Quick, Natural, Head-to-Toe Clean

by Daisy

Shampoo and body wash, like all synthetic detergents, work equally well in hard and soft water. The problem is that it’s expensive and rips the oils out of your hair. Hence the need for conditioner–to cover up the oil-stripping-damage done by the shampoo.

Soap is WAY better. The problem with soap is that it doesn’t work as well in hard water and is hard to rinse out of your hair. But, it’s not near as damaging.

So here’s your solution:

Put 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar in a quart of water and store it in a squeeze bottle. (Mine is an old mustard bottle.) It should last you at least a week.

Now here’s your new shower routine:

1. Wet a bar of real soap. ( I recommend Ivory if you don’t have homemade. )

2. Rub bar all over head until you work up a good lather, especially attending to your greasy spots.
Rub, rub, rub.

3. Wash the rest of the bod with bar or handfuls of all that lather on your head.

4. Rinse hair until it squeaks. (read: can’t run fingers through it easily at all and you’re thinking HOLY CATS, what has Ivory done to me???)

5. Grab bottle of diluted cider vinegar and ‘draw’ all over your scalp with it.
(Yes, it’s smells strong, but trust me, it’s great stuff. Cures itchy scalp and all that. Smell dissipates quickly.)

6. Rub around and rinse hair again.

7 . Notice that you CAN now run your fingers through it.

Isn’t that amazing? No conditioner.

If you care to know, it’s two things:
1) AC vinegar breaks down any remaining soap residue.
2) AC vinegar is acidic and makes the hair scales lay back down.

Now, go shave your legs. You SO don’t want to do that before you rinse with the vinegar. Stingy-stingy!


Disclaimer: This post may contain a link to an affiliate.

{ 52 comments… read them below or add one }

Anni June 20, 2009 at 12:52 pm

I finally got around to trying this today – wow! Love it.

Now I am wondering if I can do something similar in a spray bottle for a detangler? But would not rinsing it out be a problem?

ivorysoap76 June 22, 2009 at 10:59 am

@ Anni–I don’t know. It’s a pH thing in relation to the soap. I wonder how well it would work if soap isn’t the tangling factor…

LuMaSa Momma June 24, 2009 at 11:03 am

I have had dandruff for years. Not bad, but persistant. Since starting this vinegar rinse, dandruff is totally gone. No more itchy scalp either. I LOVE it. Now I have to figure out what to do with that big bottle of conditioner that I’m never going to use on my hair.

ivorysoap76 June 25, 2009 at 7:43 am

LuMaSa Momma!!! YAY!!!! I”m so excited. It keeps away my itchies like a charm.

Deidre June 29, 2009 at 12:50 pm

I use the vinegar rinse, too! I have thick, coarse hair and I got tired of having a lot of buildup from my various shampoos, so I jumped on a recipe that someone gave me for a baking-soda “shampoo” (baking soda mixed with water), with the occasional vinegar rinse afterward. Now my hair isn’t oily, and my scalp doesn’t itch anymore either!

Ivory Soap June 29, 2009 at 8:19 pm

@Deidre–It simply…ROCKS.

Shauna July 13, 2009 at 8:05 am

So I was a little concerned about the “Holy cats what has Ivory done to me!” comment in your article…but got home fromt eh gym last night and tried this. Hair was oily and icky from build up. WOW. LOVE it. I even used (ehem) Ivory soap 😉
Thanks for the great stuff you post!!!

Ivory Soap July 14, 2009 at 8:45 am

@Shauna–HURRAY! Another person free from the tyranny of the shampoo row at Walmart! I love Ivory soap. That’s how I got the name. It was a nickname in college.

Betty July 24, 2009 at 11:38 pm

I love Ivory Soap. I use it to make up personal batches of soap for the family and friends. It works like a dream on my hair too. The best thing about the vinegar is that it helps with getting natural highlights in the sun. Forget spending 60$ at the salon for them, like I used to.

I still need to try the deoderant that you have, sounds like it’ll work well.

Kathryn July 25, 2009 at 11:04 pm

I only use Ivory soap to wash my hair now and I cannot get over how much thicker and glossier my hair looks. I have had more compliments since I went to this routine. The vinegar rinse does not work as well for me (maybe it is because I have naturally curly hair???) so I use Burt’s Bee conditioner but I do alternate with the vinegar rinse.
Thanks so much!!!

OWL MOMMA August 9, 2009 at 2:36 pm

Just seeing this today! I’ve tried the baking soda routine, but I think I’m gonna give this a shot. Baking soda was really drying to my hair. After rinsing with vinegar, I usually add a few drops of essential oils to a cup of water and use that as a final rinse. It gets rid of the vinegar smell and leaves my hair smelling so nice!

crunchycon August 18, 2009 at 12:13 pm

This absolutely rocks. I’ve been doing the baking soda-ACV routine for a bit, and it’s worked reasonably well, but my hair is way softer and fuller with this combination. And my perennially itchy scalp itches no more!

Tacy August 26, 2009 at 12:06 pm

Wow! This site just keeps getting better and better! Laundry soap, simple bath solutions, and lip balm things…I am totally loving this stuff! Let’s see how this Ivory-Vinegar thing works against my special organic shampoos…

By the way, are there any tips you have for making a protein treatment/mask for hair? I’ve tried avocado and banana before with horrible – HORRIBLE – results…

Ivory Soap August 27, 2009 at 6:45 pm

@Tacy–what kind of hair do you have?

Vanessa September 8, 2009 at 7:26 pm

Hi there!
This worked GREAT for me in NY, but as soon as I went to Florida to visit home, I noticed that my hair was very lank all of a sudden. It felt like I had wax all over it. Mom asked me when I was planning to wash my hair. What happened? Tampa has hard water, and I suppose Westchester county, NY has soft water. I rinsed really carefully in Tampa. Thoughts? I want to do this again now that I am back in NY. BTW, have any of you used henna to color your hair? I have great results with it, and you can tweak it so that it doesn’t come out flaming red. I have about 20% grey, and it still works like a charm, it’s natural, and it costs me about 10 bucks to do. A lot cheaper than the salon dye, and much nicer than the results I had from home-dying.

Ivory Soap September 10, 2009 at 11:17 am

@Vanessa–I haven’t ever dyed my own hair. Wait, I did once and ended up tiger striped…horizontally. YIKES. But, my mom’s people are from Tampa. The water there is AWFUL. You probably HAVE to use shampoo there. Though the vinegar rinse should have helped a bit…

Fasje September 10, 2009 at 11:35 am

@ LuMaSa Momma: use that no more needed conditioner to shave your legs with!

Vanessa September 14, 2009 at 1:43 pm

Ivory, you are right about the Tampa water. I wondered, about 2 days into being home why I felt so “off,” and I realized that I had been drinking Diet Coke nonstop to avoid the water. I grew up there, and I don’t remember its being so nasty. I am going to try to Ivory Soap thing again here, because I see so clearly that shampoo makes my hair lie down and play dead. When I was doing it up here (NY), my hair was super shiny. As far as dyeing one’s own hair, there is a website I can direct you to, if you were to want to learn more. I swear I don’t get paid to push henna, but the stuff is just amazing. My hairstylist has been with me for 10 years, and she had to do a lot of repair-work on my banged-up hair when I dyed it with the boxed stuff. Even when she colors it (not corrective coloring), it costs me 65 or 70 dollars (ant that is hella cheap for NY). She loves the henna results so much that she told me she’ll never use chemical color on me again. At seven dollars a month, I’d say I have mastered frugal, worry free color. Thank you for this excellent blog!

Angela October 11, 2009 at 9:34 pm

I’ve been shampoo free for a few months now. I LOVE it!! I am still using baking soda instead of soap but love the ACV. Sometimes I infuse it with a “tea” of sage or horsetail ferns and Anni, I never rinse my vinegar out, I just squeeze it. Smells a little vinegar-y, but essential oils or herb teas added help and once the vinegar dries the smell goes away. Thanks for all the great info.

Apollocircle November 5, 2009 at 8:12 pm

I have been using soap in my hair instead of shampoo for a long time. My favorite, so far, has been the coconut oil soap. Not tried the Ivory…hmm. Just might have to do that. Here is a really great tip, I do use the vinegar rinse but instead of diluting the vinegar with plain water, I use rose water. This really rocks! My hair is so fab I can’t hardly stand it.

Tasterspoon December 10, 2009 at 4:14 pm

So I’ve gotten on board this wagon and wanted to comment that I don’t think the vinegar HAS to be apple cider, correct? I was looking at my local warehouse store (Smart n Final) and ingredients for the large size Heinz apple cider vinegar were actually vinegar “made from grain,” caramel and flavoring. I bought the smaller size that actually appeared to come from apples, but honestly I can’t imagine it makes any difference. And distilled white is SO much cheaper.

Nicki December 30, 2009 at 7:40 pm

@Anni – I know this is about 6 months later, but I have heard about a leave-in conditioner you can make. Basically, just put a small amount of any conditioner you use in a squirt bottle and dilute with water. Squirt on as usual. I haven’t tried it yet, but I’m planning to.

Emily February 18, 2010 at 4:51 pm

Hi there
I am trying out the soap and vinegar shampoo (and am very excited about it!)
I have done it three times now, but my hair seems quite greasy when in dries.
I am not sure if my hair is just getting used to the new routine, or if I am not using enough apple cider vinegar to get all the soap out, or if the soap i am using is just clinging to my hair more than normal….
any suggestions?

Ivory Soap February 18, 2010 at 8:18 pm

The problem could be happening in a few places, but let me go for the most common. Unlike detergent (shampoo), soap doesn’t clean just by passing through. If you don’t get the suds down to the scalp, the scalp ain’t gonna be clean. If you don’t scrub over your ears, same thing. You should be able to work up a REALLY GOOD lather all over your head. Better than shampoo. It will be a ‘shaving cream’ level lather. And when you rinse, keep rinsing until you get the SQUEAK. It feels SQUEAKY CLEAN. And you think, I’ll never get a brush through this. But it’s just the pH. The cider vinegar corrects the pH, and breaks down any soap residue so you can again get your fingers through it without yanking yourself bald.

Emily February 18, 2010 at 9:13 pm

thanks for the trouble shooting
I felt like I scrubbed pretty good today- but next time I wash I will do a super scrub so there are LOTS of bubbles.
how much of the water/vinegar mix do you usually use to rinse out?
I used about 3/4 cup.
think that is enough? and should i let it sit for a while before rinsing out??
thanks again for your speedy reply!!

Emily February 22, 2010 at 3:19 pm

well, you were right!
thanks for the tip
i scrubbed really hard and my hair came out looking great.

Jori February 22, 2010 at 4:32 pm

A friend of mine was told by her hairdresser to use baby powder in between shampoos to help her hair. Her hair is very fine and needs the natural oils. Every night she sprinkles some into her hair and brushes it out. The powder works like dry shampoos you can buy for camping and its cheaper. She still showers though.

Jennifer April 7, 2011 at 8:12 am

This worked great. No conditioner and my hair is soft. I forgot to dilute the ACV, I used it straight from the bottle. The scent did fade. I will have to get a squirt bottle, I will recycle one of the conditioner bottles.

Deb September 23, 2011 at 6:13 am

I washed my hair with my homemade soap the other day, and thought it would be great if I could just figure out how to rinse it out. Now I know! Thanks! Have I mentioned that I love this site???

Deb October 3, 2011 at 1:05 pm

I make my own homemade soap for my own use, and to sell. I accumulate leftover bits and pieces over time, and decided to use them for my shampoo. Problem is, a bar of soap takes FOREVER to make a good lather in my waist long hair. So I took all my bits and pieces and put them in a pan with water. I boiled my soap til it was all dissolved, (takes a while) then poured it into a clean jar. As it cooled, it turned into gel. I call it my hair gloop. I just scoop some out with my fingers, and lather away! Then I use diluted white vinegar to rinse. I make it pretty strong, then rinse it out. Works like a charm!

BIG AL December 11, 2011 at 5:35 pm

I’ve been using Ivory soap on my hair since the early 80snd tha. It’s the only product I found that “relaxes” my annoying wavy hair. Now that I’m thinning a little Ivory soap makes my hair thicker…..more “solid” per se.

ACW January 28, 2012 at 12:39 am

Stumbled onto your post *after* using bar soap on my hair today. I’ll have to scrounge around for a spare squirt bottle and give the vinegar rinse a try! I was just frustrated with winter buildup and even switching brands of shampoo and using clarifying products didn’t work. I have very coarse, thick, straight hair and it did take four lathers of Ivory (rinsing with water between) before I got nice suds. I used just a little store-bought deep conditioner on the ends and was able to comb through without snagging. It does feel a lot softer and more lightweight. I look forward to trying your instructions!

joss March 20, 2012 at 12:41 am

@ Anni, for a detangler try steeping some herbs in water and pouring it over your head last thing before you get out of the shower. Rosemary, sage, calendula, and chamomile have all worked for me (there are more “hair herbs” but those are the only ones I can personally vouch for). Rosemary and sage are said to be best for darker hair because they can tint the hair in that direction over time. Calendula and chamomile are said to be best for blonde or red hair because they add a little of that color themselves. Rosemary and sage are best fresh (use just the rosemary leaves not the woody parts); calendula and chamomile can be dried or fresh. Just brew in hot water like you would make tea (for at least 20 minutes and no longer than 24 hours). Strain or otherwise separate the herbs from the liquid and pour over your head (taking care not to pour it when it’s too hot) just before you get out of the shower. Leave it in; don’t rinse it out. It’s an amazing detangler.

joss March 20, 2012 at 12:44 am

@ tasterspoon I’ve tried apple cider vinegar, white distilled vinegar, and lemon juice (all diluted the same way) and they ALL seem to work 🙂

AGV April 11, 2012 at 9:10 pm

I’m trying this new ivory soap and ACV today. Can’t wait to see the results!!

AGV April 21, 2012 at 9:23 pm

I have been trying this new ivory soap and ACV thing and it has been working great! It took me a while to get the right amount of vinegar and water–I had tried it as indicated in the instructions, but it was leaving my hair quite dry–but now it is supper smooth. The only problem I have now is my hair loss. I lose a lot of hair whenever I shower. Any suggestions to help with this issue? Any will be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

Chloe J July 19, 2012 at 10:31 am

Just wondering how this works for someone with curly hair? Mine is super curly and I don’t want it to be all frizzy, which is what happens when I don’t use conditioner on my hair. I want to try it, especially after reading of everyone else’s success with it. Really hoping it will help with my dry, itchy scalp. Thanks.

Ivory Soap July 19, 2012 at 9:55 pm

I don’t know how it works on curly hair. Sorry. But I can tell you that the dry scalp may or may not improve depending on what soap you use. When I use soaps made with significant coconut oil, my scalp gets really itchy. If I use something homemade with mostly animal fats, it’s really emollient and not so drying. It WILL help, IF you find the right soap for your scalp. You could also try washing with a baking soda solution. That is REALLY gentle on the scalp.

Erin August 25, 2012 at 5:43 pm

Just a question… I’ve paid a lot of money to have my hair colored and I’m wondering if the Ivory and apple cider vinegar will strip the color out?

Ivory Soap August 27, 2012 at 12:31 pm

I’ve never had a problem. But mine is lightened. Don’t know what it would do to darkened.

Suz October 21, 2012 at 4:28 pm

I am confused. Does the Ivory/ACV combination work better in hard or soft water? I have recently moved to a hard water area and my hair is a gummy mess. Clarifying shampoos aren’t helping. Have you tried Kirks Castile soap on your hair? Someone recommended it. I tried it and it didn’t help. I’ll try again and use the vinegar.

Jyl November 20, 2012 at 8:13 am

I always have trouble finding good hair products, expensive or not, and end up donating them to my friends. The ingredients some of these contain (such as formaldehyde) are definitely contraindicated for living humans and more conducive to use in mortuaries. I have baby fine hair, btw. It struck me two days ago to try Ivory soap for washing hair, as it has such a thick, creamy lather and makes me feel squeaky clean. It works wonderfully, I’m glad to convey, and I’ll continue using this, as well as to tell as many people about it, as possible. I did an internet search, this a.m., and discovered this site, so I have not made a discovery, after all. It’s amazing how a product so inexpensive can work so well, while giving so much pleasure.

Debbi December 31, 2012 at 1:19 am

I too, have dark curly hair…that is super dry. I can go three days without washing my hair…and I only wash it because I feel like I should. lol I am highly allergic to shampoos and soaps. I’ve bought unscented, color free soap for my laundry, and baking soda for colors. My hair is greying, and I would love to hear more about coloring it with Henna. I’d also like to know if anyone with dry, curly hair has found a good natural shampoo. If so, please share your finding. I have got to try the AC rinse. I’m allergic to Ivory shampoo, so I will forgo that and try a homemade recipe I found on this site for body wash and shampoo…using a soap that isn’t scented.

Kathy January 2, 2013 at 11:34 am

I use a spray bottle with about 2 cups water and 1/4 cup ACV for detangling spray on my girls. It really works! It also brings out their curls.

I also don’t rinse the ACV out of my hair. I add essential oils to it and keep it in a glass bottle in the shower and use about a tablespoon or more to a cup and a half of water.

Elsi Vacano April 12, 2013 at 9:51 am


I tried the ivory soap last year. I had no idea other people were doing it. I have stubborn straight hair that won’t hold a curl. Now it is shiny and I can use a brush curling wand. However, I don’t use vinegar to rinse… I use a solution of Downy and water which works beautifully. I wish I had known about this several years ago.

Lee November 4, 2013 at 2:01 pm

Hey just wondering, could distilled white vinegar be used in place of the apple cider vinegar? Anyone tried that yet? Why is the ACV suggested over the regular vinegar? Thanks

D January 27, 2014 at 3:03 pm

Downy, like the fabric softener? That’s some pretty toxic detangler.

Sandy July 5, 2014 at 8:46 pm

I found myself being allergic to shampoo. I started using the Ivory original bar soap and I am so happy. The rash is gone and it seems to make my hair thicker.

Hedie July 6, 2014 at 3:27 pm

I’ve also heard you can add about 1 teaspoon of baking soda to your shampoo (in this case, soap) and it will help to strip away any residue left on your hair. I’ve done the AC vinegar rinse before and the smell does dissipate rather quickly.

Angie88 August 8, 2014 at 9:08 pm

Boil some water in a pan. Grate ivory sop in pan. When water is cloudy use a siv and strain it into bottle. Add coconut oil, glycerine, or whatever oil you want. (Just a little). When it cools it will be the consistency of shampoo/bodywash. Make sure to shake it every so often before it fully cools. Just made some. Also use coconut oil as conditioner, and body moisturizer. Add essential oils, Shea, or whatever you want. Don’t don’t the ACV Prince more than once a week or your hair will be dry and brittle. Use half water half ACV. Be creative!

Christal October 18, 2014 at 1:29 pm

Thought I would add my two cents here. I’ve been no poo for a couple years. I love it! I did the baking soda/vinegar way, but had horrible build up. So I made my own hair soap. I still found that the vinegar (usually white is what I would use) didn’t cut the build up. So I tried a couple capsules of Vitamin C in a squirt bottle filled with water. This has been the best solution for me! Now, my routine is my hair soap followed by the vitamin c solution. Then I will either use my squirt bottle to apply diluted white vinegar as a leave in, or I will use my diluted vinegar from a spray bottle on it before I dry it. ( I only dry it on a warm, not hot, heat and only in the winter time. In the summer, my hair is always up, so it’s not as necessary.) I have also started putting virgin coconut oil on it before I wash it at times. This really softens it for me, but it does take more washing to get it out in the shower. Coconut oil is excellent for hair because it permeates the hair shaft and strengthens it. I will also put a bit of coconut oil on the ends of my hair as a leave in if it is looking a little dry. I only wash my hair once a week. My hair has never been so healthy! I don’t get split ends the way I used to. Interestingly, I noticed that my teenage daughter was dealing with her hair looking greasy. Part of it was that she was not taking the time to wash it thoroughly. But my husband’s family deals with oily hair, so I thought she might have that trait. However, since she’s been doing the same routine as me, her hair is much more healthy looking and she is also going a week between washing. I don’t see the greasy hair on her anymore, either. I recently bought a jar of vitamin C powder to use instead of the capsules. I’m planning on using 1/4 tsp. per 8 oz. squirt bottle. Vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, is really cheap and great to restore the acidity of hair. Oh, also, instead of baby powder, I have heard you can use cornstarch as a dry shampoo. I’ve never done it, as I don’t deal with oily hair. But I’ve heard it works great. It just won’t smell like the baby powder.

Michelle Hicks November 14, 2015 at 9:14 am

Hi, Ladies- I have your book and really enjoy it. I am considering alternative hair care methods again. When I got your book a few years ago, I used acv as my rinse for sometime, but then lapsed back into old habits. I’m moving back to more natural hair care again. My question is, have you used ivory soap as your shampoo for years, and do you continue to be happy with it? Do you also use baking soda and water to clean your hair?

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