Why I Don’t “No-Poo” with Baking Soda or Castile Soap Anymore

Why I Don’t “No-Poo” with Baking Soda or Castile Soap Anymore

Here’s Part 2 in my “No-Poo” series. In Part 1, I told you why it’s worth avoiding commercial shampoos and going the diy route.

In this article, find out why I no longer use either baking soda or castile soap to wash my hair. Plus the one reason it may not work for you and what you should consider before going that route.

Going shampoo-free reduces your exposure to chemicals, is cheaper, and uses less products. 

I used baking soda for a few weeks and would not go back to it because I felt like it wasn’t good for my hair. I used castile soap as shampoo for at least six months and I think it’s fine but not for me.

In the next post in this series, I’ll give you the simple recipe for the herbal hair rinse I’m currently in love with and that (in my opinion) blows “no-poo” out of the water (metaphorically).

Baking Soda and Vinegar: the gold standard

Washing with baking soda and rinsing with apple cider vinegar is the gold standard of crunchy “no-poo” hair care. You’ll see a lot of articles out there about them.

I tried this for a little while, figuring my hair would eventually balance out. And maybe it would have. But my hair was just kinda flat and scraggly. (See the Why below for how this might differ from your experience.) So I decided to continue my experimentation and try castile soap.

Liquid Castile Soap: the gentler alternative

I already had Dr. Bronner’s liquid castile soap around the house so it was perfect to apply this multi taster to my hair. In fact, this is what I traveled with for my entire 2 1/2 month North American Road Trip last summer.

The best part about using castile soap is its multi-tasking ability. The beauty products industry has us thinking we need a separate product for every use. Of course, peddling more options makes them more money.

But liquid castile soap takes care of shampoo, body wash, laundry, dishes, mopping floors, and many other things I probably haven’t yet discovered. That means that during my travels, I have carried just one bottle that I can use in the hotel room sink to wash my undies and also to clean out food dishes (not at the same time – I’m not an animal).

But I still wasn’t satisfied.

Why I don’t use either anymore

Now I’m finally at a point to let you know what hasn’t worked as well as I hoped. Next article in this series I’ll tell you about what is working.

Harsh on hair?

My hair dresser Pam gave me a scare when she said baking soda strips your hair and can be rough on it, especially on color (I henna my hair occasionally). I was already a few weeks in to using it. So I went straight to the masterful interwebs and did a little research.

I found some bad accounts and some that dismissed negative experiences and offered solutionsAnd I did discover that baking soda is, in fact, recommended for removing hair dye. 

Even though Pam didn’t recommend using baking soda every time you wash your hair, she did tell me to use it once a month as a clarifier to remove buildup. So it can’t be all that bad, right?

Lots of people have great experiences with it. Just see how it works on you. Which brings me to my next point.

Individual needs

First of all, everyone’s hair is different. Mine is oily and thick. It’s gonna behave a little differently than someone’s that is fine and dry.

Everyone’s shower water is also different. In Vegas, we have very hard water with a high pH. Since pH is an essential part of hair care, this makes a difference to how these things work.

Don’t overlook pH balance

Soaps are, by their very nature, alkaline. Higher pH means better cleaning ability and more ease cutting through oil and grease. Unfortunately, our hair requires a slightly acidic pH.

If you do use baking soda or castile soap, don’t forget to also use an acidic rinse like diluted apple cider vinegar after no-pooing. It will drop the pH back down, often referred to as pH balancing. A ratio of 1 Tbsp acv to 1 cup water should do the trick.

In Vegas, our hard water plus the high pH of the baking soda or castile soap results in a higher overall pH than no-pooers elsewhere are experiencing. When I was in Toronto for over a month this summer using castile soap, my hair had body and was decent. Whether that was due to the humidity in the air compared to the bone dry desert air of Vegas or to a difference in the water, I can’t say.

Chlorine in shower water

I use a chlorine filter on my shower head. Something I highly recommend. Why? Chlorine contributes to skin issues like dryness, dandruff, eczema. It’s also toxic – linked to respiratory problems and asthma

Every time you shower, you soak your hair and skin in chlorine and and inhale the heated fumes. I read somewhere that one shower contains the same levels as an entire day’s drinking water. 

You can get a chlorine filter fairly inexpensive at your local home improvement/ hardware store. It screws onto your existing shower head. 


I just wasn’t thrilled with the results. Baking soda was rough on my hair and castile soap left my hair kinda stringy with no bounce afterwards.

Judging by the quantity of raving reviews online, it seems to work well for lots of people. For me, I decided it was worth exploring other options. Plus I love experimenting and then sharing with you. And I’m not ruling out a little further experimentation in the future. 

When I do more long-term travel, I might just keep using the castile soap because it’s so portable and a great multi-tasker.

In Part 3 of this series, I share my DIY herbal shampoo/conditioner recipe that kicks “No-Poo’s” butt. ;) So far I’ve used it for a few months and it has my hair feeling moisturized without weighing it down.

Now your turn. Do you use baking soda or castile soap? How have they worked for you?

14 Responses to Why I Don’t “No-Poo” with Baking Soda or Castile Soap Anymore

  1. Ok, I’m going to Target after work to go buy some Castile soap & the baking soda (to clarify). Question: Do I just use the soap like shampoo? And then do the rinse? I can’t wait to try this out!

    • Denise, you’ve got it exactly right. When I was using castile soap to wash my hair, I just lathered up with it like shampoo. Then did the rinse with diluted apple cider vinegar. You might want to also stay tuned for the next article in the series when I’m going to share the diy herbal hair wash I use now… Adria

  2. My hair is already very dry and brittle because it’s curly and I tried castille soup for a few weeks, first I noticed it had even less moisture. By the end of the month it was falling out! After almost two months and thinning hair I totally gave it up. I use organic products and a lot of natural oils to keep it hydrated.

    • Gaby, Yikes! And you were doing the vinegar rinse to balance out the pH afterwards? Thanks for sharing your experience. Right now I’m washing with my own herbal hair wash recipe and it’s a lot more hydrating. I’ll share it in the next article in this series – hopefully that will help. Adria

  3. Can’t wait to hear about your concoction. I’m still using an organic commercial brand, but I’ve been wanting to try the DIY route.

  4. I’m too lazy for the DIY stuff. I tried to ‘no-poo’ my literally not washing my hair and just using water…until I couldn’t stand it any more. I lasted a little less than 2 weeks. My husband was completely grossed out! LOL! My hair was HUGE. It’s never had so much body, but it was also smelly :-/ I went back to my Nature’s Gate biotein shampoo and hemp conditioner. Been using that comb w/ great results for a couple of years.

    • Hey Veronica, I’m actually pretty lazy also. So when I do something DIY (or cooking for that matter), it’s usually super simple! Props for getting two weeks with no washing. My hair mostly becomes stringy and greasy rather than getting volume – but maybe that’s the humidity difference! Adria

  5. I use diluted apple cider vinegar on my hair and it makes it break and fall out. I used the regular store bought kind and not “with the mother” in it, so I don’t know if that makes a difference. But I’ve been trying methods of no shampoo and I have thin hair to begin with but I find it all makes my hair fall out! Help

  6. I’ve used baking soda and vinegar for over a year now. I love it. I use henna, and it doesn’t seem to affect the dye. My hair feels cleaner and stronger, and I only have to wash it every three or four days, or so. I have friends who this didn’t work at all for, so I think it may come down to what works for your particular hair. I’m glad it worked in mine though–I haven’t used shampoo or soap for over a year and my hair is shinier, healthier, and way less prone to getting oily than it used to be. I don’t think baking soda strips hair, unless you use it every other day. The whole draw to using baking soda and vinegar for me was because then I could wash my hair less frequently. And its certainly worked for me.

  7. I used bi-carb as shampoo for a year. At first it felt so wonderful, soft and smooth. After a while my hair lost its vibrance, I put it down to stress at the time not suspecting that it was the bicarb which I had heard so many good things about. When I did realize what was going on, the damage had already been done, the ends were completely mank so I had to bike the bullet, say goodbye to my mermaid length hair and welcome a new pixie do. PH matters, lesson learned.

  8. Hi Adria – I sometimes mix baking soda in with my organic care shampoo because i get a sticky oily build up at the crown of my head. i dont even use much products on my hair but it still builds up (probabl with shampoo) after a week and i have to use the baking soda to get rid of it. however long term the baking soda just isnt really working – i have thick long curly hair that is oily at the roots (especially around crown) and dry at the ends. the baking soda doesnt make it feel good long term. would apple cider vinegar be better to remove this occasional build up? we have hard water and i live in humid NZ haha. I’m just getting so sick of this oiliness at the crown weighing it down – im thinking of cutting my hair off just so i dont have to put up with it. everyday i dont wash it i wet and comb it in the shower to try and bring the oil down to the roots but it doesnt really help. any solutions does anyone have this issue? im on the contraceptive pill so i guess the oily build up on the crown could be hormonal. thanks for this blog by the way.

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