Clean, Green, Affordable Hair Care

Clean hair shouldn’t cost an arm and a leg, or dirty up the environment.

By Jean Nick


Make Your Own. It is easy to whip up very effective, safe, all-natural shampoos and other hair-care products at home and save even more money. Here are some ideas to get you started:

Basic shampoo

  • ½ cup water
  • ½ cup castile (vegetable-based) liquid soap such as Dr. Bronner’s
  • 1 teaspoon light vegetable oil or glycerine (omit if you have oily hair)

Combine ingredients, mix well, and put in bottle or dispenser. This is thinner than commercial shampoo and it won’t suds much—but it will clean just as well. Using too much won’t get your hair any cleaner, and it will be harder to get out of your hair. Use a palmfull or less to lather once, and rinse with warm water.

Herbal Shampoo
Substitute ½ cup strong herbal tea (chamomile, lavender, and rosemary are good choices) for water in the Basic Shampoo recipe.

The Nickel Pincher’s Unshampoo
I’m too frugal and lazy to bother with shampoo at all anymore. I put a few tablespoons of borax or baking soda in the bottom of a repurposed squeeze bottle, top it off with hot water, and shake it well. After it settles for a few minutes I apply perhaps ¼ cup of the clear liquid to my wet hair, work it through with my fingers, and rinse it out. (If you don’t wait for it to settle you’ll get some grit on your scalp—this does no harm, it just takes a few more seconds to rinse completely out.) There are no suds at all, but the mixture leaves my hair clean and shiny, and it is superfast (no sneaky suds to rinse out). I keep adding warm water to the bottle every few washes until the powder is used up, and then I add a few more spoonfuls. It costs next to nothing per wash. Note that borax can irritate your eyes if you get too much in them (rinse with clear water as needed), and consuming large amounts of it isn’t safe. So you may wish to go the baking soda route, especially if you have little ones.

Either borax or baking soda is also good for cleaning dirty combs and brushes. Mix ¼ cup into a basin of water and let the items soak overnight (wooden handles probably shouldn’t be left in the mixture for that long) and rinse in the morning.