I haven't used soap or shampoo in a year, and it's awesome: a personal experiment


I stopped using soap a year ago. It was easily one of the best moves I've ever made in my entire flippin' life.

About this time last year I read an article (which Mark mentioned here as well) extolling the virtues of a soap-free bathing experience. TL;DR version: Your body is designed to regulate itself. Smearing chemicals all over it wrecks its own built-in processes, and screws with naturally balanced pH levels. This made sense to me and I thought I'd give it a shot for a month.

At the beginning of February 2010, I blogged about the results I'd seen so far. I didn't stink at all (confirmed by friends, family and random people I ended up sitting next to on various forms of public transit), my skin felt better, oily and dry patches had all but disappeared and the light dandruff I'd had my entire life was almost gone. I was pleased with the results of my month experiment and decided I'd run with it for a while longer. As of January 1, 2011: it's been a year now, and I can't imagine ever going back.

More on the results I've seen: As I just mentioned, my skin feels better than ever before. Not that it ever felt bad, really, but it feels awesome now. Still no stink at all, I swear even when I'm really active and sweating I don't notice any B.O., and I used to be über self-conscious about this and would think I was stinking if I walked up a flight of stairs too quickly. So this is a huge improvement for sure. And with the exception of changing climates drastically, even the dandruff is history. My previously wavy and mostly unmanageable hair now seems much more willing to bend to my will, a dream of mine since I first looked in a mirror, brush in hand, then tried and failed to make any sense of that monster. So I approve for sure.

And speaking of hair, that was actually a perfect test. Sometime mid-summer I stopped by a barber and before I'd realized it he'd squirted a glob of shampoo onto my head. It was too late to protest, so I just sat through the scrubbing. For the following 2 weeks my hair was a mess: full of dandruff and totally uncontrollable. Once things balanced back out to the previously established no-soap norms, all was good again.

Unexpected bonus: travel is much easier. Now that I'm not lugging shampoo and conditioner with me on the road, there's that much less for TSA to hassle me about and more room in my luggage (which I quickly filled with coffee stuff, natch). Not that I always carried lots of liquid toiletries with me, but now I don't even have to think about what the hotel I'm going to might provide, or worry about having to borrow something from a friend until I can get to a store and buy my own stuff. Those details are gone. I love it.

The future? I will definitely be sticking with this. I'm still annoyed it took me 35 years to learn what I clearly already knew as a baby kicking and screaming when my parents tried to wash my hair. At least that's what I want to assume I knew back then. I know now, but I'd still rather not think about how much I spent on soap and shampoo and related products over the years when they were likely causing all the problems I was trying to protect against.

If you don't believe me, you can totally smell me when you see me in public. Really. Just ask. It won't be weird at all. Okay, maybe a little bit.


  1. This is a cool idea. I stopped using shampoo or any kind of soap on my hair back in ’89, and my hair has never been healthier or felt better. I just rinse it with plenty of hot water and scrub with my fingers, just as if there was shampoo there – easy peasy! My hair doesn’t stink, doesn’t get greasy, and is the envy of most of my female friends!

  2. I’ve heard this theory before, from Maria Bamford’s dad, actually.

    My hair gets pretty oily within a day or two without shampoo. How long is it supposed to take for your body to adjust?

    Are you sure about B.O.? I spend a lot of time sweating at the gym.

    1. It takes about a week for your body to stop produce extra oil. It’s trying to protect your scalp and skin with just the right amount of oil, but we usually strip it off every day so your body produces extra.

      That first week without shampooing your scalp is producing way too much oil, but after that it slows down.

      I used to shampoo daily, and my hair would be greasy by the evening. Now I scrub my hair with hot water in the shower and it always looks the best it’s ever looked in my life.

      I also switched from soap in the shower to a bar of coconut oil. It seems to work just as well and my skin feels better.

      I also started using Baking Soda instead of deodorant. It works much better. I never found a deodorant that would last all day. Baking Soda seems to last for days.

    2. I know, the general lack of bo is the wierdest thing. I ran cross country during the summer, sweat a gallon every day, but once it all dried there was just nothing.

  3. Interesting. You might also want to try laundry without detergent. I’ve been doing that for about six months with no complaints. Clothes smell fine.

  4. You know, I did the same thing, also in response to the article that Mark posted about. I’m now also a year into it, and I agree completely.

  5. It’s hard to get rid of oil and grease without soap though (work on your car, in the yard…etc).

  6. I tried this a while back, when it was first blogged here on BoingBoing. I promptly became host to a lice infestation. YMMV, especially if you ever go outdoors ever.

    1. Regarding lice – they actually prefer a clean, oil-free scalp. Easier for the eggs to stick.

      I was wondering about the “product” question too. I stopped using soap a while back and have had really good results (no more eczema!), but I can’t see how I could stop using shampoo unless I also stopped using styling goo.

    2. Actually, Lice prefer a clean freshly washed scalp to an oily one. You can’t catch lice from not using soap. You can catch it from living with someone who has it or wearing their clothes.

  7. I googled “no soap experiment” and it seems like it really varies with the person, for example it worked out great for this guy but for this guy, although it had benefits like better skin, he still noticed that he smelled noticeably worse…and this lady covered in a Daily Mail article had better skin but her hair became a bird’s nest and she was self-conscious about BO (and she also stopped using toothpaste so her teeth got yellower).

    1. Completely agree that it varies from person to person. I tried this once and within a week my hair was so greasy I could do a mohawk unassisted and I stank so bad in the armpits I couldn’t stand it myself, (though I do have a very sensitive nose). Even my wife complained and her sense of smell is so poor she can’t smell natural gas, farts, smoke or much of anything else. So, yeah, YMMV for sure!

      1. …and this lady covered in a Daily Mail article had better skin but her hair became a bird’s nest and she was self-conscious about BO (and she also stopped using toothpaste so her teeth got yellower).

        She also didn’t bathe for 40 days. Using water should be a huge improvement over not rinsing anything off ever.

        1. That lady from the Daily Mail UK article also only chose three outfits to wear and gave up all forms of hygiene including brushing her teeth. Very extreme and not sure what she was trying to prove as just doing away with her makeup and other junk that didn’t work for her would’ve impressed me as much. As has been previously pointed out, bathing with water, but wearing clean clothes cuts down/out on the B.O. factor.

    2. I just want to point out that I’m not sure the lady in the article you linked washed at all.
      It was really unclear, so maybe I’m wrong, but she didn’t seem to have been taking showers without soap so much as not showering at all.

      Feel free to point out if I’m wrong, but that might be the reason that her experiment didn’t work out for her.

  8. A question: Could the disappearance dandruff be caused by a more vigorous or longer scrubbing of the scalp?

    I’m wondering if since ceasing to use shampoo and conditioner if the amount of time your spend scrubbing your scalp has increased? This might be the reason for less dandruff. That is, your scalp still produces roughly the same amount as always, but because you spend more time scrubbing (and therefore loosening?) you actually just do a better job of removing it you had with shampoo and conditioner.

  9. I am approaching my one-year anniversary of paleo showers, inspired by the same article. I’m loving it. I have never felt more comfortable in my own skin, which is clear and soft.

    1. I think maybe the decrease in dandruff is a result of not stripping the natural oils from your scalp everyday.

  10. I tried it for two weeks, and still had dandruff. I was doing conditioner, but no shampoo. Maybe I should try _nothing_ for a few weeks? Anyone have a similar dandruff problem and try this besides Sean?

    1. Drop the conditioner too. I’ve been poo and conditioner free for 8 months. I do wash with some baking soda (bi-carbonate of soda) once a week or so tho. I had chronic dandruff and itchy flaking scalp that a lifetime of different and powerful shampoos couldn’t fix. A little bit of diluted apple cider vinegar as a rinse is good too.

    2. Using just conditioner sounds like a bad idea. If you have the oils on your scalp, rinse a little of it off (not all, like shampoo would do) and then add more chemicals and “moisturizers” (read: oils that coat your hair) it will suffocate your scalp, making dandruff worse.

  11. I did the same over fifteen years ago. I was in Mexico city and a healer was treating people over at the public square; I was already going bald, so I went and asked him what to do. He looked at me and nod…nothing, but you can stop using soap, or at least try to use it as least as you might.
    I tried his advice, and though the hair has been receding on its own, I can relate about the skin and the pH, I never smell, EVER and when I sweat, it’s more like a sweet smell, nothing that anyone will find offensive; I did my experiments and it ONLY smells if I do sports and don’t shower, and next day I do some sports again.
    That’s the ONLY trial I’ve found about smelling.
    Please, do yourself a favor and stop pouring chemicals to your skin, it’s the bigger area of your body, please, keep it neat and clean, your health is at stake here

  12. This sounds really interesting. I tried using baking soda, but I just felt gritty afterwards. Will be checking out the links.

    BTW, there are a bunch of typos in your article. “I used to be user self conscious about think and would think I was stinking” took a few reads to parse.

  13. Do you wash your hands with soap after using the toilet or sneezing? Soap kills germs so does play an important role in hygiene – wondering if you don’t use any soap for hand washing whether you have got ill more often than you used to, ie with colds, viruses etc

    1. Soap does not kill germs. It just makes them easier to wash away.

      I have horrendous eczema on my hands and very rarely use soap after using the bathroom. I just rinse vigorously and rub my hands together, like I would if I were using soap, and then dry my hands. My skin has improved and I haven’t gotten sick yet…

    2. soap does not kill germs (unless we’re talking anti-bacterial). common misconception. The water rinses the germs off the hands. soap makes this process easier by reducing the surface tension of the water, making it more effective. studies show rinsing without soap is nearly as effective as using soap. there’s a huge psychological factor for people and soap though. people think they’re cleaner when they use it.

      1. This is true — the article was posted on my microbio professor’s door. To be fair, the article I read only tested for E. Coli, but it’s a good starter point anyway.

        @CuttingOgres – It’s all well and good to believe the logic of surfactants (the theory is sound), but you never know what third variables need taken into account. Lysozymes, for example. Lysozymes break down microbial cell walls. They’re best known in the human body in tears and saliva (try swabbing a culture on an agar plate then dripping a bit of spit in the middle, to see the effect), but they’re also in sweat and sebum. So which is better for fighting bacteria? Removing the sebum the bacteria is trapped in, or letting the sebum take care of it and act as another layer of protection? Okay, that might be a bit of a biased way of stating things — your “MRRAAHH I KNOW BETTER” attitude makes me want to fight it :]. But it isn’t a topic that’s really been studied much, and it’s worth giving it a chance. If it takes a swarm of unwashed bodies hitting the mainstream to force the hand of a professional, well, it’s a learning experience anyway.

        Despite everything I’ve said, the only soap I go without is face wash. Skin’s still dry, but acne (which I’ve never had a huge problem with, but would occasionally get) is pretty much done for. This could be soap related or hormone related; correlation studies won’t tell ;].

        If anyone’s looking for a shampoo alternative — I hear washing with goat milk soap and rinsing with apple cider vinegar is a sound choice. I haven’t tried. Let me know if you have :].

      2. The misconception is that regular soap doesn’t kill germs, in fact it does, by disrupting their cell membrane. Antibacterial soaps will simply kill more bacteria.

        The idea that soap is a bad thing because it prevents the natural development of antibodies is rubbish. Antibodies are produced to counter bacteria and viruses inside the body, not on the surface of the skin. Before the use of soap, many more people died from common diseases such as dysentery. Our ancestors didn’t have wonderfully developed immune systems to protect them that we have since lost through soap use.

      3. This is inaccurate. ALL soap is “anti-bacterial”. Anti-bacterial soap is no more effective in ridding germs than “regular” soap. The anti-bacterials are just a marketing tool used to prey upon people’s fears of illness-ironically, it is the abuse of the anti-bacterial soaps and gels that has led to the increase of “super bugs”-those bacterias that mutate to become immune to the effects of alcohol (the main active ingredient in the anti-bacterials.) Other than that, regular soap does kill some germs, but mostly facilitates them to be rinsed away.

        Soap products I think are highly psychologically ingrained in people’s minds-I know that no matter how many accolades and ancedotal testimony to a “soap-free” exsistance-I could never give it up. But I’m a fragrance whore, anyway :)

    3. its actually been recamended that people who use anti viral soaps frequently tend to become sick more often and longer. These soaps prevent the body from building up anti bodies that help fight off sickness. Much like how a “shot” works. the injection of weakened viruses allows the body to build up resitence to the virus. the small amount of germs picked up by touching every day objects and even breathing in the air work the same way.

    4. Personally I don’t use soap after I’ve been to the restroom and I’m never sick… perhaps a couple of days in the beginning of every year but that’s it. I’ve also noticed that when I do occasionally use soap, my hands get so dry that it’s uncomfortable… I recommend it though the results could be different.

    5. It’s not so much that soap kils germs but washes off bacteria, viruses, etc. It might not matter too much to you, if you keep your fingers out of your mouth, eyes, and food, but it might to those who handle objects you’ve handled.

    6. Soap doesn’t kill germs, unless it’s an antibiotic soap (and who wants to use that?). All soap does is make your skin slippery so that the gunk, and SOME of the germs slide off under the flow of water.

      Also, people think that you have to use hot water to do dishes. The only way that hot water could kill germs is if it was hot enough to burn your hands (think about the amount of heat it takes to sterilize something). Again, soap only aids in making the dishes slippery so that the gunk and germs slide off. Unless you have a lot of grease on the dishes, hot water does nothing. It’s much better for the environment to use cold water when washing dishes.

      And as far as doing laundry is concerned, it wasn’t too long ago in our history that people simply banged their clothes with rocks in a river to get them clean. So many of the “modern conveniences” are nothing but BS. About 1/4 of the recommended amount of laundry detergent is more than enough.

      1. “And as far as doing laundry is concerned, it wasn’t too long ago in our history that people simply banged their clothes with rocks in a river to get them clean.”

        You have a good point. Years ago a friend who worked for a laundry company told me that it’s not the detergent, but the agitation that gets the clothes clean. So more scrub, less soap/detergent.

    1. in response to the comment about needing to use soaps for germs…most soap isn’t naturally antibacterial/anti-microbial. what does remove the germs is vigorous rubbing under tolerably hot water. with or without soap it render roughly the same result. additionally, all the antibacterial/antimicrobial products out there have been found to actually be detrimental by preventing your immune system to build up its natural defenses, and increasing your chances of becoming sick. go figure.

    2. What I’d like to know is how do they use deodorant and then NOT use soap? I mean, what about all the residue left behind (and Secret deodorant is extremely tough to get off even with soap–so I dont use crap like that)? It just doesnt make sense to me. Why not either make a natural deodorant to use or cut out deodorant all-together?

      also, a good replacement for chemical soaps is Ghassoul/Rhassoul clay. And for those who refuse to give up soap but want something very mild, you could also use black soap, but it takes some getting used to (the first and second times I used it, my skin burned behind my ears and around the creases of my nostrils). It is also great to wash your hair with.

  14. I stopped using shampoo when Mark posted that article. I would never go back as the results I’ve found are the same as yours! Washing with water every day is all that’s necessary.

  15. along thee lines, i long ago stopped using shampoo. however, i find that when i do something like work on a car and get some automotive grease or oil in my hair… or machine shop shavings (from milling… mixed with coolant) or grinding dust (the worst) then i seem to need to use shampoo to get it out. i feel like this would happen not infrequently with exposed skin as well (even with gloves.. you end up smelling like latex.) sean (or others eschewing soap) have you experienced this sort of issue? if so, what have you done other than just occasionally use soap (as i do with my hair.) also, i presume you are still washing your hands with soap?

  16. Backpackers (must?) have known this for some time. On very long outings, water’s good enough. But I will never argue about how your skin and hair feel; really good. That being said, that first real shower with some soap and shampoo feels even better.

    1. My husband uses that salt stick deodorant. He NEVER smells. It takes a while for your body to get used to it…but he’s never had bad BO, EVER.

  17. IDK, dude. In the mid-aughts, I dated a vegan dude in NYC who also didn’t use shampoo, nor deodorant, and he STANK!

    What gives?

      1. LOL. Sean, he actually bathed EVERY day. But, despite being a vegan, his scalp and pits stank bad… and I always assumed it was from his lack of using shampoo and deodorant. So again, what gives? He kind of disproves your skin P.H. balance theory, despite how much I’d like to believe and no longer be a consumer slave to shampoo. Or is he the +/- blah blah percent of standard deviation?

        1. One person doesn’t disprove anything. I’m talking about an experiment that worked for me, and judging by the comments here works for a lot of other people as well. If that dude was stinky there was probably a reason for it.

          1. I stand corrected! Very good points, thank you. Suddenly, there were tons of new (anonymous) comments once I refreshed my page, as I had at first appeared to be one of the initial comments. Thank you for replying back to me. I need to try this experiment, because it would definitely be rad to no longer be a consumer-slave to shampoo. Peace.

  18. What type of exercise do you do and does that have an impact? That’s really the only thing I’m weary about.

  19. The first comment made a lot more sense when I realized the phrase in the first sentence was “my hair back” and not “my back hair.”

  20. I should point out that I stopped balding when I stopped replaced shampoo with soap. Happened when I turned 20! Still have the same situation up there, but I know it could’ve been worse.

  21. I stopped washing my hair on a regular basis and now only do after I cut my hair. Admittedly I don’t have a lot left but the dreaded outcome one expects, dirty greasy hair, never happened. I think this is another example of an industry using marketing to convince us of something we don’t really need.

  22. @Sean – how do you describe your diet? I eat A LOT of meat. Lots of veggies too. Not much in the way of starches. I’d like to try this but I wonder how a high protein diet might affect the outcome.

    1. I’m vegan, but if you note the link to the original article is from a paleo blog which supports a very unvegan diet, so I don’t think that matters much.

  23. As a direct result of reading about this subject here at Boing Boing, I, too, stopped using soap in the shower. I started this about nine or ten months ago, as I recall. It has worked out well. It has become clear that I did not need that stuff. I cannot say that I feel any better. But I do not feel any worse. I have simply gotten rid of something that was utterly useless. However, I could not bring myself to give up the shampoo. I did switch to baby shampoo, and I use it in very small amounts. I may be ready to let that go too… You know… Just to see if works out O.K.

  24. I actually did the same thing, and by the sounds of it at exactly the same time as you.
    There haven’t been vast changes for me, but they have been noticeable.
    My hair used to feel more dry, and was a *lot* fuzzier than it is now. There has been some reduction in dandruff, too, but I haven’t really noticed a change in my skin.
    Of course, I never really paid that much attention to my skin in the first place, so I couldn’t say for sure.

  25. so, deodorant and/or antiperspirant? yes or no?

    i’ve been doing the no soap/no shampoo thing for over a year now too. love it. but i do need to throw some deodorant on the pits at least once a week.

  26. You should not try brushing your teeth without tooth paste. For some reason that does not work as well as avoiding soap for your skin. Why is that?

  27. This sounds intriguing, and I see you replied about the vegan not bathing, so that means you just wash with hot water? Because there are a lot of people out there that really really smell terrible. Are you saying they dont touch water at all?

    1. I shower regularly with water, yes. I doubt the people out there who stink are showering regularly, with or without soap.

  28. “Now that I’m not lugging shampoo and conditioner with me on the road I have nothing for TSA to hassle me about and more room in my luggage”


  29. Some people are fortunate and don’t have much odor or grease naturally, but I can’t imagine the results would be the same for me. I am also a Caucasian male and I carry the white mans’ musk. I have heard it is compared to the smell of mayonnaise, but if I would have to describe it-the smell is like that of cardboard. My scalp and face have it the worst, once my natural oils kick in-so do the smell. I have resorted to using a natural clay shampoo as a substitute for the detergent heavy shampoos. Even though my hair feels healthier, the dandruff and greasy smelly head remains. So, in conclusion, I believe you-but did you have it bad in the first place. Is there any other musky people reading this that have experimented going “soap free”? Any success?

    1. Buy new pillows, and seven pillow cases… change them every day. If you are sleeping on a petre dish full of yeast, you are not going to get rid of the dandruff.

  30. I don’t know if I can (or should) give up on shampoo… when I go without it for more than a couple days, my hair gets nasty greasy. But then, I’ve never tried just “washing” it using hot water and finger massage without shampoo, as you suggest. Maybe I’ll give that a try, and see how long it takes before my better half notices/complains.

    I do know that shaving cream is pretty useless to me. I’ve been shaving with nothing more than a Mach 3 and hot water for nearly twenty years with no bumps, razor burn, or stubble… but then my beard isn’t particularly full or tough anyway.

  31. Ok, so my question is: I have a mohawk, which I use product on. If I just rinse that out and dont use shampoo, does that hair gel negate the positives of not shampooing?

    1. You can make natural homemade gels/hairsprays.
      A miture of gelatin and water. gelatins full of protein so i assume it would be pretty good for your hair. Lemon hair spray. Or even salt and water spray. I think the gelatin one would be the best for a mohawk, but what the hell do I know :) You better try it though *squinty eyes*
      Theres probably way better recipes out there though! look it uuup :)

  32. I use soap on my face (to get my beard degreased enough to soften it up for shaving), my hands (for infection control – and I’m currently experiencing my first illness in four years) and my feet (because I teach yoga and they get ground-in dirt.) I don’t use it on my body, and I’ve never used deodorant. I smell just fine.

    When my hair was shorter, water-washing gave it a better texture than shampooing. At nearly waist-length, not so much, although most of the people at the long-hair boards swear by it. I tried it for almost a year and it was just really greasy-looking.

  33. Interesting. What about hair products? Do you avoid putting any kind of gel or pomade too? I wonder whether styling products would throw off the delicate balance too.

  34. I stopped using soap and shampoo about 20 years ago and I’ve noticed that (at 42) my hair isn’t graying like all the soap nazi’s around me! I only eat organic meat, wild rice, potatoes and greens/veggies from my garden so…who knows which is doing what.
    When I started my hair was waist length and it looked like crap for about 2 weeks…then it corrected itself. Maybe eating vegans helps?

  35. Well for the most part I’ve been only washing with water for the last few months before work, but I’d still put on a bit of lotion. Personally don’t feel too different. Definitely seeing less dandruff, but still there. Never had a BO problem, at least self consciously. I just find it more convenient. Turns a 20 minute shower into 10.

    As for the toothpaste, probably has something to do with just the food we eat, or for the most part cave men had to deal with failing teeth a bit more than we do. Could guess not everything they did did wonders.

      1. Most of the homeless people I’ve met were relatively clean, and stayed that way. I’m going to assume that alllie here was going for some kind of snarky laffs.

        Let’s not confuse homeless people with their stereotype, the mentally ill and smelly drunk on the side of the road.

    1. Because they don’t wash either you ding-dong. Bet you thought you were clever when you wrote that, but you think homeless people have access to daily showers? Never mind that their clothes are usually filthy and the likely source of at least part of their stench.

  36. I am near the end of my current bottle of shampoo (used it as an three in one even though it is not advertised as such) I will give this a shot as soon as it is empty, always looking for ways to simplify my life.

  37. Regarding dandruff – if you’re using ‘dandruff shampoo’, you’re probably making it worse. The active ingredients in most dandruff shampoos are notorious allergens that cause dry, flaky scalp. Dandruff is frequently a side effect of puberty and will go away in a few years. Except that you’re hooked on dandruff shampoo that keeps it flaking.

    1. You can probably ease into it, if you don’t want the month of everything going absolutely crazy.

      I gradually went from washing my hair every other day (by the fourth day it started to get quite unpleasant), to twice a week (took about a week to get unpleasant) to around once a week (took at least 10 days before it was a problem) to now maybe every other week (by week 3 it starts feeling fairly oily). It may be mental bias on my part, but I kind of have the impression that when I get compliments on my hair, it tends to be shortly before I wash it, seldom shortly after.

      I don’t know that I’ll be giving up soap altogether, but certainly getting rid of conditioners and perfumed products, and reducing the amount of soap I use, has not had any negative effects, and has saved me a bit of money over the years.

  38. I can’t remember the last time I used soap. Unfortunately it hasn’t drastically improved my skin. I still despise showers because of how uncomfortably dry I am for the rest of the day, but I do it anyway. I shower every other day and have only gotten positive feedback about my BO. I would love to go no ‘poo, too, but I doubt I’d have the patience with long hair. Next time I chop off my hair, the shampoo’s going, too.

  39. I guess this changes from person to person because I tried it for a few weeks a while ago and I stank so badly. My hair was mid length back then and I found although it looked healthy it felt slightly greasy to the touch.
    And my armpits, just wow they were horrible. I would constantly keep my arms pinned to my side simply because I could smell the massive stink and knew other people could too. I guess the problem with using just water is that while it doesn’t mess with PHs or whatever the theory is, it doesn’t kill bacteria, so if you sweat you’ll still smell.

  40. Quick answers to a few reoccurring questions:

    1- As I stated in the original article, of course I still wash my hands with soap.

    2- No, I almost never get sick.

    3- I use deodorant on occasion but only because I’m paranoid. People comment that they notice the smell of the deodorant, they don’t notice anything when I don’t use it.

    4- Adjustment time is not immediate, when you stop using soap/shampoo shit goes crazy for a few weeks, too me over a month to balance out. After that it was amazing. If you stop expect things to be really weird for a few weeks, then they level out.

  41. I don’t use shampoo any more (well, once every two months for novelty’s sake) and I’m great with it. But I still wash my face with soap. I mean why not – I couldn’t shave without it. Hands too. Otherwise this is totally workable.

  42. Not sure how relevant this is, but I’ve also stopped using commercial shaving cream and instead use olive oil based on a suggestion at TreeHugger. Inexpensive, a natural moisturizer and it comes in containers that can be recycled rather than the usual single-use shaving cream dispensers. Like any change it took some getting used to but feels totally normal now after a few months. The only down side is that the shavings cling to the sink. It builds up until I’ve had enough and have to clean it out, ironically using the shampoo or conditioner that I no longer use on my hair.

    1. Any veg oil can work, I like olive or grapeseed best. A little bottle the size of my thumb lasts many months. I use an electric razor, which traps the debris — doesn’t really take a lot of time to clean it out.

  43. I use soap pretty sparingly. And an alum block for deodorant. No problems, and my skin feels fine as always. Some people do stink more than others, with or without soap. YMMV, as they say. I think it’d be foolish to start preaching one way or another about the efficacy of soap.

    This is a kind of can of worms some folks get really adamant about. You should see what folks on the shaving forums get into. This personal hygiene stuff gets turned into religion pretty fast.

  44. My cat doesn’t use soap and washes her self with her tongue and she smells awesome. I’ve never bathed her either. I’m going to start bathing myself in my own saliva to see how that works out.

    1. Don’t forget to thoroughly lick your bottom… both my cats and dogs do that (well, my dog still smells a lot, but not to butt).

  45. I know people who have had success with stopping shampoo/conditioner/soap who I can attest are not stinky/greasy/otherwise icky, but I also know other people where it’s failed miserably. I don’t know what makes the difference — diet? what’s in your water? genetics? — but this works great for some people and not at all for others.

    I’m in the complete failure camp, as is my boyfriend. No poo went very badly for us even given a couple of weeks for our scalps to adjust, and no soap was so gross we gave up after a weekend. Substituting baking soda and olive oil for shampoo and conditioner was even worse than using nothing, and olive oil in your shower is a good way to slip and break your neck.

  46. If you want to slowly ease yourself off the soap and shampoo wagon, I suggest cutting out products that contain sodium laurel sulfates (SLS). It’s horrible for your skin and hair.

    I switched to SLS-free shampoo bars and they’ve been fantastic. They also travel well and don’t require TSA approval for quantities larger than 3 oz because they’re solid. I use the soaps and shampoo bars made by the Chagrin Valley Soap company which contain all natural products. You won’t get lots of lather, but they really do work and it’s remarkably less expensive than the stuff I used to buy. It took about three weeks for my hair to adjust, and I get very different results from hard water verses soft water. (Hard water = tighter curls, soft water = looser curls). I use the shampoo bar maybe once a week, and the rest of the time I just comb hot water through it. Occasionally I’ll treat my hair to some coconut oil if it looks like it’s getting dry, but other than that it’s wash and wear.

  47. just one more person who quit back when the first article was posted. i only did it for a month and didn’t tell anyone. i got no feedback at all, even from my wife who says i stink even when i use soap. i don’t use much soap today, but i found it hard to get clean after camping or other exceedingly dirty activity without it. however, day to day, there is no real point to soap as long as you shower with water. when in the peace corps, i found that a salt water swim was much more effective than soap and did that for about 2 years.

  48. I don’t know how many people could do this effectively, but I DO know that most people would be pleased if they stopped buying any normal grocery store soaps/shampoos and started using all natural vegetable oil based ones.
    I use the tea tree oil bar soap from Trader Joe’s and it’s excellent. I used it from head to toe for hair (what I have left) and body.
    99 percent of the soap at Safeway or whatever are terrible for your skin.

  49. Yeah, I don’t use soap for my body but I shower daily and use baking soda and apple cider vinegar for my hair – my hair is too oily to go without any hair treatments. I’ve tried it.

    I also haven’t used deodorant for around five years, although I started using some all-natural cologne for my pits which adds a nice fragrance that helps with the sweat smell (no B.O. – just a mild sweatiness when exercising).

    Two girlfriends and a wife of three years never complained about any smells or unpleasantness.

  50. I used to stink horribly if I didn’t use deodorant every day. I incidentally got what I think was a mild fungal infection so I used a pump-spray fungicidal (Lamasil?) per the instructions, and then went back to deodorant. Years later, I started getting another rash so I used the fungicide again, but didn’t go back to deodorant. For a week I smelled a little medicine cabinet-y, but eventually that went away and I didn’t smell at all. It’s been a few years since I’ve used deodorant and I smell just a little musky by the end of the day. It’s hard to tell if I’m just mis-remembering, but I’m pretty sure I don’t smell anywhere near as bad as I used to – I think I killed off whatever it was that was causing the worst of the smell. Still use soap and shampoo every day, tho I might try going without shampoo and see what happens.

    I suspect some person-to-person variation might depend on what horrible things your body is host to.

    1. Dude, how come you have two girlfriends and a wife? My wife would be cool if I stopped showering, but probably would not be cool if I picked up one girlfriend, much less two.

  51. As for those with the dandruff problem, I used to use prescription shampoos and other prescription treatments. I finally gave up after use olive oil once. You wet your hair first and rub olive oil into your scalp. I used to dandruff every day. Now it’s a once a month thing if that.

  52. I would really like to give the no-soap/shampoo a try, but I work as a model, and have make-up and hair product used on me for work. The products used almost always do something bad to either my hair or skin, and I always need to use soap/shampoo to get the product off of me. What can I do besides looking for another line of work?

    1. Swabbing oil on the skin works very well for makeup removal. Water will remove hair product on its own.
      You know who’s spinning in his Bronner grave about now…

  53. So far we have only heard the “I don’t stink” from people claiming this about themselves.
    The one testimony we have from an ex-partner is that their guy stunk.
    I have known many stinky folks in my life. None of them ever seemed aware of how repulsive they were.
    I am afraid I simply am unable to take anyone’s word for it over the internet that they don’t stink. You would have to pass my own sniff test before I could buy what you are claiming.

    David Stewart

    1. I agree with you; subjective reports are not reliable. Your own body odor will never smell as offensive as that of another person’s, and some people will smell better to you than others. Multiple girlfriends over the last 20 yrs have commented that they “like the way I smell”. I have no idea what that smell is (pheromones?), but I have observed that the compliments don’t immediately follow a shower or precede a much needed one.

      I do not use any kind of scented products or perfume, as I have a sensitive nose.

  54. This sounds great, but I’m afraid I can’t take it seriously until it’s been backed by the scientific method. Release a full report and get back to us.

    1. Concurred. If I don’t shower for a day I become a walking grease ball. There’s a reason I use soap, shampoo, conditioner, lotion, deodorant, perfume, hair creme and shaving cream- because I have learned that if I do not, I do not look, feel or smell as good as if I do. I have learned from experience that just rinsing with water, no matter how well, is not the same as washing. And to all the au natural braggarts, my hair and skin is the envy of many friends and strangers, and I use products every day.

      Also I don’t understand who, in a typical life situation of going to work and having a significant other and/or friends, could have the liberty of letting “shit get crazy” for six weeks. If my significant other did that I would tell them to book a hotel room.

      In conclusion: I’ve got the hygiene jibblies, and don’t think this kind of anecdotal, semi-anti-establishment pseudoscience should be featured on BB.

      1. Also I don’t understand who, in a typical life situation of going to work and having a significant other and/or friends, could have the liberty of letting “shit get crazy” for six weeks.

        Some people like to make their own decisions instead of letting others dictate their behavior.

  55. I don’t use soap, shampoo, or deodorant either. It’s amazing. My skin is perfect, my hair is the softest damn thing you will ever feel. I actually get less acne, less dry skin, plus I think I smell less. It definitely worked for me, but I’m sure it varies from person to person. Just be sure to give it a month or more, it takes time to adjust (I was pretty greasy for the first week or two). I would definitely suggest trying it, if it doesn’t work, no loss. If it does work, you’ll find it’s strangely liberating.

  56. Alright everyone. I’ve been talking to some scientists about this and they’re not impressed. The clean look and feel might be only enough for superficial observation, but that’s about it.

    And it looks like they’re not much impressed with the paleo stuff in general.

    1. Well, what need is there to look and feel clean beyond “superficial observation”? If you don’t stink, you don’t get sick, and you’re happy with how you feel, who cares what a gas chromatography of a skin oil sample shows?

      1. What I gather from them is that you’re not going to smell yourself as much as others could. Family might not as well, I suppose. But superficial observation doesn’t run deep enough for possible health issues. I dunno. All I can say is some scientists are more than just skeptical. Buyer beware.

      2. Just for the sake of argument, you might be spreading illness to those with weaker immune systems than yours.

        I think some studies have been done that concluded the best thing for reducing sick days at workplaces is spreading around those alcohol gel hand sanitizer bottles and getting people to use them.

  57. I tried this for about 6 weeks and my hair never got passed the greasy feeling. My skin never felt any different either. I don’t get it.

  58. This just goes to show that 99% of the “personal care products” that advertisers assure us we can’t live without are actually useless and in most cases harmful.

    Mouthwash is another horrible thing… completely obliterates beneficial bacteria in your mouth. Dandruff shampoo actually causes dandruff.

    Millions and millions of dollars have been made off this crap, and it’s killing us.

    Read “The Story Of Stuff” by Annie Leonard, she devotes a chapter to the toxic cosmetic chemicals we’ve been rubbing into and onto ourselves, including lead-based lipstick, and cancer-causing shampoos.

    My cat has the best idea: she licks herself all over.

  59. I’ve been doing this since March, didn’t really notice a difference (never paid any attention to my hair/skin). However I am glad that I depend on fewer things now. Also I have never used any sort of deodorant and as much as I don’t like to admit it, stopped using toilet paper too (don’t worry, its all clean).

  60. It’s not sweat or dirt causing BO, it’s the waste products of the bacteria that feed on it. Hot enough water will kill the bacteria but soap allows you to use cooler water as it interferes with bacteria cell membranes and destroys them. You can stay odour free with hot water (and plenty of scrubbing) but soap will make it much easier and you could always use a pH balanced type, if you believe that small pH differences affect your skin badly.

    If you do your laundry without detergent you will need a hot wash or the bacteria will not be killed and those clothes are gonna start to smell pretty bad. Also, it’s the ionic surficants in the detergent that help remove dirt and oil to get stains out.

  61. I have a straight-laced day job where I have to shower every morning. I noticed at about the 6-month mark the skin on my face went CRAZY. It started getting really dried out, so I’d have to put tons of moisturizer on it, but then it would get greasy and I’d break out.

    I quit using soap on my face altogether and problem was solved within a week.

  62. I had a friend who got me to stop using shaving cream years ago. I was watching him shave his face with just water and I was like, “Doesn’t that hurt?” He said no, so I tried it (on my legs and arms and what-not, I’m a girl) and it worked just fine. Just hold whatever body part you’re shaving under running water – the colder the better – and no cuts, nicks, or nothing. I even experimented, shaving one leg with soap or shaving cream and one with just water, and they turned out pretty much the same. It’s just faster without having to lather up and doesn’t get my razors as gunked up so they last longer.

    1. Shaving while in the shower works fine, too – just keep your face wet for a bit to soften the hairs, then shave while still in there.

  63. Sean:

    Cool. I think I recall you commenting, or else I linked your post in an update later, or something.

    I just posted an update on on the original post you linked:

    01/04/11: Welcome again boingboing fans, a bit more than a year later. Thanks to Sean Bonner for the link and congrats on his success. I still have no idea why it works so marvelously for some, marginally or not at all for others (though I think they are decidedly minority given the many comments and emails). At any rate, I had tweeted Mark Frauenfelder and emailed him about an update post I did just a few days ago, so this is opportune and coincidental. Here it is: A Most Successful Self-Experiement: Over 18 Months Soap and Shampoo Free. For those who might be interested in the other aspects of my "Free the Animal" life way…such as fat loss, strength gain, awesome sleep, getting off meds & more, stay tuned for a beginners primer at the top of the blog by Friday, 1/7.


    So, thanks again for the link.

  64. Washing my hair by vigorously massaging the scalp under hot water rinses away dirt and distributes sebum, which is your hair’s natural oil. Over time, this makes your hair very lustrous and manageable. I get compliments from the stylists each time I get my hair cut. If your hair gets dry like mine does sometime, just work in a TINY amount of jojoba oil, which is the closest thing to natural sebum. I have not tried doing without soap for the body, but it seems worth a try.

  65. For statements like:
    “Your body is designed to regulate itself and smearing chemicals all over it wrecks it’s own built in processes and screws with naturally balanced pH levels.”

    I say:
    [citation needed]

    Interesting premise, but now I’m curious about which built-in processes get wrecked (and how). Just sayin’.

    1. @JeffPhi
      You don’t need to cite statements like “Your body is designed to regulate itself and smearing chemicals all over it wrecks it’s own built in processes and screws with naturally balanced pH levels.” as they are common knowledge based out of widely accepted science (evolution & the fact that the whole point of the chemicals IS to alter our bodies).
      It’d be like citing that the sun rises in the East.

  66. I would try this, but I live in Las Vegas, and the summers get horrendously hot here, and I know I have really stinky sweat when I don’t use soap or deodorant.

  67. This seems like a good idea yes, but what about your dick and balls? That would be my only concern in giving this a try.

  68. There’s a huge problem with this. You live in a society and environment that’s relatively germ-free. Most human beings you interact with wash and use soap, and this lessens the chance they’ll transfer something to you. You probably don’t live in an environment that’s full of malaria-ridden mosquitoes either, or infested with rats. The modern human society with a majority of people who actually wash with soap is what provides you with an environment that allows this. If everyone started doing it, we might go back to the Middle-Ages.

  69. I’ve been talking to some scientists about this and they’re not impressed.

    Without some actual science being involved, the opinions of scientists aren’t really any more meaningful than old wives’ tales.

    1. “Without some actual science being involved, the opinions of scientists aren’t really any more meaningful than old wives’ tales.”

      And this guy’s “experiments” qualify as actual science? I think I’ll stick with the opinions of professionals who actually know what surfactants are and do.

      1. You’re quite right, but you’re appealing to authorities without actually sharing them. Provide some links to your scientist buddies that support your claims rather than simply asking us to take your word that you know scientists, they’re reliable, and their information is infallible.

        1. “You’re quite right, but you’re appealing to authorities without actually sharing them. Provide some links to your scientist buddies that support your claims rather than simply asking us to take your word that you know scientists, they’re reliable, and their information is infallible.”

          Which I never did; I didn’t ask anyone to take my word. And I’m not linking to my University and faculty for obvious reasons. But there’s nothing stopping you or anyone else from finding one of thousands of online science forums on your own or simply asking professors at your college/university and learning for yourself. Besides, all we have here are claims from a paleo guy without benefit of scientific opinion. You all should investigate beyond that alone.

          1. Ah, but you did:

            “Alright everyone. I’ve been talking to some scientists about this and they’re not impressed. The clean look and feel might be only enough for superficial observation, but that’s about it.

            And it looks like they’re not much impressed with the paleo stuff in general.”

            You announced to everyone that you’ve been talking to some scientists and that they were not impressed, implying that you expect everyone to not only listen to you what you have to say but also take what you have to say seriously. There’s certainly nothing stopping me from doing my own research, but you didn’t exhort me to do that. You claimed vicarious authority, and I requested support for that claim. You made vague claims (what does “not impressed” mean w/r/t using or not using soap?) and appealed to unknown authorities to support them. Sean may only be some paleo guy but his claims are at least based on his own experience. You haven’t even met that admittedly low threshold of credibility.

          2. “Here’s a very basic explanation why we use soap from Larry Chaffin, an Undergraduate in Microbiology, Columbus”

            Larry Chaffin is full of shit and has no idea what he’s talking about.

            Poor billions of animals in nature. They go their entire lives getting weighted down, incrementally, with oils their bodies produce.

            And Unlilever has yet to come to their rescue.

          3. The point isn’t that it accumulates but that a layer is left with bacteria. It would be hard to take “poor animals, they have to go through life with more skin parasites than us” as sarcasm. I don’t know if soap-free is a good idea or not, but it is true water isn’t enough once you do have certain infections.

  70. Errr…I can only guess this guy is single and straight. I cannot imagine a woman (or gay man) from North American putting up with intimate contact with ANY guy who refuses to use soap or shampoo.

    While a casual female friend, family member, or fellow passenger on the bus may politely deny any aversion to your face, I’m willing to bet you haven’t had any “repeat engagements” of an intimate nature during the recent hot months. Women have a much stronger sense of smell than men, and you’d be amazed at how many guys who USE soap fail to pass the average woman’s “sniff test”.

    Case in point:
    My dad went to a dermatologist about ten years ago who convinced him of that “soap is unnecessary”. Dad, an experimental Geek himself, decided to try it. HE thought he “smelled fine” and while his (male) workmates did not complain, my MOM shut down the experiment within a week, telling him that unless he started using soap again, he would be sleeping on the couch.

    1. “.I can only guess this guy is single and straight.”

      Married with kid. My wife has commented and backed up my claims, your suspicions are inaccurate on all fronts.

    2. I think that half of what has been said is that it does take MORE THAN A WEEK for your body to get balanced. Some people say minimum two weeks, the author said it took about a month. So, perhaps if your dad had slept on the couch for an week, it would have all gotten better?

      Also, does anyone know how well this works for the younger folks? I’m almost 18, and was wondering if anyone my age or younger has tried this out.

  71. This is a very cool subject especially as it begins to open our minds in terms of what is really necessary and what isn’t.

    I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately: was the human body really designed to require shampoo?

    What other things do we put on/in our body that aren’t necessary?

  72. White vinegar is the only deodorant I have used in around a decade and works better than anything else. Spray on pits and let sit for a minute or two before bathing and then apply to pits after. Just reapply if the stink is coming or for strenous activity.
    It changes the PH enough to keep many bacteria in check. It has dramatically lessened the odor of people with serious funk, even when some stopped using it.
    My wife used to tease me about smelling like vinegar, but that was only from very close proximity and soon after application. Later, she started using it on a tropical vacation full of hikes and never looked back and swears by it to all her friends.
    I figured I had to share because it would so perfectly complement and probably facilitate soap-freeness.

  73. I’m from Brazil and I don’t think this would work here, since the climate here is constantly hot (at least where I live inside Brazil).

  74. I agree with the posters who point out that people are different. We’re a multi-racial family, so we have our own test group in residence: some of us have dry skin and scalp and do much better with less washing (and don’t need deodorant) and others of us are a greasy smelly mess without assisted cleansing.

    None of us use conventional commercial products though. As others have noted, many of the standard ingredients cause negative reactions.

  75. I would like to thank our guestblogger for not taking the troll-bait and allowing this discussion to veer off into TMI-land.

    It’s a super interesting experiment. It’s also interesting to me that people find it so upsetting or tempting or — everyone has an opinion!

  76. I work at a skin care salon. I think the owner and co-workers would flip out if they found out I stopped washing my hair and face. That would be really funny. Maybe I will start slow by skipping deodorant first.

  77. I don’t want to cast aspersions on anyone’s successful results having ditched the soap and shampoo, but “I don’t smell” is useless as a general statement. It’s like telling people you’re completely awesome.

    As they say on the Wikipedia, [citation needed]

  78. Also inspired by the same post. 1 year later, things are great. I use soap on my hands and my front butt and back butt. That’s it. It did take 2 weeks to acclimate…funny. Then it felt normal. Dry winter skin: gone. Stink: none — I didn’t tell my wife until Month 3 and she didn’t notice…and she definitely would have said something.

    Does it work for everyone? Probably not. Does it work for me? Yes.

  79. It would be interesting to graph the success rate versus the hardness/softness of water. Water with a high pH (“soft” water) is naturally going to act as a mild soap.

  80. As a related issue, for those concerned with cavities (with or without toothpaste), the reason cavities happen is due to bacteria flourishing in an acidic environment in the mouth. Sugar for example does not directly eat away at teeth, rather it makes the mouth very acidic and a breeding ground for bacteria which do the destruction. Xylitol is a great natural sugar substitute that makes the mouth alkaline and unfriendly to harmful bacteria.

    As for attempting to maintain a friendly smell when transitioning into a soapless body, I’d try to avoid all processed foods, preservatives, sugars, and cut way back on meats, dairy, and cooked foods in general. Note that anything pasteurized is cooked (even if it’s cold when you buy it).

  81. On the subject of science backing it up, would you rather trust those science-y looking computer graphics of lovely shampoo molecules binding to hair? Or anti-fungal agents killing little fungus monsters?

    I have stopped using body wash and have repeatedly asked my ex boyfriend, current boyfriend, and two friends whether I smell. “Pleaaassse be honest.”

    They just shrug and say, “you smell fine!” Of course my boyfriend will spontaneously tell me I smell good.

    I stopped washing my hair and went for three weeks. I have thick hair, so I never got greasy. Unfortunately – and this may be because it’s the middle of winter – my dandruff went crazy. So I’m back on the dandruff shampoo. I know I know, but until I find an alternative…. I’ve tried vinegar and it doesn’t work either. Perhaps jojoba oil?

    1. “On the subject of science backing it up, would you rather trust those science-y looking computer graphics of lovely shampoo molecules binding to hair? Or anti-fungal agents killing little fungus monsters?”

      That’s not science, that’s marketing. And boyfriends/girlfriends should think you smell fine. Positive responses to body odor is one area where attraction starts.

    2. Here’s a recommendation for your dandruff and dry hair/scalp:

      Use very little or no shampoo. Instead, rinse well and then use conditioner, leaving it in your hair instead of rinsing it out. You’ll have to experiment with how much to use for your situation.

  82. Wow. Roughly one comment per minute, and many of the comments from unique sources.

    Well, I never use soap on my body (have never done it as far as I can remember) and I smell fine. I, too, am paranoid and have to use deodorants, although it’s been fine without. Shampoo is a must though, but only the selenium sulfide kind (seborrheic dermatitis is a bitch).

  83. Okay, I’ve read 67 comments and haven’t yet read this contrarian response: soap smells and feels great! I love showering, and I love the ritual of soaping and rinsing my body. I don’t have dry skin, and I don’t have dandruff. Not using soap would not add any time or money to my life that I really want or need, and would remove pleasure that I cherish regularly.

    Glad it works for some, but I think I’ll pass.

  84. I have read all the comments and haven’t seen any discussion on water quality, which might be a very significant variable.

    We know water is a solvent, and hard water seems to interfere with the effectiveness of detergents. Wouldn’t varying regional water PH and hardness then also cause varying results from the water-only bathing?

    I’d love to hear a scientist’s take on this.

    I’ve taken showers with lots of soap down at my folk’s place in Yuma, AZ, (where you don’t drink the water) and still FELT dirty afterwards. My well water here in Oregon is much nicer!

  85. I’ll give this a try but I am skeptical it will work for me. I tend to stink after just 8 hours of sitting at the PC.

    I think the key to making this work may be in how you clean without soap. If you just run your hands over your body with warm water I doubt a soap free shower would get me smelling okay. Maybe with very hot water and scrubbing thoroughly with a washcloth daily it will work. I shall see.


    dowsolet admiralty (are these words)

  86. As a side note on the subject of toiletries (or lack thereof), I just switched to a safety razor in favour of plastic disposables in all their forms and WOW! One blade, and beard is history. Plus they’re cheap, and recyclable. Win effin’ win.

  87. I’ve been teaching power yoga at a small, pricey fitness center for the last four years and nobody has made any complaints about malodor. Since my students, about half of whom are obscenely wealthy fussbudgets, complain about everything else, I’m pretty sure that I would have heard if there were a problem.

  88. Barbers don’t shampoo hair. Admit it, you went to the salon and got your hair did.

    Awesome article. I have flirted with the idea but you did it big. Very cool.


  89. “This seems like a good idea yes, but what about your dick and balls? That would be my only concern in giving this a try.”


    Strangely enough, that was the original big bonus for me, the privates, and you didn’t mention the behind parts.

    TMI, but I used to have awful bouts of some sort of stinky, slimy, itchy stuff going on down there and I count 18 months with nothing, not even this summer doing a move and working actively in the heat.

    We’re animals. incidentally, since I switched my bitch dog to full raw feeding a few months ago, she quit gnawing at her hind bits & pieces.

    We’re all animals and you didn’t get taught that in school. You were taught that you were special, and had a personal magician looking out for you.

    1. We’re animals. incidentally, since I switched my bitch dog to full raw feeding a few months ago, she quit gnawing at her hind bits & pieces.

      (I assume that the first part was meant to go with the next paragraph.)

      Richard, I might have missed something, but what does giving your bitch dog full raw feeding have to do with your stinky, slimy, itchy animal crotch? WTF man, come on…

    2. I don’t have a personal magician, but I DO have magic soap to clean body-mind-soul-spirit, instantly uniting One! All One!

  90. when i was in my early 20s i had a bad break of acne. i didn’t have acne when i was a teenager. after a year of applying everything to my face i stopped it all. i haven’t used soap on my face since my early 20s (12 or 13 years and counting) and have had no problems. i can’t even remember the last time soap or anything of its ilk was on my face. no problems.

  91. Actually dandruff may have many causes, if it is from Seborrheic dermatitis, for example, simply taking colder and more frequent showers may stop it (though not curing it, because it is genetics baby!).

  92. I’d like to try this, but I have a history of being stinky (which I could smell myself, by the way) and having super greasy hair. I’m not sure I’d be able to make it through the transition period.

  93. I live in Canada, and I have eczema. When the weather gets cold and the air gets dry I used to turn into a crusty creature. I stopped using soap about a year ago with a few exceptions.

    I still wash my hands. I work at the Toronto Eaton Centre, and it has millions of visitors, and they touch everything, and they all have dirty hands. I wash my hands after going to the bathroom, before I eat, and it’s the first thing I do when I get home.

    I still use soap on my nether regions. The no soap thing is working great, but I’m going to continue washing my bum.

    I stopped lathering up to shave, I just shave in the shower now under the shower head. I waste a bit more water, but I send less soap into the lake. Sue me.

    I don’t have much hair left, so a brisk rub on the head with a wash cloth is all I need to wash my hair. I can also use a wash cloth to comb it too :-)

    My wife says my hair is softer and skin is better than it’s ever been.

    I’ve pretty much stopped using all the cortizone and lotions I used to have smear on everyday.

    If I do a lot of dirty work, I sit in a hot tub instead of having a shower, and I soak the grunge away. The dirt comes away with the dead skin. Gross but true.

    I wash the tub with cleaners though :-)

    The only time I ever stink is if I wash with soap. When I do, my arm pits reek, and my wife tells me to put on deodorant.

    I thought this was a joke when I read about it on BoingBoing a year ago. I tried it. I was convinced.

    Just reading the chemical soup of ingredients on the shampoo and lotions bottles makes me cringe.

    I’m reasonably scientifically literate, and I don’t know what most of that stuff is.

    If I was told at work I had to smear that stuff on myself as part of my job, I’d be asking for the WHMIS sheets and health studies; yet we happily buy that stuff from the grocer, take it home and rub it into our warm and open pores, and ignore the fact that consumer items aren’t subject to WHMIS guidelines.

    1. @mathdemon

      “Richard, I might have missed something, but what does giving your bitch dog full raw feeding have to do with your stinky, slimy, itchy animal crotch? WTF man, come on…”

      I can’t tell you specifically, because I don’t have a research team. What I can tell you is of my own results and those whom I’m charged with protecting — and if you knew my blog you’d know I was hugely into self-experimentation.

      My wife, who likes to walk the dogs where other are walking theirs constantly reports to me of others’ amazement at the age of our dogs. Well, one day about 5 years ago I wondered why my 7 yr-old rat terrier male was slowing down, getting a bit fat, getting lethargic. I did some Googling, found out he’s basically a wolf, genetically engineered through selective breeding (sizes and various colors come from inbreeding over time). So I switched him to a commercial food that seeks to somewhat mimic a natural diet. Evo. Grain free, low carb. It has organ meats, which carnivores prefer.

      Low and behold, he began getting chipper, lost all his excess fat, and now at 12, is more energetic and lively than he was at 7. Go figure.

      Some months ago I switched to a commercial product that’s raw: meat, bones & organs at 95%, vegetable matter at 5%. And to our amazement, he’s even gotten more better. His coat is like mink.

      The bitch, Nuke, is only about 6 or so, and she’s a weird one, not a lover like Rotor. But the raw feeding has had a huge effect on her agitated nature and habitual nawing at herself.

      The relation is that many people, if you check the comments, have reported that a paleo diet of meat, fish, fowl, veggies, a bit of fruits and nuts have accomplished largely the same thing.

      But not for all. To take the next step, they quite slathering themselves daily with chemicals and the story was complete. Now, self wise, each has to find the acceptable to exquisite ground for themselves. I can’t tell you. All I can do it tell you what I’ve done, and try to give you as much information as I can.

      Animal to animal.

    2. Hi. Also being a Canadian interested in WHMIS, you might like The WHMIS Warble parody song hopefully soon to be posted to boingboing (and currently also on youtube). It’s not quite a soap opera (-;

  94. Here’s a very basic explanation why we use soap from Larry Chaffin, an Undergraduate in Microbiology, Columbus:

    “We use soap to clean ourselves because water alone would be ineffective by itself. Our skin produce oils which dirt and other things such as bacteria can get trapped in. Because the chemical properties of water and oil are different in that the two cannot be mixed together so water alone cannot remove the oil and trapped dirt. Soaps have chemical properties that can mix with both oil and water. Soap has a chain-like structure that allows one end of it to bind to the oil and the other end to water molecules. This allows the oil that contains dirt to be removed and washed away. It is the chemical properties of soap that makes it effective in cleaning ourselves. Warm and hot water help the soap to work faster in breaking up the oils and dirt. One important thing about soap is that not only does it remove the dirt and oil from our skin, but it also helps remove bacteria that can be harmful and cause illness.

    Very good question and I hope this helped answer it. Please feel free to ask any other questions that you might have.”

    1. This posted while I was replying. Thank you for the information. Now I have a lead on where to start researching and more information about what you were alluding to in your earlier posts.

  95. I started this same experiment a year ago as well after reading this article and have had similar great results. My skin is clear where as before I had some acne on my shoulders and most people actually say I smell good. Everybody also commits on how my hair is softer and has more body to it now. This was easily one of the best moves I ever made.

  96. I knew a girl whose father, many years back, worked in a rural plant that rendered dead horses into dogfood. She claimed that when dad came home from work, she and her siblings would either gag or actually vomit from the smell. No soap, really?

  97. not to get too gross, but for me B.O. seems to depend on what I eat. Coffee and onions seems to come out of my pores. And the soap and shampoo take it all away. When I was a kid I had dandruff but I think it was because I didnt rinse out the shampoo well enough. A little more rinsing took care of that issue.

  98. Another apparent advantage to not using soap on the face: It seems to slow the appearance of aging. I mainly don’t use soap because it causes me eczema. But it may have something to do with the fact that people usually assume I’m 8-10 years younger than I actually am. I used to think I just had lucky genes, but then I had dinner with a South Beach gay dude who looked near 27 but was actually 38. His secret: “Do NOT use soap on your face. EVER. All those soapy chemicals will just damage your skin. Just use a wash cloth with warm water.”

  99. I’m also one year in after reading about it on BB.

    I do make some minor adjustments. I still shampoo my hair. I go 95% soap-less. I still use soap on my underarms, butt and crotch (what a classy sounding sentence that is). Obviously still wash my hands as normal before meals and at other regular intervals.

    Conclusion: HUGE improvement in skin condition. Especially here during Canadian winter. Artificial heating used to dry out my skin and each day during the winter I’d spend time slathering lotion on or end up being itchy. Quite frankly it was annoying. And it was the reason I thought I’d give this experiment a go. Now I’m no longer itchy or lotion-y… so I’ve certainly had positive results. Highly recommended!

  100. Here’s a question for people – how much of your body do you actually wash with soap anyway? When I take a shower the soap is only touching about 10% (at most) of my body. I use it in pits and crotch, only. I shampoo my hair. The majority of my body is currently not being soaped – so how is this much of a difference?
    I have a terrible time with my pit odour too. I’ve found by far the most successful thing – more so than soap, more so than deodorant – is keeping it trimmed. Hair traps odour. Keep it trimmed.
    We know that our body has bacteria that are important for us to stay healthy – our whole digestive system has a balance of necessary bacteria that are critical in keeping us alive. Upset the balance, either through diet or medication and you have problems. The skin is an organ – I don’t have a hard time believing that what we put on our skin could affect the bacterial balance that is best for health.

    1. “but it is true water isn’t enough once you do have certain infections.”

      Like skin infections?Haven’t had one in more than 18 months (since I stopped using soap and shampoo), so I couldn’t tell you.

      But if I did and it was serious, I’d just go get a prescription antibiotic and apply it to the spot.

      Or, are you arguing for daily prophylactic measures over the course of a lifetime, justincase?

  101. Weighted down by the oils? They’re a natural and important part of the integumentary system.

  102. Diet, relative humidity, hormonal balance, genetics & pH are a factor. This may not work for everyone. True story.

  103. i’ve done this before. the same applies to any sort of moisturizer you use on your body as well such as body lotions or lip balms, the more you use them, the more your body gets used to it.

    the body generally has a natural tendency to moisturize and cleanse itself.

    the reason natural oils and grease kick in is because the body is so used to the imbalance of not having produced these things that it goes into overdrive by producing a lot of it on the first or second day of not showering with shampoo/soap. give it a couple more days after and it will automatically figure out how much natural oil it needs to release.

    soaps and shampoo’s have a tendency to strip away your natural oils which is why the cosmetic industry pushes conditioners and body lotions on you.

    sean, i’m guessing you could do the same by not using any sort of lotion/facewash/chapstick and do the same. people who use chapstick on a regular basis have the same issue, that once they start, they can’t stop because their body thinks it’s already moist enough on their lips and it doesn’t need to produce anymore. give it a day or two and the moisture levels with normalize by themselves.

  104. There’s clearly a few germaphobes on here who just cant handle the fact that they live in a bacteria filled world. We have a growing body of evidence that our efforts to kill bacteria have infact resulted in new strains of resistant bacteria.
    And as for Cutting Ogres comment:
    “You’re encouraging a trend that may be unhealthy” – There are doctors (I’m sitting next to one on the sofa right now) that suggest we should be introducing ourselves to the weakest bacteria to help build immunity. A friend of mine has Crohn’s. He has two kids and was talking to his specialist about if there was anything they should do for the kids to stave off any potential genetic predisposition. The doctor’s advice – don’t let them be too clean. Their bodies need to learn to build tolerance.

    1. Bacteria can develop resistance to antibiotics, sure, but they don’t develop resistance to mechanical processes. The idea that physically removing the grease around them could result in untreatable pathogens makes no sense.

      We live in a bacteria-filled world, most of them are good, and people can be underexposed to them. And yet walking barefoot in mud is how many serious diseases spread. Everything is a matter of balance; listen to nature’s way but know it isn’t always the best one.

  105. The author seems to assume soap has always existed as some corporate product. Is it possible society started using soap because it gives us an important benefit?

    Would you feel as brazen about the no-soap idea if others did the same? What if your doctor and nurse stopped handwashing? Would you not flinch at all, knowing your doctor just came from examining a patient on contact precautions (i.e. someone with an infection spread by physical contact)? How about the chef at your favorite restaurant who just took a good poo and went straight from wiping his arse to tossing you a fresh salad? Eww, right? But that is what is on your hand right now, if you’re refusing to do proper handwashing. There is a good REASON for using soap as part of your hygiene routine.

    If you’re uncomfortable with artificial scents or too many chemicals, there are many all-natural formulas on the market. But for goodness sake, at least use soap to wash those hands.

  106. @ cuttingogre-
    Really?! It’s anecdotal?! I would have never guessed, considering it’s a person retelling their own personal experience.

    There’s only one thing more annoying than anti-science people. it’s pro-science fanatics who can’t get through their heads that there are two types of research – quantitative and qualitative.
    You can not quantitate experience. Science has been trying and failing for the past 400 years.
    Science is great, I love it. But there are some things that qualitative research is perfectly apt and appropriate.

    Anyone with half an ounce of intellect knows that an individual writing a blog posting about their personal experience does not equal scientific rigour.
    Anecdotal information is great for a lot of things. If someone tells me that it’s raining do I need do a controlled experiment to decide to grab my umbrella before I go out the door?
    It’s amazing how some people are as evangelical about “science” beyond reason as some religious fanatics are about their faith. Science is supposed to be based in reason, but you failed the first reason test of the whole discussion.

  107. Instead of rubbing chemical soap all over your body why don’t you just use some natural soap like olive soap? Not using any soap at all is metaphorically speaking like saying that you don’t like cars because they are burning gasoline and then not only giving up using cars but also giving up riding bicycle. OR: saying that you don’t like animals to be killed for your food and giving up eating veggies.

  108. I have not used shampoo except occasionally for about fifteen years. I used to have very long hair, sometimes long enough for a ponytail. It took a couple of weeks for my scalp to adjust it’s oil output but then it simply ceased to be an issue. I have gone as long as 18 months without using anything at all but every so often I will do something that gets me really dirty (like sanding furniture) and I require some bubbles to help get rid of the fine fine particles on my scalp. Forgoing shampoo has not cured my dandruff however and every so often I use shampoo when it gets really bad. Now that I have less hair, the dandruff is much more noticeable and I find it annoying. Soap I find to be very useful and now that I am married, I don’t think my wife would put up with such an experiment..

  109. I’ve been soap free (almost) for a year now as well. Best thing I’ve ever done. I still use shampoo because I use product in my hair but I think I’ll try the no shampoo thing too. I only use soap on the private bits. I started using soap again on my armpits a while back and discovered that I actually started getting BO again, so I started using deodorant to make up for it. Then I clued in and stopped using soap on my underarms again. No BO. No need for deodorant again.

    I of course wash my hands with soap as I’ve always done just as I believe most if not all the people who have posted here are doing.

  110. It’s funny that the author mentions no soap/shampoo being a plus for travel; if there’s any place I *want* to bathe with soap, it’s in another country. After a long day in the humid Brazilian jungle or baking alive on the coast of Peru, nothing gets all that sweat and who knows what was in that water out of my hair, and clean it (and the city pollution) off my body. Especially if you’re traveling in a place with “soft” water.

    As a data point, I’ve been going shampoo free now for about three years (minus traveling)with zero ill effects (other than the strange looks I got telling my barber about that the first time). I have medium/avg thickness light brown/blond hair and works great with medium-short cut hair.

  111. Amazing that this is the longest and harshest comment thread on Boing Boing right now. Not over Wikileaks or DRM or even Harlan Ellison. Nope: Over soap. FUCKING SOAP.

  112. I tried the no soap thing for a month after the article arrived last year. The result: massive acne outbreaks. I never had such horrible complexion, even as a teenager. After tolerating it for a couple of weeks, I went back to using soap, and the acne cleared up over the course of a week. So, this whole “balance” thing only works for some people.

  113. Once a guy stood all day shaking bugs from his hair. The doctor told him there were no bugs in his hair. After he had taken a shower for eight hours, standing under hot water hour after hour suffering the pain of the bugs, he got out and dried himself, and he still had bugs in his hair; in fact, he had bugs all over him. A month later he had bugs in his lungs.

    Having nothing else to do or think about, he began to work out theoretically the life cycle of the bugs, and, with the aid of the _Britannica_, try to determine specifically which bugs they were. They now filled his house. He read about many different kinds and finally noticed bugs outdoors, so he concluded they were aphids. After that decision came to his mind it never changed, no matter what other people told him . . . like “Aphids don’t bite people.”

    They said that to him because the endless biting of the bugs kept him in torment. At the 7-11 grocery store, part of a chain spread out over most of California, he bought spray cans of Raid and Black Flag and Yard Guard. First he sprayed the house, then himself. The Yard Guard seemed to work the best.

  114. I feel a thought experiment coming on.

    “Because my body is designed to regulate itself, I have also decided to stop using medicines. Ingesting chemicals wrecks its own built-in processes.”

    So, why does what I just said sound like quackery, if the same thing with “soap” instead of “medicine” does not?

    1. Do you take medicine every day to hopefully preempt any illness?

      Medicine is reactive. Soap is preemptive. That’s the difference.

      1. Do you take medicine every day to hopefully preempt any illness?

        Yeah, actually, I do. Lots of people do. I could name a whole list of medical conditions which can cause illnesses if not controlled.

        Surely you were aware of this phenomenon.

        1. Taking medicine to control a medical condition is reactive, it’s reacting to the condition. My argument is valid, reactive and preemptive are not the same thing.

    2. it doesn’t sound like quackery. Not every drug marketed today is of practical use. Drugs should be used with the greatest of caution. Just cuz your doc says it’s the bees knees doesn’t mean that it is. People need to take greater responsibility for what they ingest… not just cuz a doc said so….

  115. I do a slightly modified version of this experiment – I only soap the smelly bits, and I wash my hands with soap, but I don’t use it anywhere else. I wash my hair with baking soda and vinegar, brush my teeth with soap and occasionally with baking soda, and use coconut oil as my deodorant.

    I was inspired by an article that noted that we shower too much and don’t wash our hands enough, and that handwashing with soap is actually much more important than slathering strange chemicals all over our bodies.

    When I started washing my hair with baking soda/vinegar, I asked my girlfriend to smell it. She reported that my hair smelled of fabric softener. I have no idea where that might have come from, as I do not use fabric softener on my laundry, but I figure that fabric softener smell is not a bad thing, right?

  116. I tried the no-shampoo thing a while back based on an article here. At first and for a while it worked *great*. My dandruff decreased to almost nothing and my scalp no longer stunk if I didn’t wash it every day.
    However in the last 1-2 months my dandruff got steadily worse again, to the point of being ridiculous. I tried tweaking how often I showered, scrubbed my scalp longer, etc. to no avail. I finally broke down two weeks ago and bought a bottle of dandruff shampoo. Dandruff back to nearly-gone. I’m thoroughly frustrated now, as no-shampoo *was* working, then stopped and my scalp got terrible. It may just be the dry winter air. Will experiment again come spring.

    Never tried no-soap though, as I have too many messy hobbies (car repair, etc) that make scrubbing with soap both physically and psychologically necessary to feel “clean”.

  117. I tried the not washing the hair with shampoo etc for about 3 months… I looked like a skank! But to be fair, my hair is very long (I’m female), I now use CHEMICAL free shampoo and conditioner, but I only wash my hair twice a week.
    We live a 98% chemical free existence through necessity. My husband has chemical encephalopathy (brain damage) from an industrial accident. All petrochemical based stuff cause major issues, including anything from increased tremor, loss of balance, pain, memory loss to unconsciousness.
    I say, good luck to you if a soap free existence fits your lifestyle. But their are 1000’s of ways to eliminate chemicals from your life. Contact me if you need help.

    1. In Regards to a chemical free existence- I would like to know more, but alas, you were anon. As for soap- I do the pits, privates, and hands but since I have chemical sensitivities I never use the soap in public bathrooms. I use the water and then a little tiny bit of hand disinfectant from my purse. This is my life for more than 30 years. Shampoo (once a week)- can only use Aveda since I react to everything else. The ideas are interesting but for me not practical. I tried the baking soda for my underarms and had a massive rash after 2 weeks so that is also out.

  118. Holy cow! 198 comments???

    Anyways. I’ve been going shampoo-free for almost a year and it solved my perpetual badass frizzy hair problem.

    Over the years, I had tried dozens of anti-frizz shampoos, conditioners, oil treatments, gels and sprays with absolutely no results (except for lost dollars). Two weeks after dropping all products, my hair was finally soft and silky. I do use a bit of conditioner because my hair is quite curly, but no shampoo. Worked wonders for me.

  119. Geeze. It’s not just odor that soap removes. I don’t care if anyone doesn’t smell thanks to no-soap bathing. Dirt and bacteria can get trapped in your skin, and water is not enough to remove it. Your body can fight off a lot of bacteria, but not the whole picnic. It’s not just odor!

    1. A little balance to the claims that “scientists are not impressed:”

      As a biochemist with a Ph.D. and significant experience working on host-pathogen interactions, I have to tell you that you and your undergraduate friend from Columbus are making claims that are just as unsubstantiated as those on the other side of the argument may be (and which, furthermore, dramatically over-simplify the way we interact with bacteria).

      I know a number of talented and knowledgable scientists (real scientists, btw, not undergraduate students), who ARE impressed with this stuff. I know many who are not, of course, but most thoughtful researchers do at least admit that we tend to over-chemical and over-product ourselves.

    2. Actually, I think the whole point of not using soap is retaining the healthy ecosystem that is our skin organ without washing off all the beneficial bacteria and oils. The point is, our skin does its own job better than soap. However, if you continuously remove this ecosystem, it doesn’t just come back in a day, it requires time to get going. Once established, the benefits as you can see from dozens of people in this thread are numerous: healthy, feel good skin, loss of acne, good color, softer, loss of dandruff, loss of eczema, etc.

      1. I’ve been looking, but I can’t find anything beyond common gentle soaps that do what you describe. If you or someone can find a good source to support that, then that would be important to consider. But until then, it’s only speculative. What I’ve found so far actually say that it’s important to use gentle surfactants for a healthy integumentary system. So any sources of information to support what you describe would be helpful.

  120. “Medicine is reactive. Soap is preemptive. That’s the difference.”

    Huh? I use soap to clean up after I’m dirty, not before. And on the other side, plenty of preventative “medicines” out there. Echninacea, St. John’s wort, coffee (for me!)…

    For the record, I love me some soap. But I don’t begrudge those who don’t. To each of ya’ yer own (provided you don’t create stink and/or transmittable diseases… goes without sayin’.)

  121. I’ve been doing this for a year as well, mostly because I’m lazy and not having to use soap in the shower is faster.

    I do use soap when washing my hands and for shaving and that’s about it.

    About the only time I use skin lotion is in the winter because it’s so dry. I do think I’m using a bit less lotion than I was before.

    I also use deodorant (not anti-perspirant, never have) but that’s more for social reasons. I did ask my wife if I smell and she says I don’t smell as perfume-y as when I used soap.

    Works for me.

    Your Mileage May Vary.

  122. He called the people to him again and said, ‘Listen to me, all of you, and understand. Nothing that goes into someone from outside can make that person unclean; it is the things that come out of someone that make that person unclean. Anyone who has ears for listening should listen!’He said to them, ‘Even you — don’t you understand? Can’t you see that nothing that goes into someone from outside can make that person unclean, because it goes not into the heart but into the stomach and passes into the sewer? And he went on, ‘It is what comes out of someone that makes that person unclean. For it is from within, from the heart, that evil intentions emerge: fornication, theft, murder,adultery, avarice, malice, deceit, indecency, envy, slander, pride, folly. All these evil things come from within and make a person unclean.’

  123. The problem is more to do with the cheap and nasty soaps that get sold at the supermarket. After ‘investing’ in some good quality soaps, shampoos and deodorants recommended by my hair dresser, I found most of my dry skin, dandruff and yellow armpit problems went away

  124. I remember the original article (has it really been a year?) and I discussed it with my girlfriend at the time. Back then I rode five miles to the office every day, so the month+ recalibration period wouldn’t have worked out. But now that I’m self-employed, I think I might just give it a go. If I do I’ll be as scientific as possible by not telling her until at least a month into it.

    I’ve already gone fifteen years without brushing my hair, at least five years without conditioner, and have only been shampooing it about twice a week (with Trader Joe’s Tea Tree Oil shampoo… highly recommended). My hair is utterly smooth, tangle-free, etc.

    It’s been nearly ten years since I used deodorant and I’ve got a brutally honest girlfriend and an even more brutally honest gay friend. Neither hesitates to tell me when I stink and I get perfectly consistent feedback from each of them: after hard exertion (long bike ride, any length of run, etc.) they both tell me that I smell like pennies. That’s it. In fact, he’s such a germophobe that he still doesn’t know about the deodorant thing.

  125. personally, I don’t see what the big deal is, I haven’t used soap since like 2003. Seriously. I met some train hopper/hobo kids and after the discussion about body/hair oils and the benefits of keeping them around I stopped the next day and said I would do it for a month as a trial. I have never looked back since. After an initial breaking in period of maybe a few weeks to a month, your body stops over producing hair “grease” etc.. which it was doing in order to compensate for having it stripped away on a daily basis, the whole system functions with a pretty nice balance (as things in nature tend to do)
    also- if you have dandruff problems, skip the nasty treatment shampoos- an occasional treatment with apple cider vinegar does wonders for your head’s PH balance…

  126. Back in the early 90s I was on an amphetamine-based medication that made me stink no matter how many baths/showers I took with soap. Even deodorant wouldn’t cover it enough. While I didn’t try it at the time, I’m guessing that someone trying the no-soap system in a similar situation may not report positive results, either.

    I don’t doubt Sean’s claims that it works for him, just saying that there may be additional factors that would hamper success for others.

    Expecting your body to regulate itself while you’re putting chemicals into it, for example.

  127. I too tried this after reading the original article. After around a month or so I stopped but quickly switched to an all-natural castile soap (which consists of olive oil, lye and water, that’s all). It was hard to find and took a couple of goes to find one I liked but I think it’s a good compromise between just scrubbing and putting chemicals all over yourself.

    I still use deodorants, though. My wife has a *very* strong sense of smell and there’s no way anyone could get away without it, but she didn’t complain when I’d stopped using soap any more than she normally would.

    Castile soap is also *fantastic* for shaving (with blade or electric wet razors). So, if like me no soap seems a stretch too far, hunt down castile soap. And start looking critically at all the chemicals in just about every bar of soap you pick up.

  128. There are a lot of reasons why people will not smell great. If you’re not healthy, it will be reflected in your body odor. If you’re in good shape and eat natural foods and aren’t suffering from some sort of infection or other disease, your natural odor should smell good to most people, even if you’ve gone a couple days between washings. A damp washcloth to the pits and crotch goes a long way, if only to scrub the dead skin and oils away. If you’re camping or homeless or something, individually wrapped moist towelettes from KFC will also get the job done.

    I have found that soap doesn’t do great things to my skin elsewhere, I never use it except for my pits, crotch, and hands. I use deodorant when getting out of the shower, and shampoo a couple times a week usually. My hair is vastly better looking after several days without washing. I have to use gel or hairspray to keep it from looking frizzy and shitty the day I wash it, though I rarely bother. After a week or so without washing my hair my scalp starts to get sore and my hair gets very greasy and tends to go in strange directions, in matted clumps, with bits of stray hairs making clear to all that this is a head in need of washing. Maybe it would go away after a while, but frankly my hair looks amazing 3 out of 4 days, before I wash it again. If I don’t wash my hair in the shower I avoid getting it wet or washing it without shampoo, because that shortens the length of time that it looks good. If I get caught in the rain with good looking slightly greasy hair, it’s sometimes ruined and just looks unkempt.

    While at the lake, I’ve often gone a week or two at a stretch without soap, just scrubbing pits and crotch with my hand while in the water. I feel like going totally soap-free in that respect is fine, and if anything it leaves a fairly pleasant body odor, but I noticed that you’ll seriously smell bad if you go a day without doing it, even if you go swimming anyway, whereas if I use soap I can go a few days between showers before I can notice anything in the way of B.O. or swamp butt or anything like that. My guess is that the scrubbing off the dead skin and the water gets the vast majority, but doesn’t do as thorough a job of getting rid of bacteria as soap, so it comes back a lot faster. And two weeks is definitely not long enough to get my hair to look its best sans-shampoo, though the sun and frequent immersion and drying does give it a certain wild charm, and it remains fairly consistent after a couple days, and usually doesn’t give me quite the sore scalp like I get if I’m not washing my hair for a week, for whatever reason. I dunno. I have an epic amount of fine soft brown hair, kept kind of long for a guy, but not as long as I’ve had it in the past.

  129. I’ve been without soap for about 3 years, I highly recommend it. Gradually after I started, the time between showers got longer, and now I pretty much don’t even shower anymore, except a few times a year (cause it feels nice, or I got really dirty and need to do something clean right quick). And I feel cleaner overall than when I washed regularly. This is kind of my own thing and I don’t necessarily recommend it like ditching soap. Note I live in the dry west also.

  130. “This article does not connect to a soap-free lifestyle.”

    That’s true, but you can refuse to connect as many dots as you like.

  131. CuttingOgres,

    I took out your comment because you’re just snarking at people. Give it a rest.

  132. “All this guy has is personal anecdotes. Personal anecdotes do not = science. That’s why clinical trials are conducted on large sample scales under expert review.”

    That’s all any honest person has. I just choose not to bullshit, baffle & blind with “science.”

    Or, is it that you like to be fooled in only a particular way?

    You can go read the 300+ comments on the original post linked, the 150+ comments on the update in February ’10, and the 100+ comments on the most recently published and judge for yourself, if that’s enough anecdote sampling for you.

  133. I am no zealot, but I did do the hair experiment. To add my experience, when I had long hair for 8 years, the last two and a half years I tried no shampoo, based on a friend’s personal experiments. Washed every day with hot water, and more scrubbing than with shampoo. It took about two or three weeks for the greasy hair to work itself out, and then it became really nice. As a man with long hair for five years before, I had never had so many women ask what my secret was, and they often wrinkled their nose at the answer, forgetting that they loved how my hair looked and felt.
    We really do have a stigma about a practice (washing hair every day with shampoo) that is a very recent development, and also much more of an American practice.
    The downsides: longer scrubbing (about 45 seconds in the shower, as opposed to 15 with shampoo), and even more work to get out smells like cigarette smoke from a night out, and I would get “itchy head” if I didn’t wash for more than two days.
    I now have very short hair, and shampoo, because I like the smell and the process. But for those that try it out and give up before week three, they aren’t doing the experiment.
    I really don’t think we NEED as much as we think as far as external chemicals, and have wondered, along those lines, if the reason why my lips are never dry (except for day 1 in the desert), and why my skin is never dry (except after mixing concrete without gloves) is because I don’t ever use chapstick or lotion.


  134. yeah, this is not necessarily a good idea. The term “mind your own beeswax” comes from the fact that in the 1700s women’s faces were so pock marked by their 20s from no soap that they used beeswax to make their skin appear smooth.

  135. Soap is a waste – just use a wet washcloth. It’s soothing, massaging, and exfoliating, too. I use it to scrub my beard, as well.

    When I had short hair, I used no shampoo. With longer hair, it’s best that I shampoo (or it gets tacky). Once-a-week shampoo is what I’m doing.

    For a time, I washclothed my hair, as well. The results seemed to indicate that I was raping my hair – split ends galore. …Seemed like a lot of “damage” and stripping done. So I stopped “washclothing” my hair.

    Dandruff has significantly reduced, yes.

    Deodorant, I tried going without, but I ended up stinking an hour out of the shower. As compromise, a light “smear” of Tom’s 12-hour deodorant usually does the job.

    Thank you for challenging our sheep-like, wasteful, and polluting habits, brought to us by the “good people” who gave us excuses (such as St. Valentines Day, for example) to make and sell more stuff.

    To healthy living!

  136. “Geeze. It’s not just odor that soap removes. I don’t care if anyone doesn’t smell thanks to no-soap bathing. Dirt and bacteria can get trapped in your skin, and water is not enough to remove it. Your body can fight off a lot of bacteria, but not the whole picnic. It’s not just odor!”

    And what do you know about those bacteria? Bet you don’t know that you have about 10 times as many bacteria in your gut as cells in your body. You may in fact be simply an evolutionary device to carry forward certain strains of bacteria.

    Doesn’t mean you must sacrifice yourself to them, but you act ignorantly, as though bacteria = bad. In fact, you would be dead without trillions of them in your intestinal tract.

    So thank the bacteria God.

  137. While I expect it does work out for a lot of people, I worked with this guy over the summer in an outdoor mechanic garage. Needless to say, you couldn’t get within ten feet of him. Maybe his body hadn’t adjusted yet…but apparently it’s not for everyone.

  138. Have been no-soap or shampoo for a year now, and I absolutely recommend it. I take a hot shower every day and scrub with a cloth.
    That’s it. Can’t believe I used soap for 32 years.

  139. Curious, how many people here who have said they’ve done it are actually women? I saw ONE. (And how many were men with long hair? MOST!)
    Anyway, I am a woman and I really do NOT have the time to readjust. Looking and feeling gross for 6 weeks is just not in the books. Also, I like that clean feeling. I’ve been camping before where I didn’t have a shower every day and it was the most DISGUSTING feeling. I couldn’t wait to shower, I even queued for 3 hours to get one! Maybe my hair and face get greasy faster because I use soap and shampoo, OR maybe they are naturally greasy and I NEED that stuff anyway…
    Plus people who wash their face with soap are crazy. That stuff is pretty harsh, the most you want to use is a very basic gentle cleanser. STOP USING SOAP ON YOUR FACE! Once I knew someone who used DISHWASHING liquid as soap. Even on his face and hair 8-/

  140. This is the problem with Americans: either you wash three times a day, or you don’t wash at all. How many century will it take you to reinvent In medio stat virtus?

  141. I *like* my Dr Bronners. Around the time of the original article, though, I stopped using shampoo. My hair’s been much happier since then.

  142. Does this work for dogs? I know my husky has never been washed at all ,even with water , and the stink is unbearably gross!

    1. As for smelly dogs, I wash my adult dog once a month. Just the privates with a Puppy shampoo diluted. It doesn’t really solve anything but it makes my Man happy. It’s my dog’s breath that stinks, not his body. Still working on this one.

  143. “CuttingOgres in reply to Sean Bonner

    “Please reread my original post, I never said “this is science” I said it’s something I tried that worked for me.”

    Eh, I don’t see where I wrote that you did. In fact, I don’t see a reply on my part to you at all.”

    He wrote the post you’re commenting on. Heh.

  144. Admittedly, I did not read every single comment. But what about “homemade” soap? I make my own soap: olive & almond oil, lye, beer and a bit of essential oil. I wonder how that figures in?

  145. This article made me think of the Grapes of Wrath. In the book the main character said he didn’t feel like he needed to take a shower every day until he started showering more and more lol.
    Sounds cool maybe I’ll try it

  146. I live in France at the moment… A country where this theory is regularly put to the test. I will safely say that, at best, it’s a 50/50 split…Half of the people who try this will probably stink.

  147. I also tried this after last years article. I made a point not to tell my wife to see if see would notice and she didn’t. After a couple of weeks I couldn’t take it anymore, I felt too greasy. I can’t handle anything oily on my skin, no lotion, sunscreen not even deodorant. It made my skin secrete natural oils and I couldn’t take it and had to give up. Years ago I stopped using typical soap and switch to Dr Bronners unscented soap in the winter and eucalyptus in the summer to repel mosquitoes and have never looked back. Add a few drops of tea tree oil for dandruff or lice. That’s all you need.

  148. I too started after the Boing Boing article. My hair was nice but I never got to the point I could use nothing, I was using Baking Soda and the diluted cider vinegar after rinse about every third week when my hair started going a bit mental. Maybe I needed to go cold turkey. Dandruff was variable, started off completely going and then seemed to come back but then start fading again. I have gone over to a Lush natural shampoo for now so I’m not having the chems but get a good clean.
    Not noticed anything with my skin but I never took much notice. Not had any negative comments (but as others have said that could just be politeness). I do use one of those net scrubby things and give a good hard scrub to get all the dead skin off. I suppose I do feel better in my self though.
    May not be related but I haven’t had a day off sick this year (though always been fairly healthy) even with my whole office and family having gone down with something. Maybe I am the carrier!
    I think one problem people have is they equate not using soap/shampoo to not washing. I still bathe, I still rinse my hair. It does make going away on camps easier as I know I just need a quick rinse and all is OK.
    I do accept it probably isn’t for everyone and I am pretty sure water hardness/chemical make up has something to do with it. Maybe a scientific study should be done. Would be interesting.

  149. Paleo methods are brilliant. If you live in the Paleolithic.

    Unfortunately/fortunately we don’t.
    We wear tight knit clothes in multiple layers, and live tightly in towns and cities with up to millions of inhabitants.
    Washing with soap is done to reduce the food supply on your outside so that germs have a more meager feeding ground, as well as to wash off germs (not kill germs, n.b.). So in effect, washing with soap isn’t just for YOU but also for the benefit of everyone around you. We live in a manufactured environment and need to adapt to that. Cleanliness has a big impact on epidemics, so my vote goes to a nice bar of soap or something similar. If you still use soap for your hands (which you should) then there may actually be a reason to use soap on the rest of your body (if less frequently).

    This is kind of like immunization; it only works (or works much better) if almost everyone does it.

    As for the stink/no stink.. Some people have more b.o. than others. I’ve been told by ex girlfriends and my wife that I have such a mild body odour that it’s hard to tell if I skip showers for the best part of a week. That doesn’t mean that I am CLEAN at the end of the week… (I usually shower daily or every second day anyway).

    B.O. is not the same as overall cleanliness.

  150. I think the main message is simply that we are using way to much of way to agressive products unneeded.

    I used the last +13 years or so no soap unless I worked for example on my bike (mainly only hands then) or did other stuff that makes you really really “dirty” ( not sweaty – I mean real dirty).

    I never was my hands with soap before meal or so.
    I DO however wash my hands always after toilet / before meal with hot (as hot as I can bear or is availabe) water.

    Showering (almost) every day with hot water, only using a little bit of shampoo every 2or 3 day’s for my hear and arm pit/pubic hear etc.
    And once a week a bit of oil based conditioner, my long hear needs it.

    Never have acne, draft or dry skin…
    Never use deo or perfume style products.
    Girlfriend(s) all agree(d) I smell just fine.

  151. I have thin, dry skin and haven’t used soap on my skin in 25 years. I shared this little bit of info with a group of women I was staying with at a retreat. They looked at me like I’d suddenly become a walking/talking pustule. The dental hygienist in the group couldn’t hush up about her outrage for days. But I don’t smell and only need to bathe every 2-3 days. For shaving I use a small amount of some collodial oatmeal-based bath gel.

    Also don’t use deodorant, even when working out several days a week, unless I’m consuming more than a few cups of tea a day. The caffeine (or general nervousness) seems to make me smelly, then I use the Liquid Rock-type deodorant.

    I persist in using toothpaste. My mother has dentures. She instilled a fear of failing to properly care for my teeth.

    Haven’t tried shampoo-free yet though. We live in a very low-humidity state. Might try that one today and see how it goes.

  152. I’m thinking people have told these people they stink but they still hold on to this delusion.

    What do these people do when normal life soils them? Checking the fluids in one’s car, dealing with a pooped bike chain, or any of that.

    And the hair thing… When I had long hair if I didnt wash it daily my scalp would hurt from all the weight of the oils.

    Havent used soap in a year… is your girlfriend still giving you oral sex?

    I agree that many people over wash… but seriously, use the carlin bathing method, because you smell. every person i have met that says they dont use soap and claims to not stink has smelled. lots of them smell like an unwashed assed, so i can only imagine what their actually ass smells like. Learn some freaken balance.

  153. I read the same article and started this last year… I scaled back in May after my wife complained about how my scent was affecting her. I was also kind of relieved because I was tired of my hair being so greasy. It could be because we’re a lot older than Sean or I just have a different body chemistry that the people this works for. But I will say that I have cut way back on my soap usage, and my showers are a lot faster than they used to be.

  154. I tried this after reading last year’s article too, and I use a whole lot less soap now. I still use deodorant, but you can clean everyday bodily dirt with just water and a quick scrub.

    Hair, though… I went without shampoo for a month or so, and it just got stickier and smellier. You may have more luck in a colder climate, but I still need to shampoo once a week or so.

  155. dandruff: pour listerine on your head and scrub it in and wash your hair. You won’t have dandruff after that one time. Try it!

  156. Here’s my anecdote, I was in a hospital for a bit over a week and couldn’t shower at all during that time. When I got back home, I noticed that my hair stayed cleaner a lot longer than it used to before. If only I’d had the presence of mind to not use shampoo after that, don’t think I’m getting another 3-4 weeks off to be smelly and awful any time soon.
    Also, I used to not brush my teeth at all for most of my life, I’m a heavy coffee drinker and smoker. When I did occasionally brush my teeth, they were sparkling white. Now when I brush regularly, they are sort of yellowish all the time.

  157. I stopped using soap and shampoo about the same time in response to the article and my experience is consistent with Sean’s: skin feels great, no apparent issues with BO. I keep my hair short so not really an issue. I never explicitly mentioned it to anyone, even my wife, but I since we have a two-person shower I think she’s noticed that I don’t use soap or shampoo. She’s never mentioned an odor issue and I think she would if it were serious.

    Mary Roach’s _Packing for Mars_ has a chapter on hygien research done by various space agencies. They all focused on complete lack of bathing, as opposed to regular water-only bathing, but they did establish that the body reaches an equilibrium point after about 6 days where the skin stops secreting oils and whatnot. The real issue appeared to be not changing clothes because they determined clothes absorb most of what the skin produces. This might explain the observed lack of stink: we westerners tend to change clothes every day and therefore will be removing potentially stinky stuff regularly.

  158. I stopped using shampoo and soap about a year ago, except I need something for shaving my armpits now and then… my hair was greasy like petting a dog for about a month, it was pretty gross, but then I learned to comb my scalp and hair in the shower and my hair has been ni-i-i-ice since then. Finally found a way to go more than 6 months without having a head full of split ends, so this means haircuts have become a lot cheaper, since I need one about once a year just to even up the ends.

    For shaving, I’ve tried soap and I’ve also tried using my leftover hair conditioner. The results are clear: soap causes a chemical reaction with my skin that makes me stink for probably 4 days afterward until my skin readjusts again. I use a loofa or a washcloth to clean my skin, and no soap except on my hands. But this shaving business every couple of weeks – plus working out daily and getting really sweaty – means I end up using deodorant, which also reacts with my skin to give me B.O.: Catch22!

    I also feel super-dry on my face when I get out of the shower, so end up slathering on the face cream most days. I’m trying to wean myself off this.

    I think next summer while camping I’m going to experiment with not using deodorant and see if I can break free of that, too. I’ve heard of using lemon slices now and then (a couple times a week maybe) or patting on a cornstarch/baking soda mixture.

    Wherever I end up with this, I am convinced that the whole shampoo/cleanser/deodorant industry is just another grand marketing scheme, convincing us we can’t live without something and then selling us tonnes of crap that actually is not good for us.

    Like the medical industry.

  159. I did this in college for three months. The result was a horrible, thick layer of dandruff and constant alpine ski slopes on my shoulders. My skin felt and looked very nice though.

  160. I personally haven’t used shampoo in years. It makes my hair dry and uncomfortable, although I have to keep my hair short or it does end up greasy. Nonetheless I can see this not working for some people who have more oil. I use deoderant and soap because I WILL smell otherwise.

    Basically I sincerely doubt this works for everybody. Some people are just oilier or sweatier or whatever. Although I do appreciate Sean’s very scientific approach of “It worked for me, so everyone who smells is doing it wrong.” No confirmation bias there!

  161. I gave up shampoo over the summer, after reading an article in the NYT about ‘women of a certain age’ with long hair. The writer had mentioned she had given up shampoo, and I’d heard about the curlygirl-no ‘poo hair technique, so I gave it a try. Its been *awesome*. Since June, I have used no shampoo at all. I use water and a good scrubbing, and sometimes, I use apple cider vinegar in water (usually every five days or so) and maybe once a month, some baking soda in water, but that’s rare.

    Gotta say, my hair *feels* awesome, and the curl is fantastic. It sproings naturally now, and I don’t even use much gel (devacurl is what I use, or some other shmancy stuff that rinses out with water.) After about 2 months, I stopped using conditioner as well, since things all regulated out. (also, I ran out.)

    And Anon 220? I’m a woman. With shoulder length hair. Going longer. It took me about a week or two to adjust. If you want to try it, throw a bandana on your hair or do it on a vacation. I started a Thursday and it took about a week of ick to get through it. When I mentioned it to the kids at school (I just graduated massage school) the majority of people were interested. A few girls didn’t wash their hair often, or with shampoo at all. No one person said my hair looked gross, and I’ve been getting compliments for the past few months about the colour as well.

    However, i did do a radical shift. In may, I had a full on mohawk and stopped dying my hair, so I have my natural colour back, and I kind of started ‘fresh’.

    I must say, since I travel so much, it makes life easier, it makes house sitting easier, it makes a random trip to my parents easier. And its one less thing to buy. So I’m in it partly because I like easy things, partly because I like saving money, and partly because, dude, I’m a massage therapist who’s last name is going to be ‘Lightheart’ soon. Its either this, or I start batiking my own clothing, and I suck at batiking.

    My husband also doesn’t need to freak out about what shampoo to buy for both of us either. I’m trying to get him on no ‘poo too, and I might look into this no soap thing. He has *super* dry skin, especially on his face and scalp, and I think that stuff dries him out.

  162. I stopped soap and shampoo after reading the Free the Animal blog and it’s been almost a year. I only smell bad if I go for more than 2 days without showering. My hair has never been healthier.

  163. I tried the no soap thing a year ago. That worked just fine. The no-poo method? Not so much. I have very fine, very oily long-ish hair. The apple cider vinegar/baking soda combo was just ok for a few weeks…and then my hair’s texture turned to hay. I suspect the no-poo method may work best on people who have short hair and/or hair that isn’t a complete oil factory. I was hoping the oiliness would balance out, but it didn’t.

  164. Wow! I stopped washing my hair with shampoo every day a year or two ago after reading an article that it was bad for your hair. I now wash it twice a week, but after reading this article I’m going to try not washing it at all. I honestly had never thought about the possibility of not using shampoo or soap, so thanks to opening my mind to that.

    One question: I’m young (28) but have a lot of grey hair (doesn’t bother me, I prefer that to going bald!). I started using “silver” shampoo a few months ago because a lot of people told me that grey hair can get a yellow tinge to it from pollution, dirty water, etc. I live in a huge city (São Paulo) so there is a lot of pollution here. For those with grey hair who don’t use shampoo, have you found that any discoloring takes place?

  165. What worked for me must also work for you.

    What doesn’t work for me cannot work for you.

    These are the rules.

  166. I tried the same thing starting a year ago. Maybe the same article! Lasted six months until my partner gave up and told me I smelled. She did not know I had gone without soap.

    Maybe it’s me…. :O(

  167. For a dry scalp, use apple cider vinegar. I shampoo once a week. I have very very long hair. The night before I shampoo, with a non-sulfate natural shampoo, I use a spray bottle and spray the vingegar on my scalp. I let it dry, go to bed, and wash the next day. No flakes and my hair is nice, shiny, and lustrous.
    BUT I would never stop using soap. I work too close to many people and they would complain!

  168. I have to kind of take issue with the primary premise here which is that the body is naturally self-balancing in such a way as to not produce an odor . . . all animal bodies produce odors and this is natural and for most animals signals what the sex hormones are up to and where in the reproductive cycle a given animal might be.

    Some people are not bothered by this odor and some are . . . like me. I really don’t like the way humans smell naturally.

    1. “Some people are not bothered by this odor and some are . . . like me. I really don’t like the way humans smell naturally.”

      I’d argue that you have no idea what people smell like naturally, and more likely know what people smell like when their bodies are producing all kinds of crazy crap to try and overcompensate for the unnatural state they are in most of the time due to the soap.

      1. No, you don’t know much about me or the crowds I run in, which include every kind of woo-woo true believer you can imagine and people who have been on the no-soap no-deoderant kick much longer than just a year.

        Some people smell just fine and some people really do stink. As has already been pointed out . . . your mileage may vary.

        1. Those natural smells that you smell aren’t natural enough if you don’t agree with my soaplessness. My body smells wonderful and I bathe with nothing but pure spring water and my own sense of self satisfaction.

      2. Well said – and, “OMG, how did people co-exist BEFORE (“life brought to you by better chemistry”)? Folks, I don’t know the facts, but deodorant (especially), soap, and (for sure) shampoo are all recent… say within the past 100 years.

        Were people revolting/rioting in the streets because they “couldn’t stand” the “smell of the world” anymore? …All of a sudden banging down the doors of Procter & Gamble and Gillette (for example) – pleading with them for soap, shampoo, and deodorant? I don’t think so.

        …Like everything else pushed onto us by companies – that “we need,” (more like, THEY need… our money, that is). These companies sold us on the products, promenading under scare tactics (“hygiene,” “cleanliness,” and, of course, “popluarity).

        Can you say, “Anti-bacterial” soap? What, regular soap wasn’t “good” enough – um, ahem, I mean, were sales of plain ‘ol soap stagnant and needed a little boost? …And Purell? How did ANYONE stay alive before THAT? AAAAAaaaaa!

        Maybe cut down a little on the tv exposure while you’re at it.

  169. Honestly I don’t know what the big deal about this bourgeoisie fad of not using soap or deoderant or flouride or whatever is.

    I mean, I actually *like* bathing with foo-foo bath products and using upscale men’s shaving stuff. But now that this stuff is common place the uber-trendy thing is to not use them at all!

    I dunno, I read that Julia Roberts does not shave her armpits or use deoderants when she is not working and I think that’s gross. I have a lot of crunchy granola hippy friends but this is a topic where we seriously part ways. Luckily my wife is on the same page as I am. . .

    1. See the last “paragraph” of comment #213 for the answer to your question… There’s a “taking responsibility” and “moderation/balance” element – beyond the notion of the self.

  170. Although I’m very willing to try using no shampoo, I’m a little more cautious about the no soap thing. My brother-in-law is from India, doesn’t use soap or deodorant and he smells HORRIBLE (I don’t know how my sister can stand it, but I’ve never felt comfortable bringing it up with her…) Plus, in Brazil people are very obsessed with personal hygiene and smell. I work at a lot of art/cultural events and whenever we have French visitors, we have to stand at a large distance from them because they don’t know how to use deodorant in a tropical climate…

  171. There is a bigger story to this excellent article, what about all the houshold cleaners and all the chemicals we put completely unnecasarily down the toilet, they “kill 99% of household germs” what they dont tell us is firstly that 99% of household germs are completely harmless and inactive in humans any way. they dont tell us that these chemicals are harmfull when inhaled, and harmfull and very difficult to remove from the environment. In the UK we have lost huge amounts of insect and aquatic life due to the widespread pollution of waterways and land by household and agricultural chemicals. The cancer rates among farmers who contract cropspray, and sheperds who use organo-phosphate sheep dip are noticably high. Perhaps it is time we stopped throwing highly toxic (but profitable) chemicals at things we find a nuisance. There are other ways, just as easy, but they dont make profits for the chemical companies.

  172. So, I’m not going to lie, I’ve never liked using soap or shampoo. I have thick long hair, and I only condition it after i’ve flat ironed it. as for Deodorant, the only time I’ve felt i need to wear it is on really hot summer days, or really busy days at work- such as christmas. I occasionally use body wash/lotion in the shower to help alleviate the dry skin that happens in the winter.

    I am only 21, and haven’t been using soap or shampoo on a regular basis ever. It never worked for me in the first place, and I am glad to know it’s the same for others.

  173. how about a line of placebo grooming products to suit some people’s habits but let them see if they’re wasting their time and money?

  174. I shaved with only water once, at summer camp when I was about 14. I saw a friend doing it and asked her if it hurt. She said no, so I tried it too, thinking I’d been duped by the man.

    And I got a ferocious rash wherever I’d shaved– all over my legs– that lasted a week. So maybe do this in the winter, if you’re new at it.

    I’ve tried to go no shampoo, but I can’t make it longer than 2 days without washing. My hair is greasy and weird if I don’t.

    1. As a very furry man who shaves with just water, and has done so for years, I have found that it took a while for my skin to adjust. Now I shave with nothing but lukewarm water with no rash, when I first started I tended to rash. I started because I was in a location where shaving cream etc was unavailable. Because women tend to shave less often maybe their skin would not adapt.

  175. This is great, but what about those of us who play sports…like say, Hockey. I’m a goaltender and in all that equipment the sweat literally bonds to me, and just a rinse I don’t think would cut it… especially the hair.

  176. Ok, I want to give it a go. Does anyone of you that tried that had their hair dyed? Does it make any difference you think?

  177. Just to reiterate, if you “tried this for a week, and gave up because it was too greasy/smelly” or “I smell when I am camping for a week” you didn’t do the experiment.
    Of course it was greasy, you needed to wait that out, and a vacation or camping is a great time to do this.
    Imagine the claim is that if you heat a pot of water at a set temperature, it boils in 8-10 minutes. Would you post that you tried it for three minutes, but gave up because the water still felt cold to you?
    Also, those that know people that don’t wash enough, don’t use deodorant enough, or are homeless, aren’t doing the experiment either. Those people still use soap on occasion, maybe once a week, and so are never getting the the “equilibrium” that is claimed, and so are constantly going through the stinkiest phase. Homeless people also do wear the same clothes for weeks without washing, which is a huge part of the stink.

  178. I haven’t used soap in over 9 years and I don’t stink. I still use shampoo however because my hair gets really oily if I don’t… I wonder how long it takes for that to go back to normal after stopping shampoo? I do wear deodorant though.

  179. A note about shampoo and conditioner: I used to have relatively greasy hair, and tried all sorts of different products to tame the slick. But eventually I found out that using strong products depletes your head’s oil, and so your head overcompensates by producing too much oil. So I got a new shampoo that doesn’t strip my head of oil. And guess what? No grease anymore.

    Conditioner is even more interesting. I stopped using conditioner because I ran out and was too lazy/forgetful to get more… but then I noticed something remarkable: I no longer have split ends. This is a BIG deal, as my hair used to be damaged to the point where I could pick out a single hair that had split 15 times. It looked more like a feather than like hair.

    A combination of strong shampoo and conditioner were the culprits for my gross hair! And all along I thought that I was making it healthier by using them… How totally unexpected!

  180. i havent used soap for the past 6years
    body oils, complexsion, hair, allergies gone, all better
    never ever smell
    scrubbing with water does the same as soap, and i dont have some manufactured smell on me
    dont believe the lie of the cosmetic industry
    seen tooooooo many fat people and made up women who smell like a chemical
    the key to beauty
    eat well, vegetarian = good in = good out
    live forever

  181. I started a no shampoo regime about six months ago for the same reasons and i love it. also have cut way down on soap,i just use on underarms and privates…but this is inspiring me to stop altogether. I have also been lamenting that it took me 40 years to learn this info; basically the soap industry is a scam.

  182. You seriously have a youtube channel to complain about moderated posts? Have you ever thought maybe the problem isn’t everyone else, but actually yourself?

    unrelated notes, any thoughts you all have on overly processed hair? I’ve gone from dark brown to platinum blonde (lol, why.) and I’ve had the fear of god struck into me, that if I do not condition it every day I will end up bald and hairless. Any ideas about caring for severely damaged hair in the paleo lifestyle?

    1. I had the same fears for my over-processed hair when I first heard people talking about the benefits of going without shampoo/conditioner. I’m an actor, so my hair gets frequently dyed, slathered in product, heat-styled, stuffed into wigs, etc. I was worried that I’d never get it clean without shampoo and that it would get super dry and brittle without conditioner.

      A couple of years ago I started using an all natural solid shampoo bar and occasional olive oil conditioning treatments (instructions are easily googled). I found myself going longer and longer between shampoos without feeling greasy. Now I use shampoo very rarely, usually after a performance when I have so much hairspray or other gunk to get out of my hair that hot water and finger scrubbing won’t do the trick.

      I am much happier with my hair than when I was using a salon brand shampoo and conditioner AND a leave in conditioner every day. I think a lot of the dryness I was worried about came less from the dying/styling and more from the stuff I used to try to fix the damage, first stripping it with shampoo and then weighing it down with chemical conditioners.

      I still use body wash, though. While going totally soap-free sounds interesting, I have no problems with my skin and figure why change what’s working? Especially since my body wash smells awesome.

    2. For the past year(-ish), I’ve bleached or dyed my hair at home about 10 times. I blow dry it almost every day. Over Christmas my sister said “Wow, your hair looks really healthy!” I said, “Really? It shouldn’t, considering how much I’ve dyed it and that I blow dry it every day.” She said “I know! That’s why I’m so impressed!”

      The only thing I can attribute this to is that for the past ~3 years, I’ve exclusively used SLS-free shampoo and conditioner (Trader Joe’s has pleasant and cheap ones). I try to shampoo every-other time and often don’t bother with conditioner. I’ve tried quitting shampooing altogether, but with my fine thin hair, it just looks disgusting.

      From my experience, I think #270 is probably right: Hair is damaged more by harsh chemicals in your daily use products than anything else you do to it.

  183. Over 250 posts without a “No soap? Radio!” joke??!! Unbelievable.

    Seriously though, I have a question for you no-soap guys: what about washing your clothes? What do you use for that?

  184. Wow, kind of amusing to watch the discussion spiral. Sean tries something and reports the results and everyone goes APESHIT. It appears to work for him; that’s great. It clearly works for some people, but not for others.

    Where I get dubious is when people start making magical claims without much science to back them up. Soap is toxic! Your body produces amazing natural oils that you foolishly have been removing! Bacteria is Bad! Bacteria is Good! Soap users are contributing to virulent plagues by making super-resistant strains! No soapers never use soap EVER!

    Clearly, there are benefits to using soap. Clearly, there is a finite limit to this. If anyone remembers a recent BB article about Ben Goldacre and his book “Bad Science: Quacks, Hacks and Big Pharma Flacks“, then you may recall he has a whole section on how cosmetic companies tart up shampoo, soaps, moisturizers and other such chemicals. HOWEVER, he also points out that they are beneficial….but no more beneficial than some simple products like Vaseline.

    He discusses, at length, the tricks and Bad Science is used to tart up these products…and how it’s not that Science is sending the wrong message but that marketers and con men are using fake science to confuse and lie or using legitimate science trickily and selectively to sell things.

    Anecdotal evidence is nice and all, but it’s just that…anecdotal. I’d be curious if anyone’s actually done some research on this. I think everyone would have to agree (except for the fringe) that soap is a beneficial thing in some situations…whether or not it’s needed in all of them is possibly up for debate. I find it rather amazing that Sean manages to stay so clean all the time and generate so little body odor. I know my gym clothes STINK TO HIGH HEAVEN and I smell unpleasant when I make them smell that way.

    I will say that the ‘try it for a month or two and you’ll see how amazing it is’ falls in the same category as ‘you’ll cough a LOT when you first start smoking, but then it gets better’ for me. There are too many variables in this equation for me to do more than say, “No, thank you. Help yourself, but I’m not interested.”

  185. “when their bodies are producing all kinds of crazy crap to try and overcompensate for the unnatural state they are in most of the time due to the soap”

    Woo-woo alert. Look, the smartest thing that’s been said in this thread is YMMV, or variations of it. Let’s not make pretend claims with no evidence to back it up. Rubbing oils off of your body, whether with a hot water, olive oil, beeswax, or animal fat, can hardly be called an “unnatural state”. Such claims smack of the “ZOMG it’s CHEMICALS!!!” hysteria from folks who’d rather not engage in interesting discussion and analysis. Which chemicals interact in weird ways with the body, and which do not, and why? These questions are interesting, because they allow for answers. Claiming that using soap is “unnatural” because of “chemicals” is meaningless.

  186. Hey natural smells are great. I let giant farts rip in department meetings all the time. When people complain I just tell them to deal with it.

  187. I’ve found products from “Burt’s Bees” that are 99.5% pure and made from natural ingredients!
    That works for me!

  188. I really want to try this. I’ve asked my fiance to as well, and he might. However, he is a big hairy man, so he’s afraid it might take longer for him to balance out, and in a job when he deals with hundreds of people a day it might not work out. I really hate having to rely on buying stupid things over and over like mousse.

    I will probably use deodorant. I’ve gone without washing my body with soap before and it never really made any difference. I had a friend who took showers but absolutely never washed her hair and her hair looked better than anyone I’d ever seen. I realize that it might take a while to get everything to balance out so I think I’ll give it a month to a month and a half. I have really long, really curly hair. Used to dye my hair a lot, but now there isn’t any trace of dye left, it all grew out and got cut off. I always loved the way my hair would look after I go swimming (but that was without brushing it too), so I’m hoping it’ll look something like that.

    I’m 19 and I still have some acne left, which I’m hoping will also go away with washing just with hot water. I’ve been washing my face heavily since I was 15. Tried many prescriptions and just regular face soap, so we’ll see if that will work out. I guess I can post back later since not too many woman with super long hair seem to have tried this.

    I realize handwashing is important, as well as changing clothes, and showering often. Unlike some people who have commented.

  189. If I don’t bathe regularly with soap, I emit an odor which more than a few people seem to find irresistibly attractive, and this upsets Mrs. Kagehisa.

  190. I can easily live without soap. It seems crazy that some people regularly bathe with soap…I don’t get it. I can’t live without shampoo though. I love the way my hair feels when it’s freshly shampooed.

  191. I tried washing my hair with conditioner instead of shampoo last year, and that worked beautifully for about four months. Clean-looking, manageable hair and a healthy scalp.

    And then, all in the space of one week, I got a MASSIVE case of really awful dandruff. My scalp itched like crazy and felt inflamed, big scales of skin were peeling off me–it was gross, and utterly unlike any dandruff I’d experienced in my life.

    So I went back to a commercial dandruff shampoo. Very slowly, my head got back to normal.

    The lesson is that there are opportunistic bugs that can screw up your body’s natural balance. Yes, you’re better off without the chemicals, but occasionally you may still need them.

  192. Am I just crazy, or perhaps is this regime only for people with a very low to low amount of physical activity in their lives, as well as a very low to low amount of physical activity in their jobs? You can’t tell me that after biking to work, running around like a clown for 8-10 hours, and biking home i am going to smell nuetral. I need a shower, and soap, and 50 grit sandpaper….and then I’m clean. Kinda.

    1. is this regime only for people with a very low to low amount of physical activity in their lives

      I teach and practice yoga and live in one of the hottest places on earth. And, yes, if you have ground-in dirt (like my feet after teaching), you use soap and a scrub brush to get it out. The point isn’t to be dirty; it’s to clean only what needs cleaning using only what’s required. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

      I’m sure that c. 1975, there were plenty of people who thought that women were skanks if they didn’t use the crotch deodorants that were popular at the time. I’m also pretty sure that your high-school-age children think that anyone who doesn’t use AXE body spray might as well live in the sewers.

  193. I have to say that I’m disappointed in the BB community for making CuttingOgres into a Troll on this comment thread. Don’t get me wrong, Ogres isn’t the best at communicating his point but he certainly isn’t trolling. WizarDru is saying the same thing as CuttingOgres only more effectively and without riling up those of you that are as adamant about their opinions as Ogres is about his (or hers).

    In fact, CuttingOgres has actively participated in the discussion thread and responded numerous times — the length of the discussion is in no small part attributed to Ogres involvement. “So say good night to the bad guy!… The last time you gonna see a bad guy like this again, let me tell you.”

  194. I use soap sparingly when I shower and don’t use ‘poo or conditioner in my hair. I, unfortunately, am in the stinky camp. I shower daily using antibacterial soap on my armpits and naughty bits only. I only wash my hair when necessary, usually once a week. My scalp and interestingly enough my feet don’t smell bad whatsoever (I remember when I was teenager how stinky my feet were), but my pits. PHEW! I do trim my armpits, but also don’t use deodorant or antiperspirant, unless I’m attending a formal event.

    I do wash my hands regularly with soap though. My wife is okay with my BO, after all it’s natural. One thing that needs to be understood is that your diet certainly plays a part in the smells your body produces, but what we consider BO (such as my pit stink) is caused by the waste products from bacteria on our body. The bacteria eat your sweat and their waste is stinky. Your sweat may certainly have a distinct smell, but the foul smell comes from the bacteria poo after ingesting your sweaty goodness.

    I wish my pits didn’t smell as bad as they, but I think that sometimes we over do it with hygiene (amongst other things). Your body does need to develop a certain tolerance to shtuff. That being said I haven’t read any scientific material on the subject and this has been my experience, YMMV. Science is not the end all, but I think we would all agree that reading a scientific study to see the efficacy of the no soap/less soap approach would be great. Unless of course it disproves our opinions. RAWR!

  195. I’ve tried this twice – once in the ’80s when reading a similar testimonial, and once a few years ago after my wife took a swing to the “natural” side. Both times it had the same impact – every day for weeks both my body and hair got more and more oily. My body started to get uncomfortable and I smelled worse every day. For me it was a big fail.

  196. I dated (well maybe “dated” is an exaggeration) a guy who was one of those types who found virtue in no soap. He didn’t stink per se, but his personal odor was stronger than most. It wasn’t in itself, offensive. However, when you are getting to know someone (in the biblical sense) and spend time below the belt, we’ll you understand the importance of soap.

  197. I have long hair and tried going shampoo-free. I was fine for the first few months…but I’m extremely oily, and my hair got positively -crunchy- with the oil. Ew.

    So now I use shampoo extremely sparingly and use a natural, as-few-chemicals-as-possible version. I use no soap, though I use conditioner to ease shaving.

  198. I’m also pretty sure that your high-school-age children think that anyone who doesn’t use AXE body spray might as well live in the sewers.

    Testify, brother! My son and his friends all either reek of puberty or travel in a choking cloud of AXE fumes.

  199. Well I know I can tell if I didn’t use deodorant by a few hours into my day. My ex had hardly any sweat or body-odor issues, I’m sure this would suit him fine. I start to stink really quickly. On the other hand, as a hold-over from my days of colouring my hair, I wash my hair rather infrequently, and that seems to suit it fine.

    Everyone’s body is different. Some people sweat and smell a lot. Some don’t. Assuming this is ideal for all body types is just not terribly useful.

  200. i am just wondering on how this works. the whole purpose of using soaps is because the oils on your body are non-polar and will not mix with water (which is polar) when you try and wash them off. but because of the structure of soap molecules that have a polar side and a non polar side, they allow the oils and water to mix, making your body clean. so with out soap are you really cleaning your body when you shower? or are you just getting the noticeable dirt off while leaving the natural oils. this would explain the decrease in dryness of your skin….

  201. Cool article. I’ve heard stuff in the past like over-use of handsoaps can lead to an altered immune system and therefore more allergies / more severe allergies. I don’t know if it was referring to a specific type of handsoap or not, but I’d like to know more on if there is any statistical data discussing immune systems and the use of handsoap, what does prolonged use do to the average person and what types of chemicals are the best for the least amount of side effect. Probably a silly inquiry but if there is any evidence to support such talk I would like to make my own decision.

    1. That is an interesting comment about a possible connection between too much hand washing and allergies. Do you have any links to any articles to post on that?

  202. As for what those of us who are in the no soap/ less soap camp and what we do with our laundry, I can only speak for myself: I use a dye free detergent and when possible put the laundry out to dry in the sun, so the UV rays can work their bacterial killing magic. Unfortunately, my new apartment complex or better said my downstairs neighbor (I suspect) didn’t enjoy my wife and me hanging our daughter’s cloth diapers out to dry on the balcony every couple of days. Grrr.

    Also, a recommendation on my part if you choose to do this is to switch from a 100 % cotton t-shirts to “active sport-style” shirts; these are mostly comprised of polyester and wick moisture from the body. They also don’t retain BO as well as strictly cotton shirts do.

    I recommend using Arm & Hammer Essentials, a perfume and dye-free detergent line, for your laundry needs. Sadly, I can’t find the stuff in my hometown. It’s what we used in Austin. God, I can’t wait to back in August. End of transmission.

  203. ^ My last post was listed Anon :( I need the affirmation.

    If you’re curious about using less soap, you should try it, but try not give up after a week or two. It’s like giving up carbonated drinks and only drinking water (non-bottled!), after a while the rewards are so totally worth it and you’ll wonder why you never tried it before. I don’t think any of us are saying to give up soap entirely since we can all generally agree the Germ Theory is in full effect, but just use it in moderation. Going overboard on anything — even if it is socially acceptable — is never a good thing.

    Antinous’ comment sums it up perfectly, “The point isn’t to be dirty; it’s to clean only what needs cleaning using only what’s required. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

  204. very interesting, im gonna try it…
    any advice for oral higene?? toothpaste and mouth washers seem to fall under the same premise..

  205. If people are interested, I’ve set up a question and answer site for No Shampoo/Soap topics. I thought it might be a good idea to set up a question and answer site to help beginners, and kind of let everyone discuss the No Shampoo/Soap lifestyle, and all the different experiences and experiments we are doing.

    If you are interested, go check it out: http://beyondshampoo.com

    I’m not selling anything, and I would appreciate people participating in honest, good discussions.

  206. Wow. And I thought I was the only one. I stopped using soap several years ago because of the chemicals that it introduces into the body. I use a harsh washcloth and it feels wonderful. Of course, I still have soap around for those really dirty, greasy days. But for everyday use I avoid adding more chemicals to the skin which is absorbed into the body and does who knows what to it. I am the healthiest person I know. Of course, I don’t use shampoo, either, for the same reason. No problems. I would hope everyone would at least try it. You can always go back.

  207. I’m late to the thread, sorry. I keep seeing people saying that glands will produce less oils if they are not stripped away. Or that they produce more in response to using soap.

    I kept getting bounced around when i did an online search, all leading to some npr report with an unnamed dermatologist.

    I know sebum production can increase due to hormonal changes (puberty, anabolic steroids, etc.) but i don’t think there is a feedback where the glands know how much sebum is already on your hair/skin. And feeling less greasy (time to adapt) may just mean that you are used to it or are better at removing it over time without soap.

    I could be wrong. I just am incredulous and too lazy to sink into the literature (like everyone on the internet).

    1. Here’s a song to wash your clothes by, from way back when – and from way back yonder, too:

      Oh well, back to scrubbing…

  208. Meh, skin is self-renewing – it can kinda take care of itself.

    The truly important thing IMHO is to have, and to keep, your clothes clean.

  209. Sign in or comment anonymously? Lame. No Twitter, Stalkerbook, Disqus? Oh well >_>


    Same, no soap except on my hands (caterer, kinda required) for about a year. I have amazing skin. Still have to moisturise now and then, especially my face. I think a balanced diet will help, and I’m a veggie so not so many animal fats in my diet.

    Still use shampoo and conditioner. Tried to stop but my hair was having none of it. Too used to the good stuff I guess. That and now I dye my hair… can’t do that without shampoo and conditioner.

    Remember; you still have to wash. You don’t stop washing, you stop washing with soap. You’ll still need hot water.

  210. My climate makes this terrible for me. Here it is very dry all year, temperatures regularly hitting extremes from -45C(winter) to 35C(summer). During the winter I can get away with showering only every second day, and I have never had the need for shaving cream. Beyond that, though, your advice becomes problematic. At any time of year, going without shampoo and conditioner causes unbearable static, frizz, and general dryness in my hair(regardless how long I keep up the regime) Also, I have a rather high core body temperature, so going without antiperspirant quickly creates a nasty, smelly, bacteria-ridden environment in my pits and on my chest and back. This also affects me all year, because of the heat in the summer, and because of the hot winter clothing(anything breathable enough to not trap all my body heat would also let in the bitter cold)

    Do you happen to leave near a large body of water? They regulate temperature and humidity very nicely, creating ideal environments for what you’re doing.

  211. Interesting topic and discussion. I’ve really all the comments up to # 318
    About 30 years ago I know a group of folks in London who tried the no shampoo trick. They did go thru a period of adjustment for a few weeks when things were funky, then it all seems to smooth out and actually get cleaner, better.

    I don’t use much soap in my face, unless I’m really dirty, never have. And only water to shave, works for me.

    All soaps, even the mild ones, make me itch. Perhaps I need to try the wash only – no soap gig. As I’m not a smelly person, it might work for me.

  212. tried it a few years back but only for a week. Since live in a ‘hot climate zone’ with averayge temperatures ranging above 40 Centigrades in summer and 10 Centigrades in winter, people do sweat a lot. Well, a week without a shampoo turned my hair very greasy and heavy at the same time. Without a soap or a body-wash the rest of the body would feel greasy too… hence now i shampoo thrice a week (trying to bring it down to 2 times a week) and use soap or wash on body every day.

  213. Twenty years ago I saw a doctor in Denmark about a skin problem and they told me to stop using soap. I didn’t take them seriously – I was brainwashed into the necessity of using soap.
    Six months later I saw another doctor in Denmark – same advice, again ignored.
    My Danish wife used little soap and was always clean, but I never put 2+2 together to get 4.
    I travel a lot but have always tried to buy organic/natural soaps.
    Eighteen months ago I finally gave it a shot: no more soap, just a daily vigorous shower scrub with face cloth.
    Voila – skin problems of thirty years are gone.
    Deodorant? Maybe once in two weeks, mostly when I’m speaking or performing – funny, I know within 10 minutes of showering if I’ll need it today.
    Perhaps this is not for everyone, but it sure works well for me.
    I’m happy, my skin has improved, rashes gone.
    Funny how humans survived for thousands of years without soap, but it suddenly became necessary…
    There’s so much interesting research coming up now about the importance of microbes.
    When I work in hospitals I use a bit of antiseptic gel and wash hands with minimal soap after toilet and before preparing food.
    My body is happy soapless!

  214. I have been using no soap for showering for about 6 months with no problems. I don’t use any deodorant. I now have no odor, my athletes foot has stopped coming back, and my skin is great. I cycle 20 kilometers every day as well as regular running and weight lifting. I just make sure to wear fresh clothes each day. I actually think I sweat less than I used to since stopping deodorant. And I have some very direct peers who would remark at odors (and did in the past when I used soap).

  215. Being an ‘old one’, I have seen society turn to more and more commercial products over the years designed and marketed to convince people they are so needed.

    During my teen years, it was common to only wash hair once or twice a week. We rinsed with vinegar water. Vinegar smell goes away quickly into air. Ladies living in town who relied on going to the beauty shop, usually only went once a week, and only rearranged the hair gently between visits unless they went swimming or something else caused the style to go awry.

    Women on farms bathed and shampooed when needed and that could be every day sometimes depending on how many smelly type chores they did.

    What I’ve seen/heard/read in all years since is that our personal environments at home, outdoors, at work or play have changed over the years and it’s these extra toxins, chemicals, etc. that are affecting the conditions of our bodies, as well as what we eat/drink daily.

    Yet the products developed are also full of chemicals and more.

    So I feel that individual results with this experiment would vary a whole lot dependent on each individual’s personal lifestyle, diet, locale, etc.

    I do believe that most modern products are simply unnecessary and that many people came to a point of feeling it necessary for everything from themselves to clothing, to whole homes needing to smell like something…lol Thus buy and use every smelly thing in the marketplace. Air fresheners, scented fabric softeners, Carpet sprinkles, all personal care products, perfumes, lotions…etc…detergents that come in so many scents now, on and on and on. Amazing.

    And I have read articles that say that our homes are the most toxic places we encounter anymore. Due to being controlled, insulated enclosures full of chemicals, etc. In furniture, carpeting, building materials, use of all commercially produced products, etc.

    So have come to the conclusion that this no soap/shampoo experiment will yield very different results for individual people.

    Do you spend a lot of time outdoors?
    Is your locale one with a lot of pollution/smog or?
    Your workplace matters, along with any hobbies, sports, etc.
    Your diet?
    Even your love life or spouse and their habits can
    affect you.

    All these things, plus hereditary factors, and all other products you choose to use in your home, can affect how often one needs to cleanse hair and/or body, and with what…

  216. While I use soap etc. I’ve been using Amonium Alum natural crystal deoderant for 5 years or more. Unscented, and yet you don’t smell. It’s brilliant.

    1. I’ve been using Amonium Alum natural crystal deoderant for 5 years or more. Unscented, and yet you don’t smell. It’s brilliant.

      Unless you are allergic, in which case it will give you tender, blackened, painful armpit swellings. Highly recommended if you want to know what it feels like to suffer from Bubonic Plague.

  217. Interesting that a daily sweat, and vigorous skin/scalp massage (frequently with a washcloth) quite often seems to figure into the regime whenever someone reports that it works.

    I manually snaked my elderly parent’s clogged drains on New Year’s day, and had raw sewage up to my elbows and spattered on my pants. I don’t think anyone wants me to go entirely without soap! But, like Antinous and Sean, I prefer not to use it when I do not need it… I just happen to need it most days.

  218. Keep in mind that soap does not kill germs. Soap only breaks the bond between dirt/blood/gunk and your skin. Hot water can do the same thing if the biofilm is not too strong. That is why using a wash cloth or some other item to scrub your body well helps remove the bacteria and other items that cause odor.

  219. I’ve just turned fifteen and I’ve never used body soap in my life. I’ve had a few smelly periods when I hit puberty, but since my mom got cancer, we stopped eating dairy products and other growth hormon high products at all and I’ve barely needed deodorant since. My skin is rather nice, but I haven’t felt any changes since I’ve never really used soap. I tried the no shampoo thing for a short while, and even though my hair got really greasy it didn’t get smelly at all. I’ll try this no shampoo thing, but I’ll probably wait till summer, with all the festivals and bacpacking :D

  220. DUH.

    You are forgetting. Aside the whole “body is perfectly capable of taking care of it self, if you ain’t brain damaged to believe every free “advice” that comes off society and especially TV.”

    We are in the times of quick short term relief – for long profit/subscription friendly solutions.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if they put extra shit in soaps/etc to make you stink MORE.

    More stink, need more soap, need more water, need more shampoo, need more electricity, need more allot of things.

    You are seriously raising revenue for a dozens of lobby strong monopolies. Multiply that by the millions of mindless drones happy to follow every new product slogan.

    Especially if your parents were hygiene freaks that couldn’t imagine the world without conveyor produced chemicals. Yes – Washing is good. Constantly feeding your body with gradually toxic shit that smells pretty for a little while – not so good. The excuses are the same always. Its “new”, “modern”, “Everybody else is doing it – it must be the right thing to do.”

    Therefore you MUST do it. Force your children to do it and so on.

    The same with pharmacy. Drugs get ever more diverse, powerful, modern, advertised, endorsed. Yet health stays counter proportional. To top it of I’ll borrow a gem from Rappoport:

    Believe in the church of modern medical mysticism at your own peril.

    Well, yeah if your finger explodes they can sew/glue it back together. Beyond that they are running the second largest legal genocide on the planet, and are only second because they can’t catch up with government’s death toll.

    I really don’t get it… People today don’t trust their own kin, but trust all the scumbags lying out of every whole they’ve got.
    All you have to do for a scientific discovery these days is bribe a magazine editor to publish some story that you just invented, put a picture of some presentable guy in a trench coat and on the same day you can hear the gossip in the coffee-shop.

    “OH MY GOD, did you know that sucking more genitals increases the speed of thought?!” – Yes this German scientist says so in the magazine.

    There you go… You got your own contribution to science.

  221. you guys are going the natural route and that’s fine for you, I dont care (unless you do stink and sit next to me), I totally think that’s great if you are happy with it.

    But there was a time when humans DIDN’T have soap, and then one day they obviously were like, “what the heck we are getting gross, lets make soap!”, and they used it! I mean they did invent it and no one forced them to use it. So an smart as you guys think you are being figuring out the natural order of the universe, those guys thought they were pretty smart molding the world to help and benefit them.

    i don;t really care about the soap thing, i never really used “that much”, and I am waiting for my robot body anyway :)

  222. Ok,
    In my early 20’s I decided to finally finish college and picked a small college on the coast of Maine – coa.edu
    This college was well known for being an environmental school. I picked it because I wanted to be on the coast of Maine. However, being that it is an environmental school and the cafeteria serves such goodies as Seitan and Tempeh, it is a strong breeding ground for hippie-esque behavior such as not using soap & deodorant. There were plenty of people that bathed regularly, but didn’t use soap/shampoo, etc and when you are stuck in a lecture hall with them – even if it’s 10 people over – you can still smell them. They just weren’t aware that they were turning a classroom into a muskrat sweat lodge. Big difference between not having a stink and thinking you don’t have a stink.

  223. I’m curious: have any pubescent teenagers tried this? I’m concerned that, ,even without body odor, greasiness of hair and skin an acne would be ridiculous without soap. I know my face feels like gritty vegetable oil when I get home from school, and I couldn’t imagine tackling that without soap.

    1. In reply to the last comment, I have 6 sons and yes they did try this, sometimes for over a year at a time. Their hair was always clean looking, they didn’t smell as much as the deodorants they could get, their skin was ok, no bad pimples. If it was a hot stinking day they would go for a swim in the ocean or have a cold shower. But it did take a while for them to get to this state, I think the body needs to rid itself of all the rubbish before it settles down to a balanced state.
      Try it and see, what have you got to lose?

  224. I’m a girl and I approve.

    Ive actuality been bathing with the bare minimum of products for about 3 years now myself. Not out of some paleo get back to nature reason, but becasue I started researching all the products I was using and it scared the crap out of me. I tried a bunch of ‘natural’ products but they dont work that great and are expensive. So after some trial and error I ended up with simplest of products to do all my cleaning and bathing with. Baking soda, apple cider vinegar and castile soap.
    I do bathe every day, just dont use soap or fancy products or lotions. Some days I use sesame oil, the oleic acid cleans and conditions my skin. Other days I just use apple cider vinegar; rub on rinse off. The ACV balances your skins Ph so you never need lotions. Most days though I use just plain ol water. I do still shampoo a few times a week with castile soap, I dont think it can be helped, I have long hair, if I dont my hair oils go into over drive. Although I recently read that diluted baking soda is a great shampoo, so maybe soon I wont need to soap my hair anymore. But I will say that apple cider vinegar is amazing as a conditioner.
    As for the BO issue, I make my own deodorant out of peroxide, mineral salts and essential oils. It works great.

    So yes you’re absolutely right. My hair is softer, my skin doesn’t need lotions, my complexion is clear and I dont get BO.

    So to anyone thinking about trying it, I say go for it. You dont need all those expensive and caustic chemicals on your body. You’ll feel better, save money, and be healthier for it.

  225. Stopped using deodorant and after a couple of weeks no underarm smell any longer. When I used it regularly I got smelly arms within a few hours of showering.

    Rarely wash my face in soap, don’t remember ever doing it regularly. Face is not stinky or covered in medieval type scum.

    Wash my hair once a week with baby shampoo. Used to wash it every day, when about ten years ago it occurred to me that my hair was dry and frizzy and scalp itchy because I scrubbed it every day. After a few days of nervous withdrawal, saw big improvement in the condition of my hair, except when I wash it actually. So probably will totally give that up – may wash my hair in beer once in a while, because on a quest to demonstrate that beer is all things to all people.

    Wash my hands with soap a lot. Have dry hands, but bacteria free in the interests of public health. As I don’t routinely touch people with my bum or wobbly bits, not sure not using soap thereabouts is a potential public health issue. Nonetheless, I do use soap there, because it feels awesome.

  226. Stopped using deodorant and after a couple of weeks no underarm smell any longer. When I used it regularly I got smelly arms within a few hours of showering.

    Rarely wash my face in soap, don’t remember ever doing it regularly. Face is not stinky or covered in medieval type scum.

    Wash my hair once a week with baby shampoo. Used to wash it every day, when about ten years ago it occurred to me that my hair was dry and frizzy and scalp itchy because I scrubbed it every day. After a few days of nervous withdrawal, saw big improvement in the condition of my hair, except when I wash it actually. So probably will totally give that up – may wash my hair in beer once in a while, because on a quest to demonstrate that beer is all things to all people.

    Wash my hands with soap a lot. Have dry hands, but bacteria free in the interests of public health. As I don’t routinely touch people with my bum or wobbly bits, not sure not using soap thereabouts is a potential public health issue. Nonetheless, I do use soap there, because it feels awesome.

  227. Interesting that people campaigning against “chemicals” then go on to describe using baking soda or vinegar, forgetting that sodium bicarbonate and acetic acid are…chemicals. Hot water will also remove oils from your skin, using a chemical process. Our body regulates itself with a ton of chemicals and chemical processes, which we have learned to manipulate, generally for the better (i.e. not having to die from influenza anymore) Soaps made with lye are surely to be avoided, but modern surfactants are much milder.

    If we want to put this to rest, everyone commenting should just decide to enroll in a large n trial for at least 3 months. Half will go without soap and with daily showers, half will use a prescribed soap-happy method. A blinded party will use an impartial objective scale to assess oily skin, smell and flakiness. Subjective data, such as activity, general well-being and smugness will also be recorded.

  228. The canary is singing!
    Huge fan of vinegar here! I use many types of vinegar for different applications.
    Four Monks from Costco is made from corn according to the label.
    I try to drink an ounce of apple cider vinegar everyday with a little organic honey and OJ. Plus drink eight glasses of room temperature clean water with lemon throughout the day. Within days you will feel better and that is all systems. You will have rosy cheeks, great digestion; can improve blood pressure, sleep well and just a general pick-me-up. Within weeks you will not believe how well you will feel.
    I use it in cooking as well and give a great kick to soups, sauces, marinades, dressings…just before serving. Try different flavored ones for a variety. If on a budget just plain vinegar will do just fine. Check the label to see the ingredients… what it is distilled from?
    I cannot tell you how much vinegar has helped me and changed my life. My friends tease my and call me Vinnie but most have gotten on the same path.
    I have developed allergies to most personal products, the chemicals in them, and there really isn’t a cure other than avoidance.
    I put white vinegar in a sprits/spray bottles in most areas of our home. Undiluted, but that is my preference. You can mix it with water to whatever strength that you prefer.
    Personal Care- (don’t get it in your eyes!!! rinse with clear water if you do.)
    I use it to wash my hair and rinse it. It cures all types of dandruff for pennies. And I sprits my ears while I am in the shower. I have sensitive ears and used to get irritations…no more! You can use as an astringent as well. Rinse off or leave on. I am a blond so the highlights are amazing in my hair. It will probably take a while, several applications, to get the build up of “YUCK” in your hair, out of your hair, from other products.
    After towel dying I sprits a couple of squirts underarm, let it dry, and it is an amazing deodorant. No after smell, no chemicals and it works even for a sweaty workout. (If you have a tiled shower rinse it down.)
    Also, for skin irritations, bites, rough skin, etc. Try a little to see how it works for you.
    For soap I use “Kiss my Face -Olive Oil” soap bar or Dr Bonners Castile -almond or Spearmint bar soap. They can be used for shaving as well. Stopped using all other products and household cleaning chemicals and laundry products using vinegar and these mild soaps cleared up the bumps, my eczema, my asthma, dandruff, etc. I look and feel great! Saving a fortune $$$. http://www.cosmeticsdatabase.com is where you can look for free to see the chemicals that you are using in your everyday personal care products that are making you sick and building up in your system. Please check it out.
    I use the spray bottles of vinegar to clean counters (not natural stone), mirrors, wood floors, vinyl, appliances, to freshen rooms or pour into carpet cleaning machines, etc. 1/2 cup vinegar per wash loads with an unscented dye-free detergent or make your own and a vinegar dampened facecloth in the dryer instead of those toxic sheets or liquids. It is great for maintaining colors rich.
    This is just a fraction of what you can use vinegar for and feel better, be so much healthier, save allot of $$$ and help cut down on the chemicals and bottles polluting our environment and planet. Please share this info with those that you care about.
    Goggle uses for vinegar…… and be healthier, save loads of money and help the environment. Please recycle the plastic or glass bottles.
    Be well.

  229. Baking Soda and Apple cider vinegar (mixed to a dilution of about 1 tablespoon to a cup of warm water) does wonders for my scalp, I did it for about 6 months last year and I swear I had never felt cleaner. the long hair community forum has all sorts of people who try different things on their hair and many of them have not used shampoo in years, others only use conditioner but I found that this still made my scalp icky.

    Never was one for using soap, I occasionally try it again and I find that my skin feels tight and gross afterward. I tell people this and they’re always like OMG HOW DO YOU GET CLEAN?!?!?! I also have a mild allergy to perfumes so most soap aggravates my skin. Scrubbing works wonders, and I’ve never smelled bad. I do use soap to wash my hands after using the washroom though, I just rinse like crazy.

  230. “But there was a time when humans DIDN’T have soap, and then one day they obviously were like, “what the heck we are getting gross, lets make soap!”, and they used it!”

    They also didn’t have chemical industrial waste, plumbing, showers and washed once a year as well.

    Furthermore soap wasn’t developed for personal hygiene.

    But then who needs you to have an educated mind.
    “The news”, “Science” and your local fashion magazines have various opinions and mantras for any occasion – god forbid you actually LEARN something…

  231. For anyone still following along, I have decided to try and give something back for all the traffic I have received from Boing Boing last New Year, and then over this past week. And now, GIZMODO as well.

    It will be a 3-part series covering when and what to eat, when not to eat, how to exercise but also when to do absolutely nothing. The final post will cover a number of self-experiemtns I’ve undertaken (including no soap and shampoo), cold water therapy, supplementation, sun exposure, etc.

    You Animal: A Primer to Freeing Your Inner Beast – The Preface

    And here’s the story of a man who linked over from FARK on New Year’s Day, 2010, hungover, and to have a laugh about the no soap or shampoo deal. Then he proceeded to lose 65 ugly pounds

    Best wishes to all, even those who still think it’s some crazy reenactment of primitive living, which it surely isn’t.

  232. UNC tested the efficacy of different hygiene products back in 2005. Most of the articles I read about the study just state that soap & water was the clear winner, but one article contained the throwaway line “the study revealed alcohol rubs do almost as well, and for parents who have a tough time selling soap — so did plain old tap water.” I would love to see more info on how water-only washing actually tested.


    Anyone out there with access to the actual data?

    Personally, I’ve been soap-free for years and constantly get compliments on my complexion. And even now, in the Canadian winter when all my friends and coworkers are slathering on moisturizers, I’m finding my skin isn’t that dry. The only time I find I need lotion is after I’ve been washing a lot of dishes (which yes, I use soap for).

    A personal observation that I find interesting is that since I don’t use soap, I make sure I wash thoroughly and for a good length of time (I’ve heard it should be equal to the time it takes to sing “happy birthday”). I’ve become increasingly aware that the people who are using soap tend to just lather and rinse immediately, often taking as little as 3 seconds for the entire process.

    I’m just beginning to try to switch to no shampoo. I’m almost through the first week and my scalp is *killing* me. But it *looks* fine. So I’ll tough it out and hopefully no one else will get their panties in a twist.

  233. I just wanted to jump in as a (mostly) impartial third-party observer. My fiance used to smell horribly if he went a day or so without a shower. He stopped using soap and after a dodgy month or so (nothing too bad, it smelled mostly just like living with a man who hasn’t showered for a day, but for a month) he smells AMAZING. Like nothing at all. And while that might not sound that great, it’s a vast improvement.

    He showers daily with water and no, I have not tried to duplicate this, mostly because as a lady I already use a crazy amount of chemical on my body that I am assuming I need more chemicals to get off.

  234. I read all your comments and I’m surprised by the following:
    – some of you use(d) soap to wash their WHOLE body everyday, even though you’re not dirty, you didn’t swim in mud etc.
    – some of you use(d) random soap to wash your face, your skin gets dried off so some of you use also moisturiser.
    – some of you wash(ed) your hair everyday with shampoo that dries skin off, as a result got dandruff, so you shampoo even more & use conditioner.
    – some of you were not aware of the difference that “soft” and “hard” water does to the whole process of washing (not only body).
    – some of you didn’t know that one can shave successfully without soap or other shaving foams (never watched LOST, for example? :)).
    – some of you replaced soap with baking soda (ever heard of what is the basic component of soap in bars?) AND reduced the usage of it to just private parts and armpits and are amazed with the results. Hey, that would work similarly if you just reduced usage of “normal” soap.

    For me, it’s like re-discovering America. I’m allergic to soaps and hot water (yeah, I know). I never wash my whole body (like legs or belly) with soap if it’s not dirty. I use soap for armpits though, because I like the smell of soap :). The same argument for hair and shampoo. I almost never wash my face with normal soap because it’s too harsh for the skin. Instead, I use some pH adjusted stuff (-> like your vinegar, but in my opinion with better smell). The same for private parts (I’m a girl; again – soap has too high pH). I’m lazy, so from the very beginning I shave my body using just water (and razor). I’ve noticed that washing hair using “hard” water makes them worse in looks and dries my skin off, so I adjust usage of soaps accordingly. And I never thought I am in any way special (except for the allergy).

    I don’t think I’ve ever received complains about my smell, except maybe for the times I sweated a lot (especially when I was nervous – stress changes the smell). To prevent that, I use deodorant. People are no longer happy when you sweat around them (go to changing room in high school if you believe your sweat is not offensive. Trust me, it is).

    PS. I’m sorry for any grammar mistakes I made, English is my second language.

  235. I agree with people who’ve noted that results from this sort of thing can be very different from one person to the next. There are quite a lot of variables involved – health, diet, skin chemistry, possibly genetics, various lifestyle factors, etc. I don’t think any one approach to personal hygeine is a panacea for everyone – the value of articles like this is in expanding the range of options people can consider.

    From my own experience, I have no particular interest in avoiding soap, but I did stop (or at least cut way, way down on) using shampoo nearly a year ago, and the results have been pretty good. But after reading Lorraine Massey’s book Curly Girl, I switched to using just conditioner (which she says contains enough surfactants to clean your hair at least a little on its own), and my hair is now much healthier and much less frizzy. You do have to make sure you don’t use any hair products that don’t rinse clean in water if you’re going to do this, though. In particular, silicone-based conditioning agents will build up on your hair if you don’t shampoo. I do shampoo maybe once every few months just in case, but honestly, I’m not sure I really need to, and my hair is usually much drier for a while after I do. Anyway, end result: my hair looks and feels better, and I’ve gotten tons of compliments on it.

    Of course, this is coming from someone with dry, curly hair, so what works for me would not necessarily work for someone with straight and/or oily hair. As with the soap issue, there’s no one right way for everyone – people need to experiment and find out what works for them. I think the important message to take away from this is that not everyone needs the vast variety of personal care products that advertising tells us we do. The only way to find out what you personally need and don’t need is to try different approaches and see how it works out for you.

  236. I read quite a few of the comments, but didn’t get to all of them. Has anyone tried going soap-less who has psoriasis? Also, what about using body lotion after the shower…? Stop that also?

  237. This is a great read. I stopped using underarm everythgin about 7years ago. I found that I was sweating so much with those products that i actually convinced myself I wasn’t well and was investigating sweat gland removal procedures (trust me…they are not a solution for 99% of the people).
    7yrs later I sweat when i need to and I don’t smell at all.

    Good work dude! Here’s to happy detoxification!

  238. Hey, I was intrigued by this, but I was wondering a little more about the stipulations. Were/Are you still using deoderant? How about hand or body lotions? By the sounds of things, you stopped using soap shampoo and conditioner in the shower, but how about washing your hands after a bathroom go, or doing the dishes? Do you use hand sanitizer instead? I’m just curious because I have chronic skin issues and I have trouble with certain types of water, depending on the chlorine content of it, so I was wondering if your method might help.

  239. A lot of you people commenting need to keep one major fact in mind: everyone’s results will vary, guaranteed. Similar to the way medications will work for some and not others, or how calories effect each individual, or even how people react to the taste of certain foods, people are incredibly diverse, physiologically speaking. You’re all unique snowflakes, so don’t dedicate yourself to something based one or two or a handful reports, then come back a few weeks later claiming that those people were full of crap simply because it didn’t work for you. Being a unique individual, use your best judgment–and more importantly, common sense–and make your own adjustments and modifications to the procedures you follow.

  240. holy shit!! I thought I was the only guy that does it, I rarely use soap and I only use shampoo once every two week or when my head is itchy. Never really stink or had any hygienic issue.

  241. For those of you who are scared of the ‘transition period’, my advice is to take it slow. If you soap/shampoo everyday, start doing it only every other day. After a couple weeks, soap/shampoo up only 1-2 times a week. After another couple weeks (or when you find yourself becoming less greasy), just once a week. Finally just stop.

    Doing it this way lets your body gradually get accustomed to the fact that you are no longer stripping away its own lubrication, and so you won’t go through a gross period where you are excessively oily. The key here is patience and paying attention to your own body.

    I’ve been on this experiment for about two years now. I started by losing the shampoo and now my hair looks better, is more manageable, and my itchy scalp is gone. After reducing my soap usage, most of my eczema is reduced or gone (except for some persistent areas), something which dermatologist-prescribed creams have not been able to achieve. I don’t feel horribly dry in the winter anymore, so I don’t need to lather on moisturizer. I will get some BO on occasion, mostly when my pits get sweaty and I’m wearing a backpack, but I’ll just wear some deodorant on those days. I still use soap regularly on my hands of course, but they suffer for it compared to the rest of my body.

    All-in-all, I’ve been much happier ever since I’ve dropped soap and shampoo. It’s worth trying out for yourself, just start slow.

  242. I am a woman with long, curly, fine but very dense hair (below shoulder length). The individual strands aren’t very thick but I have a ton of hair.

    No shampoo has touched my hair since August 2010. Even before that, I would only wash it once every 7-10 days for the past 3 years or so, with the shower cream I use. I never used conditioner or any products in my hair. I don’t bleach or color it either. A few months ago I have decided to give up on the shower cream too just because I wanted to try this thing once more and give it a chance. I had tried this twice before, once when I was 16 and then around 25 but gave up after 4-5 weeks. Now I know it was because I didn’t know how to do it properly. “Water-only” hair wash actually requires MORE attention and dedication (and yes, time) from my part than my previous “shampoo”(shower cream?)-once-a-week-let-it-air-dry routine did. My hair needs to be brushed at least once every two days to get rid of the dust and stuff. Vs I didn’t even have a hairbrush before. I would comb my hair like once a week. Then, washing it – for me to work – means vigorous massaging underwater, I often do it it the bathtub literally underwater and for about 10-15 minutes, every second or third day. If it’s oily to the touch I use warm (not hot) water, but normally cold only and I always finish with ice cold. If I do something adventurous such as changing tires and get grease in my hair, I may soak it up with cornstarch and just wash it out with warm water. Since August I used egg yolks twice to wash my length when it got super dirty. During those few weeks in August-September I used cornstarch too to make my life easier, I just let it soak up the excess grease and instead of brushing it out (which one would do when using cornstarch as dry shampoo) I just rinsed it with lukewarm to cold water. I never really got to that “greaseball” stage, unlike the first two times I tried.

    I always let my hair air dry and all that thick hair dries in about one hour vs when I shampooed it, it took about four or five hours to air dry. I never had dandruff or itchy scalp, neither with shampoo nor without.

    One may ask, if the water-only routine requires *way* more time why am I doing it? Just because my hair feels so much better. It’s growing like weed. It has grown about 3 cm since Christmas which is extreme, on shampoo I never got more than 1 cm in a month. Shedding has completely stopped. My hair has that body it used to have on the third or fourth day after shampooing, only to lose it when I shampooed again. The only thing I had to sacrifice to some extent is the curls. Now it’s wavy “only” because curls and brushing don’t really go together. Curly only on the first day after the water-only wash if I don’t use the brush. Since the next day I have to brush it it’s gone the latest by then. And.. I live in a committed relationship and He says I do not stink. (I do use shower cream on my body.) In fact I work with people every day and no one has said anything other than my hair looks gorgeous lately. They also think I colored it because it’s almost black now (it was dark brown).

    Well… YMMV, as always.

  243. sure this fine for people that dont actually get dirty, just sweating from a work out is hardly dirty. Yea just water doesnt wash all the shit that gets into my hair and skin at work. Im a ferry mechanic and fabricator. Shit get everywhere and soap is a must.

  244. i have to say that this is all true, I stopped using shampoo or any kind of soap in boot camp cuz well i ran out, never better, i only use soap now in the most Extreme circumstances. and then I’m using a heavy duty hospital disinfectant with pumice and degreaser, because I have been working on old cars, or covered on mud, or some other filthy thing I have been doing, and just water just wont cut it. But I must say that after my skin is dry and my hair is… well I look like a Q-tip

  245. I’m nearing the end of my 2nd shampoo-less week and am already seeing things settling down and evening out. For awhile there my scalp was itchy and my hair was looking pretty dull and feeling somewhat oily, but now it’s starting to have a nice shine (not a greasy shine, but a just-washed clean shine) and is losing the greasy feeling – it’s starting to just feel soft. And my scalp is not at all oily or itchy. I’m also noticing that I don’t have as bad a problem with frizziness as usual (I have super fine curly hair).

    I confided in a friend about what I was doing and she was surprised – she would have had no idea if I hadn’t told her. I asked her about odor and asked her to be brutally honest, and she said it didn’t smell at all. At all. Prior to this, when I went more than a few days between shampoos, I could smell my own funk. It’s looking like this will be a success for me.

  246. I work in the IT field and had to endure excruciatingly longs days at the office. Sometimes I would have to spend nights on the office couch for up to 3 days. As you can expect showering regularly went down and odor increased. I started making a point to wash with water and over time decided to quit using deodorant. To this day I still do not stink. I do wash my feet and nether regions with soap – the rest of my body is washed with hot water. I still use shampoo, not sure if that will work or not. By not using soap, that has allowed my natural body scent to come through which women find to be attractive. Always complimenting me how well I smell. Just food for thought. I bathe with water everyday using a shower loofah.

  247. Questions:
    How do the women shave their legs and other areas?
    How do you get your hair clean if you use alot of product, like I have to?
    How does a lady feel clean and fresh in lady areas without some soap?

    I don’t think I could do this.

  248. If anyone’s still following this, I found a pdf of the results of the UNC study I mentioned above.


    It states “Effective hand hygiene for high levels of viral contamination with a nonenveloped virus was best achieved by physical removal with a nonantimicrobial soap or tap water alone.”

    It concludes with the following: “In conclusion, our study shows that, at a short exposure time of 10 seconds, all agents with the exception of handwipes and a 60% ethyl alcohol handrub performed similar to nonantimicrobial and tap water controls with reductions of 1.15 to 2.01 log10 of Serratia marcescens. After 10 episodes, which evaluates the efficacy of agents following multiple episodes of contamination, handwashing agents with 0.75% CHG, 2% CHG, 4% CHG, 1% triclosan, 0.2% benzethonium chloride, nonantimicrobial soap hand-wash, and tap water alone were efficacious ($1.5 log10) in reduction of bacteria.”

    I read that as saying that TAP WATER ALONE is effective. Any science-y types want to break this data down for us laypeople?

    1. That’s an interesting article and thanks for posting it. The key word seems to be “nonenveloped virus”, as tap water alone can get rid of that. I’m still trying to research it, but I’d love also for a chemist/biologist or science-y type to comment on it.

  249. I am honestly amazed at the amount of comment this post had generated. Also I am amazed of the vastness of stating fallacies.

    Anyway: here, to separate facts from ‘new age’ fantasies:
    1. Soap is able to kill bacteria by destructing the lipid membrane of the cell, should the pH is high enough (this is not what we want for day to day body wash, but you get the idea).
    2. Soap foam increases the surface tension and makes it possible for the miniature oil drops to be taken much easier in the water (as you know oil does not dissolve in water, add a detergent and voilà – you can!). For the same reason you are able to make huge bubbles with air in it from soap water but not with regular water.
    3. Body odour can come from a) glands secretion and b) bacterial proliferation on skin and hair surface, the hairier and sweatier the place, the more the odour.

    How you wash your skin does not matter, most skin types do not react strongly to pH balanced cleansers. Washing with only water does NOT regulate sebum secretion, it is regulated by the endocrine system, surface reaction is due to dehydration of the death cells skin surface. When you use high pH it is dehydrated and the oil becomes more visible because the surface gets uneven, oil ‘spills’ in the cracks and looks bad. If you ex-foliate the skin well and hydrate the surface layers it will look okay even if a little dry (oil dry, not water dry) or oily.

    So all those ‘my skin is not as oily’ bullsh*t – please, educate yourself and make some real life tests, self reporting is the worse indicator if anything is working at all. pH levels, lipid levels and so on can be tested and measured.

    As of the bacteria – washing with water will work if you scrub well, with your palms for example ( the skin on the palms is more rugged) of a towel. It will effectively remove the mix of sebum, bacteria and dead cells so you will not smell. However washing away the bacteria from body hair (if abundant) can be much harder with water only, the active surface if much much more. This is why for most oily hair the ‘only water’ washing is not working as well as for the face/body in the same person.

    As conclusion, sebum secretion (that is – the oiliness) can’t be affected in long term by applying (or not applying) anything on the surface of your skin, except for hormone creams ( corticosteroids for example).

    If it was possible, I am sure no one would ever had acne, oily or dry skin.

    Anyway, I support your cause, at least you stopped killing rivers as fast ( because having really small amount of oil (like as much as a person with oily hair removes when washing it) can render unusable and ‘grey’ 9 litters of fresh water. Shampoo or not this will go with the water. But reducing the detergent you allow it to deposit much easier in the water cleaning process. So thank you for your effort. You are doing something good, however small it might be.

    I am AGAINST not using soap however when touching food. This is the easiest way to reduce risk of infectious diseases known to modern world, please, wash your hands WITH soap when touching your food. The research stating that bacteria can be removed effectively with water only also tells the thoroughness needed to scrub effectively your hands to achieve the same result as with regular soap and most people will not do it properly as in the test environment, please don’t let your kinds eat with dirty hands.

  250. I use good ol’ Dr. B’s on my pits, bum, and lady parts. Nothing else. I shower about 2-3 times per week with 1-2 hair washings per week. I’ve been told that i smell quite nice. I’m going to try ditching shampoo. I hate the way it makes my hair feel and always slather conditioner. Might as well just skip that part completely.

    I remember when i was a teenager, my mom bought me facial cleanser and i told her that i didn’t want to use it because my skin was perfect. She told me that it wouldn’t be if i didn’t start using product. I used it and broke out. I haven’t been a habitual face washer really ever, but for certain i’ve been commercial cleanser free for at least 8 years.

    Also, i use alcohol pads on my pits when i start to stink. instantly kills all bacteria.

    I am not a shaver either.

  251. I started this little experiment when I read Sean’s blog. So I am 16 days into it and I need a little encouragement. I went “whole-hog” – no shampoo, no soap (except on hands) and no deodorant. Right now my scalp is itchier than it has every been and I have a crazy dandruff bloom going on. I know people said that you have to hang in there for 3-4 weeks, but is this most people’s experience? If I don’t stop shedding dead skin cells I might have to jump back off the wagon.

  252. Shaving cream/ gel is a wast of time & money . Someone here said use cold water (yikes) . Hot water expands the follicles resulting in the closest shave of your life . I like it blasting it hot in the shower ,blows away the stubble too. I can even erase a thick beard same way . I dont need a fancy fog free mirror either , i do it blind. got the idea from an old M.A.S.H. episode. Once you learn its cake . Ive done this for 20 years, my face has no problems. My wife uses a bunch of products everyday an has adult acne .
    I had really bad dandruff since a child ,grew my hair long stopping the dryness,no more dandruff. Also used toothpaste too much scrubbing away ruined my gums ,a ole dentist explained almost in a secret whisper how bad the stuff is , would you use it on your cars paint job ? enamel he said is like thin glass on plywood its only strong cause what’s behind it . Last thing you want to do is scratch it up !

  253. Hello. I use only natural detergents and soaps and I only need to wash my hair once a week. It is possible to use French Marseille soap, French green clay at very low cost from French health stores, if you know somebody in France (mark: Argiletz, argile verte, 3 kilo for 6 Euro, Yucca root powder from some herb store like bestbotanicals.com. There is also Marrocan clay. I think I will try washing my hair with the clay every week instead of the shampoo from the health store. Washing the skin everywhere with soap every day is something I think started in the 80´s. When I was a child in the 70´s, my family didn´t do that, and I never did it and I never had dry or itchy skin which is so common among people who use the chemical, perfumed detergents. I get sick from such things. They smell just horrible. If my clothes get this smell, I throw them out. That smell never goes away. The softeners also destroy our nature and a lot of lake water. I think I will go over to using only clay or Yucca root pwd, for all my body after reading this. Also I use the crystal stone for under the arms. I never smelled much – probably because I wasn´t so fanatic about washing myself so much and stayed healthy. It is incredible the strong odors some people can have. They probably both eat unhealthy and use the chemical soaps. Their bodies absorb this like a sponge and they get full of toxins which the body try to expel somehow via urine and sweat. That is why they smell so bad. Dr. Christopher from christopherwebsites.com has also a very natural soap and shampoo and three oils scalp massage oil which will help make better hair-also for people who lost their hair.

  254. I’ve been not using soap for almost 2 weeks. I love it! My skin feels great. I also stopped using anything on my face. It burned for about 3 days but then normalized (I do use pure organic coconut oil on my face to nourish my skin.)

    My technique is that I shower in hot water and use a small facial loofah to lightly scrub my skin. I scrub every single spot, nothing is missed. I take longer showers but I feel like the environmental saving is that no soap is going down the drain and into the water supply.

    I feel like I’m more thorough than when there was soap sliding everywhere. It’s easier to get lazy when you know soap has touched an area.

    After, I rinse in cool to cold water. Lastly, I turn off the shower spigot and turn the hot water back on. I squat before the spigot and use my hand to direct water into my private area. (This part I’ve been doing for ages, ever since using the removable shower heads that are poplar in Europe). Ladies, this is an excellent technique.

    My skin is softer to the touch. There’s no smell. I stopped using alcohol wipes on my pits right out of the shower. Now all I use is coconut oil as deodorant. I might stop that altogether, it depends…

    I think more people should try this. It’s sounds hard, even my first day, I chickened out and had to start the next day, but it’s not really. If you think about what soap does, you can do the same thing without soap using hot water and friction.

  255. If you want to balance the Ph of your skin drink between 4 and 8 tablespoons of Organic Apple Cider Vinegar a day. You will be amazed by the possitive effects it has on the apperance of your skin and your overall health.

  256. Hallo All :

    Happened upon this looking why my scalp itches/oily /scales with these coconut oil based shampoos – only use natural bristle veggie/body brush on body for almost 8 years now – soap only in cracks/ crevices when funky – I do work rebuilding old vehicles so I get grubby – have to wash hands with grease cutters …. oh well .. i find diet really effects how I smell as well – been pretty much cave man diet for 5 years – meat fat and veggies – really enjoy sourdough and strudel( home made ) only when I go nuts on sweets or breads so I notice some funky aroma from pits – i live on the desert floor so plenty of heat and dirt/dust- I trim my underarm hair in summer – old arab trick – give bacteria little space to grow – lately though my hair which i wash almost daily if I am out and about – dry scalp – then oily from the coconut based organic shampoos and then if I dont keep shampoo’ing will get crazy itchy and scale – just tried the baking soda /cider vinegar – already itch is gone and scalp feels soft and clean – I feel like idiot child for not investigating this sooner – especially how I treat my body –

    I never get complaints on my body odor when out or with groups – if ever I do get some funk going – apple cider vinegar or fresh lemon /or lime juice rubbed in pits cures it – if anything of interest comes about – I will share the experience ;

  257. I’d like to hear everyone’s thoughts on water volume used while washing hair.

    I’ve been following this discussion since it first hit boingboing last year, and I’ve now gone without shampoo or soap (except when washing my hands) for about a month. My only issue is it clashes with another of my strivings, namely reducing water use (and especially hot water use). Having short hair, I’ve found I normally only need 90 sec of water for a shower (30 sec to get wet, soap up with the shower turned off, and one minute to wash it off), though I usually allow myself an extra 30 sec. At somewhere between 2.5 and three showers a week, that means I use about six minutes of shower water per week, plus whatever time it takes to heat up. Now that I’ve stopped using shampoo, however, I feel (but can’t confirm authoritatively due to lack of scientific rigour) that I need more water to wash my hair. While I did most of my head-rubbing with the shower turned off before, I worry that I need more running water if I don’t use shampoo. I’ve countered some of that by forcefully rubbing a wet washing cloth against my hair with the shower turned off, but I still take at least one extra minute of water, too. Perhaps in the next month I’ll see what happens to my hair if I return to my traditional level of water use.

  258. I am a woman, and I went soap free 6 months ago. I have psoriasis, and it has calmed down significantly since I stopped using soap. My skin feels wonderful, and my roommates would tell me if I smelled- and they haven’t. I will say that I do have to bathe every single day now, but my showers are much shorter, so it all works out

    I am not completely shampoo free yet..my hair is very very thick, and curly, and rather long. I do shampoo only 2 times a month, the rest of the time I just condition. I have been doing this for several years. I have a dry scalp, and dry hair naturally, and with the minimal shampooing, my hair has never been healthier. It is shiny, manageable, and can withstand much more than it used to be able to (flat irons, hot rollers, hair color..). Also, my haircolor, which is a bright red, stays in so much longer.

    I am a hairstylist, as well, and have recommended to several of my clients who have problem hair to forgo as much shampoo, and just use conditioner. Of those clients, ALL of them have come back to me raving about how their hair is much better, and its something that I can see, too.

    I will also note that when I do shampoo, I use sulfate and paraben free shampoo.

    So there ya go.

  259. Given the last time Sean replied, I doubt he’ll read this or reply, but here goes nothing. I’ve tried this for over a month now. Started shortly after this post. I usually use hot water (the kind that turns my skin into a lobster like color). I take a long shower (about 10 to 15 minutes). I scrub my hair thoroughly under the water for anywhere between 15 seconds to a couple minutes. I smell fine, according to my wife and children, with one exception. My hair stinks. It feels strange to run my fingers through-almost gummy and oily. I asked my wife and children how my hair smells (after my month point). I got three responses: 1) it smells like dog food inside a dirty sock. 2) it smells like vomit. 3) it smells like vanilla cream, that has been rotting outside in the sun. That’s the only thing that bothers me. It doesn’t emit a smell that radiates upon others, but others only smell it if they stick their nose in it and take a good sniff. Any thoughts? By the way, I sometimes go without deodorant, but not for more than a couple days. I had my wife smell my armpits, after a day of no deodorant, and she said, “it doesn’t have any smell.” So, I’m impressed, mostly. If I can fix the scent off the top of my head, I’d be really happy.

  260. Have been soap and shampoo less for just over 2 months now. My experience mirrors those of others here, my skin and hair went wild for about 2-3 weeks but now looks and feels better then ever.

    A few things I noticed:

    1. I have no idea why, but after I stopped using soap and shampoo I gradually started preferring cooler temperatures for my water in the shower. Back in my soap and shampoo days I preferred a really hot, almost steaming shower. Now a lukewarm or room temperature shower feels better.

    2. Water hardness makes a noticeable difference. At home a quick water show feels great, at the gym I notice a slight dryness afterwards.

  261. I think I’m going to try the no shampoo, but still use soap and natural (and aluminium free) deodorant. Hopefully, this will help my hair grow back, as I’ve been losing it recently, and I suspect the shampoo of causing the redness, scabbing and dandruff on my scalp. I haven’t used shampoo in the past few days, and I already feel better, if not a little greasy :P. Wish me luck!

  262. I’ve been shampoo free for over a month now and i’m very happy with the results.
    My scalp is on the dry side to start with, so the first couple of weeks were very smooth,no increase in oilyness or even dandruff for that matter.
    When I used to wash my hair my hair with shampoo my scalp would get quite irratated and itch a bit. I had to get a doctor’s prescription for Betamethasone lotion to rub in my scalp because I would get itchy red patches on my head…only after shampooing of course.
    Now I can throw the stuff away because my scalp no longer needs it.
    It used to be that after shampooing and conditioning,it would still be a bit of a battle to get a comb through my hair…not anymore.
    All I do is massage my scalp under pretty hot water for 5 minutes every day..pat dry and a comb goes right through my hair easy peasy!
    I haven’t noticed my hair being anymore shiny or softer yet, but it looks just as good as when I used to shampoo…I feel a great weight has been lifted off my shoulders, washing and conditioning my hair every other day was a chore for me, now, under the tap for a few minutes everyday is all it takes…and no, my hair does not stink, believe me, the wife would let me know it it did!

  263. Hi, I’ve started myself one week ago (before reading this blog) and the question is : what is your frequency of hair washing (all the days, one day on 2 …) ?
    Thanks for the answer !


    Hi all
    I have skimmed through some of the comments… way too many to read thoroughly! It would make things a lot easier if people would put up a title! Is there any chance people could resubmit their comments with a title?

    Anyway, I have been soap free; water only BODY washing for 5 months (I am female). I think it is important to stress the combination of using water and friction. It’s not a question of simply rinsing the body. Personally I use a pair of exfoliating gloves all over except on my face and nether regions.. which I use my hands for (sensitive skin in these areas). I find this just perfect. It took about 3 or 4 washes feeling psychologically strange (and oily) before I settled down to it. Now I would never dream of putting any product on my skin to wash it (apart from soap on hands after toilet, going out and before cooking etc…. but I feel this is because I cannot scrub my hands each time in lieu of the soap)

    My HAIR (which is straight and very fine) is another matter.. I tried all the usual suggestions to no avail. I’ve recently tried COCONUT OIL on the greasy areas.. seems to be working although it may be the passage of time. After 5 months maybe my hair has simply now adjusted… need to do some more experimenting. Might be down to my diet too. Apparently detoxing elements come out through the hair as well as the skin. And certainly hormones influence it too. So lots of factors to consider.
    Cheers, Sue

  265. Thats interesting. I never knew that this was a thing. I haven’t used soap in like 15-20 years. I am 29. Never told anybody either. If it ever came up i would just nod and pretend I used it just like anybody else.

    My skin doesn’t smell. If i stick my nose right on top of it and sniff sometimes there is a slight musky scent. But its neither a good nor bad scent. Atleast not to me. Nobody has ever complained to me either. And I am not some freak who has never had a girlfriend either. So maybe they didn’t notice. I don’t know.

    I still use deoderant every day(as i am a very active person), and I shower with water.

    As far as the hair goes, I use a dandruff shampoo/conditioner combo every single day. My hair gets greasy really fast if i don’t shampoo, so i would be afraid to try this. But maybe i’ll give it a shot.

  266. Oh, I am the one who just commented about the black soap and rhassoul clay.

    I forgot to say, I tried this no-soap thing once when I was 16. Yeah, I only tried it for two weeks. I had no idea other folks were trying this, I just felt like all this other stuff was unnecessary (btw, when I have babies, I plan to bathe them without soap and to dress them without powder. Just shea butter for diaper rashes). Anyway, I had this sickly sweet smell rising from my pores. I couldnt stand it. My mom claimed she didnt smell anything, but I was so sure that I did and that everyone else did too. And all she said was “that’s what you get for being nasty.” LOL. I dont take after my mom at all. Oh, btw I have PCOS, which means I have a hormone imbalance, so that could have been the cause of my terrible experience. Or it could be that I was 16 and still going through puberty??? Or it could be that I was a girl and I heard that women/girls actually smell stronger than men do. Funny.

  267. I’ve been 98% soapless since January 4. My skin feels very clean and soft. It’s incredibly hot and humid in Florida now, so any outdoor exercise quickly causes a lot of sweat. Showering in plain water with a wash cloth works very well. No body odor at all. I don’t expect any over the summer. The same bar of soap from January is still sitting there in the dish. It’s logo is still clear from lack of use. I doubt I will need to buy more in the next 5 years.

    My hair looks and behaves nicely without shampoo or conditioner. It feels soft. I’m so glad I saw this article and tried the experiment.

  268. Someone suggested 1OO % pure aloa vera gel earlier, and thats what I’ve been using as a hair gel for the past couple of months.
    It works great and rinses out no problem.

  269. Im sure its fine and dandy to go without but not if you have oily hair, are a female, after using the bathroom ect. Soap and shampoo’s have come a long way since invention. If you look around and research there is quite a bit of natural soaps and good ph balanced shampoos out there.

  270. Okay the problem with not using shampoo is if you put any type of product such as gel or wax in your hair, you’re not gonna be able to get that shit out using just plain water. Basically if you have anything other than a buzzcut and want to style your hair, you can’t do this.

  271. I stopped using store bought deodorant and now only use baking soda. I have found it to be far superior. One application lasts for about 3 days. It’s also nontoxic, cheap, won’t harm the environment and it comes in a cardboard box. It changes the chemistry of your skin making it undesirable to bacteria. It’s the bacteria that causes the odor, no bacteria no odor. I’ll never go back.

    I’m also soap free with positive results.

  272. I only shower once a week or so anyway, and I don’t always use soap, and I sometimes only wash my hair w/ shampoo once a month. I’ve been doing this for years. I’m not anti-chemical or anti-corporation, I’m just a smelly f*cker.

    I do put on deodorant however, cos otherwise I smell as I sweat a lot.

  273. Hi, I’m 61 years young and I haven’t use soap, shampoo, deodorant or tooth paste for several months. I feel great, my skin, hair and teeth are wonderful. BO mostly depends on what you eat, the more meat the worse you smell, I haven’t used deodorant for years (I’m vegetarian)I never stink. I use baking soda for my teeth and they are whiter than ever. The less bacterias you have on you the more fragile you are for all the disease. Just washing with water is sufficient to get ride of the bad bacterias (they are not all bad).

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