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Washing Long Hair when Boondocking


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#1 LiveWorkDream

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Posted 18 January 2012 - 10:32 PM

Wasn't sure if I should post this in Boondocking or here, but here's my burning question . . . . I'd love to know what the long haired folks out there do when it comes to boondocking and washing your hair.

My hubby and I spend winters dry camping here and there in the West, and we have a very small freshwater tank in our 24' 5th wheel. I have shoulder-length hair, and after about 4 days of not washing it feels pretty gross and I need to wash it. But when I do I feel so bad about using so much water on what seems like a luxury!

I wrote about it recently in our blog, but would like to hear as many different ways of coping as possible. If you have any tips or suggestions I would greatly appreciate it. Thanks.

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#2 spike in fl

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Posted 18 January 2012 - 10:53 PM

Adding vinegar to your rinse water will remove the soap more quickly than plain water, therefore using less water.

#3 Connie B.

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Posted 19 January 2012 - 08:46 AM

We have a water saver head on our shower. This helps use less water. When we start the shower the water is too cold to use, so we run the water until it is hot. We catch the cold water in a gallon water container. We collect water this way to use later (toilet, wash dishes, wash hair). You can wash your hair outside using a plastic tub. Run collected water through your hair to wet hair. Collect water in tub. Lather up head, being sure to use minimal amounts of soap and scrub the scalp well. Reuse water in tub to rinse hair.

When in town or when you find a water spigot you can fill up several gallon containers or larger containers with water. You can then use this water to wash your hair.

My hair is long so I understand your problem. My scalp needs to be washed at least every other day. It is amazing how inventive you become in finding water and containers to hold the water in your car/tow vehicle.

Edited by Connie B., 19 January 2012 - 08:53 AM.

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#4 Rockintom

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Posted 19 January 2012 - 09:01 AM

Another way is to put a large plastic pan in the bottom of your shower....much of the shower water is caught and then you can use that water to flush the toilet. A bit of work, but may be worth it. You save your fresh water and save some of your grey water collection. Win-win! Rockin'

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#5 Technomadia

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Posted 19 January 2012 - 10:13 AM

I commented on Rene's blog post about this, but I'll also mention it here.

I have shoulder blade length naturally curly hair. And my sweetie has shoulder blade length silky straight hair. Neither of us has shampooed in years (4+ years for me.). Instead we use a combination of baking soda and apple cider vinegar 2-3 times a month. This allows our natural oils to build up to keep our hair clean, and the baking soda/avc combo cleans out the yucky stuff.

This saves us tons of water, as we only need to 'wash' our hair a couple times a month - and in between a quick water rinse and/or squirt from a water bottle keeps it maintained. Our last trailer had a 38 gallon fresh water tank that we were regularly able to make last 2+ weeks at a time as a result.

Not only does it save us water, we save lots in 'hair products' - and our hair is extremely healthy. I used to get lots of dry frizzy days when I regularly shampoo'd - now I have pretty much non-stop good hair days in a variety of climates. I love it.

And our hair is always clean - when I tell a hair stylist that I'm 'no-poo', they usually are amazed at how clean my hair and scalp are.

Anyway, going shampoo-free may not be for everyone - but it works great for us. And for several folks we know.


If you're interested in more information, here's a post I just updated:
Four Years Shampoo Free

- Cherie
(edited to include the above link)

Edited by Technomadia, 19 January 2012 - 12:11 PM.

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#6 Trusty_2010

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Posted 19 January 2012 - 08:21 PM

I used to have a Sun-Shower that worked great - you hang it up outside and it uses solar energy to heat up the water. I think they hold about 5 gallons and the water gets pretty hot. You could bring the extra jugs as Connie suggested. The hot water might help to rinse your hair quickly and limit the amount of water used - I found watching the shower bag level go down helped me to conserve.

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#7 Suzie357

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Posted 20 January 2012 - 12:41 AM

We haven't tried it yet, but really want to. There's a rinse free shampoo & you'll never forget the name.... No Rinse. We read about it in a boondocking book. The author said the way it worked best was to at least partially wet your hair & then add this stuff. I would imagine a wide tooth comb & a good towel dry are important for us long haired girls (just remember to squeeze your hair with the towel. Don't wring it out or scrub it, it will damage the poo out of your hair!!!) This stuff is mildly expensive, but not more than professional hair products (ex- Chi, Paul Mitchell, Redken). Plus, I wouldn't be using it all the time, just when water & tank space are an issue. I've seen it for sale on-line of course, but the only place I've seen carry it in store is REI. They also make a body wash if you're intrested, but since I have a 19 month old, I grab the baby wipes for a refreshing clean up/scrub down.

If you use it before me, let me know if you like it!!!!

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#8 LiveWorkDream

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Posted 20 January 2012 - 09:41 PM

Ok now I'm super curious to try the dry shampoo or even (gasp!) go no-poo! ;) I tried the cornstarch idea the other day and it left my hair looking white. eeek!

Thank you for these great ideas, I'll report back as I try them this season.

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#9 SIBERNUT

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Posted 21 January 2012 - 09:48 AM

"Corn rows" maybe......?

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#10 bryanl

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Posted 22 January 2012 - 01:03 PM

maybe some ideas at Clean up tips for bathing section.
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#11 weldon

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Posted 22 January 2012 - 05:55 PM

Have you though about short hair? I have my DW cut mine very short & love it. ;) ;)
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#12 Barb and Alex

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Posted 22 January 2012 - 06:55 PM

This is a great topic because everytime DH brings up boondocking for extended periods of time the first thing I think about is my hair. I have fine longish hair and it gets greasy after one nights sleep.

I've just looked in to the No Rinse Shampoo and am going to ask DH stop by the local medical supply place and pick up some for me to try. That might be an awesome solution.
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#13 LiveWorkDream

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Posted 28 January 2012 - 04:24 PM

Just a quick update...I made it six days without washing! Wooo hoo!

I tried using cornstarch one more time (the first time it made my hair look awful). This time, instead of dumping a ton into my hair and looking like Albert Einstein afterward, I applied it to a brush and ran it through my hair. Also dabbed a bit into my roots. It made a huge difference, even after I went for my morning run and my hair was all matted down from sweat.

I thought I would make it to seven days but no luck. Even though my roots weren't greasy on Friday, I was psychologically in need of a super good cleaning. Aaaaah!

My short-haired girlfriend here is experimenting with the whole no-poo idea, by using a mixture cornstarch, baby powder mixed with slices of perfumed soap. She washed twice in seven days.

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#14 sandsys

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Posted 28 January 2012 - 05:59 PM

For the most part it's not our hair that gets dirty, it's our scalps. I've been experimenting with no soap at all. Just a very damp washcloth to scrub my head and body. No rinsing needed. Although it still feels good to stand under the running water, I'll probably skip that part when boondocking. I do have to add water to the washcloth after scrubbing my scalp before scrubbing my body, though, as my hair absorbs so much of the water. It's been a week now and I look and feel just fine. I do still wash my hands with soap throughout the day, though; no sense making myself sick.

Linda Sand

Update: It's been more than month now and the no soap/shampoo routine is still working for me. I bought a bunch of washcloths so I could use a clean one every day which helps me continue to do this. I posted a couple of pics on my blog if you want to see what my hair looks like. http://sandcastle.sa.../02/no-product/

Edited by sandsys, 13 March 2012 - 01:54 PM.

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#15 TerMar

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Posted 12 March 2012 - 06:45 PM

<br />Adding vinegar to your rinse water will remove the soap more quickly than plain water, therefore using less water.<br />

<br /><br /><br />
I have waist length hair... vinegar works great!! It's really the scalp that needs most cleansing... I'm gonna use technomania's suggestion of baking soda, too! THX for idea! and vinegar smell neutralizes and has no smell... only have smell of fresh, clean hair :D Love you ALL!!

Edited by TerMar, 12 March 2012 - 06:46 PM.

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#16 SWharton

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Posted 13 March 2012 - 02:16 AM

I recently experimented with Baking Soda. I really liked it. My hair never felt so clean and it lasted quite a while. Didn't seem to get dirty(icky) as fast. I would recommend a try at it. Everyone has Baking Soda. I just took a couple of tablespoons, mixed some water to make a paste and washed my hair.

#17 LiveWorkDream

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Posted 14 March 2012 - 08:02 PM

I recently experimented with Baking Soda. I really liked it. My hair never felt so clean and it lasted quite a while. Didn't seem to get dirty(icky) as fast. I would recommend a try at it. Everyone has Baking Soda. I just took a couple of tablespoons, mixed some water to make a paste and washed my hair.


Neat! Didn't that take a while to wash out? My concern is using too much water to rinse my longish hair.

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#18 barbhalsell

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Posted 14 March 2012 - 09:10 PM

If you are lucky enough to be camped near a stream or river, just use that. We heated water in an old large coffee pot, added cold water for comfort. Lean over while your partner wets your hair just enough to be able to shampoo. Rinse with the rest of the warm water. I was always able to shampoo every day.
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#19 SWharton

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Posted 15 March 2012 - 12:42 AM

Rinsing my hair after the baking soda I believe took less time than with shampoo. It seems to come out easier. Try it once and see how it goes.

#20 HomeSweetRV

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Posted 26 March 2012 - 03:54 PM

Just a quick update...I made it six days without washing! Wooo hoo!

I tried using cornstarch one more time (the first time it made my hair look awful). This time, instead of dumping a ton into my hair and looking like Albert Einstein afterward, I applied it to a brush and ran it through my hair. Also dabbed a bit into my roots. It made a huge difference, even after I went for my morning run and my hair was all matted down from sweat.

I thought I would make it to seven days but no luck. Even though my roots weren't greasy on Friday, I was psychologically in need of a super good cleaning. Aaaaah!

My short-haired girlfriend here is experimenting with the whole no-poo idea, by using a mixture cornstarch, baby powder mixed with slices of perfumed soap. She washed twice in seven days.


Baby powder works as well on it's own for me, in a pinch.
What a good thread!

Edited by HomeSweetRV, 26 March 2012 - 03:54 PM.