The Wonders Of Baking Soda!

pale yellow yarrow
pale yellow yarrow

About 5 years ago I ran across the idea of washing your hair with baking soda and rinsing it with apple cider vinegar. I have worked for years toward getting away from using anything with chemicals in my body as well as ON my body, and thought I would give it a try. Even the natural shampoos have weird stuff in them.

Although I used expensive health food store shampoos and conditioners, I wasn’t happy with how my hair ended up after shampooing. It was usually dry and frizzy, and I used all different kinds of conditioners to try to calm it down. I envied others who had shiny hair, because mine never really was. I have to say that I am one of those fortunate people with thick coarse wavy hair that is so forgiving that I can cut it myself, and I have never needed to curl it or perm it in any way. I listen to others complain about the hassles of their hair – my husbands was fine and straight and fell in his face all the time – and am grateful to have been gifted with such easy-to-deal-with hair. My main concern was all the chemicals I was dumping on my head every 3 days – not so much how it looked!

My first experience with the baking soda wash wasn’t great. My hair felt stiff and weird when it was still wet, but it wasn’t too bad when it dried, so I decided to give it a month or so to see how it did. From what I read, it takes a few washings to get all the built-up gunk off your hair and scalp from years of shampoo and conditioner use, so it seemed like a month would be a good test. Much to my surprise, after 3 or 4 washings, my hair started to feel soft and silky, something I can never remember it feeling! AND it was shiny!! Wow! I hadn’t expected those results! I was just interested in NOT using chemicals and hoped that my hair would respond okay. This was over the top! On top of that I discovered that I only really needed to wash my hair about once every 5-7 days. It stayed nice for so much longer. I think commercial shampoos and conditioners may be created to keep your hair in a state where it needs to be washed frequently to stay nice!

Here it is 5 or so years later, and I am still very happy with the results, so I thought I would share it for those of you who might like the idea of trying something more chemical-free on your body and maybe even ending up with better results than you are getting with shampoo and conditioner! If your hair is often dull and limp – maybe it’s what you are using on it that’s doing it, not the natural state of your hair.

So here is how I do it:
I use a cottage cheese size plastic container that I keep in the bathroom. I fill it with hot water before I get in the shower, and mix in about a tablespoon of baking soda, until it dissolves. Then I wet my hair down in the shower and slowly pour the baking soda solution on my hair – scrubbing it in with the other hand as I go. When the container is empty, I scrub with both hands for a few minutes. Baking soda tends to make water slippery – so your hair will be a bit slippery-feeling. Then I rinse really well and rinse out the container while I’m at it.

I keep a little squirt bottle of apple cider vinegar in the shower, to use for the rinse. Next I refill the container with hot (not TOO hot) water, and a good squirt of vinegar, probably about a tablespoon. It’s all a pretty inexact science… And do the pour and scrub thing again. Then I wash the rest of me while it sits on my hair. When I am finished I do a quick rinse – but not thorough, because I found over time that leaving a bit of vinegar on my hair encouraged waves and curls. I have read others who rinse it off right away and completely. You should experiment for yourself and see what works for your type of hair. And believe it or not the vinegar smell goes away really quickly!

Baking soda, "container" and kitchen "shaker"
Baking soda, “container” and kitchen “shaker”

I never blow dry my hair – in fact I don’t like to go outside with it wet or damp because it has the same sort of drying effect that blow drying does. It’s a pain, because my hair is so thick that it takes around 4 hours to dry. I usually wash it at the end of the day before dinner – when I plan to stay inside. That’s what works for me. If I blow dried my hair it would end up looking like a bush on my head!

Laundry detergent
I also wash my clothes with baking soda and cold water. Nothing else – just baking soda. With the exception of extremely dirty clothes which I then wash on a bit more “vigorous” cycle with warm water, that’s all I need. This is another one of those cases where it takes several washings to clean the built up detergent and softener and what-not out of the clothes. That all by itself can do wonders for your clothes!

Last year my old washer died and I had to get a new one, so I opted for a new front loader that uses a very tiny amount of water (I always bought used washers in the past) – and was amazed at the difference in how clean my clothes were! I was using baking soda and cold water as always, but the difference was profound. This washer is an energy saver as well as a water saver, so I really lucked out! If you find yourself in a place of needing a new washer, I strongly encourage you to consider getting one of the new energy/water saving front loaders. It really has felt worth the price. Places like Sears (where I got mine) let you pay it off with no interest for a year!

Sink cleaner
I keep a sprinkler jar (I think it is meant for Parmesan cheese) filled with baking soda next to my kitchen sink for scrubbing the sink and things that need a bit of “grit” to get them clean. I clean my bathroom sink, toilet and tub with it as well. Works as well as any of the “grit” cleaning powders.

AND I have been brushing my teeth with it for the last couple years. I noticed that I went from needing my teeth cleaned every 4 months to not needing much done at all every 6 months! I wet my toothbrush and dip it in a bit of baking soda and sometimes wet a bit again so I am not scrubbing too much straight powder and abrasion on my teeth.

Now, if I could just find an alternative for dish washing I’d be a happy camper! I’ve tried baking soda and any number of “natural” recipes and haven’t found one yet that feels satisfying. I don’t have a dishwasher and do them by hand. I know that with a dishwasher the baking soda might work just fine – with a vinegar rinse. If anyone has something they do that works for them I would love to hear about it!

I am not doing all this to save money – but because I want to avoid as many chemicals as possible. I have to say, though – looking at it laid out as I have just done – that I must be saving a LOT of money not buying all those expensive “natural” products!! Holy cow…

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