The Best Shampoos For Hard Water (And A Club Soda Trick!)

By Camelia Smith
Published 05 Mar 2016 / Updated 12 Jul 2022

The Best Shampoos For Hard Water (And A Club Soda Trick!)

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Shampoos for hard water use Chelating agents to blast away mineral buildup from your scalp and hair.

It’s just like pouring Club Soda onto your locks, fizzing all the crap out like crazy. (I love that feeling)

Promise, I’ll tell you more about this trick below.

But first, let me guess why you are here.

You are here because your hair feels:

  • Disgusting
  • Lank
  • Clumpy at the roots
  • Frizzy at the ends
  • Slimy and gross
  • Dry yet greasy
  • Flaky on the scalp

In short, hard water has battered your hair and your scalp feels gross all the time.


Fact is, 85% of people in the US have to live with hard water.

And if you’re one of them, chances are:

Your showerhead looks heavily clogged up, and your washing machine, a perfect candidate for the next Calgon ad.

Now: Think what’s in your hair!

I feel your pain.

But there’s no avoiding the cold hard truth:

Tackling hard water and hair problems require a few lifestyle changes.

Not just a change of shampoo.

And that’s what I am going to show you today.

Here's What I Will Cover:

  • The quick test: 3 seconds home DIY water test
  • What is hard water: Explained with illustrations
  • Shampoos: The Best shampoos that neutralize hard water
  • Hard water solutions: How to fix hard water shower and more …
  • Chelating: The hard water hair shampoos that work and why
  • Weekly demineralizer: With the Club Soda trick. It’s magic !
  • Argan oil: Because you need a hair restructurer too
  • Dandruff: Wash your hair less. It helps !
  • DIY recipes: How to soften hard water at home
  • Special hair types: Color-treated, swimmers etc

Table Of Contents

Hard Water Areas

Did you know?

The area you live in has an effect on your hair and your skin?

Read: Blame your postcode for frizzy hair problems »

Tough luck!

I live in London, and I can relate to these problems.

If I had a choice, I’d swap for Amsterdam.

Now that’s what I call soft water. Your hair will love Amsterdam!

Amsterdam has the lowest calcium content in it’s tap water.

I can confirm it’s nothing to do with the funny stuff people smoke there 🙂

Unfortunately, for some of us, water does more harm than good.

Hard Water Deposits Harm Your Skin & Hair

Here’s the main problem: Mineral salts

They are made of:

  • Calcium and Chlorine: This chokes your hair at the root
  • Magnesium: Takes the shine off your hair
  • Sulfates: Strip natural oils
  • Iron: Causes excessive dry feeling and changes hair texture
  • Copper: Discolours your hair
  • Silica: Forms a hard & insoluble deposit on surfaces
  • Lead: Prevents chemical services, such as perms and colors, from processing

I call them: hair abusers.

Let me explain …

These mineral salts gradually break down the structure of your hair.

They absorb and crystallize inside wet hair. And when they dry, they make your hair brittle by sucking the moisture around it.

This process is called Hygroscopy (Wikipedia).

buildup of hard water on hair
Hard water buildup on hair

Weak and brittle hair lead to split ends and the straw-like texture.

To make it worse:

If you are blonde, you’re more likely to see your hair turn orange.

That’s right.

Water with high amounts of calcium and magnesium makes blonde hair brassy.

Here are more problems you face from water hardness:

  • Less soap lather: Your soap is less efficient on minerals
  • Scaly film layer: It creates a stubborn layer on your hair
  • Conditioners don’t work: Conditioners cannot penetrate your hair
  • Excessive heat styling: You have to blast up your flat iron temperature
  • Hair tone changes: Brassy hair tone and dull colors
  • Strips natural moisture: Abrasive salt strips moisture
  • Scalp buildup: Calcium accumulates on your scalp
  • Heavy and flat: You hair feels heavy and flat
  • Dandruff: Flakes and dandruff will look obvious
  • Hair loss: Blocked pores on your scalp cause hair loss
  • Difficult to brush: Makes your hair tangle after shower

Check Inside Your Tea Kettle

Open up your kettle and check inside.

If you find white or yellowish chunky flakes, then your water is doing a number on you too.

And These Slimy Gunk Are Having A Party On Your Scalp !

Just like the flakes sit in the bottom of your kettle, they build up on your scalp too (Yuck !).

Read: What the heck is this grey gunk in my hair?

Fortunately, if you start with an effective cleansing regime, you can benefit from your scalp’s natural renewing process.

“Scalp skin changes regularly, in that every 25 days, there are new cells that have replaced old cells. So the good news is that you can effectively treat your sticky scalp quickly with the right products.” Dr. Francesca Fusco
MD, Manhattan-based dermatologist - Refinery29

Think of your scalp like your face.

If it’s sticky and greasy, you’d clean it straight away. Right?

Eczema – A Common Hard Water Skin Problem

Water with calcium hardness and minerals trigger Eczema and irritation according to New York Dermatologist Dr Eric Shweiger.

A separate research from the University of Nottingham concluded that Eczema was more common among school-aged children living in hard water areas.

I can’t imagine a day going without my Clarins moisturizing cream and my Olay Ribbons body wash. They work well to prevent my skin from drying.

Are you doing enough to save your hair and your skin?

Let me help you …

Your Hard Water Treatment Options & Solutions

Here’s my step-by-step guide on how to deal with hard water:

  • Use A Test Kit: Check water hardness in your tap
  • Shower Softener: Easy shower filter solution
  • Shampoos: Chelate and clarify
  • Club Soda: Neutralizes stubborn buildup on hair
  • Demineralizer: Fix brassiness and discoloration
  • Argan Oil: Keep your hair hydrated

The 3 Seconds Total Hardness Water Test Kit

Now, before I go into details …

Let’s find out how bad the water is in your area.

Buy a hard water test kit from

The test kit is dead simple to use.

Here’s how:

  • Dip one test strip in a cup of water
  • Remove and check the color of the strip

The kit comes with an easy to understand color guide.

Amber means you’re alright, while RED indicates a high level of calcium and magnesium.

RED also confirms why your hair isn’t fluffy, soft to touch, and bouncy anymore.

Let’s get started …

Let me show you how to fix hard water.

Get A Brita For Your Shower – Hard Water Shower Filter

A home water softening system is not always a feasible option. It costs $500 upwards to get one plus installation costs.

And if you’re an apartment dweller like me, forget about it.

Your quickest and cheapest option is a shower filter.

And what better way to show you this:

I recently saw this T3 In-line shower filter, and I like the concept.

T3 Shower
Click here for the T3 Shower Filter Reviews »

If you’re not keen on a shower filter system yet, start using a good shampoo for hard water buildup.

Lather Up With Hard Water Shampoos

Ditch your regular shampoo.


So far, it’s been useless in clearing up the gunk. And you know it.

Heavy minerals in water don’t allow soap, detergents, and shampoos to dissolve. They interfere with the process.

That’s why your hair feels heavy and weighed down.

And when your shampoo doesn’t lather up, it doesn’t rinse off.

As a result, the shampoo residue sticks to your scalp.

Can you imagine what this does?

  • It stays in your hair
  • Clogs the pores on your scalp
  • And it creates a layer that blocks hydration

What follows is: Scalp irritations.

So, before it gets worse …

Use the fastest hard water fix for your hair: Chelating.

How Chelating Shampoos Work

Chelating has anti-static properties. It binds to these hard water villains to make them soluble.


Take a look at these special shampoos:

Top 10 Best Shampoos For Hard Water (With Chelating)

1. Malibu C Hard Water Shampoo


The number 1 hard water wellness shampoo.

ion purify shampoo

2. Ion Shampoo For Hard Water


Eliminates mineral buid-up. Safe for color-treated hair.

kenra clarifying shampoo

3. Kenra Clarifying Shampoo


Removes hard deposits in water buildup.

grapefruit detox shampoo

4. Beautiful Nutrition Grapefruit Detox


Sulfate-Free, Paraben-free gentle shampoo. Contains no synthetic dyes.

Nioxin clarifying hard water

5. Nioxin Clarifying Cleanser


A good shampoo for hair loss due to hard water.

Color Wow clarifying shampoo

6. Color Wow Dream Filter Pre-Shampoo Mineral Remover


Removes minerals from hair before shampooing.

Bumble and Bumble

7. Bumble and Bumble Sunday Shampoo


Your weekly detox shampoo that removes build up and gives your hair and scalp a good detox.

Ouidad waterworks shampoo

8. Ouidad Water Works Clarifying Shampoo


Get squeaky clean hair. It fights the hard water minerals to leave your hair soft.

aubrey organics swimmers shampoo

9. Aubrey Organics Swimmers Shampoo


No Sulfates, No Parabens, and no artificial scents.

mizani neutralizing chelating shampoo

10. Mizani Neutralizing Shampoo


Mizani’s best neutralizing shampoo for hard water.

Do Your Weekly Hair & Scalp Detox With A Clarifying Shampoo

Imagine if your hair had a reset button!

With a total hair and scalp detox, you’ve got your finger on that reset button.

Let a clarifying shampoo sweep up all the dirty residues, products leftovers, and the calcium build up in your hair and scalp.

Let it unclog the pores on your scalp. Let your scalp breeeaathe.

Use it once a week, and your hair will feel squeaky clean.

Warning: This will pump up the volume !

Because your hair will be fluffy, light, and most importantly CLEAN!

Don’t Use Sulfates To Wash Sulfates

Alkaline water contains sulfates.

Your intention here is to reduce exposure to harsh chemicals.

Look for chelating shampoos without sulfates.

Like the ones, I’ve recommended above.

Or, if you want to make it fun …

Try this:

Chelate With Club Soda!

This is my favorite trick and I love it.

The magic Club Soda breaks up mineral deposits and is harmless to your hair.

Why you should try it:

  • Stable pH: It has stable pH5 level
  • Gentle: It is hair friendly
  • Sugar-Free: It won’t make hair sticky
  • Easy To Do: It only takes a few minutes
  • Cheap: And it’s cheap !

Here are some personal experiences with Club Soda:

The Long Hair Community: Club Soda for rinsing out hair (forum discussion)»

Wonderhowto: 13 fascinating uses for Club Soda »

And this is how you use it:

  • Get yourself a can
  • Pour it over your head after shampooing
  • Let it fizz up like crazy (It’s fun)
  • Let it have a bubble party on your scalp
  • Rinse it off
  • Condition your hair

Watch this Youtube video from Howcast.

Club Soda
How to remove hard water from hair with Club Soda. © Credit: Howcast

You’ll immediately feel the neutralizing effect.

Feel the light, smooth, bouncy, and incredibly shiny hair the next morning!

Don't Buy Any Other Soda.:

Club Soda is buffed with stable pH. It’s hair friendly.

Club Soda


Click to buy Club Soda and Experiment »

Demineralizers – Another One For The DIY Fanatics

Have you heard of these little sachets of microcrystals?

You may have seen them in hair salons … the Malibu Crystal Gel Demineralizers.


Malibu Hard Water Demineralizers


Dry hair from hard water? Try The Malibu C Demineralizers

These little gems work like a full-fledged water softener for your hair.

And they are super cheap!

You would be crazy not to give them a try.

Imagine Club Soda, but with added microcrystals (salts).

Similar to salt that’s used to soften water.

Read: How to eliminate hard water with salt

Here are the benefits:

  • Cure For Orange Hair: Ideal for blonde hair turning brassy
  • Chlorine Relief: Neutralises chlorine in your hair
  • Get The Green Tint Out: No more greenish unattractive hair color
  • Highlights Friendly: Brings out your highlights

Even if you have a water softener installed, you can’t prevent rust from the pipes turning your blonde hair neon orange.

Use a demineralizer and strip out the unwanted rust from your hair.

As an added bonus:

It makes your hair easy to comb through. No more messy tangled hair.

How To Use A Demineralizer

You need:

  • The Demineralizing Salt: 1 Malibu crystal gel sachet
  • Shower Cap: Cover your hair while it’s working
  • Deep Moisturizing Mask: For aftercare

How you do it:

  1. Right after your shower, pour the crystals in your wet palms
  2. Mix it with water
  3. It will lather and become a soft gel
  4. Scrunch it throughout your hair
  5. Put on your shower cap
  6. Leave it in for 15 minutes
  7. You may apply heat from blow dryer for best results
  8. After 15 minutes, shampoo and rinse thoroughly
  9. Apply your deep conditioning mask

Don’t Forget: Do it once a week and follow up with a deep conditioner.

Use pure Argan Oil to condition.
Here’s a good one: Josie Maran 100% Pure Argan Oil

Get your Malibu C Demineralizer sachets today

If you are a frequent washer, train your hair to go 2-3 days without washing.

How To Make Hair Last Longer Between Washes

“It’s fine to go a few days without shampooing.”Says Professional hair stylist Alli Webb

If you can’t go a day without washing, use the Ion hard water shampoo and conditioner.

However, daily hair wash means you have a problem.

Your oil machine is on overdrive!

And you need to rebalance it.

Train your hair to be less greasy.

Here’s how you do it:

  • Use a dry shampoo to keep your hair clean in between washes
  • Use a boar bristle brush

Spread Natural Oils Evenly With A Boar Bristle Brush

I read about it online. Tried it. Now it’s part of my beauty essentials.

I can go 2 days without shampooing my hair and not feel like an oil slick …

Brush your hair gently every day. It prevents oils from building up at the roots.

Did you know?

Stretching your hair wash longer also cures dandruff problems.

Dandruff Is More Than Just Dry Skin From Hard Water

They are tiny fungus that feed off oil and greasiness on your scalp.

Everyone has them.

Wash your hair less, and your scalp will produce less oils.

And this stops the fungus from growing rapidly.

Break your washing cycle to make your scalp stabilize sebum production.

More useful tips:

  • When washing hair, start with lukewarm water
  • Apply shampoo
  • Gently massage on your hair
  • Rinse out with cold water (This closes the cuticles)
  • Cut down on styling products and keep your hair clean from residues.
  • Buy an anti-dandruff non static comb

If your scalp suffers from excess sebum production:

Try the DUCRAY Argeal Sebum Absorbing Shampoo.

Or …

Use Apple Cider Vinegar As Your Gunk Ninja !

Dandruff is more than just a nuisance – it’s embarrassing! Salon sprays are costly, but with apple cider vinegar, your dandruff destroyer will cost only pennies per spray. Dr OZ
Celebrity Us Doctor - Dr Oz

And here’s the recipe:

  • 1/4 cup of water
  • 1/4 cup of Braggs apple cider vinegar
  • Mix them in a spray bottle
  • Spray on your hair after shampoo
  • Leave it for 15 minutes
  • Rinse
  • Repeat 2X per week

Vinegar acid stops fungus from growing on your scalp.

And the best part:

It’s a good relief for itchy scalp. Try it and see. You’ll love it.

The not so good part:

You’ll smell like a salad for a few hours until the smell evaporates.

To fix this: Add Lavender Oil or Tea Tree essential oils to your mix.

For No Pooers – Baking Soda Is The Legit Holy Grail

For those who are at war with shampoos …

There’s Baking Soda.

Boil Your Water First.:

This dissolves the hard minerals. They become a white film at the bottom of your pan.

Empty the water in a bowl and leave out the white stuff.

Homemade Shampoo For Hard Water Recipe

You need:


  • Mix the baking soda with water
  • Wet your hair
  • Apply the paste evenly
  • Massage it. Concentrate on the scalp
  • Let it sit for 5 minutes
  • Wash it off
  • Apply the vinegar rinse
  • Throughly rinse after 3 minutes

Baking soda also removes hard chlorine from hair. It’s ideal for swimmers.

Swim Proof Your Hair – Best Shampoo For Swimmers Hair

Even professional swimming athletes look after their hair, on and off duty.

For example:

Olympic swimmer Darra Torres recommends you put conditioner on your hair before jumping in the pool.

And there’s more tips from Speedo – the swimwear experts:

  • Fresh Water Soak: Soak your hair with fresh water first
  • Condition: Then add Argan Oil / Moisturizer to your wet hair
  • UV Spray For OutDoors: Use UV protection spray for outdoors
  • Anti-Chlorine Shampoo: Use anti-chlorine shampoo straight after swim
  • Deep Hair Mask: Finish with a 10 mins hair mask (Optional)
  • Gentle Detangling: Use a good wet hair brush to detangle

Bookmark my swimmer’s hair care essentials guide below:

Follow this simple routine and your hair won’t feel fried or greenish.

Talking about the greenish tint …

Hard water causes hair discoloration, color fade, and brassiness.

Color Treated Hair shampoos That Work Against Hard Water

Hard water and shampoos for color treated hair
Hard water and shampoos for color treated hair

Here are the 3 shampoos that will make your hair color last longer:

Malibu color wellness shampoo

Malibu C Color Wellness Shampoo


Shampoo for hard water and color treated hair.


Biolage colorlast System


For shiny and vibrant color that stays longer.

The tricks to maintain long-lasting vibrant hair color are:

  • Wash less: Water alone causes 80% of color fade
  • Dry Shampoo: Use a color safe dry shampoo in between washes
  • Avoid Sulfates: Avoid harsh chemical shampoos
  • Use Lukewarm Water: Hot water leeches Dye out of your hair
  • Condition, Condition: Use a color-protect conditioner after every wash

And if you’re planning to have your hair colored …

Prep it and remove all the buildup beforehand. Healthy and clean hair will absorb color better.

color prepare sachets

Malibu C Color Prepare


Malibu Color Prepare sachets.


You hair suffers from a lot of unseen damages from hard water.

Understand and know your hair. Frizz, dryness, and itchy scalp are warning signs that your hair is crying out for help.

Fighting hard water will keep your hair and scalp healthy, and best of all …

You’ll notice, you are buying less products to keep the frizz away.

Malibu C Hard Water Shampoo


The number 1 hard water wellness shampoo.

Best Pick