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How to Use Baking Soda for Hair Washing

Athlyn Green has tried to reduce the chemical footprint on her property and shares tips and insights about safe and natural alternatives.

Who would have thought you could use baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) for hair washing?

Who would have thought you could use baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) for hair washing?

Okay, for the uninitiated, how does one use baking soda to wash hair? First off, forget about bubbles. You don't need these to achieve clean hair.


  • 1 tsp baking soda (make sure to use aluminum-free)
  • 1-2 cups warm water
  • A jug with a handle


  1. Put 1–2 tsp of baking soda (depending on whether you have short or long hair) into a jug and add warm water, then twirl the mixture with your hand to dissolve the baking soda.
  2. Pour this mixture over the top of your head. You don't have to worry about your ends if you have long hair (as I do), because if you use enough liquid, it runs down your hair.
  3. Proceed as you would if you were using shampoo, working it through your hair and rubbing it in.
  4. Rinse with warm water. Because there is no soap and no bubbles to rinse out, rinsing is a snap. (I use two jugs of water.)
  5. If you want to give an area extra attention, simply sprinkle on some baking soda and scrub.

A Word of Warning

Make sure to use a baking soda that does not contain aluminum, which may cause a reaction. Avoid no name brands.

When choosing a baking soda, avoid no name brands and others that contain aluminum.

When choosing a baking soda, avoid no name brands and others that contain aluminum.

Tired of Shelling Out for Expensive, Chemical-Laden Shampoos?

I don't know about anyone else, but I balk at the cost of everyday items, including such things as shampoos and conditioners. Beauty products are becoming increasingly expensive. On top of that, consumers are becoming more savvy about the chemicals they are exposing themselves to by using these products.

I've been gradually "greening" my home by replacing my chemical-laden cleaners with everyday items (baking soda, vinegar, peroxide) I have on hand and have found that this is much more feasible both from a health standpoint and financially, too.

I mean, come on, who wants to spend close to $10.00 for a bottle of shampoo? I certainly didn't, and hence I'd been buying the cheapy shampoo for around $3.00 a pop; however, I discovered there was a downside.

A Terribly Itchy Scalp

One evening, I had the strangest reaction in my scalp. It started itching terribly, and I almost wondered if I'd picked up head mites or lice, such was the severity. I checked in the mirror and couldn't see anything, but the itching wouldn't stop. It was so bad, I rinsed my hair with water—and almost immediately, the itching stopped. I checked the water carefully. No little bugs. Hmm.

This solved the itching problem until the next time I used my shampoo, and once again, later that same day, my scalp started up and nearly drove me mad! What on Earth was going on, and why was this terrible itching occurring?

Was My Shampoo the Culprit?

At that point, I started to suspect that my shampoo was the culprit. It was the only thing I was using on my hair. I checked the bottle, and the shampoo contained a veritable cocktail of ingredients most people would be hard-pressed to even pronounce.

If these chemicals were affecting my scalp so negatively, what other dangers did they pose? After all, our skin is an organ whereby chemicals can be absorbed into our bodies.

Could this lather be dangerous?

Could this lather be dangerous?

Scratch, Scratch, Scratch

Extreme itching forced me to reevaluate what I was putting on my scalp.

My Quest for DIY All-Natural Shampoo

I knew the time had come to do something about the shampoo I was using. I did a search for shampoos containing all-natural ingredients. I found what appeared to be good-quality products on the market such as Dr. Bonner's, but I found that most natural shampoos, unfortunately, were every bit as expensive or even more so than their chemical cousins in the grocery store aisles. Trying to be health-conscious would be costly.

I'm a great believer in simplicity. As I've gotten older, I've realized that so many of the products I thought I had to have on hand to clean my home with weren't truly necessary. A few simple, non-toxic cleaning products are all that are needed, in most cases, and these items are good for the environment and for the humans who use them. I found I could do almost all my cleaning tasks with my fav three: baking soda, vinegar, and peroxide.

Why do I mention this? My scalp was itching non-stop and if I was going to use water again to stop the itching, I also needed something to actually wash my hair with. With that In mind, I did a search online to see how to make my own shampoo using, hopefully, one of my favorite three.

Good old baking soda to the rescue.

Good old baking soda to the rescue.

Baking Soda to the Rescue

I soon found that baking soda could be used to wash hair. This surprised me. I'd never heard of someone using it for this purpose. Would it make hair gritty? I wondered. While it seemed a tad odd to me, with my scalp reacting to the chemicals, I was desperate to try anything to gain relief. And I had to find some way to clean my hair and stop another episode burning and itching, so severe I felt I would tear my hair out.

An Immediate Success

I washed my hair and almost immediately the itching stopped. I noticed that my scalp felt better and that my hair felt soft.

And a couple of days later, I realized I hadn't had to wash my hair and it didn't look greasy. What a difference from shampoos. I discussed this with a friend of mine and she mentioned she had been using baking soda to wash her hair and once her hair had been stripped of all the stuff built up from store-bought shampoos and conditioners, she could now go a week between hair washings.

My second washing with baking soda must have removed some of the built-up gunk because this time, my scalp felt even better and my hair came out wonderfully shiny. Wow! I was sold. It is the oddest sensation but my head feels lighter, as if my scalp is able to breath somehow, without all the build-up.

Most important of all, no re-occurrence of that terrible, relentless itching!

No More Episodes of Terrible Scalp Itching

As time went on, the real proof was in the pudding. I did not have any more episodes of itching.

What You May Notice

When you start washing your hair with baking soda, you may notice your hair feels sticky. All the built-up gunk on your hair will start to come out, so it may take a couple of washings. You will need a bit of patience before this resolves.

Clean and no chemicals. Hair washed with baking soda is shiny and looks lighter.

Clean and no chemicals. Hair washed with baking soda is shiny and looks lighter.

How It Worked for Me

First 2 Weeks: My Hair Is Shinier and Lighter

Okay, so after washing my hair 5 times now, just using baking soda, what results do I see? My hair is shinier and looks lighter.

I'm finding it is much easier to rinse my hair after washing it.

One thing worth mentioning: You should use a conditioner because hair can a bit harder to brush through at first, as the baking soda breaks down shampoo residues.

Cautionary Note

Some people feel their hair becomes somewhat drier and are concerned about this. I occasionally use apple cider vinegar—another chemical-free way to condition hair.

3rd and 4th Weeks: My Hair Is Even Shinier

Wow! The baking soda must still be removing built-up gunk. I've never seen my hair this shiny.

After I got the gunk out of my hair, I noticed a real difference in how often I had to wash it. In fact, after a week or longer, it still looked good.

A jug and aluminum-free baking soda is all you need.

A jug and aluminum-free baking soda is all you need.

1–2 Years Now

I've become so used to using baking soda now to wash my hair, I never give it a second thought. I simply keep a box of Arm and Hammer baking soda in my bathroom beside my jug.

What I Like About Using Baking Soda for Hair Washing

  • inexpensive
  • rinsing is a snap
  • longer time between washings

I Will Never Go Back to Buying Shampoos

Hands-down, baking soda is the easiest method of washing hair that I know of.

Wake-up Call

In hindsight, I am thankful that my itching scalp gave me a wake-up call, as to the chemicals I was putting on my hair and scalp. I was forced to reevaluate the expensive, chemical-laden shampoos on the market. Who would have thought that something as simple as baking soda could do such a bang-up job of hair washing.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2012 Athlyn Green


Athlyn Green (author) from West Kootenays on April 10, 2016:

After using baking soda now for a long time, the easiest way to do this is to fill a jug with warm water, dump in about a tsp of baking soda and swirl to mix, then pour over your head. Work your fingers through your hair, as you would with shampoo, then rinse with 1-2 jugs of water. So easy. I will never go back to shampoo now.

Alissa on January 04, 2013:

can i usit the bakin soda with shampoo or just with a wotter?

Athlyn Green (author) from West Kootenays on September 27, 2012:

Hi Carrie,

Great tip about the coconut oil--can't wait to try that.

Carrie Jones from Georgia on September 26, 2012:

I use this with ACV (apple cider vinegar) as a shampoo and coconut oil as the conditioner. Completely eliminating shampoo & conditioner costs! Occasionally I will shampoo w/Dr. Bronners. This is also a great remedy for Psoriasis and other scalp conditions. Great hub!

Jess on September 06, 2012:

I've been using baking soda shampoo and an ACV rinse for about a year now with great results! Plus saving money and helping the environment.

Athlyn Green (author) from West Kootenays on April 26, 2012:

I was talking to a friend who mentioned that store-bought shampoo actually triggers oil-prodution in hair and this is why we have to wash it so often. She wrote: When you shampoo, it strips the oil and signals the vgland to make more, on the double. So it's a demand/supply thing, the more you use soap to strip, the more oil will be made.

This made sense to me. Companies that produce shampoo would, of course, want consumers to have to use their product more often, thus generating the need to buy more.

Thanks for sharing your experiences, Dolores and Earth Angel.

Earth Angel on April 25, 2012:

GREAT Hub Athlyn! I have long blonde hair that hangs far below my waist! I tried your baking soda idea yesterday! I was shocked at how easy it was to wash/rinse my hair with no residual! I did not shampoo afterwards but did condition from my neck down! You were right! My hair came so clean and shiney! After spending thousands of dollars on high-priced shampoos like Caviar, I am a convert! Thank you so very much for sharing! Blessings Always, Earth Angel!

Dolores Monet from East Coast, United States on April 25, 2012:

Just to let you know that I used the baking soda instead of shampoo, and though I sorta missed the bubbles, it worked very well! And the peroxide...must confess to using a bit of that in the winter!

Athlyn Green (author) from West Kootenays on April 23, 2012:

Hi Delores,

I notice with this second washing, my hair is lighter. The first washing, my hair felt a little stiff or sticky but I think that was because some of the previous build-up was coming out of my hair.

I'm so thrilled to have taken another step to a safer environment in my home and for my health.

Another neat trick if you want to lighten your hair is to spray it with peroxide. This does a great job and is far cheaper and safer than dyes.

Dolores Monet from East Coast, United States on April 23, 2012:

I can't wait to try this! As a natural blonde, I often wondered how come my hair sometimes looked darker than others - and not just the winter/summer difference. I started using a super cleaning shampoo and noticed that my hair looked lighter. Many of the cheap shampoos leaves that build-up of gunk you mentioned.