How To Wash Your Hair Without Shampoo Using Soapnuts (No-Poo)

Wash your hair without shampoo using soapnuts

Finally, I’m going to share with you a brilliant new way to wash your hair without commercial products, shampoos, chemicals and all the other “poo” products. The first blogpost I ever wrote was about the no-poo method using baking soda and apple cider vinegar. I’ve since been experimenting with lots of different methods, just to help those who aren’t huge fans of baking soda. And variety is good in life, isn’t it? So here you go, welcome the mighty soapnuts into your bathroom! Your hair (and your wallet) will thank you.

This topic has been highly requested since I posted my Ayurvedic Health and Beauty Haul. I promised to a couple of you that a video about soapnuts was going to be up last week, and indeed it was! You can watch it here:

But if you prefer written information, just keep reading!

How I came across using soapnuts for hair

I’ve been loving soapnuts for a while, but for different reasons. I use them as my laundry detergent, and they’re perfect for that! I’ve also heard that they’re great for washing up dishes. I think I might write a blogpost about all of the great things soapnuts can do.

But I never even considered using soapnuts for my hair until, one day, while googling natural hair washing methods, I came across this method! As I had a large bag of soapnuts hanging over my washing machine in the bathroom already, I simply had to give it a try.

I was even more convinced when I found out that soapnuts are often used in different ayurvedic treatments and they are added to most Indian herbal shampoos.

By the way, in Hindu soapnuts are called aritha or reetha. They can be whole or in powder form, but for this method you’ll need them whole.

Benefits of using soapnuts for washing your hair

  1. Your hair is going to become shinier and softer if you wash with soapnuts regularly.
  2. Soapnuts are also anti-fungal and anti-bacterial, so they’re great if you have dandruff or any kind of scalp issues.
  3. They prevent hair loss.
  4. They also promote the growth of new hair
  5. They will save you lots of money: a kilo of soapnuts costs around 15-20 dollars and they will last you forever. For example, a bag like that lasts me for 2-3 years just for doing laundry. Not bad!
  6. The coolest thing is that they are completely natural and they are gentle enough to be used every day, unlike baking soda. Which means that you don’t have to go through a transition period and get your hair used to being washed every 5 or 7 days. You can use this every single day and your hair won’t get dry.

What you’ll need and how to make your DIY soapnut shampoo

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 15 soapnuts;
  • 6 cups of water;
  • A pot large enough to accomodate the soapnuts and the wate;
  • A potato masher.
  1. Just put the soapnuts in a pot and add 6 cups of water.
  2. Bring it to a boil and then boil for around 10-15 minutes. The more you boil it, the more concentrated it’s going to be. I usually opt for around 10 minutes.
  3. Then switch off the fire and just leave the soapnuts soaking overnight.
  4. In the morning, take a potato masher and crush them a little – this will help you get all the saponins out of the nuts.
  5. Drain the liquid, transfer it to a bottle or wherever you’re planning to store it. Voila! Your shampoo is ready.

This kind of quantity will probably last for around 4 washes – at least for me it does. I usually reuse the same soapnuts a couple of times to save even more money. They will still work just as well. You can tell that it’s time to chuck them away when they stop producing foam and the size of the shells gets visibly reduced.

If you take the bottle with your soapnut shampoo and shake it, you’ll that it makes a lot of foam, just like a normal shampoo – that’s exactly what’s going to clean your hair.

Oil your hair before washing it with soapnuts

One more important thing to remember is that soapnuts alone can be quite drying for the hair (just like you wouldn’t use shampoo alone without a conditioner), so it’s important to use oil as a mask the night before before washing or, if you don’t like leaving oil in your hair overnight, you can apply some oil in the morning, at least 30 minutes before washing. It will work as a conditioner and will make your hair really soft.

You can use any oil that you like using for your hair. Popular choices are argan oil, coconut oil, sweet almond oil, jojoba oil and sesame oil.I personally really like using sweet almond oil because it’s quite a light oil and it’s very easy to wash off. It makes my hair really soft as well.

If you use oil on your hair before washing, you’ll probably need to repeat the process of washing with soapnuts twice in order to get all the oil out. Also, if you use a lot of oil, soapnuts might not be powerful enough to get rid of all the oil, so I’d highly suggest small amounts of oil.

Vinegar rinse after washing your hair with soapnuts

It’s optional, you really don’t have to do it but if you want, you can! I use a vinegar rinse after washing my hair with soapnuts. It’s totally not necessary because soapnuts are already naturally acidic, just like the hair, so you don’t have to bring it back to balance with the vinegar rinse like you would have to if you were using baking soda. I still like doing it because it makes my hair softer. Try it both ways (with and without vinegar rinse) and see which one you prefer more.

For the vinegar rinse, just mix 3 T of apple cider vinegar or white wine vinegar with around 2 – 2.5 cups of water, you can also add 3-4 drops of lavender oil (or any other essential oil you like). Pour it all over your roots and hair massaging gently. Then leave for 3-5 minutes and rinse. I also like combing my hair through with a wide-tooth comb while I’m waiting. The vinegar rinse makes it super easy to comb out any knots.

Don’t let the soapnuts get into your eyes

You know what happens when shampoo gets into your eyes? Yes, that’s right – it burns! πŸ™‚ Well, soapnuts are the same but the burning is even more extreme. So be careful!

That’s why I always wash my hair bending over my bathtub rather than standing straight. That gives me a better control of what gets onto my face and into my eyes. Of course, I don’t have to stand there freezing, totally naked, while I wash my hair either. Try it! Just watch the video of me doing it if my description confused you a little. πŸ™‚

I hope you’ve found this interesting, and of course let me know if you give soapnuts a try! Share this blogpost around if you know anyone else who would benefit from the mighty soapnuts.

More natural hair washing methods are coming in the future, so stay tuned!

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  1. But wouldn’t my hair feel oily? My hair tends to produce more oil when I’m not using shampoo.

  2. After trying the no poo method for about a month now (I wash only with water) I feel this may be a good method to use every week or so to lose the excess oil !
    Thanks Vita, and give my regards to ‘Lambert’ πŸ˜›

    • Hello Paul! I’m sure “Lambert” can consult you on water only washing. He’s an expert, and has been for the last 3 years! πŸ™‚ Glad you’ve jumped on the no-poo wagon. I think water washing is great, but definitely needs a bit of clarifying from time to time. Soapnuts will be perfect for that. Good luck, and greetings for you from “Lambert”! πŸ™‚

  3. Hi Vita, Just wanted to say that I’ve tried soapnutting and it really is great! It doesn’t dry out my hair at all; it just cleans it :))
    My hair wants to say thanks too, it feels and looks much more healthy now πŸ˜›

  4. I also got a recipe from a book I bought several years ago where one can use 2 egg yolks, 1 cup of warm water, and either a 1/2 teaspoon of lemon juice or apple cider vinegar combine all the ingredients by whisking them together. Wet your hair with warm water and saturate with the shampoo. One can put the shampoo in a small glass bottle four pouring. Massage the shampoo into the scalp for a few minutes. Place a shower cap or towel over your head to hold in the heat for 5 to 10 minutes, and then rinse with warm water (Dawn Gallagher). This is a gentle natural shampoo to where one may be able to shampoo, not everyday, but possibly every two to three days. Anyways, I was reading my book and had to share. Since my Mom battled breast cancer, had cancer of the tongue removed and lost her battle to stage IV lung cancer I am trying to change for the better. I tried to get her to change certain ways, but she refused, and I think a lot of what we put into and onto our bodies is important. I am so glad I found your site, otherwise, I would have not known where to begin! Keep up the good work Vita, you are making a change for the better for many.

    • Debs, your comment truly warmed my heart. Thanks so much for all your support! You give me so much love, I appreciate it more than you’ll ever know. Thanks so much for sharing the recipe. I’ll try it in a couple of days when I need to wash my hair again. My mum always says that she used to wash her hair with eggs when she was growing up. I used to laugh at her, but no more! xx

  5. Hello Vita,
    I tried your recipe, but my hair feels oily after I washed it. I put a bit of olive oil on my scalp before washing it and it seems the shampoo didn”t wash it out. I used 6 cups of water, maybe I diluted the shampoo too much?
    Thank you for your comment!Meta

    • Try to shampoo twice or use less oil next time, or try a slightly lighter oil that will be easier to wash off. In general, I need to use any diy shampoo twice if I have any oil in. xx

      • Wish you had written about washing twice (when using oil) in the instructions above. I also used a small amount of almond oil. Left on for 20 mins followed with 15 mins of soap nut liquid then rinsed with avc/water mix. waited for hair to dry and…well it never did as it was still very oily. Had to wash again with regular shampoo. Was only when I was reading the comments later I found that you actually wash twice. I thank you for your recipes and am really keen to go without regular shampoo. I understand its a trial and error so will try without oil next time. Please could you mention about washing twice in the post as I expect many others will do the same. xx

  6. ‘Hindu’ would be a person like how somebody can be a Buddhist or Christian. The language is Hindi.

  7. Indian Washing Nuts

  8. Hi,

    so i used it3 times and two times i had to wash my hair again with normal shampoo because they were oily/waxy. Any idea why? I didnt use any oil before. I read that you shouldnt use too much of this shampoo, but what is too much? I used as much so that i wet my whole scalp and hair roots and let it sit for about 10-20minutes. Did i use too less or too much shampoo? Does it matter which temperature shampoo has? Did it ever happen to you? This never happened with rye flour shampoo, but i have dark hairs and rye flour always leave some flakes. Soap nut shampoo is also great for my dandruff. I just dont know if this oil/wax was my own or result of this shampoo. Any idea?

    • Hi Emae, it could be due to hard water. If it is hard, often it leaves that kind of oily and stiff feeling. I used around a cup of the soapnut mixture on my hair and massaged it in well. I don’t think the temperature matters much because I used it straight from the fridge and it was OK. I did however rinse my scalp and hair with warm water before, so perhaps that made a difference and kept everything warm. I don’t really know what else to suggest apart from massaging it in really well and rinsing with warm water, and also perhaps looking into getting a shower filter if you don’t already have one. xx

      • Thank you! πŸ™‚
        So i tried it one more time with distilled water and it worked again… one difference was also that i didn’t have any styling product in my hairs. Do you use styling products? I have totally flat and smooth hair and without styling product they have no (really no) volume… My styling product is silicon, paraben free… Does soapnuts shampoo have problem to wash it away?

        • At the time when I used to use this recipe I used only a natural silicone free styling gel and I never had any problems washing it off. Your one should be easy to wash off, too. xx

  9. Hello.
    I have about 10-15 soap-nuts in my refrigerator, I heard I could use this second batch of
    soap-nuts again but how do you do it? Do you cook soap nuts again? What is the recipe
    for stored , refrigerated soap nuts?

  10. Nora Anderson says

    I love and prefer natural home remedies, but when your a mom of 4 it kinda gets difficult to get time to create your own shampoos and body washes, but I began to buy products from they sell soap nuts products. Plus it’s perfect for me because it’s great for curly hair, it sinks in and cleans and moisturizes all of my layers.

  11. Pepa Perez says

    Hi, thanks for sharing your experience! Gor some reason I can’t see how many soapnuts are required for the 6 cups of water, please let me know. Thanks!

  12. Hi, thanks for sharing the video. Do you keep the soap nuts shampoo on your hair for 15 minutes? Thanks.

  13. Pavithra says

    Hii, I made this shampoo and have used this twice. I oiled my hair 15 min before wash. I kept the shampoo on my hair for 5 mins with a little massage. But both the time when I used this shampoo I had a lot of hair fall :(. Do you know why?

    • Hello Pavithra, I really don’t know why you had a lot of hair loss because soapnuts are actually supposed to be really good for preventing or stopping the hair loss. Have you tried it again? Did the same thing happen? xx

  14. Narita Khan says

    Hi there! I loved your article! I’ve been experimenting with my own homemade shampoo using soapnuts, shikakai, amla (indian gooseberry) and methi (fenugreek) (all in equal parts). The first time I made it, I had used a bit of onion and neem as well, but I felt that it made my hair quite rough. So, the next time, I left out the onion and neem, and halved the quantity of soapnuts. I think this was a much better concoction, except that my hair was still a little rough. I’ve been considering mixing apple cider vinegar with the shampoo, instead of using it after the shampoo. Any thoughts? Would aloe vera be a good conditioner? Also, the shampoo only stays good for only about a month. Any clue of what could be used as a preservative?

    • Hi Narita, apple cider vinegar is traditionally only added at the end as a rinse. I don’t think mixing it with the herbs would work in the same way. Aloe vera might be a good addition but I don’t think it would be a good enough conditioner on its own. For storage, I don’t think anything could keep it fresh over a month (apart from chemical preservatives which honestly would ruin the whole point of making this shampoo). I would just mix a new batch every month. <3

  15. Soak them over night. And Squeeze the juice out We have used them before 20 years when I was in India, then used Shampoo for 5 years in USA, Now we are using soap nuts in USA for last 6 years. Best natural hair wash ever. Try it.

    Do not add anything. Soak it overnight and use it in the morning. The minute you make alterations you are trying to make a chemical product. Based on experience.

    • How many soapnuts do I soak and in how much water? I have tried mixing soapnuts with all kinds of things (aloe, herbal teas, amla, fenugreek, and neem, etc..) and my hair feels like it has a film of grease on it. I have been doing it for 6 weeks with very little change in the results. I have tried AVC rinses, homemade conditioners, herbal rinses, and still my hair is very, very oily. I look like I rubbed a greasy pork chop through it. My hair is very long, blond, and straight, and tends to be oily anyway. The ends shine like gold, but the rest looks dark and greasy. I noticed that it works fine for my daughter, who has dark, curly hair, and others with curly hair…but those with greasy or straight hair have a harder time. Anymore suggestions? I am up for trying anything natural. I don’t want to quit, but my hair is disgusting.

      • All the quantities are in the recipe, just open it up. πŸ™‚ You’re right, it is harder to keep straight hair looking clean without shampoo. On the other hand, the transition period can last a couple of months as well where your hair will still be producing lots of oil to counteract the drying effects of shampoo. Eventually it should calm down. But we’re all different, soapnuts might not work well for every single hair type or person. <3

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