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What is Baking Soda Shampoo?

Tricia Christensen
Updated May 17, 2024
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Most shampoos are combinations of several chemicals. Common ones include things like sodium lauryl sulfate, sodium laureth sulfate, and propylene glycol. Though these chemicals continue to be considered safe for human use, there are people who have difficulty with them or who may have skin reactions to them. Others believe they are inherently unsafe and shouldn’t be used on the scalp. Those who want to avoid chemicals may turn to homemade products like baking soda shampoo to clean the hair.

There are now numerous websites, especially eco-friendly ones that advocate the use of baking soda shampoo. Each recipe for it differs, though. Some recipes combine about a cup (.24 liters) or more of water with a few heaping spoons of baking soda. Other recipes use much more baking soda and add a little water to turn into a paste to apply to the hair, and a few recipes call for baking soda and vinegar (which should be mixed carefully, as these two begin to bubble and react when combined). Finally some sites suggest simply covering dry hair with baking soda and then combing or brushing it out.

Comments from those who advocate the use of baking soda shampoo are generally favorable. They believe it cleans the hair, though getting used to shampooing without suds can be difficult. Some people find that over time their hair becomes oilier because baking soda doesn’t necessarily strip all oils from the hair. A few people complain that the hair ends up with greasy buildup over time, but others have used their homemade “no poo” solution for years with great success.

Not everyone uses baking soda shampoo exclusively. There are many people that use the dry shampoo method in between hair washings with dry baking soda to reduce grease in the hair. This can be effective, albeit a little messy. When folks are concerned about water use from too many showers, they might be able to lengthen time in between showers and still have fresh looking hair by applying dry baking soda to dry hair, which will remove some of the oil and some odor.

A few reasons cited for using baking soda shampoo include the following:

  • It avoids the use of chemicals that may not be good for the body and that can pollute water supply.
  • It can help reduce frizz in curly hair.
  • It isn’t necessary to keep buying plastic bottles full of shampoo because the same bottle or cup can be reused to mix the shampoo each time.
  • It can help keep tub and sink drains clean and fresh smelling.

Those who’ve tried the shampoo and don’t care for it have numerous objections to it. No poo doesn’t lather, which feels odd. Any baking soda with vinegar mix needs to be rinsed thoroughly so the hair doesn’t retain a vinegar smell. Over time the hair can have build up that isn’t adequately cleaned by baking soda.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a WiseGeek contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.
Discussion Comments
By anon300408 — On Oct 30, 2012

I tried bicarb/baking soda (totally different to baking powder) and water as a shampoo substitute after trying other methods to combat my increasingly-greasy hair! I got to a point where I'd wash my hair and it was instantly greasy as it dried. Using bicarb/water fixed my problem and continued to work well for several months, but in the last two weeks my hair got these tiny white specks in it and a greasy buildup and it was gross! I considered going back to shampoo again. I considered using dishwashing detergent. I was at my wits' end!

Well tonight, I wet my hair and sprinkled bicarb straight onto it. I tipped my head over and sprinkled it on underneath as well. I massaged it in and left it till the end of my shower to rinse out. It's beautiful and shiny and clean again!

So, if you've been using bicarb and now have some problems creeping back, don't give up! Try putting a good dose of dry bicarb onto wet hair (instead of a solution of bicarb in water) and give that a go! Good luck.

By anon250181 — On Feb 24, 2012

I started using baking soda on my own hair and the results. My poor golden suffers from many allergen issues (oily, dandruff, hot spots, hair loss) that we have battled for the past three years of her life, so I decided to try the baking soda on her as well.

I mix three tablespoons of baking soda in three cups of warm water (I use old plastic bottles). I wet her fur in the shower, and then douse her coat with the baking soda water mixture, massage it into her skin, and then rinse well. You can either follow with apple cider vinegar mixed with water (1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar to 1 cup of water) or brew a cup of tea to help condition the coat (make sure the water isn't boiling when you put it on your dog!). I use a chamomile lavender tea on my Golden. Rinse this well, too.

So far, it works great. Her coat is shiny, fluffy and smells great!

By anon164828 — On Apr 02, 2011

I've been using baking soda for over a year and my hair gets compliments all the time. It has more body than when I used expensive shampoo.

I use a 16 oz cup of water with a tablespoon of soda and pour it over my head, massaging it in for a minute. Then rinse with water, and follow with about two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar in water. It adds shine.

I used to miss the scented lather of shampoo, but it's nice to avoid all those questionable chemicals, pollution of ground water, and plastic bottles!

By anon163503 — On Mar 28, 2011

I used baking soda on my Jack Russell and her coat is so soft now.

I must say, I have her on a raw diet too. She eats a chicken drumstick every morning, and at night she gets vegetables with chicken organ meat. I buy a big bag of frozen veggies (cauliflower, carrots broccoli). I put some flax seed, nutritional yeast and some olive oil in it. My dog loves it. She always had troubles with her skin. Big red spots. I went to the vet, paid a lot of money, but nothing helped. Now my Jack Russell has a thick shiny coat.

By EarlyForest — On Sep 04, 2010

OK, this may sound really silly, but when making a baking soda dry shampoo, can you substitute organic baking soda with baking powder?

I know that you can't do that in baking, but I just wanted to see if I could get the same results with a baking powder.

Thanks, all.

By pharmchick78 — On Sep 04, 2010

Can somebody tell me if they've ever tried using baking soda for a dog shampoo, and if so, what kind of results you got?

I really want to try using something more gentle and natural on my dog than most dog shampoos seem to be, but I wanted to hear some other opinions before I started mixing up a baking soda and vinegar cleaner.

Does anybody out there use baking soda for their dog's shampoo?

By FirstViolin — On Sep 04, 2010

I have never tried cleaning my hair with baking soda, but after reading this article, I just may. I travel a lot, and sometimes need a good in-between "dry" shampoo, and I especially like natural hair cleaning recipes, so I think I'll give it a shot.

Thanks for an enlightening article!

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a WiseGeek contributor, Tricia...
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