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How to use Dr Bronner's Soap and Apple Cider Vinegar to Clarify Hair

By Edited May 10, 2015 2 2

organic castile soap (16182)

Dr. Bronner's Soap and apple cider vinegar are natural, safe alternatives to chemical-laden, sulfate shampoos for clarifying hair or removing hair product build-up. Popular shampoo products contain caustic sulfates known to be irritating to the skin and harsh on the hair, such as sodium lauryl sulfate, which is a powerful, cheap detergent used industrially to degrease engines and wash cars. In addition to sulfates, synthetic fragrances, dyes, and preservatives are commonly added ingredients.

The clarifying recipe below is for those who use hair styling products or conditioners on a regular basis containing non-water soluble silicones, such as dimethicone, amodimethicone and cetearyl methicone. Because silicone build-up weighs hair down and forms a layer over the hair shaft that prevents hair from effectively retaining moisture, it is important to clarify hair occasionally to maintain healthy, moisturized, voluminous hair . Shampoos containing sulfates remove product build-up from hair, but for those who choose not to use products containing sulfates this recipe is a safer, healthier alternative that is just as effective. Follow the steps below to clarify hair using Dr. Bronner's Soap and, preferably, raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar.

organic apple cider vinegar


  • Dr. Bronner's Castile Bar Soap
  • 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
  • 11 tablespoons (5.5 fluid ounces) water
  • A small bottle

Step 1 During your shower or bath wet hair and lather Dr. Bronner's soap in hands and massage thoroughly into hair. Repeat process until hair is clean.

Step 2 Completely rinse hair with water.

Step 3 Measure 2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar and 11 tablespoons of water into bottle.

Step 4 Pour solution over hair and massage into scalp.

Step 5 Rinse well.

Tips & Warnings

  • Dr. Bronner's soap is highly alkaline with a ph around 9. Apple cider vinegar is acidic with a ph around 4.25-5.0. Hair and skin have an approximate ph value between 4.5 and 5.5. Because acv and castile soap are not ph balanced to the skin and hair, they can be harsh and damaging if used too often. Highly alkaline products, like castile soap, can destroy the the hair shaft over time and interfere with the skin's natural acid mantle that works to naturally protect the skin and body from bacteria.
  • For apple cider vinegar rinse mark a small bottle with a permanent maker for the measured amounts of 2 teaspoons and 2/3 cups. Pour the acv up to the first pen mark and then add water until it reaches the second pen mark when ready to use acv rinse.
  • Too much apple cider vinegar may make hair go flat and too little may make hair feel greasy. If either one happens, then experiment with the ratio of water to vinegar in order to see satisfactory results as not all hair types will react the same to the ratio in the recipe above.
  • Continued use of apple cider vinegar may fade color-treated hair.
  • Glycerin, an ingredient in Dr. Bronner's Soap, may dry hair out in very dry climates.
  • Don't immediately rinse Dr. Bronner's Soap out of your hair with apple cider vinegar. If you do it will be very difficult to get the soap out of your hair. Be sure to rinse hair with plain water first.


Live Curly, Live Free Blog See posts 'Where, Oh Where, Have My Curls Gone?' and 'Shampoo Bars and ACV Rinses'

Killer Strands Blog See posts 'Pomade, Pins and Porosity' and 'OOPHAHS ... OOPHAHS ! One of the most thorough Segments on the subject'

Photo Credits

Soap photo by Vanessa Yvonne

Apple cider vinegar photo by AndyRob



Jun 17, 2010 1:08pm
Great tips on how to use natural products to clarify hair. I always used apple cider vinegar and water as a final rinse. Great for removing soap build up.
Jun 23, 2010 12:56pm
Just got a complete education! Thanks!
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