How to wash your hair with soapnuts (reetha)?

I had bought soapnuts (they are environment friendly and natural detergents) and shikakai a year back with the resolution that I would use only these things to wash my hair. Well, as you might have guessed, it never happened!! (till now) But, yes, I was successful in making homemade shampoo with soap nuts and shikakai and other ingredients.
A few days back one of my friends informed me that she has bought soap nuts to wash her hair regularly. And, I remembered my long forgotten lot of soap nuts and shikakai. Now, the reason I could never use soap nuts was because I never knew how to use them. I had asked a lot of people and they told me correct procedure but still I could not bring myself to use them. So, there was no harm in asking one other person, right? I asked my friend how to use soap nuts to wash hair. And, she told me. Strangely, you have some people in your life who assure you of things without really doing so. She is one of them and I decided to follow here advice to the letter.
So, what did she advice me? Quite simple: Soak soap nuts and then use the liquid to wash your hair. When the liquid gets finished, use the soap nuts to lather a batch of water again and use it again and again as many times as you want. No details, nothing. But, still, I decided to go with it. So, what did I do?
  • I put 3 soap nuts and 2 shikakai fruits (vary according of the length and thickness of your hair, my friend said it is very less, she has shoulder length hair – shorter than mine and she used 10 soap nuts so you can go for 15 too if you have waist length hair) in a cup and covered them with boiling water and left them overnight. I deseeded the soap nuts before soaking them. You can throw away the seeds or grow your own soap nut tree.
  • In the morning, during my shower, I shook the soap nuts in the water and then put them in little water in another mug. (Do not throw away the soap nuts.)
  • Now, I took the liquid (it has very less foam in it) and applied on my scalp and started massaging. It does not lather at all in the starting. So, you have to just work your way through your hair very thoroughly. Then, I dipped my hair strands into the liquid and shampooed them as well as I could. Yes, the whole procedure is a lot more messier than using a shampoo. And, it might tangle your hair. (There is a surprise there!!) Then, I rinsed it off.
  • Now, I took the other mug in which the soap nuts were transferred and used that liquid for the second round and simultaneously, transfer the soap nuts into the first cup in some water. Shake the soap buts a bit to bring out the lather. Again follow the same routine. This time your hair might lather. Mine did not because I had oil in my hair. The time soap nuts will take to lather depends on the oiliness if your hair so it might lather for you int he first time also if your hair is not very dirty and free of oil.
  • So, this way, I followed the shampooing of my hair six times though I could have probably stopped at third or fourth. Well, that would come with experience.I would aim for less times the next time I shampoo.
  • I did not condition my hair. I wanted to see the results without the effect of any conditioners and such.
The results:
  • Soap nuts are also washing agents. Though they are natural, they also clean your scalp. So, excessive washing is not recommended. If you do try this, stick to three. That is enough to clean the oil from your hair also. I overdid in my naivety.
  • My hair was shinier and softer without using any conditioner.
  • Now comes the surprise!! There was minimal tangling of the hair which was easily resolved in a minute which is really less as compared to ones I get while using a normal shampoo.
  • There is no frizz in the hair even though I overdid my shampooing.
  • Manageable hair.
  • There was less hair fall in the bathroom as compared to using shampoos.
  • Completely natural and non-toxic.
  • Soap nuts and shikakai condition the hair very well and promote hair growth. They also help stop hair loss and treat scalp infections and dandruff.
  • If you use organic soap nuts, I think the results would be even better.
  • Do not throw away the soap nuts after your hair wash is over. There is a lot of lather left in them. So, use them to wash your utensils or put them in a cotton bag and throw in a cycle of laundry. You can give your detergent a miss. Clothes come out really clean and bright if you use soap nuts.
So, I have decided that I would use soap nuts whenever I do not have to rush anywhere. I will keep a bottle of shampoo for emergencies. You really need time to wash your hair with soap nuts. Be careful not to get the liquid into your eyes or it stings the eyes pretty bad. I’ll give an update the next time I’ll wash my hair.


  1. Anonymous says

    Hi I use this once in a while but the only thing I don’t like is if the reetha water mistakenly gets into eyes, it stings so bad!


  2. says

    Great tip!I wish we could all go natural!BTW our talks were getting personal and I fully understand that it was going beyond the purpose of this beauty blog!E mail me the recipes if u can!And seriously if u want anything from here,please inform :)

  3. says

    I’m like you…I’ve had soap nuts for a while now and haven’t used them yet. I think when we think things are hard, we tend to put them off. It’s time to stop thinking like that and just do it! Sounds like you had great results with soap nuts and it’s time to break mine out!

  4. Megha says

    Hey there, I have a recipe for rita shampoo, you need to soak the required quantity of rita, shikakai,amla(powder preferably) and hibiscus leaves over night…in the morning boil all the contents, strain when cool and store in a bottle. I am not too sure of shelf life, might last atleast for 2 weeks….you can just apply aloe vera gel to get your hair smooth…..hope this was of some help!!!!!!!! going natural is time taking…but worth all the time ๐Ÿ˜‰ …..have fun grls……

    • Anonymous says

      Could i use reetha amla n shikakai powder with onion juice to make pack for scalp pls do reply..

  5. says

    Hey Megha…yes, this is a great technique and gives a great shampoo…I have used it for over six months and my hair was great back then….aloe is too good for hair too though I am really not sure how much it suits mine….regarding the shelf life of the shampoo, I know one thing that reetha-shikakai decoction gets ruined in about 3-4 days if kept outside in summers…in winters my guess is a week but the decocotion should be made in less amounts and should always be used within a week…and it should always be stored in a refrigerator….and yeah the results are worth all the time, effort and patience….thanks Megha :)

    • Anonymous says

      I’m using this shampoo , when I used it 1 time my hairs was so smooth n shine but when I made it 3rd time my hairs getting dry don’t know why please help m wht I do know , I’m taking these 3 herbs in equal quantity

  6. Padmaja says

    I really wish using using soap nuts was an easy process and it doesnt sting so badly…as a kid whenever i used, i had red eyes :(

  7. Anonymous says

    There is a traditional remedy when soap nuts lather fall into eyes by mistake. Take a pinch of salt by mouth as soon as you finish the shower. The salty taste cause tears in yours eyes and soothes you eyes

    • says

      soapnut is reetha. shikakai and reetha are two different fruits which are good for hair. reetha is used to cleanse the hair and shikakai conditions the hair so both of them are used together. both are recommended together :)

    • Anonymous says

      First of all you can soak the soap nuts for 20 min until they become soft. With that little water you need to squeeze them until they lather and there is nothing much left in them, then you can pour more water ( as much shampoo as needed) and heat till warm enough – till you can resist on your scalp. Once it is hot take a tea strainer and filter it . Then you can directly use the shampoo. This procedure , does not spread the soap nut fiber all over the hair and the bathroom. Even , if it stings, your eyes, they say its is good for the eyes too.

    • Anonymous says

      Hullo Swati,

      I have been using Amla, Reetha, Shikakai decoction for over a month first few weeks, my hairs turned very good but now whenever I uses the decoction, my hairs turn greasy and as I continuously uses it, it turns more and more greasy..I uses the decoction twice a week after oiling my hairs..I dont know whats wrong and where..I even changed the shop from where I used to buy these herbs..I make decoction by soaking handul of Amla, with 6 to 7 shikakai pods and 6 to 7 reetha…in an iron vessel in water that is enough to soak them completely..and boils them in morning for aroun 10 to 15 min

      Please tell me whats wrong and where..


    • says

      hey Hina….i don’t know why it is exactly happening but you can try doing this – take a handful of reetha and shikakai and reduce amla coz its drying to like 2 at max and try washing with that. probably you are not washing your hair enough…its just my guess because using reetha is not exactly easy and also, apply the decoction on oiled hair directly….do not wet it water first…i think that should help :)
      do try and lemme know if this works :) waiting for your reply :)

    • Anonymous says

      Nah it didnt first, I thought the same since its a conditioning agent..what I have noticed is that it just sticks to my hairs and I dont really know why..its just a decoction..I used to put olive oil in my hairs..just to check if it is creating problem as I heard, olive oil leaves hairs greasy so I quit using it but it didnt work as Now I think I should go back to my shampoo :( which is really depressing..

  8. Anonymous says

    May be you are right that I am not washing my hair enough but what do I do? add more reetha? amla? shikakai? or is shikakai creating prob? can you tell me the ratio/quantity of all three of them so that I know how its made?

    the strange thing is that, I used to make the decoction with the same quantity I mentioned above and it did so well in my hairs but now suddenly all changed..


    • says

      hey Hina…may be the quality of the reetha and shikakai is affecting??? I am not sure if that is actually the reason but sometimes it does happen like that. use a handful of reetha and shikakai and leave amla for a while. get the decoction of reetha shikakai right. and, i think it also varies from person to person!!! even its been quite long for me since I have used it so can’t really help. shifted to shampoo just coz it was getting difficult to use!

    • Rahul says


      Just reduce the quantity of Shikkakai as it seems to be moisturizing thing….try maybe without shikkakai for once and see the result.

  9. Unknown says

    I guess, my hairs are over moisturized or conditioned with Shikakai or Amla..I dont know..I tried using powder but I didnt know the exact, again, a great mess! my hairs got tangled so much..the real prob is that we dont know the quantities and water and yes, it depends from person to person…so one has to experiment alot to get to the right quantity…so right now I am experimenting by changing the ratios..what I also noted is that, the quantity of water does matters alot..

    I saw a bit improvement(less greasiness) when I used the following ratio:

    – 5 reethas (to cleanse more)
    – 2 shikakai
    – 1 amla

    i felt better, so think, its a matter of over conditioning..that is shikakai or amla is over-coating my hairs with a thin film which looks bad!

    but u know what, this ratio is tangling my hairs alot may be because of Reetha..but it did work for me..

    and about the quality, this is the third time, I have changed the shop so I guess, there is something wrong with my hairs..:P

  10. says

    I used to do the soapnuts when I was young and in India. Very rewarding! Procedure: soak soapnuts overnight.Next day, they will be softer, peel off the seed and throw away seed. Take few hibiscus leaves or flowers and tear and crush into the soap nut solution – the Hibiscus will be gooey. Squeeze the solution several times and work up a lather. Apply to hair and let sit a few minutes. Rinse away and repeat – the second time you can work up a lather in hair. Feels wonderful – the hibiscus will condition well. VV little hair loss unlike shampoo. It;’s a smell that needs getting used to – for me it smelled delicious. I did this once or twice a week, unlike with shampoos you need to wash more frequently, I think. Folks would compliment my thick, black soft, longhair and ask what I used.. I was a bit embarrassed at the old fashioned methods and would say baby shampoo (which i used whenever I visited the US for the summers).. lol.. what can I say? I was young and not so eco conscious….

  11. Abhi Duston says

    Hi… I enquired about soap nuts with some ppl but the acknowledgement i reived was if v use soap nuts the hair becomes white. So i wanted to know is this true??

    • says

      hi Arpita…amla helps make hair black but takes time to show effects!! so, please be patient otherwise you can decide to try indigo-ing or henna-ing your hair!
      you can also use sesame oil or mustard oil and infuse them with curry leaves. that also helps making hair dark!

  12. says

    i tried it today but my hair got more dry after using it…although i put some of the solution for about 15-20 min on my oiled hair then i washed it off with mild shampoo n again i put the remaining material for about 5 min n washed it out with plain water but after drying my hair were very dry…where i went wrong,..can u pls guide

    • says

      hey Suhani…thanks for bringing this to my attention. i would suggest not to use them anymore. somehow i am not able to make them work for my hair and i have also found them drying. so, i would suggest instead to check out organic surge shampoos. they are really good and work gently on the hair :)

  13. jayshree says


    I have just started using reetha as a body wash and i think its the most amazing thing no tightness, no dry skin. Absolutley amazing will never use soap again! I have tried to shampoo my hair with this areetha only cocoction but it leaves the crown greasy any suggestions?

  14. says

    Hi there,

    how are you?

    I looking to make a liquid facwash in a foaming bottle, a all natural face wash no synthetics or chemicals!

    Q1. Is there a certain concentration I need for this, for safety of skin so its not too harsh?

    Q2. Is it actually good for skin?

    Q3. If i’m making a wash, it will be a good idea to add oils, is it possible to add oils to the facewash, or will it separate, could you advise me on how mix oils please?

    Q4. What effect will soapnut have on skin long term and can i use everyday?

    i look forward to your response.

    Kind regards,

  15. says

    Hi there,

    how are you?

    I looking to make a liquid facwash in a foaming bottle, a all natural face wash no synthetics or chemicals!

    Q1. Is there a certain concentration I need for this, for safety of skin so its not too harsh?

    Q2. Is it actually good for skin?

    Q3. If i’m making a wash, it will be a good idea to add oils, is it possible to add oils to the facewash, or will it separate, could you advise me on how mix oils please?

    Q4. What effect will soapnut have on skin long term and can i use everyday?

    i look forward to your response.

    Kind regards,

    • says

      actually the soap making (liquid or solid) is a separate chemistry altogether so things have to be done carefully. you should ask someone from that background for clarification of your queries.

  16. Anonymous says

    Need help. I had waist long hair and went for a haircut but da hair dresser chopped my hair off mor than i wanted anf now im extrmly sad n depressed over losing my lovelu hair. Can dis amla n reetha shampoo increse my hair length quickly or is there any other remedy for it. I need help plz

  17. ganesh says

    i started using soapnuts from last month..while doing headbath i lossing 10-15 hair..
    please suggest me that i continue the sopnuts or not

  18. Maryam says

    Hi, I bought powder mixture (in equal quantity each) of ARS but dont know how much powder should I take for one wash? Please can anybody tell me.

    • Anonymous says

      It depends on ur hair length. For waist length hair add two tablespoons of reetha & one tsp each of Amla & shikakai powder. Oil Ur hair, eyebrows & eyelashes before shampooing. Squeeze out the lower portion of the hair. Do not ruffle ur hair too much while shampooing. First shampoo there may not be much lather. The second time there will. Condition Ur hair after shampooing with ARS. For shoulder length hair use half the amount.

  19. Anonymous says

    i used ars powder as a hair pack for60 hair was dry and brittle.pls suggest?can i use this on alternate days.i have combination hair,on shower day its dry and till the 3rd day it becomes veryy oily .i also suffer from excess hair loss:(

  20. Anonymous says

    Hello, after checking the right usage of soap nuts from this forum, i tried washing my hair (Waist length) with Reetha and shikakai. I am happy with the results so far. I had severe dandruff and very severe hairfall which is under control. I do not know how long it will be like that but i am content to see the results.

  21. Anonymous says

    Can anyone help me with address of the shop where I can find amla, reetha , shikaki (not the powder one. )
    I am in Banglore satying closer to Bannergatta road

    • Anonymous says

      you will find everything in ulsoor bazaar street market. there is an ayurvedic shop u can ask anyone

  22. says

    I use only shikakai and my hair ♡ s it!! I ♡ the smell and how it makes my hair feel. I have naturally dry lifeless hair due to an auto-mmune condition. With shikakai, my hair has bounce and shine and feels wonderful!! I boil one tablespoon of shikakai in three cups of water and remove from heat to cool. This makes enough for tthree days for me and in the summer I keep the second and third day hair wash in the fridge until a little before my shower. I buy it from where I get my other supplements. If your ends are badly damaged, use conditioner on them until healthier hair grows out.

  23. says

    We love using soapnuts in our house! From washing clothes to washing hair we use it as much as possible, and sometimes if the soapnuts are not sufficient we simply add other stuff to the soapnut mix and juice, like Borax or Bicarb etc.


  24. Sagi says

    Thanks for the tip but somebody says tat using soapnut alone n our hair leads to white hairs ,whether s dis true??

  25. Madhusudan padmalochan says

    Hello mam,

    I have severe dandruff since the last 4-5 years…I have always had short to medium length hair..
    I used to use shampoo and found out that the dandruff used to be back within 3-4 hours…sometimes even sooner…
    I recently started using readymade soapnut powder..I am using it every alternate day…my hair was getting washed properly but I found that the dandruff had not yet stopped…I then researched on the net and came upon on ur article…I didn’t know that we had to massage enough to obtain lather…I think.I think I am using a lot of powder each time as well, like around 6-7 spoons, even more I think..I just pour it straight from the readymade packet…mix a little water..make a concentrated paste and apply…I have done this like 10-12 times…
    I want to know is this the right way of using it?can I use readymade soapnut powder?…I also read above that u have to use shika kai to condition your hair..
    I have not been using anybody that…if I have to use shika kai can I buy the ready made powder…
    Please do reply…or if u want u can directly get in touch, my mail Id is
    I am eagerly looking forward to your reply..

  26. gurpreet says

    Hello Swati. I tried the reeta shikai amla shamppo. I think i felt that the hair fall during the head wash was more as compared to normal. Do you think it has anything to do with the amount i took or was it because its the first time i used it and i need to wait to see results or it doesnt suit my hair. Please help

  27. Aneeka Moughal says

    Yes recently reetha liquid goes in my right eye and its too much buring please help me out is this dangerous?i am worried:(

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