want to try this, but I will be dying my hair a bright red real soon, and i was wondering if it will remove my hair color, and if so, is there anything i can add to the mixture to help keep my color, like some type of dye? help!

    • Valerie

      When using “RIT” brand dyes to dye fabrics like cotton for tie dying we would add a cup of vinegar to the washing machine when you have to wash the fabric after the dye process to help set the color in the fabric. So it would not fade. I don’t see how that would be different for hair. BUT the baking soda is a natural stain lifter so I don’t think it is a good idea for you to use this method on dyed hair. MY very first use of baking soda ever in my life was to remove red fruit punch coolaid stain from my white counter tops. It works marvelously for it. So I would again say no to trying this. Lemon juice washing might help you out better, but you would have to find a way to preserve the natural oils in your hair as lemon juice strips the oils out.

    • i have bright turquoise hair and use vinegar to keep the colour bright (and last like 4xs longer). baking soda might remove the colour, but vinegar will keep it bright. i’d opt just for the vinegar rinse/.

  • Andrea

    Hi – I am in week 2 of this no-poo method. I’m still in the greasy period which is tough when you have thin hair. Dry shampoo is getting me through this period. That’s not going to mess up my scalp, right? As far as achieving a balanced scalp after a few weeks? I hope not. I’m really looking forward to having a healthy head of hair!

    • Angela

      Andrea…I am currently in week 2 of the no-poo method. I have baby fine, thin hair. I have been using dry shampoo as well. Can you tell me if this ended up working for you?

      • Bee


        The transition period is different for everyone. I’ve heard of it being only two weeks for some, mine was at the worst at two weeks, but it did get better from there on out. I’ve been no ‘poo for nearly a year now and I LOVE it.

        Everyone is different. You may have to try adjusting the amount of baking soda or vinegar. I found that for my hair if I use too much vinegar it looks greasy sooner.

  • san

    Hi All

    I am definitely going to try out the deodorant and this no poo shampoo. I am wondering if anyone has any ideas about how one could cover grey/white hair without resorting to chemicals. I am only 40 but my hair seems to have reverted to a grey and white. This may be from use of blond chemical dye over the years. I have just changed jobs to work for a department store therefore I can’t look a fright. Any suggestions welcomed. PS I don’t want to look old before my time either.

  • Lito


    I will be planning on to use the Noo Poo, my question is, if I store a Baking Soda/Water and the Apple Cider Vinegar/Water solution on a bottle how long will this last on a bottle? Is there an expiration on this? because i don’t want to mix these all everyday.


  • Tana

    Well, everyone I know thinks it is utter lunacy; including those residing under the same roof. I use olive oil once a month to do a deep conditioning on my hair. Wrap it for 15 min and then wash. I use a baking soda paste to wash my hair initially and then use baking soda water to make sure I got every where. I have extremely thick hair so I have to use a bit more. I use Apple cider vinegar as a conditioning rinse. I have gone yet a step further. I read about how Egyptians used to use olive oil to clean themselves and I was curious if it worked. So I did an experiment and tried it. I figured worst case scenario I have to take another shower. I put a towel in the bottom of the shower so I wouldn’t slip. I put olive oil on my skin like a lotion and used a damp warm washcloth to scrub. I didn’t have to use shaving creme to shave my legs which I thought was awesome. After getting out of the tub I was even able to dry shave those few pesky hairs that I missed under bad lighting in the shower without any rash or irritation.

    Results: I never felt cleaner! My skin is super soft as well! My skin looks healthier no more dry patches and an unexpected bonus…I don’t need deodorant anymore! I was floored as I can not skip deodorant or I may as well take another shower.

    Gone is my shampoo, conditioner, shaving creme, moisturizer, makeup remover, and whatever else I used to use. Now I have three beauty aids that I am never without since they are always in my kitchen! Backing soda, ACV, and olive oil!

    Hopefully you all don’t think I am as nuts as my family does…however, my husband said that even though he thinks it is utter lunacy…it works! Even he can’t believe that it works.

    • Bee

      If you liked that try checking out the ‘Oil Cleaning Method’. There’s quite a bit of information on using oil to clean you skin out there if you know where to look.

    • Cheryl

      Wonderful! I love to use coconut oil. I don’t use it all the time and I will put it on after my shower while still warm and wet, but I do use it to remove makeup and as an all over moisturizer as it absorbs and doesn’t leave you greasy at all. I’ll have to try it instead of soap, which I use sparingly.

      Over the last 8 years, I went from washing every-other-day to maybe once a week with Shampoo. I will mostly just rinse my hair with water. I’ve occasionally used borax and occasionally baking soda on my scalp. We keep vinegar in a spray bottle in our shower as this controls my husbands psoriasis. He had a bad case of it for years and we did the peroxide followed by vinegar method and it healed it all up. As long as he uses vinegar once every two to four weeks, it stays under control.

      Glad to see even more people loving not using shampoo. I don’t use toothpaste. Mainly water, but sometimes baking soda, fine salt, herbs, or a combination. I also don’t use much deodorant since I discovered that the salt “crystals” contain aluminum and I find that I really don’t need much anyhow. Drink more water and don’t forget fresh fruit and veggies to help you be less stinky! lol In six months (after baby is born), I will need some sort of deodorant and I know of many recipes out there, so here’s to freedom from the slavery of personal products!

      • Cheryl,
        Please tell me more details about how you and your husband healed his psoriasis. My sister has it so bad, and the medication she has to take is terrible and expensive too! Thank you for sharing your information!

        • Susan

          Hi Katherine,
          Anything that can help would certainly be worth investigating. Here is a link to Dr. Shultze’s blog that came out just today, with a story from one of his students about her baby’s horrible skin disease and how it was healed quickly and naturally without drugs. Look for the July 18th issue. Hope this helps! Susan

      • j n

        Hey is this cheryl in Madison WI?

        If so, hi sis and why didn’t you tell me about this?

  • Stacy

    Truly amazing! No poo for a week now. I haven’t told anyone yet (I’m waiting for someone to admire my locks and then I will confess). I have thin curly dyed hair. I was using aveda which was lovely but very expensive and I had to use a million styling aids to either go curly or straight. I haven’t gone curly yet but my hair dries quicker and straightens MUCH faster with the CHI iron. I still use a flat iron treatment spray but about 1/10 of the amount I previously used. I haven’t even tried the ACV yet…

  • Alex

    I’ve decided to go no-poo, it’s my second week! I usually make a paste as it seems to clean my hair from the grease better. However, after the third wash, the bottom part of my hair felt really really dry and hardened! I can’t figure out if I put too much soda or maybe too little/much vinegar? If it’s the soda then I can’t imagine how I will manage because if i put any less soda my scalp does not clean too well and on the next day I can still feel (or even smell the greasiness!). Also, how often should you wash your hair this way? and will your hair start producing less grease over time? or do you have to extend your days by maybe trying to wash your hair less and etc.?
    Oh and I’m going to try the olive oil method!

  • Tonya

    Ok, so I’ve been poo-free for 3 weeks now, but my question is how often should I be using the baking soda wash? I’ve been using it almost every day (except weekends) because I’m terrified of going to work with oily hair. I have short hair (currently growing out an ill-fated pixie cut), so ponytail is out the question. I have no way to hide greasy hair. Is it harmful to use the baking soda this often? Also, I heard that baking soda can lighten my hair, is there anything I can use or add that will counteract this or help darken/redden my hair? I’ve been dying my hair red for 11 years, if there is something I can use to keep a reddish tint, that would be awesome.

    Thanks!! :D

  • Lyn

    I just started the no poo method about a week ago…I LOVE IT ( I have washed my hair twice)!!! my hair isn’t any oilier or anything but I don’t use much hair product anyway (just a lil hairspray on my bangs area) and I didn’t wash my hair daily to begin with so maybe I get to skip the “transition period”…it feels great and smells good too NO VINEGAR SMELL AT ALL!! I am impressed!!! I mix about a tbsp of baking soda in a 20 water bottle and about an inch of apple cider vinegar in another and fill both with warm water before jumping into shower (mixing only takes a minute or two)…I do admit the vinegar does smell in the shower (had me worried I would smell like a pickle at first lol) but nope smell goes away once I rinsed it out..I let the vinegar mix sit on my hair as a wash the rest of me with …guess what …baking soda – its a great exfoliant !!! Just sprinkle some on a wet wash cloth and scrub (just be light with scrubbing on your face)then rinse off..then I follow with rubbing my body down with coconut oil I keep in the shower (coconut oil is solid at room temp but melts when i dip my fingers in it ) it doesn’t take much at all!!! a little goes a LONGGGGG WAY with this stuff (seriously!!)!!! I may use a pea sized amount rubbed between my hands on upper half of my body and another for the lower half..My skin feels so soft and smooth afterwards!!! and it doesn’t make my shower slippery since coconut oil is solid its easier to apply and less likely to dribble onto the shower floor…coconut oil is also a great makeup remover for those who use it….even waterproof mascara comes off with coconut oil!! Oh and by the way I have long hair (about mid back length and I color my hair plus add higlights (sorry can’t stand the greys lol)

  • Hi there,

    Interesting blog! I have been doing this method for quite some time now (6+ months) and I’ve noticed that my hair has gotten lighter. Also at times, my hair feels too dry for my taste. With that said, I will probably be using less baking soda (ie: once a week instead of 3?) and making sure I don’t use too much of it in my solutions (which may be in fact drying out my hair?).

  • Christy

    I really would like to start using this method but am worried about the baking soda stripping off my hair dye because Ive heard people use it for that. My hair is thin and straight with a natural dirty blonde color but during the winter I dye it a dark brown with red in it. Do you think it will strip off the color worse than normal shampoo? And if so is there any other alternatives to baking soda?

  • [...] your hair without buying shampoo. Melinda Briana Epler at One Green Generation teaches how to use vinegar and baking soda [...]

  • Smith,A

    My mom uses olive oil for her hair after showering. She buys glass bottles to store it in. She also adds a few drops of oils such as tea tree, grapefruit, orange, etc. With this she uses pomace olive oil and some castor oil.

  • Georgi

    I have been going poo-free for 2 months now and LOVE the results – finally. First month was agonising and I struggled every day with my shampoo bottle “should I use you or should I persist”. I persisted and the efforts after about 4-6 weeks paid off.

    I have given up cleansing with a product entirely, including bi-carb and water – I never used this. I only used a cone-free conditioner which I massaged into my scalp and hair, however am now thinking of switching to Melinda’s conditioning method of white vinegar. I love the idea of adding your own essential oils and herbs. However I live in China and am not sure how accessible organic vinegar can be. Does anyone have any information about using a regular white vinegar?

    Another question I have is regarding colour. I have a few greys that I would like to cover up and I was wondering whether the trip to the salon is worth it. Melinda, when you used shampoo twice in your first 2 months, how much reversing did it do? Did you have to go through the oily transition period again? The colour that I will be using would be definitely poo-free unfriendly (as that is all that is available here). I would only be getting a very small section coloured so wouldn’t need to immerse my whole head in toxics. Could I even rinse out the colour rather than shampoo it out? And if not, could I take along a bi-carb solution for the hairdresser to use on my hair?

    I’d be interested in your thoughts.

    • Hi Georgi, regular white vinegar should work fine.

      Regarding hair color… the baking soda does make it fade faster. You could try just going with vinegar and foregoing the baking soda – it might work to maintain the color longer.

      As far as getting it washed at the salon… one shampoo won’t make a huge difference – you shouldn’t have to go through the whole transition period again. It will be a short transition back, probably.

      A lot of people see grey hair as beautiful and distinguished… you could also let the grey come in and enjoy the change. My husband has salt and pepper hair and I love it. :) Just another alternative.

      Good luck,

  • L.

    Well I tried the no-poo method and gave up at week 3. My hair never improved and only felt dirtier and greasier as time went on. I went back to regular shampoo and conditioner making sure it was one without alot of chemicals. I am so glad to be back to shampoo. I would not advise anyone to do this. If it’s something you want to try, go ahead but don’t say I didn’t warn you. I’m surprised at all the positive comments about this. Not enough people are telling the truth.

  • Mrs. Fox

    I’d never heard of using baking soda to wash your hair! I’ve used vinegar rinses with my homemade shampoos, but ultimately my hair would still be oily and wouldn’t look nice. So I tried the first recipe this morning…and it worked!!! I’m so excited! :D It’s simple, time efficient, non-toxic, and cheap! And my hair feels and looks really nice :) Thank you for posting this!

  • lynn g

    hello all, i sooo gratful to learn about bs and acv,
    thanl you, my rash that was slowly speading to my face is now slowly dissapearing, so im now going to try deoderant and body wash and moisteriser the natuarl way, im off to experiment, thank you all xx

  • Julie

    Day 1 today of going poo free, only used BS. I need some advice.

    1. How often should I wash my hair each week with BS
    2. How long with the BS mixture last for

    Thank you

    • Courtney

      I was my hair with my BS mixture everyday. I have always had a really greasy scalp.
      When I wash, I mix up 2c water, 4T BS, 2t Aloe Vera. This lasts me about 5 days, which seems to be about as long as its shelf life. :)

  • Amber

    Does anyone use a conditioner after washing with baking soda and vinegar?

  • Amber

    Also, if I generally have dry ends but oily scalp, should I only use baking soda on my scalp and vinegar on the ends? Has anyone noticed a difference?

    • Courtney

      I have always had a really oily scalp; and fine, dry, fragile hair. Not a fun combo! My hair is also damaged on the ends because I bleached it about two years ago. So when I tried just the baking soda wash my hair got SOOOOO dry. What I have come up with is this:

      Wash with a mixture of 1c water, 2T baking soda, + 1t Aloe Vera

      Then I use conditioner just the same as I always did. Hopefully once the damage grows out I can just use the vinegar rinse.

      Then I rinse with a mixture of 1/2c water, 1/2c vinegar, 1t Aloe Vera, 1t vegetable glycerin.

      That has fixed my dry hair problem. Hope it helps!

  • Jen

    Hello! I just stumbled upon this very lovely blog. I decided to try going “no poo” in Jan of 2011, using baking soda and vinegar once or twice a week. I loved it and it worked very well for me. I stuck with that routine for 9 months. However, then I noticed that I had a bit of a build-up of white stuff on my scalp (probably bs). I didn’t want to go back to shampoo (I just couldn’t!). So, I made a radical decision to go “water-only”. And now, I’ve been washing my hair with only water once or twice a week for five months and I love it! As an experiment, I didn’t tell my boyfriend that I was switching to water only and he never noticed. I told him 3 months later : ) The only issue (and it’s definitely a silly issue) is that I would like my hair to smell nice. Right now it doesn’t smell like anything. My scalp smells like my natural oils /sebum (not a bad smell, but not as nice as the way shampoo leaves you smelling). Other than that, I definitely recommend going water-only to anyone who’s interested in taking this a step further. (Just note that it takes a bit more time, as you have to “manually” clean your hair with a brush. But I actually enjoy that part.)

  • [...] new shampoo contains about 1 part baking soda (my old friend) to 2.5 parts water.  This is a bit stronger than [...]

  • Krissy D

    Hi, I couldn’t stand my greasy hair after trying the baking soda and vineger thing, I know it might cost me a bit more then what I wanted, but I’m gonna try using one of “Lush’s soap bars” for curly thick hair.

  • Alissa

    I just finished watching Chemerical last night, and shampooed with baking soda and apple cider vinegar this morning.
    I have already been a vegetarian, and haven’t replaced cleaning products that I’ve used up (Pine Sol).
    I would like to quit using store-bought deodorant, toothpaste, and cleaning products.
    Please let me know if you have any tips or recipes for me! Like homemade lotion! Thanks,

  • MNM

    I actually tried the whole No Poo thing for my natural experiment, and I could never really get the Baking Soda/Vinegar combo to work. I had a terrible time for a few weeks. I had problems with hair that was both dry AND greasy, and since I’m a blonde, it’s very easy for my hair to look dirty. Then I found a shampoo that has Aloe Vera and Castile Soap in it and a conditioner that uses Aloe Vera and honey. I slowly mixed the natural products with my traditional ones, and voila – I’m MUCH happier with these results! Check it out –

  • Erin

    I’ve been no ‘poo since beginning march 2012. Love it! For those still feeling greasy with the baking soda and apple cider vinigar,maybe you have hard water. Hard water and baking soda don’t mix. Try boiling your water then add the baking soda. I don’t have hard water but once in a while when i have time i boil my water for a few minutes, let it cool a few minutes then add my baking soda. It foams quite a bit but it will calm down. Stir it up and make sure it’s well disolved. Too much apple cider viniger can make your hair appear greasy too. I do 1 TBS ACV in 1 to 1 1/2 cups warm water for my rinse. Then use it on my hair from midway to the ends avoiding my scalp other than a small squirt. Google no ‘poo method and look for other ways to wash your hair. Egg yolk is great too. Also i wouldn’t baking soda wash more than twice a week. If you need to wash more than that find an alternative for those days. I tried every other day with the BS/AVC and it made my hair on the dry side. I am pretty oily and watned to avoid the transition phase. I now baking soda once a week and use something else the other times i wash.Like egg yolk or diluted castile soap.I try to wash 3 times a week, 2 times if i am not going anywhere. hope that helps anyone. :) Happy Hair Washing!

  • Loni Bandet-Barss

    Hi, I’ve been using cheap shampoos and conditioners for years and it has caught up to me. I am a brunette and go to the salon for medium blonde highlights. Plus the water that we have on the farm has rust and manganese in it and that doesn’t help my color. Do you know if I would be able to do the baking soda and vinegar thing on my hair or would that be a no no because of the highlights?

    I would love a definite answer before I try this method. Thank you.

  • [...] organic products. Of if you want to save some money and go the super green route you can try this girl’s homemade shampoo recipe, which she claims, makes her hair voluminous and [...]

  • Thank you so very much for this great shampoo recipe! I tried it two days ago and my hair looks and feels great. I have a lot of grey hair on the front of my scalp that is very white and I try to keep it from getting yellow – this shampoo got it sparkling white – I also have a few foils just for fun (the dye never goes onto my scalp)and this shampoo did not dilute the color

    FYI – I added orange extract to the vinegar – the oil based kind w/out alcohol – and it gave a nice aroma – I am trying the cinnamon next – I have had a stick in the vinegar for three days now – looking forward to my next shampoo – Thanks again

  • Mia

    Hi! I want to try this ‘no-poo’ thing out. I just have one question: I bathe every day so I want to ask if I can use this no-poo solution every day. I would die if I don`t bathe [wet hair and all] for a day. If not then what can I do to clean my hair? I use hairspray a lot and I need to keep my hair clean all the time.

  • misty dawn

    Hi everyone! So I am trying to go all natural in my life (slowly but surely) and recently heard about the no poo thing. I was really excited and eager to try this! Eagerly, I went right out and got some ACV and jumped in the shower. I just poured it straight on ky head and it tingled and w the cold water to rinse I was quite invigerated. I’ve used it twice now though, and unfortunately my scalp (in the area ur headband would land… Keeping in mind I haven’t been nor don’t normally sport a head band) is itching pretty bad and when I scratch there is a white film under my nails (gross). I’m thankful to this sight for alternative ideas, and also hints to mask the smell bc I have to admit I’ve been feelin a little self conciouse, just waiting for somebody to be like, so what smells like viniger? Haha i think I’m going to try diluting the ACV and adding some pure vitamin e oil to see if that helps w the itch. Otherwise I may have to venture out for some baking soda. Any ideas on why my scalp might n reacting ad such? Thanks and blessed b to all.

  • Breanna

    I want to make sure that I get organic products. What brand of baking soda do you use and what brand of vinegar?

    You can email me at

    :) thank you

  • I use coconut oil as my hair moisturizing mask. Works great especially if you leave on overnight. It has definitely improved my hair. Not as dry any more!

  • Richel

    Last night I read this no´poo method and I really want to try it. I have a little question. I colored my hair about 3 weeks ago. Is it safe to try this method or is there porbability of a reaction? I have long stright hair and I love it. But my hair is dry. So, I want to know if the vinegar is sufficient for dry hair.

    Thank you for answering me. :)

  • Kristal

    Hi there,
    I’ve got natural curly dry hair, I have tried the no poo method in the past, but I have noticed it made my hair look really greasy and “unwashed looking”. How long would it take for the baking soda and rinisng in vinger to not make it like this? Please give me your feedback on this this.

    Thanks so much! :)

  • [...] about using poos on my head. I started looking into alternatives. That’s when I came across this post by Melissa over at One Green Generation. I decided I would try the baking soda and vinegar recipe [...]

  • Erin

    I started your no poo recipe after standing in the shampoo aisles at both the whole foods and target stores and being thoroughly disappointed. I was so sad. But I had BS and AC Vinegar at home so I thought– why not? My current recipe (which is a dilution from the original– took one week to step down!) is 1 tsp baking soda for every 8 oz water– in a squeeze bottle. I put apple cider vinegar (1:4) and water in a mister/spray bottle. I do the roots and rinse it through my hair… then I spritz with acv and rinse. I also add a few drops of a favorite oil to the vinegar. Less stinky. I find, though, that my hair never smells like vinegar. I also find that if my head or hair feels dry, I just use a little more vinegar and let it set while I wash the rest of me. I practically sparkle, lol!

    Your original article had been on my mind since I first read it in 2010…and at my last shopping trip of staring into the shampoo aisles I had to make the leap and say–”she’s right– and I need to save the cash anyway.” SO thank you for sharing. It’s the little things– and my straight, semi greasy hair that’s never held a curl– get’s washed 3x a week and now holds a curl without hairspray. So I was able to get away from hairspray, too. No styling products– no shampoo- I am thrilled.

  • Suzi

    I did the “no-poo” method for 3 months and had to give up. I only used BS & vinegar once a week, but my hair was so greasy it was unbearable at times. I realized we have very hard water which was causing most of my problems. I wish it had worked.

  • I started using this method the first week in January 2013

    I love it.

    I just use 1TBSP of Baking Soda in a cup of Water, pour it over my hair and massage my scalp, let it set for 1 minute.
    1 TBSP of ACV in a cup of Water, pout over hair and massage in scalp AND hair. Let set for 1 minute and then rinse.

    I just mix before I enter the shower.

    I wash and rinse my hair twice a week using this method, but take a shower daily and allow my hair to get wet.

    I really love this method and the first time I used it my hair looked great. I have experimented with essential oils in scenting , but the Apple Cider Vinegar is fine with me.

  • Tawny

    Is this safe to use everyday? I am not particularly interested in going no-poo anytime soon, but I would like an alternative to my harsh shampoo.

    • Erin

      Hi Tawny–
      I was loving this and actually using it every day, then every few days, then only twice a week. The only problem for me is that my scalp gets dry, then greasy. I really did love how gorgeous my hair looked and yes, it was perfectly safe for everyday use. But I had to go semi poo and start weening myself. I still rinse with apple cider vinegar once in a while and I still use the baking soda for really dirty hair days, but for the most part I use a recipe I got from the It’s coconut milk, pure Castile soap, and olive oil. It’s not totally poo free, but still very frugal (not quite as frugal as baking soda and vinegar), chemical free, and good if you need a step down from poo before going all out. It takes time, but worth the effort the money saved. Good luck!

  • DryAsABone

    This works AMAZINGLY well with a few modifications if you have very DRY hair, like me.

    Even before switching over, I only shampooed once a week or else I ended up with a clump of straw on my head. In truth, I could have gone at lot longer without my hair ever looking greasy.

    When I started to experiment with the vinegar and baking soda, it just didn’t add enough moisture and my scalp didn’t produce enough oil to extend to the ends of my long hair.

    I remedied this by taking a handful of olive or coconut oil and rubbing it ONLY into the ends/damaged bottom section of my hair. Then I pinned it up and left it for an hour or more before I took my shower.

    I would then only apply the baking soda directly to my scalp area and not worry about the ends much before applying the vinegar.

    This solved the problem beautifully, and now the ends are looking healthy and moisturized.

  • erin


    I quit using shampoo last May, after reading a blog about it. The only time it gets washed with shampoo is when I go in to get my hair cut/colored (yes!! even though i’m trying to go chemical free as much as possible, I won’t give in to my grays!) The woman that does my hair uses an oil-based, natural dye and since oil attracts oil, my color absorbs unbelievably well and stays on for much, much longer than when I was shampooing my hair and washing away all of my naural oils.

    I do a few things differently, though. I rarely use the apple cider vinegar, because it just seems to make my hair more oily and “heavy”. I also started out the first few months, with the baking soda in the spray bottle with water, but still got that “heavy”, sort of icky feeling. So now, I just keep a small container of baking soda on the side of the bathtub and sprinkle a bit in my hand and massage it into my scalp when I wash it every couple days. This works great for me! :)

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