What happens if you put baking soda in your hair?

Baking soda, also known as sodium bicarbonate, is a popular household product with many uses. Some people put baking soda in their hair as part of their hair care routine. But what effects does baking soda have on hair?

Can baking soda clean your hair?

Yes, baking soda can help clean hair. Baking soda is mildly alkaline, with a pH of around 8. This means it can help remove dirt, oil, and product buildup from hair and scalp. The gritty texture of baking soda can also provide gentle exfoliation to remove dead skin cells and flakes.

Many commercial shampoos are formulated to be slightly acidic, with a pH between 4.5-5.5. This helps swell the hair cuticle to allow thorough cleansing. Baking soda helps bring the hair and scalp back to a more neutral pH after shampooing. It may help remove any residue left behind and restore the natural pH balance of hair.

Does baking soda remove chlorine from hair?

Swimming in chlorinated pools can leave hair feeling dry and damaged over time. Some claim that baking soda can help remove chlorine buildup from hair. Baking soda is said to react with the chlorine molecules, neutralizing them so they can be rinsed away. However, there is limited scientific evidence to confirm this effect.

A small study found that hair soaked in a baking soda solution lost less tensile strength after chlorine exposure compared to untreated hair. But more research is needed.

Can baking soda lighten or bleach hair?

Baking soda does not contain bleaching agents like hydrogen peroxide. However, some people report that using baking soda occasionally lightens their hair over time.

There are a few theories as to why this may happen:

  • Baking soda can degrade melanin pigments, especially with repeated use.
  • It may lift stain molecules from hair, improving the reflection of light.
  • The high pH of baking soda can swell the cuticle, making hair look lighter and brighter for a short while.

However, baking soda is generally considered a very mild lightener compared to chemical bleaches. Any lightening is likely to happen gradually over many applications.

Can baking soda remove hair dye?

Baking soda, on its own, does not contain strong enough compounds to directly strip artificial hair dye. However, some people do use baking soda to help gradually fade or soften hair color over time.

Here’s why it may help:

  • Baking soda can degrade hair dye molecules, especially with repeated use.
  • It lifts stain molecules from the hair cuticle.
  • The grittiness provides gentle abrasion to fade color deposited on the outer hair shaft.

Using a clarifying shampoo containing baking soda 1-2 times per week may help speed up fading of unwanted color. But baking soda alone likely won’t completely remove dye.

Can baking soda remove product buildup?

Yes, baking soda can be effective at removing product buildup from hair. Buildup happens when hair products, especially those containing silicones and waxes, are allowed to accumulate on the hair and are not washed away fully.

Baking soda helps remove buildup in a few ways:

  • It dissolves oil and other residues stuck to the hair.
  • The gritty texture helps exfoliate and detach buildup.
  • Baking soda breaks down waxes, silicones and other product ingredients.
  • It brings hair back to a neutral pH after shampooing.

Using a baking soda scrub 1-2 times per month can help deeply cleanse hair and prevent excessive buildup.

Does baking soda remove dandruff?

Baking soda may provide some relief from dandruff symptoms due to its exfoliating effects. The granules can help detach dead skin cells and flakes from the scalp.

It also creates an unfavorable alkaline environment for the fungus Malassezia that contributes to dandruff development. This can help reduce fungus overgrowth and resulting inflammation.

However, baking soda does not treat the underlying cause of dandruff. It is better used alongside medicated shampoos containing ingredients like zinc pyrithione, selenium sulfide or ketoconazole.

Can baking soda damage your hair?

Using baking soda too frequently or incorrectly can damage hair over time. Some potential issues include:

  • Dryness – Baking soda is very alkaline and can degrade the hair’s natural oils.
  • Breakage – Removing too much protein can cause hair to become brittle.
  • Rough texture – It can disturb the protective cuticle layer.
  • Chemical processing damage – Baking soda weakens bonds in treated or color-treated hair.
  • Skin irritation – Some people experience redness or itching from baking soda.

To avoid damage, baking soda should not be used daily. Limit applications to 1-2 times per week at most, rinsing thoroughly. It’s best suited to people with normal to oily hair.

Does baking soda make your hair grow faster?

There is no good scientific evidence that baking soda increases the rate of hair growth. Hair typically grows around 0.5 inches per month on average, and individual growth rates are determined mostly by genetics.

However, baking soda may create the appearance of faster growth by:

  • Lifting dirt and oil from the scalp for cleaner growth.
  • Exfoliating and removing buildup around follicles.
  • Reducing inflammation from conditions like dandruff.
  • Neutralizing follicles’ pH after shampooing.

A clean, healthy scalp provides ideal conditions for hair to achieve its maximum growth potential. But baking soda alone won’t speed up the growth rate itself.

Does baking soda make hair curly?

Baking soda is sometimes used as part of regimens to enhance naturally curly or kinky hair textures. By itself, baking soda does not create curls, but it may help amplify existing texture.

Here’s how it can contribute to curlier hair:

  • Removes weighed-down buildup from curls.
  • Cleanses away styling products without harsh detergents.
  • Leaves hair’s surface rougher for better styling grip.
  • Balances pH of hair and scalp after shampooing.

Baking soda is often combined with an apple cider vinegar rinse to maintain hair’s pH balance after use. But it should be used sparingly to avoid dryness or breakage in curly hair.

What’s the best way to use baking soda on hair?

There are a few techniques for using baking soda to cleanse and treat the scalp and hair:

Baking Soda Scrub

  • Mix 1 tsp baking soda with enough water to form a gritty paste.
  • Massage paste thoroughly into damp hair, focusing on scalp and roots.
  • Let sit 1-2 minutes.
  • Rinse well and shampoo as usual.

Baking Soda Rinse

  • Dissolve 1-2 tsps baking soda into 1 cup warm water.
  • After shampooing, pour mixture through damp hair. Avoid getting in eyes.
  • Let sit briefly, then rinse out thoroughly.
  • Follow with an apple cider vinegar rinse to restore pH.

Clarifying Shampoo

  • Look for shampoos containing sodium bicarbonate or sodium cocoyl isethionate.
  • Use clarifying shampoo 1-2 times per week as part of regular regimen.
  • Rinse hair thoroughly after washing.
  • Limit use to avoid excessive dryness or irritation.

Who should avoid using baking soda on hair?

Baking soda may not be suitable for all hair types. Those who are cautious about using it include:

  • People with dry, fragile, or chemically treated hair.
  • Those with sensitive skin or scalp conditions.
  • People who use lots of additional hair products.
  • Those who bleach, color, perm, or relax their hair.
  • Anyone worried about excessive dryness or damage.

It’s a good idea to spot test baking soda scrub on a small section first to check for adverse effects before wider use.


Baking soda can be used occasionally in small amounts to cleanse and exfoliate hair. It may help remove buildup, chlorine, minerals, and even fade hair dye gradually. However, frequent use can cause dryness, irritation, and hair damage.

When used properly 1-2 times per month, a baking soda treatment can deep clean hair and provide a reset for the scalp and hair follicles. But those with dry, colored, or chemically processed hair should use caution to avoid unwanted effects.

Baking soda is generally too mild to completely strip artificial dye, bleach hair, or dramatically speed up growth. And while it may help enhance curls, it does not permanently alter hair texture. As part of an overall hair care regimen, baking soda can provide cleansing and renewal for healthy hair.

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