How To Go No Poo With Hard Water

Have you ever struggled with the problem of going No Poo with hard water? I certainly have!

Since I’m always looking for new hair trends to use, I immediately felt fascinated by the No Poo Method, so I decided to investigate the subject further.

When I first began my No Poo hair natural hair journey I struggled with the problem of hard water. The area I lived in had very hard water and my hair just never looked or felt clean. Thankfully, I discovered a few tips on how to go No Poo with hard water so have written this article to share the knowledge I have gained on this topic.

Hard water often results in No-Poo users failing their natural hair goals since it leaves a mineral buildup on hair. Install a water filter in the showerhead, or boil water before use to help prevent hair breakage. Use No Poo recipes including acidic elements, such as apple cider vinegar or lemon if living in a hard water area.

Whilst researching how to No Poo with hard water, I found out quite a lot!

I can’t wait to share my findings with you in the article. So, make sure you keep reading to learn the best ways to be successful at No Poo, even if you have hard water in the area you live.

What Is No Poo Hair Care?

The No Poo movement was first started by curly-haired people since this kind of hair is more likely to be brittle, and dry. This movement has gained in popularity over recent decades.

The natural oil produced by the scalp (known as sebum) doesn’t slide down curly hair as easily as it does down straight hair. Consequently, curly hair often lacks moisture. Hair lacking in hydration is more fragile and prone to split ends.

In conventional hair cleaning methods like shampoo, these products work by stripping away the hair’s natural oils, to clean the scalp and strands. This is actually the opposite of what you should be doing since stripping away these oils can cause hair to be less moisturized and, overall, healthy.

The No Poo Method uses natural items to clean your hair, such as water or herbs, etc.

There are plenty of hair cleaning methods you can choose from to make your No Poo experience perfect for your hair type.

No Poo Hair Washing Methods:

  • Baking Soda: Rinsing your hair using baking soda mixed with water
  • Baking Soda And ACV: Using baking soda mixed with apple cider vinegar
  • Water Only: Using water only, putting some conditioner for the ends, if they’re particularly dry
  • Conditioner Only: Using conditioner only to wash your hair
  • Herbal Powders: Using herbal powders mixed with water in order to form a paste to be applied on hair, then rinsed
  • Sebum Only: Using the Sebum Only Method.

What Is Hard Water?

So what exactly is hard water?

One technical definition comes from the USGS, which defines hard water as “water hardness is generally the amount of dissolved calcium and magnesium in water” (source 1).

Hard water is sometimes visible on hair, hands, and dishes. This causes a sensation of having a film on your hands even after you washed them.

According to one specialist, “Hard water is typically found in more rural areas, where sediment levels are high and families are relying on well water, but it can be found in cities, too”.

Does Hard Water Damage Hair?

According to one specialist, “when using hard water, more soap or detergent is needed to get things clean, be it your hands, hair, or your laundry”.

So, hard water can damage hair if you overuse hair detergents, such as shampoo. This is because overusing products prolongs and increases the exposure of our hair to damaging ingredients (source 1).

Signs Of Hard Water On Hair

Hard water on its own can seriously damage the hair causing the following issues:

  • Dry Scalp: This is a problem a lot of people with long hair, straight or curly, already struggles with. Since hard water is particularly rich in minerals, these elements can pile up on your scalp, drying it out and possibly causing a prickly feeling.
  • Fragile Hair: Hard water can make your hair more fragile and prone to breakage, because exposure to alkaline water is known to dry out hair. Hard water tends to be more alkaline
  • Dull Har: Since hard water makes it difficult for soaps to lather and froth, your hair may become duller and duller, losing all of its natural sheen and healthy glow.
  • Discolored Hair: The high mineral content in hard water can cause hair color to fade quickly.

How Do You Soften Hard Water For Washing Hair

Here are a number of tips that you can use to soften hard water, in order to make it better for washing your hair (source 1,2):

  • Boil Water First: Try boiling your water first, before washing your hair in it. This is effective as it helps to dissolve some of the minerals in your hard water.
  • Water Filter: Install a water filter on your shower head, to help reduce and dissolve the minerals in your hard water.
  • Switch Up Your Hair Wash Routine: Try out different No Poo Methods that counteract the effects of hard water by using slightly acidic elements. This may mean preferring No Poo recipes that involve apple cider vinegar, or lemon.

How To Reverse The Effects Of Hard Water On Hair

You might be surprised to learn that certain No Poo Methods are incredibly beneficial for reversing the effects of hard water on hair.

Before you start a different wash method though, make sure you clarify your hair first.

Clarifying means that your hair needs to go through a purifying process in order to be cleansed from everything you put it through before switching to No Poo.

The downside to various No Poo methods is that the transition stage is often the hardest.

To let your preferred No Poo method work, you will need to wait for a number of weeks (or months), as transitioning from shampoo to No poo can be quite a challenge, not only for your body but also for your mindset.

The transition stage of moving to a No Poo hair method can feel stressful for many individuals because your hair is going to become GREASY.

It will not look or feel good, and you will constantly be thinking about quitting.

Before you quit though, remember that this is just a phase, so comb your hair and tie it back to be able to overcome this struggle.

The No Poo transition is so difficult because you’ve been washing your hair with shampoo for years, regularly stripping your scalp of its natural oils, and making your body produce even more sebum to replace the ones that had been stripped away.

Now that you’ve stopped doing this, your scalp will continue overproducing sebum for quite some time, usually about six weeks.

No Poo Methods For Hard Water

As briefly revealed before, some No Poo Methods are better than others when it comes to dealing with hard water.

Let’s take a look at all of the No Poo Methods, and see which ones are best for hard water:

1. The Baking Soda Method

Baking soda has been used as a cleansing agent since it was discovered, and people have started using it to wash their hair, too.

  • Mix one part of baking soda to three parts of room temperature water, forming a paste.
  • Soak your hair in water whilst in the shower
  • Apply the paste to your wet hair. This stage can feel weird the first time you do it, even grainy if the baking soda hasn’t completely dissolved.
  • Rub the paste into your scalp like you would with a classic shampoo.

The baking soda method isn’t the best choice if you live in a hard water area, since baking soda, with a pH of 8-9, is slightly alkaline (just like hard water).

2. Baking Soda Method With Apple Cider Vinegar Rinse

You could try following up your Baking Soda Method with a apple cider vinegar rinse.

Here’s what to do:

  • Mix one part of apple cider vinegar with four parts of water, making sure that baking soda paste has been fully washed out
  • Rinse your hair with the apple cider vinegar mixture.

This method is best for hard water because apple cider vinegar is an acidic substance, therefore the best to counteract the alkalinity of hard water.

However, before you rush off to try this method, please be very careful if you don’t have strong hair because baking soda and apple cider vinegar can be quite aggressive routine.

3. Water Only Method

Another method is using water only, with maybe some conditioner for the ends, if you feel that they are particularly dry.

This hair washing method is relatively self-explicative, but here’s a simple explanation:

  • Soak your hair with water in the shower
  • Rub your hair and scalp with your fingertips, being careful not to pull on your hair strands too much, in order not to cause split ends.
  • Air dry your hair

During the transition phase, make sure to brush your hair thoroughly every evening (when it’s dry), going from the roots to the tips. This will help distribute your scalp’s sebum through the strands, moisturizing them.

This No Poo method is definitely not the best option if you have hard water because using only hard water itself, doesn’t do anything to work against the issues hard water causes.

If you still want to try this method, why not collect some rainwater and soak your hair with that either entirely, which means using only that to wash with, or using it first to fully saturate your hair, before using water out of your shower.

4. Conditioner Only Method

The conditioner only method is less aggressive on hair than shampoo. This is because conditioner does not strip the oil from your hair, but is instead made to add additional moisture.

This particular No Poo method isn’t without it’s issues though. Here are just a few problems that you might encounter:

  1. Nasty Chemicals: Conditioner can still contain chemicals that might be damaging for your hair and bad for the environment
  2. Too Heavy: Conditioners can be too heavy for certain hair types. If this issue sounds familiar, the conditioner only method is likely making your hair look greasy.

How It Works

If you feel like this is the best method for you, this is how to do it:

  1. Wet your hair with water in the shower
  2. Wash wet hair with conditioner only
  3. Rinse hair with water thoroughly.

The conditioner only method is not the best No Poo wash method to follow if you are living in a hard water area.

This is because hard water minerals will accumulate on your head, which then reacts with the conditioner, forming a salt, which leaves a residue on the surface of your hair and scalp.

If this happens the result is greasy, waxy hair.

5. Herbal Powders Method

There are so many different herbal powder combinations to choose from, so make sure you’ve researched the subject matter thoroughly before diving into this particular No Poo Method of hair washing.

Please keep in mind that if one herbal mixture isn’t very effective on your hair, don’t immediately ditch the herbal powder method immediately, because every natural herb has a different cleansing effect on hair.

It is also important to note that this method can be very time-consuming. Many users also report back that it can be difficult to find the right ingredients for their hair.

How To Clean Hair With Herbal Powders

Here’s an example of how one individual I read about uses herbal powders to clean their hair. I thought their method sounded great, so decided to share it with you:

  1. Use one tablespoon of herbal powders e.g. yucca root, fenugreek seed powder, etc.
  2. Gradually add hot water to the powder, stirring until a paste forms
  3. Soak your hair with water in the shower
  4. Rub the herbal paste mixure over and into your hair, as if it were shampoo.
  5. Allow the paste to sit into your hair for roughly five minutes
  6. Rinse thoroughly.

Depending on the herbs used, this natural hair wash method can be beneficial if you are experiencing hard water issues.

This is not a given though, so make sure you select herbal powders with an acidic element to counteract your hard water’s alkaline water.

6. Sebum Only Method

The sebum only method is a more hard core natural hair washing method, that definitely isn’t for everyone.

To give this method a real go, you’ll need to purchase a good quality natural brush, preferably a boar bristle brush.

Brushing your hair everyday is literally the holy grail of this method, and the only way you will get through the transition stage.

The sebum only method is perhaps the most extreme No Poo Method since you’re not using anything to wash your hair.

With this method, you let sebum, which is the natural oil produced by our scalp to keep our hair moisturized, do its job.

Being a method that doesn’t need ANY water, this may be one of the best methods for hard water, if your hair can handle it (this definitely isn’t for everyone!).

I live in a very hard water area, so the water only hair washing method wasn’t for me. I’ve personally had great success with the sebum only hair method however, so I would definitely recommend it.

The key reason why I stopped though was that I wanted to dye my hair.

The natural henna acted like a hair wash on my hair and sadly put me back to step 1 of the sebum-only hair process.

I’m currently going through the transition process to sebum only again, but it feels hard this time as I know I will be thrown back to the beginningn again as soon as I dye my hair again.

No Poo Method Water Only Hard Water

The water-only method may not be the best option if you live in an area where you have to deal with hard water.

If you have hard water, select natural wash methods that include apple cider vinegar or lemon.

Alternatively, if you really are that fond of the water-only method, maybe try using a water filter, or boiling the water first, before rinsing it through your hair.

No Poo Hard Water Solution

So, what are the best things to do in order to handle living in a hard water area while No Poo-ing?

Apart from the sebum-only method, I also love the following two techniques suggested by this natural hair specialist (source 1):

  • Rinse your hair with 2 cups of boiled water and half a cup of apple cider vinegar
  • Rinse your hair with 2 cups of boiled water and one squeezed lemon.

In addition, make sure you have instaled a water filter on your showerhead. Plus, boiled your rinse water in advance, and use naturally acidic hair washes.

No Poo Method Not Working

If you feel that you’ve tried everything, but the No Poo method isn’t working, there’s one last thing you can try:

  • No Poo Distilled Water: The No Poo distilled water method involves using distilled water to rinse your hair (for the water only method).

What Causes No Poo Waxy Hair In Hard Water Areas

The high mineral content of hard water acts as a sort of mask on top of your hair.

This build-up of magnesium and calcium needs to be eliminated from your hair, and the best way to do this is by following one or more of the methods listed in this article.

One more tip is to use applesauce. This involves putting applesauce on your hair, and leaving it there for a while as a hair mask. Then, rinse it off thoroughly, and the waxiness should be gone!


Hard water is a problem that anyone, anywhere, can have. It causes hair damage, among other things. But have no fear, because I’ve shown you how to go No Poo with hard water!

The answer is simply a combination of factors, such as installing a water filter on your showerhead or boiling water before using it in your hair.

Finally make sure you select No Poo recipes that include acidic elements, such as apple cider vinegar or lemon, or that need no water at all, such as the sebum only method.

Related Questions

Sticky Hair Due To Hard Water

Hard water can make your hair feel sticky and waxy. Select recipes with natural acidic elements and use an applesauce hair mask. Install a filter on your showerhead.

Can Hard Water Cause Greasy Hair?

The minerals in hard water accumulate on your head, reacting with shampoos, conditioners, and soaps to reduce effectiveness. They form a salt that leaves a residue on the surface of your hair and scalp (source 1).

Best Dry Shampoo For No Poo

Sprinkle either plain flour or cornstarch on your scalp, and leave it on for ten minutes. Then, pat flour away with a towel, or comb your hair clean with a boar bristle brush.

Katrina Stewardson

Hello! My name is Katrina Stewardson, and I've been obsessed for almost ever with discovering the best natural hair methods for my own hair. For years I longed for one website to tell me everything I needed to know about the amazing No Poo Method movement. I just couldn't find one though, so I decided to create it myself! I dearly hope this website will save all you lovely ladies (and gents!) from wasting hours scrolling the internet looking for natural hair-related information like I did.

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