Homemade Shampoo Recipe (That Works for Hard Water!)

A ton of my shampoo recipe creations have come up short in one or more important shampoo requirements. This recipe, however, I managed to hit them all while not reacting with my the hard water in my apartment!  While soapnut shampoo will still be near and dear to my heart,  this recipe is great for people who are dipping their toes into the homemade-shampoo-world.

Check out all the stuff it does!

Looking for a shampoo recipe for hard water? Check.
Looking for a shampoo recipe that also works in soft water? Check.
Looking for a shampoo recipe that lathers a ton? Check.
Looking for a shampoo recipe that smells amazing? Check
Looking for a shampoo recipe that creates volume? Check.
Looking for a shampoo recipe that leaves you with silky soft hair? Check.
Looking for a shampoo recipe that costs less than $2 for a full bottle? Check.

Now that’s a hard-working homemade shampoo!

shampoo for hard water 3



  • 1/3 cup gentle bar soap, grated (I recommend Kirk’s Castile Soap because it works in hard water without leaving your hair gunky and residue-y…if this isn’t a concern for you, feel free to use any gentle bar soap that you like)
  • 1/4 cup aloe vera juice
  • 1/2 cup homemade full-fat coconut milk (if you buy some from the store, I’d recommend getting a brand without any thickeners or additives…I haven’t tried it with additives like guar gum so no guarantees if you go this route but I have a hunch it wouldn’t be a complete disaster?)

Pre shampoo recommendation:

I highly recommend doing an aloe vera gel scalp treatment before you shampoo your hair.  I’ve noticed huge improvements in hair shedding and breakage since incorporating this into my hair care routine.


1. Shred your bar soap using a cheese grater into a medium sized pot. It’ll look like this:

shampoo for hard water 1

2.  Add your aloe vera juice and full-fat coconut milk to the pot so that it looks like this:

shampoo for hard water 2

3.  Put the pot on over low heat and stir continuously until the soap shreds have incorporated into the mixture.  This takes just a few minutes.

4. Let cool slightly and then transfer to an 8 ounce pump-top or disc-top container.

To Use:

Use this shampoo like you would any shampoo.  It comes out very liquid-y but foams up A TON once you lather it up (that’s my favorite part!).

I like to follow it up with a properly diluted apple cider vinegar rinse.  Hello, shiny hair!


27 replies

  1. I will have to try this. I already have Kurt’s Castile soap and I was wanting to make shampoo with it anyway. The Dr. Bronner’s (besides it’s expensive!) shampoo i’ve made leaves my hair feeling greasy and tangly.(prob because of hard water) I’ve mixed it with baking soda with some success, but my knee length hair still requires lots of store bought conditioner.

    • Knee length hair! That’s so awesome! I’m totally jealous, I’m moderately obsessed with long hair. I had a similar problem with Castile soap so it quickly fell out of favor. I have fallen in love with apple cider vinegar rinses instead of conditioner and it’s been working amazingly well. But it did have a transition period in the beginning until I clarified out all the conditioner residue. Let me know how it goes! 🙂

  2. My hair was only hip length until I had children, than it grew longer. thankfully it isn’t extremely thick or heavy.
    Do you still like the castile soap with the aloe vera and coconut milk recipe or are you meaning that it quit working for you? I had to quit using regular conditioner because it was leaving a buildup on my hair. My hair looks fairly good with just the Kirk’s soap, but it’s pretty tangly/sticks together, so I think I need to try the vinegar rinse.

    • That’s so cool! I’m inching my way down to my waist…but seems like forever! I do still like the Castile soap mixture but I alternate between a lot of different recipes…it’s my version of playing with my hair without cutting, dyeing (except henna), or using any heat! But I have found that apple cider vinegar rinses are a constant must for me…they really do magical things for me. Hope they work for you too, let me know how it goes!

    • I usually keep mine in the fridge and get it out a few hours before I shower but I think it would do ok for up to a week or so. If you’re going that route, I think storing it in smaller containers and refrigerating the rest is a good idea. Hope that helps! 🙂

      • Sorry, I meant it’ll last about a week out of the fridge but a good amount longer in the fridge. I’ve doubled it as well and it lasted me for weeks!

    • That’s right, Dr. Bronner’s isn’t for hard water but Kurt’s is a lot better and that’s true for both the liquid or the bar versions. It has more to do with the receipt with the minerals in the water so that’s why it’s different 🙂

  3. Hi Alex!

    Aside from my dry skin problem (in which I am diligently using your recommendation with aloe juice + shea, and it seems to be working – slowly…), I have very hard water and my hair is a tangled mess when I get out of the shower, I can’t get a brush through the mangled mess (and I have fairly long hair), so I have got to try this shampoo. Would you still highly recommend this recipe for really hard water? Any updates or changes you would make? Thanks again! Mara

  4. I have been trying this shampoo for about a week now and I like it. I have hard water and it seems to be working well. I was wondering though, why do you use aloe Vera juice rather than gel? And what do you think about adding some honey to the mix? I have a dry sensitive scalp and I have read about Putting diluted honey on my scalp and leaving it on for a while before rincing it out and your deep conditioning treatment uses honey, I thought maybe it wouldn’t hurt to add it to the shampoo.

    • I liked juice better for the consistency but you can totally use the gel! And I think if honey works for your hair, that would be a great addition. I use honey in some of the stuff I make as well 🙂

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