DIY Baking Soda Shampoo & Apple Cider Vinegar Conditioner – 100% Green & Effective!

Baking Soda Shampoo and Apple Cider Vinegar Conditioner

My curls high on baking soda shampoo and apple cider vinegar conditioner!

I can only imagine how much money I’ve spent in my lifetime experimenting with all different types of shampoos, conditioners, mousses, and hair gels to tame my unruly curls (see my other post on how I care for my curly hair). Since switching to baking soda shampoo and apple cider vinegar conditioner a year ago, I haven’t tried another product and haven’t even wanted to! If you think this sounds like a gimmick, I can’t blame ya, but I promise it’s not. Just start browsing the comments on this post and you’ll see one success story after another.

I’ve tried Nexxus, Frizz-Eaze, Kérastase, DevaCurl, Matrix Biologe, Redken, and Bed Head to name a few. I’m 30 years old now, and until a year ago, I still hadn’t found the perfect products to keep my hair soft, manageable, moisturized and most importantly, tamed. After using no-poo (no sodium laureth sulfate) shampoo and conditioner from DevaCurl for a couple of years and only washing my hair every 3-4 days, it was only fitting that I take the full plunge and make my own Baking Soda shampoo!

So ewww, that’s totally gross! Wash your hair every 3 to 4 days and not use real shampoo? Well, at first it is gross because your hair has to go through a 2-4 week transition period (mine was about 2 1/2 weeks) as it adjusts how much oil it produces.

See, regular shampoo has harsh sulfates in it, which are synthetic detergents. These sulfates clean the hair a little too well and end up stripping it of its natural oils, which causes your scalp to produce more oil than is actually needed. Baking Soda doesn’t strip your hair of its natural oils, but simply removes dirt from your hair.

I was determined to try it and stick it out – especially because it’s so incredibly cheap, gentle on my hair and 100% green! My hair did continue producing excess oil for about two weeks, even after having used a poo free shampoo for several years prior! I was very surprised by this. After that period, however, my hair felt softer than ever and started to actually lay flat! This works for all types of hair, not just curly. In fact, most bloggers who’ve written about it have straight hair.

UPDATE – If you’re not sure if you are ready to make the switch but still want to use more natural cleaners for your hair, check out my No-Poo Alternatives to Baking Soda post. I use an aloe vera and glycerine shampoo and talk about it there.

Testimonial – Removes Cradle Cap

One of my readers, Deanna, has been using the diluted baking soda on her five month old baby and says that her baby’s skin is much softer and it is helping to remove her cradle cap. Wow! It’s really not necessary to spend ten times the money on natural baby soaps when you can make baking soda shampoo and soap for pennies!

So, let’s get started!

Ingredients for Baking Soda Shampoo

All you need to make your own shampoo! Baking Soda and water – doesn’t get any cheaper or easier than that, folks!

Baking Soda Shampoo

  • Filtered Water
  • An empty container – I use an old shampoo bottle
  • Baking Soda (where to buy)
  • Measuring Cup
  • Tablespoon
  • 1 Funnel

Approx. Ratio for the Recipe: 1 tablespoon baking soda to 1 cup water OR make a paste with baking soda and a small amount of water and store in an old lotion tub. Just rinse thoroughly if you make a paste. The ratio for this recipe is flexible – there’s really no right or wrong way to do it. Add more baking soda if your hair is thick and long or oily, and less if it’s short and thin or dry. I use a little bit more, because my hair is so thick and long. So, for a 32 ounce container, I use 5 tablespoons of Baking Soda and 4 cups of cool water. I use the funnel to get the water and baking soda into the container. I’ve used warm water before (so I could use the shampoo right away and it wouldn’t be cold), but warm to hot water causes the baking soda to break down and clump, rendering it ineffective.

It’s so easy! Takes me about 5 minutes to complete it.

I take the bottle, flip my head upside down, and squirt the shampoo onto my scalp (the mixture is usually colder than room temperature, so it’s COLD to just pour on the scalp, which I why I flip my head over!).

Then, I take my fingers and rub my scalp in a circular motion, adding more shampoo if it feels like I need it, and rinse very thoroughly.

TIPS:

  • It’s very important to rinse thoroughly or your hair will feel grainy and dry.
  • Make the recipe with cool to lukewarm water, but not warm or hot. Warm/hot water reacts with the baking soda and causes it to clump up.
Ingredients for Apple Cider Vinegar Conditioner

Apple Cider Vinegar Conditioner

  • Empty container (I use an empty vinegar bottle)
  • Measuring cup
  • Funnel
  • Apple Cider Vinegar (where to buy)
  • Water (see tips below for scented, herb-infused water in the “Worried About the Smell?” section

Ratio for the conditioner is one tablespoon Apple Cider Vinegar to one cup of filtered water. My hair is so dry, thick and long that I use a lot more and it works wonders for my hair – about 1 cup ACV with 1 cup water.

I shied away from using this as a conditioner for a long time because as I used it in the shower, my hair did not feel soft and silky like it did with commercial conditioners, so I thought it wasn’t working. Then, I bit the bullet and decided to try it without any commercial conditioner just to see what would happen. The result? After my hair dried (and I ignored that it didn’t feel soft while wet), it was softer and smoother than when I had used commercial conditioner! I was amazed and now I’m HOOKED.

Worried About the Smell?

Don’t be – I promise you will not smell like a walking pickle jar! If I did, believe me, I wouldn’t be using this. I may be into green living, but I do have pride (smile). Once your hair dries, the vinegar smell disappears. In fact, it starts to dissipate right after rinsing and I don’t notice a smell at all. However, I have been doing this method for a long time, so I am used to it.

If you are just starting this method and just can’t stand the smell of it in the shower or while it’s drying, here are several ideas:

  • You can add essential oils like lavender, rosemary, sage, or citrus to freshen it up. However, if you get the raw ACV like I do, the essential oils will make the raw material (aka “the mother”) clump up. (where to buy high quality essential oils)
  • You could also make your own scented water to mix with it by steeping some herbs in hot water (like making herbal tea) in a pot on the stove, strain the herbs and use that water to mix with the ACV.
  • A reader wrote that she uses just a little bit of rose water (where to buy) and orange blossom water (where to buy) and a few drops of her favorite essential to make it smell heavenly.

Tips for Application:

  • When starting this method for the first time, be careful to pour the ACV on just the ends of your hair so it doesn’t get on your scalp. It makes my scalp feel oily.
  • However, if you are dealing with psoriasis, dandruff or dry skin on your scalp, ACV does WONDERS for healing dry and damaged skin and I recommend applying it to your scalp until your skin heals. I have had a few spots of dandruff in the past and the ACV has cleaned it up after one application!

Trying this Method and Still Dealing with Frizziness?

I’ve gotten quite a few comments from curly girls who are dealing with frizziness while trying this method. I highly recommend reading my other post on my Curly Hair Regimen and follow all the steps when it comes to washing your hair and applying a product afterwards – each step counts. If you find it is drying your hair out, I have had the same issues (after using it for a year and a half, but many have been happy with it long-term). I wrote another post to address this issue – No-Poo Alternatives to Baking Soda. To be clear, I do still have to use a hair cream or mousse with this method or my hair would look terrible and frizzy. I know that may sound strange, but that’s just how coarse and curly my hair is. Before this method, my hair was frizzy, unruly and really dry even with hair products on it. Now, my hair feels soft and lays much more nicely and isn’t nearly as dry. Not only that, I’m saving tons of money as gentle shampoos and good conditioners are very expensive.

Another idea is to use coconut oil as a pre-conditioner. I get my coconut oil from Tropical Traditions and love it! Apply it BEFORE washing your hair, preferably an hour before and let it sit. Then, wash and rinse like normal. Do this on an as-needed basis until you hair feels like you want it to! I have been doing this since having my third baby as the hormonal changes made my hair very dry. The coconut oil has worked wonders to moisturize it!

See More Hair Posts, Keep Reading Below!

See my Natural Beauty Recipes page for ALL of my DIY green projects, like homemade deodorant, lotion, detergent, and cleaning products!

How to Purchase High Quality Essential Oils through My Merry Messy Life

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About Sara McFall

Sara is the owner and founder of My Merry Messy Life, which started in 2011 as a way to chronicle her journey to a natural, chemical-free lifestyle and to share her passions of mothering, real food, homeschooling and crochet. She is a mama to three precious and energetic little boys and wife to a university professor who loves to sing, dance ballet and ballroom, and live simply and naturally.

Comments

  1. For all you curly haired girls out there there’s a new product out there just for you. It’s called deva curl look it up on devacurl.com . They also have a way you can find salons around you that around re trained to cut curly hair. You don’t have to deal frizz or be scared to cut your hair anymore.

  2. Do I have to rinse after using the vinegar in my hair? Or just leave it in to dry? If the latter, how do I avoid that dripping water getting in my eyes and burning?

  3. If I want to use my YL oils (I’m thinking Lavender and Peppermint), how many drops of each in the ACV rinse do you think?

  4. I use organix shampoo, which I thought was a good idea until reading your post. I am going to try this ASAP, I wash my hair every three days. I have wavy hair and when I straighten it it looks frizzy, I am hoping this helps. :-) thank you so much.

  5. BTW, do you normally break up the cycle and wash every once in a while with something else?
    Jordon recently posted..How To Clean Your Makeup BrushesMy Profile

  6. Will either of these cause color to fade in color treated hair?

    Thanks!!

    Jasmine

  7. Hi! I’m very excited to try this and am going to make a bottle of each for my sister’s Christmas present because she has been having a lot of trouble with hair growth over the years (only 21 years old) :(
    I do have 1-2 questions though– Do you make enough to fill a whole empty bottle? If so, how long does it stay good/keep for? In other words, does it spoil and become non-usable after a week or so?

    Thanks again!

  8. Scary! I just made my first ‘batch’ of both the ‘no poo’ shampoo and the vinegar rinse…Wish me luck! I’m SO excited to see if this helps to manage my mane :)

  9. SOO happy I found this! Been using Trader Joe’s Tea Tree Shampoo/Conditioner and I’m running low, least on the Shampoo. We don’t have a store near me and I usually wait until i visit family states away to grab a bunch. Since that won’t be happening soon, I was cruising for a toothpaste suggestion actually but came across this wonderful post! I’ve been using your borax free laundry detergent for 2 years now with my HE washer and LOVE IT! THANKS SO MUCH! So needless to say I can’t wait to try this out (I also only wash my hear every 3-4 days and completely agree with your points). When I’m out of conditioner I plan to try the ACV too! I already use coconut oil as a deep conditioner when needed (and completely switched from “natural” lotion to only coconut oil years ago and my skin loves it!) but i’m curious about the ACV conditioner. I use it as a facial toner every day and it’s worked wonders on my face to keep acne and breakouts at bay, esp during the time of the month.
    A quick question, kind of and and kind of not related to the shampoo: you said the warm water renders the baking soda ineffective, but with the laundry detergent, you suggest just under boiling water to mix, or maybe i read that somewhere wrong?
    Thanks for reading my novel! LOVE YOUR BLOG!!

  10. I’m on day 5 of NO poo and so far the results are amazing! My hair is SO much shinier and I can even run my fingers through the bottom layers (this has NEVER been done with my birds nest)! Thank you for posting!!!!

  11. A friend of mine just sent me this link: http://eatlocalgrown.com/article/13831-baking-soda-destroyed-hair.html?c=sbe have you looked into this or found the same to be true for your hair?

    • I did find that after a year and a half, but hair started to get very dry, but it did NOT destroy my hair. I was just talking 2 other girls the other day who’ve been using baking soda for 4 years and are still loving it, so I don’t like these kinds of posts that make broad statements. It works really great for some, and doesn’t work for others, just like anything! So, find what works for YOU and stick with it. :)

  12. So I just made the Baking Soda Shampoo. Is it supposed to be liquid/watery? Or thick like normal shampoo?

  13. Nothing has worked better for me than this! I was a bit skeptical at first but after the first use I can say that I won’t be using shampoo any longer! Thank you so much! I really appreciate it. I could no longer stand my hair. This saved me from cutting it.

  14. Girl you have explained everything so beautifully in detail. I normally use baking soda but no t acv because of its weird smell but through this post you convinced me so much that ican’t wait to try in my next shower. Thanx a ton forth this wonderful piece.
    Prerna recently posted..Tresemme Shampoo & Conditioner Review – Keratin Smooth for Straighter & Smoother Hair.My Profile

  15. Can u use white vinegar?

  16. Jordan Loney says:

    I am going to start this within the next couple days, but I’m hoping to get my haird colored within the next couple weeks. Will this strip my color? And my hair is extremely oily anyways so is dry shampoo okay on the days I don’t wash it?

  17. Thanks for the helpful post! My one concern is: how does his method work to rinse/wash out products like hairspray? I sometimes style my hair with generous amounts of hairspray and I haven’t really found any testimonials that say it will work to take out product. Does anyone know??

    Also, do you know how this method work if you have hard water?

    Thanks!!

  18. Hello my only question is how often would you wash your hair with this ? Starting with when you first try it out, then once your past the detoxing stage. Can you do it daily (I do right now but use regular shampoo and conditioner) or what would you recommend ?Thank you can’t wait to try it out (:

  19. i was thrilled to find your ever so helpful site!!!! After reading all about the no poo shampoo I was so excited to give this a try bc I have build up. I literally ran to the store to purchase what was needed. After using tonight my only question and comment is maybe I did not scrub my scalp enough bc it still feels like I have build up. Or does it take a few times? I defiantly rinsed throughly. I do not use a lot of products like hair spray most days it’s pony tails for this stay at home mom so I’m really not sure why I have so much build up. Never the less will it get better the next time? In your experience? Thanks so much for all the helpful info!!!!!!

  20. I was just curious if the conditioner helps with Tangles. I have curly hair and it’s long and dry, and after one day of wearing down with product, I get pretty bad tangles that I spend so much time combing out in the shower every other day or so… will the vinegar be as helpful as using a moisturizing conditioner for this?

  21. Hi! Please help! I tried a castile / water combo for shampoo yesterday and today and also did the apple cider/water mix. Yesterday it took me over 5 minutes to brush out my strait chest length hair… today (not kidding) was over 20 minutes!!! I don’t have time for that with toddler.. I was close to chopping my hair off. I really want to find a natural solution, can you give me any tips? I also exercise daily and sweat a bunch so I need to wash more often. Thanks!

  22. I have curly hair too and it is very difficult to find a good shampoo and conditioner. I will try your method with the baking soda and the vinegar. Thanks a lot!

  23. Hi girls! I just wanted to share with you that I was losing hair (excessive), I visited so many dermatologists and they all said it was due to stress, which was true but I was so scared and nothing worked for my. Months later my mother in law told me to prepare a magic blend….. Apple cider vinager and a Rosemary infusion. Now I have new hair growing and growing…. Hope this helps. It has nothing to do with this blog but I wanted to share this anyway, just for those who thought this vinager thing is crazy….. It’s just great

  24. Thanks so much for the post, I’ve been looking into trying this for a while now. I was wondering how much of your mixture do you use in the shower each time? Just a handful or a full cup?

    • I put mine in a squirt bottle and squirt it all over my scalp, so I’m honestly not sure! It’s so liquidy so I’ve found it doesn’t help to squirt it in my hand first.

  25. Hi there, thanks for the post! Just a quick question – how do you store the apple cider vinegar mix? I’ve tried using regular vinegar and water and putting it in a plastic spray bottle, but after a few weeks these dark patches that look like mould start appearing in the liquid. Im assuming its the plastic being leached off.

    Thanks for your help! :)

    • Hi Andrei! I also store mine in a plastic bottle but have never ever had mold form. The raw apple cider vinegar does have pieces from real apples in it, so those can look dark. If I were you, I think I’d try storing it under the sink in a cabinet. Perhaps your house is warmer than mine or the solution is being exposed to sunlight? Otherwise, you can store it in a glass container, even a mason jar and see if that helps.

  26. Hi
    I loved ur post, gonna try it very soon. A quick question….
    my hair r fine thin and short also I have excessive hair fall. Will this baking soda shampoo n vinegar conditioner goen to help me. And how often should I wash my hair. With regular shampoo I wash it in every 2 to 3 days?

  27. jazzi pink says:

    my hair are curly ,wavy frizzy ,dry ,dull hair and normal medium length
    what should be the ratio of the products that you have mentioned? (like baking soda ,water) etc
    and can we just make the shampoo and place it in bathroom and use it when ever we have to wash our hair or it has to be made fresh every time?

    • You can make a big batch, no need to mix it up each time. I would use the same ratio that I have here in the post -1 tbsp. baking soda to 1 cup water. That’s what I did and my hair type sounds very similar to your’s! Also, check out my other no-poo recipes that are without baking soda –

  28. Hi Sarah!
    Thanks so much for this post! Can’t wait to try this!
    Quick question, though. I’m used to having my shampoo scented, but my hair gets greasy really easily. Is there a way to scent the shampoo that won’t make my hair more oily? Thanks again!
    ~ Kat

  29. Hi Sarah,

    you’re website is amazing! I have just stumbled upon it and I’m SO GLAD I did! I had a question about the no-poo method, more so for my mom, she is still dying her hair with herbatint and was wondering how this would affect the process for her? She dyes her hair every two months or so. Thank you for all great information, recipes, and time. :)

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