A Family Builds a Homestead in the Rain

Giving Shampoo and Shower Gel the Flush

We make a dedicated effort to avoid chemicals in laundry detergent, household cleansers, and certainly our food. So it’s struck me as illogical to then hop into the shower to “clean” myself with products known to be hazardous to both my health and the environment. Pthalates, sulfates, plastic microbeads, even formaldehyde regularly lurk within the plastic bottles crowding the edge of the tub. Not a few of the unpronounceable ingredients are known carcinogens.

Over the past few years, we’ve gradually transitioned away from these pollutants.

We’ve been making our own soap for several years. The recipe we currently use is ultra-simple, with coconut oil and olive oil, water and lye. It lathers well, is scent-free, and leaves no residue. We love it and could never return to the smelly commercial stuff.

Our homemade bar soap plays the role of shower gel, shaving cream, cleanser, and even face wash.

My skin can be quite temperamental; during my pregnancy, I was plagued with acne (ah, the lovely effects of hormones) and nothing seemed to help. My mom sent me scrubs and cleansers and creams, to no improvement. After a yearlong struggle continued well beyond my daughter’s birth, I was struck with the idea of using our plain old bar soap on my face. Convinced it couldn’t get much worse if it didn’t improve, I gave it a shot. Six months later, I haven’t looked back and my skin is healthy and clear.

The last bath product I still find myself reaching for is shampoo. I have incredibly thick hair; coarse, with uneven curl and the occasional gray. Washing it is a time-consuming chore that I generally save for weekends. Between washes it’s usually frizzy and my scalp dry. I wear it twisted into a bun or in a low ponytail virtually always.

In pursuit of ditching the last chemical goo occupying my bathroom, I’m giving shampoo the nix. I know some people can simply go without, just rinsing their hair regularly and embracing the natural oils as conditioners, but I’m pretty sure my hair and scalp need a bit more attention than that if I expect to be seen in public.

Enter: the baking soda and cider vinegar treatment. Beyond the exclusion of harmful chemicals, I love that one author notes how going shampoo-free fits into her lazy beauty regimen, which I can certainly identify with, while also reducing waste and improving the health of her thick, wavy, dry, frizzy hair! Sounds familiar?

Starting today I’m giving it a go. If I can’t stand it in a month, I’ll decide what to try next. Here’s the before shot (also before coffee and with a sinus infection, eek) and my usual low-maintenance hairstyle:


I’ll be following Katherine Martinko’s regimen, which she describes as the following:

Measure 2 tbsp baking soda into a 500 mL/1 pint glass jar. Wet hair. Fill jar with water and stir to dissolve baking soda. Pour over head and scrub into hair. Rinse. Measure 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar into same jar. Add water, pour over head, and rinse almost immediately.

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  1. November 13, 2014    

    I use the same no-poo on my hair and love it!

    • November 13, 2014    

      Great to know! I love it so far– my hair was so soft after the first wash, and I didn’t even have to brush it. Amazing!

  2. November 18, 2014    

    I’m doing this immediately. Currently spending obscene amounts of money on a “natural” shampoo, and my scalp is just as troubled as when I used the cheap stuff. Thanks!

    • November 19, 2014    

      Exactly! I wanted to give it a few weeks before doing a follow-up post, but let me give you an early scoop: it is AMAZING. The baking soda leaves it instantly squeaky clean and the vinegar makes my hair so soft and conditioned I don’t even have to brush to untangle. Never, ever going back!

  3. November 26, 2014    

    i need to do this too, so will be interested to follow your progress. One of my aims for 2015 is to strip right back on cosmetics and find safer alternatives that are more inline with my ethics

    • November 26, 2014    

      I am in LOVE with this regimen and will follow up within perhaps a week. Sneak peek results: cleanest and softest my hair has ever felt, on top of being cheap and chemical free. I think starting 2015 with a resolution to make a small (but significant) adjustment like that is a great plan!

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  1. Basic Homemade Soap Recipe | Little Fall Creek on November 14, 2014 at 3:04 pm


I'm Kelly. Writer, crafter, forager, country winemaker, cook. Mama of an awesome toddler and married to my best friend. We recently returned to the Pacific Northwest, where we're setting out to grow, make, and learn as much as we can as the future unfolds.

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