DIY pH Balanced Shampoo

diy ph balanced shampoo juicygreenmom

I’ve been experimenting with DIY hair care for awhile now (my original reasons for switching here), and have been looking for a solution to the whole needing-to-be-pH-balanced-for-your-hair issue. I have found my solution! A simple DIY pH balanced shampoo (The pH of hair is 4-5.). And it’s even better than what I was using before. 

I was reading about using rye flour and water as a shampoo because it’s pH balanced for hair. I tested the pH with some pH strips to make sure. Here is the rye flour in filtered water with a pH of 5, compared to filtered water alone with a pH of 7.


The rye flour solution made my hair feel nice, but I had flour flakes left in my hair. I tried several times, wasting a lot of water trying to get it out, but I just couldn’t. I have black Asian hair – flour flakes meant it was a hair FAIL. Then I experimented with aloe vera combined with a few different things (because it has a pH of 3-4), but it just made my hair feel like it was coated with something (aloe vera, presumably). I kept thinking about how nice the rye flour felt and did several google searches to see if anyone had figured out how to get the dang flour bits out! No one had. Some were saying that they used the jet setting on their showerhead and rinsed sections of their hair, others said they used a nit comb afterwards to try to get the flour bits out. Agh. WAAAAAY too much work for this lazy DIY-er. Then I had a brilliant idea.

Strain or sieve the rye flour water.

Eagerly I found a strainer that I thought was pretty fine to try it out. I still had flour flakes, though at least I got rid of the big ones.

Then I got really really brilliant and decided to try my David’s Tea steeper cup. Worked like a charm. There are still some very tiny flour bits in my hair, but they are not noticeable unless you are running your fingers through my hair and staring at it. (And if you’re doing that, you’re definitely crossing a line I don’t want to be crossed.)

So here’s my recipe (I have relatively long hair, so if you have shorter hair, use less!).

DIY pH Balanced Shampoo

  • 2 tbsp rye flour
  • 8 tbsp filtered water
  • tea steeper with very small holes (I use one from David’s Tea)
  • 2-3 drops of essential oil (optional – I use Lavender or Rosemary)

Mix the rye flour and water really well with a spoon, and/or shake vigorously in a jar. I let mine sit for at least a few hours before using it – sometimes up to 24 hours – in order to let the flour “steep” well in the water.

When you’re ready to use it, pour into the tea steeper over a mug or jar. I pour about half the amount in, and swirl it around in a circular motion to get the liquid out. When it’s almost fully strained, I rinse out the strainer before pouring in the other half (otherwise it’s too clogged to filter out the water). Now I have my mug full of “shampoo” – I add my essential oil and swirl it around before taking it into the shower.

I pour it slowly over my hair and really try to work it in to my scalp and the ends of my hair. I let it soak for a bit before rinsing it out, then follow with an apple cider vinegar conditioner.

What do you think? Would you try washing your hair with rye flour?

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27 Responses

  1. ok, I’m lost here. if it is important to pH balance the shampoo, isn’t it important to pH balance the rinse? and vinegar is acidic, not neutral.

    • pH-balanced for haircare does not mean a neutral pH of 7, because the pH of hair is 4-5. So if you’re looking to find something that is similar to the pH of hair, then you do want something acidic. Some say that having the acidic apple cider vinegar following a basic (alkaline) shampoo is okay, and other say it’s not good for your hair. I think it really depends on how your own hair feels. I hope this answered your question!

  2. I read something about the proteins in rye flour being an issue when used all the time, do you know anything about that? Thanks!

  3. why not just put the flour with water in a blender and blend out all the flakes???

    • I’m not sure a blender would blend down the tiny flour particles (they really do look like dandruff when they’re stuck in your hair), but it’s worth a try! Let me know if that works for you!

  4. tried it, it did blend out most of the flakes. it did leave behind a few clumps that i was able to wash off. will try your method to compare. =)

  5. Hi, so you use tea steeper to sift flour before making shampoo? I also have problem with this flakes, but usually combing solve it good enough. But i’ll try your way too 🙂
    Bigger problem for me is fragrance. I use henna and indigo, so hairs smell little bit like this all the time, and then when i use rye shampoo it smell also like flour 🙁 I did try to use tea instead of water but flour fragrance was stronger. Does essential oil really help with this? I dont have any at home and dont want to buy if it doesnt really work… My hairs look better and all, but they don’t really smell nice 🙁

    • Hi, I use the tea steeper after I have already mixed the flour with the water and let it set for awhile. So I’m pouring the liquid mixture of water and flour together through the tea steeper.
      I always use Rosemary, Lavender or Peppermint essential oils with mine and have never had an issue with my hair not smelling nice. It’s definitely worth a try!

  6. Hi, can you make ‘shampoo’ for a week or so, or do you have to make it just before using? Thank you!

    • Good question! I haven’t tried making it for a week or so – my concern is that it would go bad because it’s flour and water mixed together. It might be okay if you decided to refrigerate it.

  7. Thank you so much for your articles! I am trying to make the switch to being green. I live in Russia and some of these natural oils and soap are difficult to find so I really enjoyed your rye shampoo recipe!

  8. THANK YOU! I’ve been looking for a solution for the flakes for SO LONG. I am so glad I finally stumbled upon this.

  9. Would using a cheesecloth work the same way as the tea strainer? Could I still get the same cleansing effect from the rye water by filtering the rye-water mixture through a cheesecloth and just using the water to clean? And discard the rye part of it after straining through the cheesecloth?

    • Thanks for your comment, Maria. I haven’t personally tried a cheesecloth so I really can’t say for sure. I would say – try it out and see how your hair feels after a few trials! My experience with DIY shampoos is that it takes some trial and error to get it right for your individual hair!

  10. Hi Judith, thank you for sharing your recipe for rye flour shampoo. I wonder how you find it after using it for a year?

    • Hi Sarah, Thanks for your comment!
      I have found that after a month or two, I do need to switch up my shampoo a bit because my hair starts to feel a bit heavy. I’ve used Monat, Rocky Mountain Soap Company, and Young Living hair products on and off in the last year, alternating with the rye flour shampoo. (Sometimes I admit that I’m lazy and it’s easier to just reach for something ready made!) My hair is nice and manageable and soft!

  11. I boiled my rye flour about a generous half cup to about three cups water. Sieved while still very hot and the liquid was thin. Let it cool, removed the skin, and sieved again after cooling. Flakes were nearly nonexistent. Used half and refrigerated the rest for another wash. Not sure what the boiling does but still beats commercial shampoo IMO. I had added some other ingredients and very happy, next time I will do pure flour. No tangles, comb slides right thru!

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