BPGP: Apple Cider/Baking Soda Clarifying Shampoo

Recently, I noticed that my hair was looking a bit lifeless.  Even when my style was fresh, I felt that my locks were weighed down.  I switched shampoos, and that helped for a few days, but it didn’t last.  I switched to a lighter conditioner, but it didn’t improve much.  So, I did what any 21st century girl would do, I Googled it.

After some diligent searching, I noticed that one home remedy continued to pop up in my results.  The authors said that the magical mixture would remove product and mineral buildup from the hair leaving it fuller and healthier.  So I thought that I’d give this concoction a try, after all, I already owned all of the ingredients: apple cider vinegar, water and baking soda.  

I applied the mixtures as instructed (details below), and the first day, things were not good.  My hair was a bit dry and frizzy.  I had more flyaways than O’Hare airport, and the more I brushed my hair, the worse it got.  

But the second day, after a proper wash and condition, I couldn’t believe the difference.  And for several days after, my hair looked wonderful, bouncier, fuller, held a curl better, etc.  So when things started to look a bit bleak two weeks later, I used the mixture again and the same thing happened: dry the first day, gorgeous for 10+ days thereafter.

Now, some of you are probably thinking, “Belle, why not just buy a clarifying shampoo?”  Because I had a bad experience using Neutrogena clarifying shampoo (my scalp broke out in hives), and I’ve never been brave enough to try another brand. 

So if you’re looking for a clarifying treatment for your hair that you can do for very little money, at home, give this recipe a try.  But word to the wise, it’s a bit messy, so use it before you give your shower its weekly cleaning.

Step One. Mix together 1/2 cup of apple cider vinegar, 1/2 cup of water.  This is your pre shampoo rinse.  You can combined the ingredients in a bowl, I just happened to have a empty ketchup squeeze bottle in my cupboard (I use it to hold olive oil for cooking.), so I used that.  It worked perfectly.  Set aside.

Step Two. Mix together equal parts baking soda and water to make a thick paste.  I used 1/4 cup baking soda and a 1/4 cup water.  I mixed these together in a Ziploc baggie for easy transport into the shower, and to avoid mess.  

Step Three. Once your hair is wet, douse it with the apple cider rinse.  Clip hair up, out of the way, and leave on for 3-5 minutes.

Step Four. Rinse thoroughly until the smell of vinegar is gone.

Step Five.  Apply the paste to the hair working it from the roots to the ends.  Comb through.  Leave on for 5-10 minutes.  

Step Six. Rinse thoroughly.

Step Seven. Shampoo and condition as usual.  As I mentioned above, your hair might be a little dry the first day.  So it probably wouldn’t hurt to use a bit of leave in conditioner on the first day.



  1. J says:

    I've seen this too and was always too scared to try…is it safe for color treated hair?

    January 19, 2012/Reply
  2. V says:

    I've been toying with the idea of the whole shampoo-free thing (for more info) – what are your thoughts on stopping at the vinegar/baking soda and ditching the shampoo and conditioner?

    January 19, 2012/Reply
  3. amy b.s. says:

    awesome! my locks have been looking lack luster lately. what i really need is a cut, but i still haven't found someone i trust with my hair in town after 2 years. well, and i'm lazy.

    January 19, 2012/Reply
  4. H says:

    I actually learned about this mixture when I was contemplating going “No Poo”. All the comments and discussions advised that it would take 4-6 weeks, before hair and scalp are used to not receiving shampooing, but that the tradeoff for 6 weeks of relatively greasy hair would be shiny, bouncier locks that are not addicted to the chemical agents and sulfates in regular shampoo. After much deliberation, I decided to give “No Poo” a chance. Day 1: Never had such bouncy, shiny, full hair. I was hooked. Day 2-6: Less great, hard to comb through, not so shiny anymore and moreover, I felt it was draining my red-brown hair dye out at lightning speed. Day 7: Had a party that night and when I came out of the shower my hair was such a knotted greasy mess that I broke down and went back to shampoo. My husband had also complained about the horrid smell of vinegar – which was not subdued even when I added a few drops of lavender to the mixture. I never really thought about using this again after, but maybe doing it once in between washs is just the way to go. Thanks!

    January 19, 2012/Reply
  5. Belle says:

    J: I have ends that are pretty light (blonde) and it did make them a bit more blonde, but that seemed to alleviate when I went back to shampoo and conditioner.

    January 19, 2012/Reply
  6. LT says:

    You can simplify this and just go with a water/apple cider rinse and skip the baking soda part. That may help with the dryness as well. I did this (on my fine, stick straight, highlighted hair) and really saw new fullness, bounce and a reduced need to shampoo daily that lasted for weeks. The smell lingers for a few days — not sure there is much you can do about that. But, the results were worth it to me. Which reminds me, I should do that again.

    I've also heard that using a “raw” apple cider vinegar can be even more beneficial. Bragg's is one brand. There is goop (fermentation residue) floating in the mixture — that's the “raw” part. There's supposed to be all kinds of health benefits for actually taking a shot of Bragg's (or other raw ACV) daily — sort of like Belle's morning cup of hot lemon water. I can't get past the taste to actually make a routine of it though.

    January 19, 2012/Reply
  7. Jen says:

    I'll have to try this! I keep apple cider vinegar around to take a shot of for a quick immune system jump when I'm not feeling great. A cheap alternative to clarifying shampoos is also the VO5 brand that you get at the grocery. I use it once a week in place of my regular shampoo and it does a great job of getting rid of buildup! (Plus it is SO cheap!!) It makes my shampoo as effective as the first time I used it. I also used to use the clarifying shampoo to clean my makeup brushes until I read your post about olive oil and dish soap.

    January 19, 2012/Reply
  8. K says:

    I've been doing this for a while now, but more diluted and with the steps in the opposite order (the baking soda/water first, then the apple cider vinegar/water as a conditioner). I use 1-2 tbsp baking soda per cup of water (and the same ratio for the apple cider vinegar). It works like a charm.

    January 19, 2012/Reply
  9. A says:

    I exchanged my shampoo and conditioner for baking soda and vinegar solutions over a year ago, and I have never loved my hair more. I had oily hair and had to shampoo and blow dry every day. Now I can let it air dry and still have non-greasy body and volume 2 days later. I use the ratios recommended by Tsh here: https://simplemom.net/how-to-clean-your-hair-without-shampoo/?doing_wp_cron=1327034437

    January 20, 2012/Reply
  10. ~M says:

    I have very hard water and have started doing a vinegar rinse once a week. It makes a big difference. The smell always disappears once my hair dries.

    January 20, 2012/Reply
  11. Mary Ware says:

    The best I have ever used is the GKhair pH+ clarifying shampoo for my oily and dry hair. Perfect for removing an excess of styling products, dirt, residue, product build up and other impurities. It works really very well. ­čÖé <3

    June 28, 2016/Reply