My “No Poo” Method; or How I Wash My Hair with Baking Soda

First off, let me say that I hate the term “no poo.” I babysit an eight month old a few days a week, and while changing dirty diapers isn’t the most terrible thing in the world, it’s not something I want to be reminded of while thinking about washing my hair. No poo is what everyone’s calling it, however, so I thought I needed to at least mention the term. Done. From now on I will just say that I wash my hair with baking soda.

If you’re new to washing with baking soda, here’s a little background. Using baking soda to wash your hair is advantageous because it cleans your hair without disrupting the hair’s natural oil balance. Commercial shampoo strips your hair’s oils, which often results in your body producing excess oils to compensate. Using baking soda on your hair can help restore healthy oil production. Washing with baking soda is also inexpensive and free of the toxins found in many commercial shampoos.

Everyone has their own take on washing with baking soda. I’m sharing mine as it’s somewhat different from the other descriptions I’ve seen. If you’re new to washing with baking soda, you’ll want to play around with ratios to find what works best for you.


Bottle for baking soda mixture: I use a plastic bottle with a flip top that you can find at stores that sell shampoo in bulk, like Whole Foods. I recommend getting one in a larger size, as I don’t enjoy having to refill my bottle often. You could also use an old shampoo bottle, if you have one with a dispenser top that you like. Ideally I’d like to have a bottle with a wide mouth opening to allow for ease of filling, but so far I haven’t been able to find one.

Bottle for vinegar: You’ll need another bottle for your vinegar. I’m using an old Herbal Essences bottle; any bottle with a good dispenser top would work.

Baking soda: I recommend buying your baking soda in bulk, not in the little boxes meant for baking. You’ll save a ton of money buying in bulk. I buy the 13.5 pound bag at Costco.

Apple cider vinegar: Again, this will be more affordable if you buy a large amount at once. I buy a gallon of the organic apple cider vinegar from Azure Standard. (See why I love Azure.)


I have thick, oily hair. I like to use a lot of baking soda on my hair; otherwise I feel like it doesn’t really get clean. As a result, I prefer my baking soda “shampoo” to be a thick but still pourable slurry. To achieve this I first fill up my empty bottle entirely with baking soda. After it’s full, I top it off with water. Since my bottle is mostly full of baking soda, this means I’m only adding a little bit of water right now. I shake the bottle, which usually succeeds in getting the water to permeate the top section of baking soda. Add as much more water as will fit in your bottle and put the bottle in the shower.

To make my diluted vinegar “conditioner,” I fill my conditioner bottle about a quarter full of vinegar. I then fill the rest of the bottle with water.

When I’m in the shower, about to wash my hair, I shake the baking soda bottle vigorously. If the baking soda mixture is still too solid or thick to squirt out of the bottle, I add extra water from the shower head. Shake and repeat until the mixture is thin enough to squirt out of the bottle and into your hand. I apply generous amounts of baking soda to my hair, mostly focusing on the scalp, and scrub it into my head vigorously.

I then rinse out the baking soda and squirt the apple cider vinegar onto my hair. I try to get it all over my scalp as well as on the hair not touching my scalp. I’ve found that the apple cider vinegar makes a big difference in how tangly my hair is after washing. I let the apple cider vinegar sit on my hair for a minute or two while I wash my face, then rinse it out thoroughly.

My Experience

The baking soda and vinegar do as good a job of washing my hair as any shampoo and conditioner I’ve found. I also love that they are both incredibly safe, toxin-free and inexpensive.

Most people say that when you start washing with baking soda your hair will go through an adjustment period during which it produces extra oil and looks terrible. I never experienced this. My hair has always felt differently with baking soda than with regular shampoo, but I never noticed a transition period from one to the other.

The other thing I’ve read is that washing with baking soda allows you to cut down on how frequently you need to wash your hair, the idea being that since you’re not stripping your hair’s natural oils with shampoo, your hair will produce less oil and thus not need to be washed as often. This has not been my experience at all. I have always had very oily hair and washing with baking soda has not changed the fact that I need to wash my hair every morning or it looks greasy and awful. Since I’ve been using baking soda for almost two years now, I think this is something that’s just unlikely to change for me. Despite this personal limitation, I’m still very happy with my baking soda method.

Do you /would you wash your hair with baking soda? Why or why not? 


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5 Responses to My “No Poo” Method; or How I Wash My Hair with Baking Soda

  1. That’s great that this method works for you. I tried it for a few months a couple of years ago and my hair definitely was different. I was only washing it ever other day,though, which is what I do currently. Do you have a chlorine filter on your shower? I’ve heard that can help. I’m hoping to get one in the not too distant future. Maybe I’ll give it a try again when I have that.

    • Meghan says:

      No, I don’t have a chlorine filter. I really should get one. I’m sure there’s junk in our water that I’d probably be better off without.
      For me using a lot of baking soda is definitely key. Many directions that I’ve seen only have you put a little bit into a lot of water. I don’t think that would get my hair clean very well.

  2. […] love the idea of making my own personal care products. Beyond mixing up my own shampoo and conditioner, however, I haven’t taken the time to try out many homemade recipes. Partly I sometimes just lack […]

  3. Amy says:

    So true, using vinegar for conditioner de-tangles my hair like nothing else! I remember the first time I ever tried no poo, I took a comb to my hair afterwards and it just slid right through… I couldn’t believe it! Unexpected plus.

    Siiiigh that does it, I’ve just got to try again, now 😉

  4. Sara Elliott says:

    I think coconut is a great dry and damaged hair remedy and should not be overlooked. I also use coconut as an lip balm, for detoxing and oil pulling.

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