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How To Wash Your Hair With Clay

Affiliate Disclosure | in DIY Beauty | by | with 167 Comments

How to Wash Your Hair With Clay

I Wash My Hair With Mud

And I clean my face with oil. Seriously, I couldn’t make this stuff up if I tried.

The thing is, in an age where ramen noodle spa bath’s are not out of the question, the fact that a beauty treatment exists is not really saying much. So, rather than try to prove to you that washing with mud just might be something you should consider, I’ll just show you. And yes, it’s ridiculously easy.

Me: Pre-Mud Wash

Hair Mud Wash Step 1
Note: My hair didn’t look dirty enough in the first photo I snapped, so I **may** have drizzled oil on my head for dramatic effect. Not a great idea unless you want to wash a few extra times.

Me: Mid-Wash

Hair Mud Wash Mid-Wash

Yes, I hopped out of the shower for this shot. There are already enough people with me in there already.

Children Pressed Against the Glass

Me: Post-Wash

Hair Mud Wash Post-Wash

Now, are you ready find out how easy this is?

How To Wash Your Hair With Clay

As I mention in my ebook, DIY Organic Beauty Recipes, there are a few things you need to know before getting started. First, store bought shampoos usually have a pH level of around 5-6, which closely matches your hair’s natural pH. While this is a good thing, it is most often achieved using toxic surfactants such as sodium lauryl sulfate.

Clay, on the other hand, has a much higher pH which can leave hair dull and gummy. Fortunately it’s very simple to restore your hair’s natural pH after washing – simply follow with the shine boosting rinse listed below!

Another consideration when transitioning to natural shampoo is the use of silicone in many commercial brands. Silicone coats the hair much like plastic to give it slip and shine. If you have been using a shampoo with silicone or other chemicals your hair will need to detox – a process that can take up to a few weeks depending on the types of product previously used. During this process hair can feel very dry and tangle easily. As the follicles shed the coating they will begin to be able to drink in moisture, but this can take time.

Also, keep in mind that your hair’s needs can change over time. I alternate between this and my other homemade shampoo’s based on the needs of my hair. If it is feeling a little dry I use Sweet Orange & Honey shampoo from my ebook. If it is feeling a little oily I use the clay.

Clay hair wash shampoo

Selecting Your Clay

When deciding what clay to use for your mud wash here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Rhassoul clay yields the best results in my opinion – it leaves hair with the best texture and is less drying than other clays. It is not usually available in health food stores, but you can easily find it online.
  • Bentonite clay is widely available and works okay, but it can be a drying if left on too long. Also, it can leave a certain texture on the hair that I am not fond of. For the easiest application, either buy it in liquid form or give your hand mixed concoction a whir in the blender before heading off to wash. Otherwise it can be a bit clumpy. I recommend giving this method a try with bentonite if you have it on hand and then switching to rhassoul if you decide it’s something you’d like to use long term.

Step 1: Mix Up Your Mud Wash

Water is best for frequent use, but apple cider vinegar can be substituted for an extra deep clean. How much you’ll need will depend on the length and thickness of your hair. I use about 1-2 tablespoons of rhassoul for my medium length, thick hair. The consistency should roughly resemble an egg yolk.

Quick Tip: If your clay tends to clump toss it in the blender beforehand.

Step 2: Apply

Wet hair thoroughly and then wring it out. Dip the ends of your hair in the container with your mud mixture and then pour the remaining wash over your head and work it through to the tips (this just helps with even distribution). Let your hair sit for about 5 minutes – you can adjust this as you figure out what works best for your hair. When I wash every day about 2 minutes is right – otherwise it starts to dry out my hair. When it’s every 2-3 days about 5 minutes works better.

Rinse until the water runs clear and then . . .

hair mud washStep 3: Follow With My Shine Boost Rinse

This simple rinse helps to close the hair cuticle and restore pH.


  • ¼ – ½ cup apple cider vinegar or distilled white vinegar and enough filtered water to bring vinegar mixture to 1 cup.*
  •  8 drops essential oil – rosemary and peppermint work well for most hair types. See DIY Organic Beauty Recipes for other options

* Vinegar derived from non-organic sources is likely to either be a product of GMO corn or petroleum.

Quick Tip: If your hair looks a little “matte” after washing (like mine does in the photo above because I overcompensated for the oil), you may want to use straight vinegar

To Use

Blend ingredients in a clean contain. Pour about 1/2 cup over hair and allow to sit for 2-3 minutes, then rinse. Cool water is best because it helps the hair cuticle close, but warm is okay.

diy-beauty-ebook-coverLooking For More Recipes?

This clay hair wash didn’t make it into DIY Organic Beauty Recipes because I was still testing it when the book was released, but if you are looking more non-toxic, tested recipes that WORK definitely check it out. It’s a 180 page guide that covers how to whiten your teeth without toxic chemicals, make lotions, deodorants, bronzer, baby products and more!


I imagine some of you are wondering if this wash is safe to use on color-treated hair. According to one manufacturer who makes a similar clay wash it will strip commercial dyes but not henna-based dyes. I have not tested this.

If you have another question please leave it below!



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167 Responses to How To Wash Your Hair With Clay

  1. Emilee says:

    This sounds amazing! Can it be made/stored ahead of time or will it harden/dry out?

  2. Joy says:

    Just wondering – where did you get the neat little glass container w/ the rubber lid pictured in this post? I’m looking on Etsy for a similar one, but if I can’t find one, what size/shape container do you recommend as a user of this shampoo? Do you think a shallower, wider container would be better than a tall bottle?

    • Heather says:

      Hi Joy, unfortunately I’ve had this one for quite awhile and can’t remember where I got it. FYI, though, I usually use a mason jar because it’s easier to mix than something with a narrow neck :)

      • Joy says:

        Thank you Heather! I will try the mason jar. I can’t wait to start using this. 2014 is the year to go chemical-free and detoxifying my hair is at the top of my list. :) Thanks for sharing all your awesome insight.

  3. Shandra Grace says:

    I have a question, apple cider vinegar is fairly expensive… Could I possibly use less than 1/4 cup of vinegar? Would it still be just as affective? (I have quite long medium-fine hair) Is there anything else I could use instead? Thanks! :) Loving the clay “shampoo” so far!

    • Amanda @ Mommypotamus Support says:

      Shandra, Heather also mentions you can use distilled white vinegar which is cheaper than apple cider vinegar. Hope that helps!

    • MaidMirawyn says:

      You can also make your own fruit scrap vinegar, or ferment some purchased fresh apple cider into vinegar.

      Fruit scrap vinegar is very cheap, because you’re literally using the scraps of fruit. I usually make it when I’m making apple butter, because I might as well do something with all those apple peels! A Google search for “fruit scrap vinegar” should turn up tons of tutorials.

  4. Mel Stevens says:

    I so have to try this out! Right now I’m using pro naturals shampoo and conditioner and I love them, but this clay thing intrigues me. Thanks for sharing, your hair looks awesome btw.

  5. Sara says:

    Hi Mommypotamus,
    I’m loving this so far! Have been washing with your honey/orange shampoo for a few weeks now and just tried the Bentonite clay and it seems to keep my scalp from itching like nothing else! Any ideas why that would be? I always thought I had dry scalp and that was the cause of the itch/dandriff, but now I don’t know? I’m hoping to find rhassoul, do you have a brand you recommend?

  6. Sara says:

    Hi Heather,
    I’m loving this so far! Have been washing with your honey/orange shampoo for a few weeks now and just tried the Bentonite clay and it seems to keep my scalp from itching like nothing else! Any ideas why that would be? I always thought I had dry scalp and that was the cause of the itch/dandriff, but now I don’t know? I’m hoping to find rhassoul, do you have a brand you recommend?

  7. Rachel says:

    Hi, Heather!
    Thank you for this post. I’ve been commercial shampoo-free for somewhere around 9-12 months, but I still haven’t found the perfect recipe to make me happy with my hair. My hair, and problems I experience, sound exactly like Amy’s comment on August 3, 2013. For the past few months I’ve been using Bentonite clay to wash my hair twice a week; mixing it with Aloe Vera gel, ACV infused with red rose petals, double brewed black coffee (I have dark hair), and sometimes coconut milk–because all of these ingredients have a pH close to my hair’s pH. However, I did not realize until I read this post that a) clay is alkaline, b) Bentonite is drying. I really enjoy the textural component of washing my hair with clay because I don’t miss the lather of commercial shampoo that way. However, like Amy, my hair seems dry and oily at the same time; even when my scalp is clean, the length of my hair is either very matte and brittle, or very greasy/gummy, or both–somehow! I spray my rose ACV into my towel-dried hair after I shower, as a detangler. Like Amy, I also find the gummy lint residue in my comb and brush.
    I suppose I should try Rhassoul to see if I like it better; I haven’t bothered before because it would be one more ingredient for me purchase, while I already use Bentonite in my tooth powder recipe.

  8. Laurie says:

    Hi ! So I did my first clay wash last night and I am pretty happy with it ! Couple ques tho.. firstly I used green clay because I couldn’t find bentonite or rhassoul, I must have missed the part where you mentioned putting in on wet hair and I put it on dry hair. Oops. I let it sit roughly 3 mins then rinsed well. Or so I thought.. after I did my acv rinse my hair was VERY hard to comb through and felt “dusty” and dry. When I got out of the shower I combed it again and found some of the dried clay still coming out so obviously I didn’t rinse enough I guess then I blow dried it and it still had that same feeling but it was far less oily (I was using honey to wash and didn’t realize that was a big no no for people w oily hair so it was pretty bad) my ques is, was my hair feeling dry and dusty and tangled because I put it on dry hair? (The ends aren’t as bad as the scalp) I don’t think it had a chance to harden or anything. My plan for next time was to obv put it on wet hair and leave it on for less time and up the vinegar or use straight acv. But do you have any other tips? Clearly I’m doing something wrong even tho the oil prob is much better. My second ques is I found another recipe for a clay wash but it had acv and raw honey mixed into it. Would this be ok? Sorry this is so long but thanks ! :)

    • Heather says:

      Yes, the wash with acv and honey would work. The dusty feeling you describe happens when the hair shaft does not fully close. If it were me, I’d increase the concentration of the vinegar rinse you’re using. I’d also leave the vinegar on a few minutes before rinsing, and of course I’d do all of this with wet hair. :)

      Hope that helps!

  9. Melissa says:

    I just wanted to leave my experience with using Rhassoul clay as a hair wash in hopes that it may help or answer some questions. My hair type is fine with a slightly oily scalp. I had not ever colored my hair when I started going shampoo free. Also, I never use ‘product’ such as hair spray or mousse in my hair.

    My sister and I decided to get rid of using any kind of shampoo about 1 1/2 years ago. I did the baking soda/acv thing for 5 weeks straight. I had read that your hair and scalp would go through a ‘detox’ period. My hair is fine and thin, and the baking soda did not work for me. I had some sort of weird, white residue after I washed and rinsed really, really well. I also tried diluted Dr. Bronner’s, but the results were awful for me.

    My sister and I then read about an organic hair mud wash that can be purchased. We used that for quite some time, and we loved it, but it was quite expensive. My hair and scalp had finally detoxed, though, and I loved the results.

    Then I read on this website about using Rhassoul clay. Thank you Mommypotamus! My sister and I use distilled water and mix it with the clay until it reaches a very slightly runny consistency. We’ve been using this method for about a year now with excellent results. My scalp is no longer itchy and sensitive. Sometimes I’ll add a drop of an essential oil if I feel like it. I rarely rinse with acv.

    My sister and I started coloring our hair with henna and indigo. We both love that, too! If you’re going to try to dye your hair with henna, do your research. Not all henna is the same. I don’t find that the henna and indigo get washed out with the clay wash, but it may depend on the kind of henna that’s used.

    As far as whether or not it clogs drains, we haven’t had a problem so far, and we both use it every single day. Unfortunately, our hair and skin type do not allow for skipping a day, really. If anyone else has used it consistently and has had a problem with drains, I’d love to know as that is a concern. I don’t EVER want to go back to shampoo again!

    Thanks again, Mommypotamus, for turning us on to this great way of taking care of hair!

  10. Izzy says:

    Thank you for sharing. I bought your E-book & I just love it! I have used this clay wash twice with bentonite clay since I had some on hand & I am super happy to report I love, love, love the way this makes my hair look & feel. I have fine medium length curly hair. My scalp tends to be on the oily side. I wash every other day. Next time I order from Mountain Rose Herbs I will add rhassoul clay to my order & try that out too.

  11. Beth says:

    I ordered some Rhassoul clay last week. When it finally arrived I googled how to use it as a shampoo and came across this post.
    I tried it for the first time this morning – but I mixed it up last night before bed.
    I think I made it a little too thin, but I am still happy with the results. Shiny & bouncy hair without drying it out.
    Had been using the bs & acv every 4-5 days for the last year or so. Will see how the clay shampoo works on the same schedule.
    Thank you for posting such a great & inexpensive poo-less alternative.

  12. Beth says:

    Forgot to mention that I mixed the clay powder with cooled mint tea, and it had a nice cooling effect on my scalp.

  13. Satu says:

    Hi, please help me! Two weeks aho i went to hairdresser because i had coconut oil stuck to my hair. Stylist used green clay to dry hair because i had oily residue due to clay. Unfortunately green clay stuck to my hair and now my hair is slighly khaki green and light green. I have washed it almost every day but the color is stubborn. Please help me

  14. Rachel says:

    Good evening!
    Ive been looking for an inexpensive diy shampoo similar to the Moroccan Method clay shampoos when I stumbled across this. Have you tried their products and if so, how do you think this compares?

    • Heather says:

      Hi Rachel, I just got some of their products in the mail yesterday. I haven’t tried them yet, but I will post a review after I do. As far as ingredients go I think they are one of the best companies I’ve come across and my friends that used them have been very happy with their products.

      • Rachel says:

        I’ve tried their shampoos and LOVE them. However, they’re really expensive, especially for me because my hair is well over 3/4 down my back and very thick. I’ve been looking for a good diy dupe. I’ve played around with a few formulas myself but nothing I’ve come up with feels or works as well.
        Is there any chance you’ll try and create a diy version? =)

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    […] but there's a lot of sebum or something built-up on my scalp. Honey Shampoo Updates and FAQs How To Wash Your Hair With Clay | MommypotamusMommypotamus | I have bentonite clay. I might try this (and I have a […]

  16. Rene says:

    Hi again Heather. Your site is really interesting. Thank you.

    I’ve had a lot of difficulty with natural hair care. I’ve heard of using clay in masks, but hadn’t thought of it as a “shampoo”. I’m intrigued, but, as a former potter, I’m horrified for your pipes. Clay is sticky as all get-out. Combine that with the usual hair and other nastiness and your clogs could be worse than a commercial product using household. When working with clay, in a setting that is not equipped with traps and sieves, I would go outside and wash my hands off in the yard with the hose. I’m not sure I could let myself run a head full of it down my pipes. I’ve used Rhassoul clay in a bar soap, but that is a much smaller volume.

    Clay can contain a lot of different things and the “liquid clay” another commenter mentioned is “slip,” which is a general name for a lot of different, similar things. Depending on where someone gets that slip it can contain things that are known to contain toxic ingredients. I don’t mean to be alarmist – just be sure you research before you slather yourself in something. Also, a word to the wise, a lot of potter’s clays are gritty. Bentonite is a very fine clay, used to suspend other ingredients in ceramic glazes. It’s highly absorbent. Please be aware that it’s not good to breath the dust of any clay, but Bentonite more so. Incidentally, it’s used in scoopable cat litters, which I highly recommend not using. Your cat licks their feet and consumes and and both your whole house inhales it.

    Be safe everyone and good luck!

  17. Ashwynn says:

    Hi, I am trying to transition from commercial shampoos and am currently using a recipe from Wellness Mama. I have curly hair that frizzes easily. Most strands are fine with a few coarse ones thrown in. Ends are dry and it gets oily after a day or two of no washing. I tried no poo for a little while with no success. Everyone swears by ACV but I think it leaves my hair soft but dull looking. I use curling products and a hair dryer with a diffuser to achieve my look, but I wonder if these products are defeating the purpose of “detoxing” my hair. Do you have any suggestions that may help me? Thanks!

  18. sarah says:

    Hello! This is the first recipe for shampoo that I’ve had any success with! I needed to share a tip that works for me. When I first started using the rhassoul clay to wash my hair, my scalp hair would have a good texture, but the rest of my hair would be straw-like and I was worried about long-term damage. I was tempted to stop using it, but couldn’t find anything else that remotely worked for me. I FINALLY realized that I should put the bulk of the clay on my scalp (the oily part) and just work a tiny amount into the length of my hair. I just leave the clay on the length of my hair for a short time and then rinse out, but I leave it on my scalp for longer. Then, I do a QUICK rinse (or else my hair looks greasy) with the ACV/water combo squirted out of an old Dr. Bronner’s container. Changing the amount of time on each section of hair has worked great! Problem solved!

  19. Gabbrielle says:

    Since switching to a more organic/wellness lifestyle, I now want to stop conventionally dying my hair and using these horribly toxic shampoos but have no idea where to start! Can I just up and quit using these products without any negative effects happening to my hair?? Does the artificial color have to be gone before I can try one of these methods? Do I need to detox my hair or do anything before switching to more natural shampoos and such??

  20. April says:

    I’ve been doing the “no poo” method since August 2014 and I haven’t had any luck! I started out with the BS and ACV rinse, which made my hair so oily. I tried to stick with it until around December when I started using a Bentonite recipe with the clay + ACV and it’s still very, very oily. It looks like my hair is still wet. The only thing that helps is washing my hair with egg yolks, but I hear you can’t use egg yolks that often. (I only use the egg yolks once a month).

    I am feeling very discouraged, I want to continue the “no poo” method but it’s really hard every time your dry your hair, it still looks like it’s wet. Does anyone have any advice for me? Am I doing something wrong? I thought the detox process only took a few months. Right now, it’s going on 7 months.

    • Mary says:

      I, too, am having the same problems as April. Although I’ve only been no-poo since November. So frustrating. I really want to continue on this path but feel a bit disheartened. My egg yolk wash results only last about a week. Tried some bentonite clay last night….not thrilled. I have shoulder length, fine, thin, oily hair….even the length stays greasy. ACV seems to be too conditioning for me, so for a rinse I generally use lemon juice in some rosemary tea. Any tips would be appreciated. BS washes even only last me about 3 days. HELP!

    • elegraphy says:

      @APRIL It sounds like you left the ACV rinse a bit too long on your hair. Acidic rinse suppose to balance the PH when the BS made your hair very alkaline (like soap). Since BS also cause the scales on your hair all stand up, makes your hair difficult to comb through, ACV rinse can balance out the PH and calm down the scales, makes your hair easy to comb through again. Remember, use ACV as what it is, it’s a rinse! It should only stay on your hair less than a minute. If you leave it too long, the PH on your hair will be off balance again. The ACV would combine the oil from your scalp (or if you wash hair with castile liquid soap, the essential oil in the soap will also combine the ACV rinse), leave your hair looks too greasy and wet. I found out about this when I use Dr. Bronner’s soap to wash my hair, and left their citrus hair rinse just a bit too long (more than a minute) on my hair. Don’t use the acidic rinse the way as you use hair conditioner.

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  22. Daniel says:

    Which clay did you use for your picture example?

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  24. Dana says:

    Hi…I was wondering if I could use French Green clay instead? That is what I have on hand…I have been washing my hair with baking soda and water in order to combat the oil in my hair but would like to try the clay. FYI…your Shine boost rinse is amazing!! My hair is very thin and naturally curly. Products seem to weigh my curls down and my hair was flat and greasy on top. Ever since I have been using this rinse, my hair curls up better than it ever has and I no longer need to use any curling enhancing products. I now have full soft frizz-free curly hair!!!! Also, my daughter had a huge matted mess in her hair so I used this rinse on her and the knots just slipped right out!!!! Yay!!!

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  26. Lucy says:

    I’m not overly fond of e-books. I like to feel the pages between my fingers. Making notes and highlighting is what makes a book special. Any hope that you will have it available in book form.

  27. Lauren says:

    Hey! I am wondering how long it stores for as well. I am wanting to make some for my dogs shampoo cause is really itchy.

  28. Gravit says:

    Hello, Heather. Your blog is pretty good. I needed help here. I have a oily hair type, thinning, hair fall, acne on head and itchy scalp. Alot of problems. I made a homemade ayurvedic herbal amala, shikakai and reetha shampoo but not sure about what essential oils to put and in how much quantity. I have 1 litre of this shampoo and have bought lavender, peppermint, rosemary, tea tree and jojoba carrier oil. Should I buy any other oils? And what else can I add to herbal shampoo? Aloe vera gel, Green tea? Please help me.

  29. Gloria says:

    Hi heather i love your blog and have just tried out the clay hair wash because i have greasy hair and i need a change!!! It has left my hair a bit greasy anyway and a bit clammy is that normal?as in my hair has to adjust to it or should i change something?ps i used green clay will that not do??

  30. Lia says:

    Not sure if anyone else experienced this or its because I have naturally curly hair. FYI, I have 2c hair and have previously washed with only acv with no problems but adding the clay really tangled it. Any tips on avoiding such a catastrophe later on or should I just not use this method? I’ll give it another try and see from there.

  31. Emilt says:

    I was very excited about this! And after the first time I did it I was very optimistic. My hair look, smell, and felt amazing. Even my hairstylist couldn’t believe what I was washing my hair with. But after weeks of washing my hair with clay and rinsing with vinegar and water my hair feels so gross. Its so so so oily and greasy. I did everything that it said and the article,, but sadly I don’t know if this is for me.

  32. Tiffany says:

    Hello, I did the clay wash because of my severe itching scalp. I read that it would pull out impurities. I did multiple rinses with ACV and a week later still my hair is matte, gummy, and grey in some spots. How to revitalize my hair? My hair is curly and ranges normal to dry, moreso dry. Help.

    Thanks in advance!

  33. Mandy says:

    Obviously this is an old post by now, but I’m new to this natural thing. I am curious, when using this clay as a shampoo early on, should I use it daily? Everything I’ve read says there’s a transition period, but also refers heavily to baking soda and water. I want to use clay as the base, and I’m using an ACV rinse. It’s 50/50 with water. My hair is greasy looking at the moment. I’m ok with the transition, just wanted to make sure I shouldn’t be doing something different. Thanks!

  34. Bona says:

    Can I use Koalin Clay for this?

  35. CP says:

    To give more detail, a 10% vinegar solution is plenty to restore an acidic pH to the hair. With neutral water, it would have a pH of 3.4. Even a 1% solution of vinegar has a pH of 4.4 which would restore the pH of the hair. (Hair likes a pH of about 6) So you really don’t need much vinegar at all.

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