Natural Living

Natural Ways to Remove Hard Water Build Up from Hair

Natural Ways to Remove Hard Water Build Up from Hair

Mineral build up can completely change the way your hair looks and feels. Instead of soft and silky, it may be rough, frizzy and even greasy. Not only that – the mineral deposits can cause damage, leading to hair breakage. Adding these simple steps to your hair care routine will remove hard water build up. It’s easy, natural and low cost!

If you are noticing a residue on your hair that is making your hair dry, greasy or unmanageable, the culprit is most likely a high mineral content in your water. Water with high levels of minerals is called hard water. The minerals stick to the hair shaft, which then collect other forms of build up. This mineral build up on your hair then leads to negative effects like product build up, excess oil, itchy scalp, and dry hair. Hydration is then unable to enter the follicles and you end up with oily and dry hair at the same time!

Hard water damage can be more noticeable depending on the hair type, particularly on curly hair. The good news is, there is an easy and effective solution to remove this mineral build up with natural ingredients- and that is by using an acidic hair rinse throughout your hair washing routine. 

Along with changing your hair care routine, consider looking into a water softener system as well as washing your hair with filtered water only. You can either install a whole-house filter or a small filter for your shower head. The latter is cheap, easy, and will make a world of difference for your hair health!

Even with filtered water and soft water, minerals still tend to build up in hair over time. That’s why using acidic  hair rinse is so important, no matter the quality of the water. 

Next, consider applying occasional hair masks. A hair mask will sink deep into the follicles, reaching and collecting build up on your hair strands that regular shampoo won’t pick up. My favorite deep cleansing hair mask is with bentonite clay, see my hair mask post here. Warning: your hair will be a bit more dry than usual for a few days following this hair mask, as your hair strands regulate without all of the build up. I use a little extra natural leave-in conditioner during this time. 

What is an acidic hair rinse?

An acidic hair rinse is a liquid that is applied during and after a hair washing routine to help manage the build up and soften the hair shaft. The result is more smooth,  manageable hair with a natural shine. 

Why should it be acidic?

The acid helps to remove the mineral build up, without having to use harsh unnatural chemicals in your hair. 


The pH of hair is somewhere around 4-5.5 – naturally acidic. 

The pH of filtered water is neutral. somewhere around 7. 

Hard water is more basic, falling above 8.5 on the pH scale. 

Can you see why this might cause some chaos with your hair follicles? 

So the goal with acidic rinses are to help remove build up, and then to bring hair back to its natural acidity to smooth out those follicles and reduce frizz. 

As someone with curly hair, using only natural products, and living in a humid climate- discovering the benefits of an acidic hair rinse was life changing for me. My hair used to be so frizzy, and I tried so many different methods to help. 

I tried every natural shampoo and conditioner I could get my hands on. This just cost me a bunch of money and filled my cabinets with various product bottles.

 I tried packing on oils to help maintain the frizz – which just left my hair looking oily.

 I tried the no poo method (with this hair care method you don’t use shampoo at all), which did help to some degree because I was using an apple cider vinegar rinse (which is acidic) to clean my hair, so my hair was more smooth. But my roots were always somewhat greasy, and my hair always smelled like apple cider vinegar! 

One day I was trying out a new homemade dishwasher detergent recipe using citric acid. The purpose of the citric acid was to remove the residue on the dishes, and they came out nice and shiny. 

Having given up on apple cider vinegar because I wasn’t a fan of the way my hair smelled, I decided to try making a rinse using the citric acid powder, which had no smell. 

The results were amazing! 

As it turns out, I’m not the only one who has uses this method to remove build up and condition their hair. 

How to remove hard water build up using an acidic rinse

This is my weekly/biweekly hair washing routine. I use this method every time I shampoo my hair to keep my hair soft and free of build up. You may need to follow these steps more or less often, as everyone’s water quality and hair type differ.

Citric Acid Solution Recipe: 

Combine 2 cups of distilled or reverse osmosis water with ⅛ – ¼ teaspoon of citric acid crystals. Begin by trying the lower amount, then increase if needed. 

WARNING: be very careful with citric acid, although it is natural it is still a strong chemical. Do not get the crystals or solution into your eyes or nose, and keep away from children and pets. 


Step 1

Begin by washing your hair with a natural shampoo twice to remove as much oil as possible. 

Step 2

Pour 1 cup of the citric acid solution into your hair and massage into the strands well. Then rinse well. 

Step 3

Apply a natural hair conditioner and leave in hair for a few minutes while completing other shower tasks. 

Step 4

Rinse the conditioner out thoroughly

Step 5

Apply the last cup of citric acid hair rise and massage well into hair. Rinse thoroughly. This solution should be rinsed thoroughly as the pH level is lower than the hair; leaving it in the hair for longer periods of time could cause hair damage. 

That’s it! Now enjoy softer, cleaner, healthier hair.

Don’t Have Citric Acid? Try These Recipes:

These recipes may not work as well as citric acid for removing hard water build up, but do help keep the build up down and are great for bringing hair back to a healthy pH. 

White Vinegar:

1 tablespoon vinegar and 2 cups of reverse distilled or reverse osmosis water

Lemon Juice:

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice and 2 cups of distilled or reverse osmosis water 

Apple Cider Vinegar:

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar and 2 cups of distilled or reverse osmosis water. 

Vitamin C Powder: 

¼ teaspoon and 2 cups of distilled or reverse osmosis water

Aloe Vera Juice:

Use aloe vera juice on its own makes a great final rinse. 

As everyone’s hair is different, you may want to play around a little with these recipes. Your hair may react well with one recipe and not another, or better with certain amounts of an acid product. 

Just be careful not to make your recipe too acidic or you could damage your hair!

Now you can use your favorite natural products without them building up and creating sticky, greasy and untamed hair. 

Let me know which rinse is your favorite in the comments!

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