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How to Make Natural, Nontoxic Vegan Shampoo, Laundry Soap, and General Cleaner

Updated on April 28, 2015

Why You Should Consider Making Your Own Shampoo

Commercial shampoo is made from detergent, which is harsh on your hair, and strips away the natural oils that keep your hair healthy, requiring you to use a conditioner to get back the shine and manageability. Commercial shampoos wash away so much oil that your scalp may overproduce sebum in an attempt to compensate, and that sebum may even contribute to hair thinning or hair loss! In addition, commercial products contain hundreds of unlabelled and undocumented ingredients (for example, "fragrance" listed on a shampoo bottle may contain as many as four hundred ingredients), some of which are known to cause cancer. But there is a cheap, safe way to make your own 100% vegan shampoo, and all it takes is a small patch of garden and some seeds. That's right, you can grow your own shampoo!

High Angle View of Rock Soapwort Flowers in a Field (Saponaria Ocymoides), by A. Moreschi
High Angle View of Rock Soapwort Flowers in a Field (Saponaria Ocymoides), by A. Moreschi | Source

Soapwort Seeds

Outsidepride Saponaria Vaccaria Pink - 1000 Seeds
Outsidepride Saponaria Vaccaria Pink - 1000 Seeds

These are the seeds you will need to grow your own vegan shampoo!


How to Grow Your Own Vegan Shampoo

Back in the Middle Ages, everyone knew about the cleaning properties of soapwort (Saponaria officinalis). Soapwort was used to make shampoo and for cleaning fabric. However, with the rise of the industrial era, people have forgotten about the cleansing properties of soapwort, yet soapwort shampoo is very easy to make and is so delicate that museum conservators around use it to clean and preserve fabrics that are thousands of years old.

Simply plant the soapwort seeds in a sunny, well-drained area. Soapwort is a perennial, and so it will continue to grow, year after year, once it is established, with very little maintenance.

  1. Once you have a good amount of soapwort, you will want to harvest a double handful of it. Use the roots, leaves, stems and flowers if there are any.
  2. Gently rinse the dirt off the roots, and put into a pot. Cover with a quart of water and boil for 20 minutes, then let cool.
  3. Strain the liquid and pour into a glass bottle, and refrigerate.

Make sure the bottle you keep the soapwort in is labelled—although soapwort is safe and gentle, you don't want to drink it!

Although soapwort cleans your hair (and will clean your delicate clothing, too), it will not lather up as do commercial products. (Industrial cleaners actually omit the lathering agents because they interfere with the cleaning process.) The soapwort shampoo will be thin, but don't worry—your hair will get clean, and you won't need as much as you think at first.

Saponaria Ocymoides, La Saponaire De Montpelier, or Rock Soapwort, by Stephen Sharnoff
Saponaria Ocymoides, La Saponaire De Montpelier, or Rock Soapwort, by Stephen Sharnoff | Source

Some Things You Should Know about Soapwort Shampoo

  • You can use soapwort shampoo to clean clothing and other delicate items.
  • Soapwort makes a wonderful ground cover for your yard but it can be a bit invasive if the conditions are right. If you don't want your whole property covered in soapwort, then plant it in a contained bed.
  • If your hair is "addicted" to the detergent-based shampoos, it may take a month or so of adjustment before your hair begins to behave the way it should. Your hair may seem gummy, or too dry, or have some other problems. This is a normal part of the process of "detoxifying" your hair, and within about six weeks, you should start to see that your hair is beginning to be healthier and shinier than ever.


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  • Johnathan L Groom profile image

    Johnathan L Groom 6 years ago from Bristol, CT

    I probably won't do it, but awesome piece!