Save Money On Shampoo By Using Detergent

Save Money On Shampoo By Using Detergent
ShampooingHairdressers, chemists and supermarkets offer an ever-growing and costly choice of ways to wash your hair, but there’s a much cheaper solution lurking beneath your kitchen sink.

Picture by ktpupp

In her book Hard Work—a fascinating account of trying to survive on the minimum wage—journalist Polly Toynbee deploys several cost-cutting measures, including this one:

I know a trick with shampoo from an article I wrote about detergents years ago: there is virtually no difference in the chemicals used in washing-up liquid and in shampoo, so I used a little diluted washing up liquid.

No doubt our cosmetics-loving readers are cringing, but the logic is already evident in the all-in-one shower gel/shampoo combos you can find everywhere these days. For another unexpected detergent deployment, try using it to unclog a toilet.


    • i think that it “cuts through the grease” too much.. i use TriNature products, and they would probably work better.. but when i have been stuck, i just used soap.. i mean i use soap on other hary parts of my body (minds out of the gutter please) so why not on my head.. worked fine..

  • There’s yet another option too! That option is not washing your hair at all. You just don’t use any shampoo and conditioner, and only rinse it out very occasionally.

    At first it gets very greasy and disgusting (I speak from experience), but after about 6 weeks the body adjusts and returns to ‘normal’ greasiness (ie not very greasy at all). It works better with shorter hair, especially during the period when it’s really greasy.

  • Ah, this post reminds me of my favourite “using unhammered-in nails to rip off bodyparts” idea.

    Srsly? (a) cheap shampoo isn’t much more expensive than dishwashing liquid, and them big packs last forever (b) ever had dry skin from washing up? What do you think will happen to your scalp (which isn’t nearly as rugged as hands are)? You’ll spend more on increased laundry demands to wash off all that dandruff.

    Sheesh, just get a “number 1”, that way you save on hairdresser costs, don’t need much in the way of product of any sort, and (as a bonus) don’t look like you shampoo your hair in a dishwasher.

  • I wash my hair with baking soda and vinegar. Both well-diluted, and with the hair rinsed well in between, of course. Very cheap. And every now and then, to keep it nice – egg or avocado (rinsed out well afterwards, not in hot water if egg was used!) or a bit of olive oil on the ends after washing. Not exactly costing me a fortune, and my hair’s quite happy.

    And re: goober’s comment above about saving hairdresser costs – you can save even more on hair-cutting expenses if you just don’t cut your hair.

  • I’m sure there are better alternatives than using detergent. You can use hand wash, soap, body wash or any other skin safe soaps. But detergent for getting grease off your engine would not really come into my list of things I would ever consider.

    You can get lots of these soaps free from hotels or public toilets or gyms or public swimming pools.

    Even the poorest people in Africa would not use industrial detergent in their hair.

    Is this article some April Fools joke?

    This article is dangerous and should not encourage people to use detergents on their body. This article should come with a disclaimer or removed. Don’t blame me if a few people get serious skin burns or eye irritations after using detergents on their hair.

    • Interesting to see this stirring up so much discussion, but there’s quite a bit of over-reaction/misinterpretation — the post doesn’t suggest using “industrial” detergent, and it does suggest diluting household detergent before using it, which practically all the naysayers seem to be ignoring.

      • This article is like an article that is titled “Safe money on food by eating pet food.”

        There are good ideas and there are some really strange and sad ideas. I’m sorry but this one is not one of those good ideas.

        • Not sure that comparison holds: The composition and manufacturing processes for dog food are completely different to food for human consumption, whereas Toynbee makes the point that chemically speaking, basic shampoo and detergent are essentially the same thing. (And to put all this in context, Toynbee’s weekly food budget while living on minimum wage was about $20 — so spending up on shampoo really wasn’t going to happen!)

          • G’day Angus,
            Normally i enjoy ytour posts, but as i said above, this probably isn’t a good idea..

            while yes they do contain some of the same ingredients, shampoo also contains other ingredients to “smooth it out” and make is much safer for everyday use. diluting detergent is only needed if you don’t understand how to control the portion.. yes, 1 cup of dilute is much better and sdafer that 1 cup concentrate, but that doesn’t change the fact that as Goober said, dish pan hands are one thing, dish pan head is another..

            i think that it would depend strongly on which detergent you have at home, and how often you did this..

            i would also hate to think what it would do to your mucous membranes.. probably burn like hell..

            Beth had some great, yet interesting ideas. but i think that olive oil and avacado will cost you more than shampoo from a discount shop will.

            in saying all of this, there are many products that you can buy that are designed for camping and can be used for dishes, body wash, soap and shampoo. I understand that her budget was very limiting, but i’m sure that planning ahead is the key to not being stuck like this, or even asking to borrow some shampoo from someone until you can buy some. and i say this as someone who was raised by a single mum on the pension with 3 kids, so us kids got used to doing things without money..

  • Tell you why this gets under my skin and makes my eyes water, like using detergent instead of shampoo. The tagline for LifeHacker is Geek to Live, not Live to Geek. This, however, is a perfect example of living to geek. “Oh, yes, of course I have detergent in my shower, where normal humans would have shampoo! The chemical composition is essentially the same, you know!” For one, this isn’t good science. That’s like saying that elephants and humans are the same, because the genetic composition is “essentially” the same. Well, yeah, but it doesn’t mean I can use tusks to fight off large predatory kittens… More importantly, this is encouraging peculiar ideas among the young geeks. You see so many of them (or I do, working in IT) waste potential because they can’t quite work out that some things society expects are not negotiable. Yes, you need deodorant, yes, you need shampoo (and, goodness gracious, conditioner), and no, growing your hair long to save money if you don’t have enough for hair product is not a good solution, unless you’re a rasta living in a commune of rastas. Otherwise, the minimum wage you’re on is where you’re going to stay. And then you can have the chance to save on costs by getting cockroach-powered sled to go to your witchdentist appointment to remove teeth with a jackhammer. It’s essentially the same as a dentist’s drill, you know.

    Bad, bad solution to a non-problem is what this is.

    However, as a tale of harrowing poverty, this is a good one.

  • Not one single person who has opposed this idea has made an educated, referenced post.I think the problem here is people have spent their whole life forking out coin for shampoo, and they are unwilling to accept that they don’t need to. Saying it roughs up your skin when you wash the dishes is irrelevant. You have your hands in the soapy water for half an hour or so, I don’t wash my hair for half an hour.
    Shampoo is diluted, perfumed detergent. If it wasn’t detergent, it would wash the grease of. So, to all the people saying don’t wash your hair with detergent: guess what? You already wash your hair with detergent, you have been for your whole life. Deal with it.

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