Natural Cures for Dandruff

| Modified on Mar 14, 2023

Millions of people suffer from dandruff and many more millions of dollars are spent on over the counter and prescription products to treat dandruff. Unfortunately, these products can be expensive, may have side effects, and and don't always work! Earth Clinic readers have been sharing their inexpensive and effective natural solutions for dandruff for more than a decade. And these simple remedies are usually free of side effects! The top natural remedy for dandruff is apple cider vinegar, diluted and applied topically to the scalp.

What is the Cause of Dandruff?

Earth Clinic's Ted cites a number of different causes of dandruff, including candida, fungus in the blood, pH imbalance in the body, hormonal imbalances, nutritional deficiencies and parasites. As those with dandruff know, it is not caused by a lack of cleanliness and it is an embarrassing problem!

Apple Cider Vinegar for Dandruff

Apple cider vinegar is Earth Clinic's most popular natural remedy for dandruff. Some use regular apple cider vinegar from the grocery store, and others use raw and organic apple cider vinegar from the health food store or larger grocery stores.

  • Mix 1/2 cup of apple cider vinegar with 1/2 cup pure water. 
  • Put the solution in a spray bottle. 
  • Fifteen minutes before your shower, spray your hair and head with the vinegar solution. 
  • Shower and rinse out the mixture. 
  • Alternately spray or pour the mixture on your hair after you shampoo and let it sit for 5-10 minutes before you rinse it out. 

Other Natural Cures for Dandruff

Borax - Mix 2 Tablespoons of borax powder into a cup of warm water. Use this solution instead of a conditioner to rinse your hair after shampooing. Borax softens water and is also effective against parasites and fungus.

Tea Tree Essential Oil - Tea tree essential oil can be added to shampoo (1 teaspoon per 16 ounce bottle of shampoo) or 20 drops can be added to the apple cider vinegar and water solution recommended above. Tea tree is anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, and anti-inflammatory.

Supplements for Dandruff

Because dandruff can be caused by nutritional deficiencies, sometimes the issue is address by supplements alone. Iodine and B-12 are two supplements that Earth Clinic readers have found to cure their dandruff.

Free Cures for Dandruff

Those who are tired of spending lots of money on ineffective products may be happy to learn of some cures that will cost virtually nothing! The "Rainwater Cure" is simply collecting rainwater and using it to rinse your hair. Marjorie from Tennessee says it will leave your hair baby-soft and shiny.

Leah from Canada was using Cold Shower Therapy for another purpose and found that a month later, her dandruff was cured!

Additional Tips for Eliminating Dandruff

  1. Use natural shampoos; avoid SLS's in your shampoo.
  2. Use a filter on your shower head, to filter out chlorine and fluoride.
  3. Drink more water each day.
  4. Drink an alkalizing tonic each day - 1 Tablespoon of Raw Apple Cider Vinegar in a tall glass of water once or twice a day.
  5. Use a boar's bristle brush to brush your hair and stimulate your scalp once or twice a day.
  6. Eat beets each day. One Earth Clinic reader found that this cured his dandruff. Beets help to clean the liver.

Scroll down to read what Earth Clinic contributors have used to cure their dandruff and please share your stories with us!

15 Second Rinse

2 User Reviews
5 star (2) 

Posted by Annette (Fairbanks, Alaska) on 12/31/2011

Dandruff remedy -- According to this BBC News Health article, dandruff and itchy scalp are caused by overactive Malassezia fungus. This fungus is naturally found on human skin, but if it's overactive it causes a fast turnover of skin cells. In other words, Malassezia produces flakes faster in dandruff sufferers than in people without dandruff.

If you have oily hair (like me) then you're more susceptible to dandruff, since Malassezia feeds on sebum, the oily matter produced by the sebaceous glands in our skin.

This is the real secret. When I tell most people they just think it's gross and don't hear me out. :)

When I hop in the shower in the morning I give my scalp a vigorous 15 second rinse under the water. This gets the visible oiliness out of my hair, but doesn't actually strip my scalp of any oil.

It's washing without washing.

When you first do this you'll notice that your hair might feel a little "sticky. " Don't worry, you have to give it time to adjust.

The interesting thing is after a few days my scalp seemingly stopped producing so much oil. I don't know the science behind it, and I haven't been able to find conclusive studies about it, I just know it works.

Some people use baking soda and vinegar. Or lemon juice. These products don't strip your hair of its oils.

Good luck to all of us suffering from... I call it: "shampoo-itis"

Replied by Francisca
(Zug, Switzerland)

Annette, how long is your hair, dyed or not? I would like to ask Lardiver the same questions. My hair if shoulder length and dyed so many times methods which work for short, or natural hair don't work for longer, dyed hair. I don't have dandruff but I am looking for ways to make my hair healthier!

Replied by Jennywren
(Perth, Western Australia, Australia)

Hi there, just wondering if you ever actually use shampoo, or do you just do this every day? I have oily hair too, with itchy scales and mild hair loss.

Replied by Annette
(Fairbanks, Alaska)

Hi, this is six months later and my hair has improved so much. Partially due to not shampooing, and partially to using the hydrogen peroxide with a mild (organic) shampoo. I initially went six weeks without using any shampoo and by doing that it had reduced the oiliness tremendously. I did miss the nice scents that some shampoos come with and the lathering, therefore I use shampoo once or twice a week, not everyday. The shampoo I use is made from carrots and it smells like a baby product, it's very gentle, organic, and it works nicely with my hair. I think my hair/scalp has improved a lot.

My hair is short or shoulder length now, and not permed or color treated. I apply the hydrogen peroxide after I wet my hair, then I added a small amount of shampoo, and lather up. This is very simple, because I keep a spray bottle full of H2O2 in the shower. My dandruff is 75% better, but not fully cured. I will add apple cider vinegar and tea tree oil to my regiment. Will post back in another six months!

Replied by Florie
(Henly, Texas, Usa)

Doesn't the peroxide bleach your hair?!

Apple Cider Vinegar, Baking Soda

1 User Review
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Posted by Lover Of Truth (In) on 12/22/2017

Dealt with bothersome dander most of my life. Sometimes it would flare up worse than others. Using conditioner seemed to help in those cases. But recently things flared up bad. It was like Christmas all year around my shoulders. I was using an all natural shampoo and conditioner so it wasn't a chemically product that was the problem. But I stopped using them anyway and washed my hair with baking soda with ACV for conditioner. This helped for a few weeks but then it came back. So I got radical and washed my hair only in plain water. As a side note my hair does not smell nor look oily making me think shampoos and conditioners are superfluous. Anyway this has mostly worked keeping the dander at bay but not totally cured.

However things are slowly getting worse again and now I suspect much of the problem is the water itself. Our city among other things puts a toxic form of fluoride and chloramines in the water so my next venture will be to get a water filter for the shower. It makes me mad I have to go to such lengths as our government should provide clean non toxic water to us. But what can you do? So I'll just pony up for a filter and see what happens. I strongly suspect this will be the best remedy yet. I'll report back with the results as soon as I buy one and try it out.

Apple Cider Vinegar, Hydrogen Peroxide

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Posted by Arthur (Edmonton, Ab) on 10/07/2010

I have read on your site on the Teds dandruff remedy or what not section, after mixing the 1 part acv, 1 part hydrogen peroxide, 10 parts water treatment< I soaked my hair ( after washing my hair first) then applied this to my hair. It seemed to have worked at first usage, I went to repeat three days later and my scalp has now become extremely itchy, and tingly thoughout the day, and night sometimes evena burning sensation and my dandruff has become much worse< I trusted this site because it seems to be authentic. I dont have any other skin problems at all just dandruff. Please help me fix this

Apple Cider Vinegar, Hydrogen Peroxide
Posted by Mrloux (Bay Area, Ca) on 02/13/2010

Dandruff: ACV-H202 mix worked!!

After using a baby shampoo I noticed my scalp flaking and itching. So I went and got a coal tar shampoo and things got worse. After a hair cut I could see the red scaly areas and my bald forehead was very red. I was so worried that I tried a little of everything, ACV, alcohol, milk of Magnesia, colloidal silver, it got better then it came back again a day or two later. Thinking that it was the coal tar that was working but it came back, knowing something worked I had to go through and try again, this time with Ted's 1/p ACV 1/p H202, 10/p water and things are clearing up fast at 40 hours later.

I washed w/ ACV solution let it sit for 5 min then rinsed. Then applied Aloe Vera gel and let that set for the night next morn cold shower wash w/ ACV solution then shampooed w/ my old stand by natural citrus from TJ's. I decided to stay away from SLS which is the main ingredient in the baby shampoo, coal tar, and many other so called psoriasis shampoos.

Replied by Regulator555
(Grand Rapids, Mi, Usa)

Ted's remedy helped with the itching, however, I still have the flakes. Any ideas?

Replied by Merryanne
(Orange City, Florida, Usa)
113 posts

Continue using your ACV treatments until all the itching is gone, at least do weekly,,in between take a pea size amount of virgin cocunut oil and rub in your hand to melt it and rub in your hair, or you can put a lot in and put a shower cap on head and leave it it for several hours, then shower and dry naturally,,,that will moisturise and should help stop flaking.

Merryanne in Central FL

Replied by Regulator555
(Grand Rapids, Mi, Usa)

I will try the coconut oil for the flakes. Also, the iodine deficiency theory is interesting, as I avoid iodine because it was a trigger for my acne. Hmmmm. Flakes or pimples? Just kidding. I need to find a balance. Thank you both for the input.

Apple Cider Vinegar, Hydrogen Peroxide
Posted by Carmen (Nova Scotia, Canada) on 10/02/2009


Wow! As quickly as it came on it is now gone! Yesterday I noticed a scalp itch and of course, scratched it, and thought nothing of it again. That is until I looked in to the mirror, FLAKES...EVERY WERE!! Tried the ACV and H202 water (9parts water 1part ACV & H2O2), placed mixture into a spray bottle sprayed scalp to saturate, left in for approx. 3min. I then washed hair as usual. Today, all flakes are gone, no itch and as a bonus I am having a good hair day:)

Apple Cider Vinegar, Hydrogen Peroxide
Posted by honeydip1228 (New York, NY) on 07/26/2009

I've suffered with dandruff since childhood (i'm 37). I've spent thousands of dollars on various otc dandruff shampoos and treatments. About 2 yrs ago the scaling got so bad I had no choice but to turn to a dermatologist, I was prescribed a shampoo and foam, which worked, at first but then the more I used them less effective they seemed to be. And then when I stopped using them completely the scaling came back with a VENGENCE! Two weeks ago I did a search looking for a natural cure for dandruff, and came across this site. I made a rinse of 4 tbsps acv, 4 tbsps hydrogen peroxide, and 8 tbsps water, i put the mixture in a clean sqeeze bottle, and gently massaged the mixture into my scalp with towel draped over my neck. I then put a plastic shower cap over my head and let it penetrate 2 hours. I rinsed and shampooed with my usual shampoo made for relaxed hair, and blow dried/ styled my hair, and my flakes were 99% gone. I was amazed! I kept checking every inch of my scalp every day just to make sure..and yes I pretty much dandruff free. 4 days after the treatment i did see a tiny bit of flaking by my forehead, but it was barely noticeable. Usually with other shampoos my entire scalp would be comepletely scaly again by day 3. Day 7 I did another treatment, except this time I used coconut vinegar (available in asian grocery stores) as is does not smell nearly as strong as acv, also I made hot oil treatment using ___ ___ coconut oil (available in asian, west indian, and all "wf" stores...Now I can say I am 100% dandruff free. My hair/scalp is so soft, and healthy looking, and to think it cost me less than 5 dollars! I cant thank you enough for this natural remedy!!

Replied by Misha
(Binghamton, New York)

This remedy does indeed work! I tried this and after two treatments, I was dandruff free! The only thing I tried differently was to add a few drops of tea tree oil to the hydrogen peroxide, ACV mixture. Thanks again Earthclinic!

Apple Cider Vinegar, Hydrogen Peroxide
Posted by Keyana (Ridgeland, Mississippi) on 12/01/2008

My husband was suffering from very bad dandruff. There were flakes everywhere! I tried tea tree oil, but while it eliminated the lesions on his front hairline, the flakes remained. Finally, I mixed a solution of apple cider vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, and water at a 2:2:1 ratio. I sprayed it on his scalp, massaged it in, and we left it on for about 10 minutes. Then he washed his hair with baby shampoo. Afterward I oiled his hair with cold pressed coconut oil. His dandruff has greatly diminished and we don't see a single flake unless he goes more than a day or two without washing.

He's down to the point now (after 1 1/2 weeks) where he doesn't HAVE to wash his hair every day. He doesn't do the vinegar/peroxide spray as often (about every other wash), but he continues the baby shampoo and coconut oil.

Apple Cider Vinegar, Hydrogen Peroxide
Posted by Jacqui (Orlando, FL) on 02/13/2006

I had tried everything short of going to a dermatologist, and everything seemed to make my dandruff worse. Thank God I found this! Within the first few applications my flaking entirely disappeared. I've used the solution once weekly followed by tea tree oil along the hairline, where it was worse, and have not had a problem. Again, thanks! This really did the trick!

Apple Cider Vinegar, Hydrogen Peroxide
Posted by Shey (Lanan)

Thank you for the input, my son has had a terrible case of dandruff for more than two years now, I tried tea tree oil before I ever read this and was not persistent with it. Now I know it's the apple-cider that works, makes a lot of sense and it's right in the kitchen, thank you.

Apple Cider Vinegar, Hydrogen Peroxide
Posted by M Joy (Lusby, MD)

I tried the Apple Cider/Peroxide treatment. It did not help my severe dandruff. I have tried everything available naturally and over the counter as well. Nothing helps. It may seem to help for a day or so, but then the severe itching and flaking returns in full force.

Replied by Nick
(Watford, Uk)

Rose could you tell me what bottle capacity should I use for filling with the mixture of borax rubbing alcohol and rosemary?

Apple Cider Vinegar, Tea Tree Oil

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Posted by Debbie (San Diego, California) on 01/31/2010

While I know I still need to address the cause,( not drinking enough water and eating too much processed foods)I have found much relief to my very, very bad dandruff problem thanks to this site. I read through all the posts and did the following;

Raw, unfiltered, organic AC vinegar and tap water 1:1 ratio in spray bottle. Adjust to stream and seperated sections of hair to soak scalp. I just let it dry overnight, next morning I brushed it out and things looked better. I went to whole foods and picked up the tea tree oil.

When I got home, I added @25 drops of tea tree oil to spray bottle that had 1/2 cup ACV and 1/2 cup water. Same method of application and again, left it over night. I washed hair with my new DE shampoo and conditioner. WOW!! 90% better!! My hair has not been this shiny in ages. My scalp does not hurt. Minor,random itch.I can pull my hair back and am not worried. I have great hope that this is my answer.

Dandruff shampoos never really worked for me and this last batch seemed to make it worse. My hair looked awful. Keeping my fingers crossed and will post again after giving this method some time.

Thanks to all who posted information.

Replied by Debbie
(San Diego, California)

Day 4 update. I could not be happier. My hair looks great, my scalp does not itch, few (and I mean few) flakes and I can wear dark shirts again! I so hope this works forever. I strongly recommend searching out a shampoo/conditioner without any detergents or fragrance.

Thank You!!!!!

Apple Cider Vinegar, Tea Tree Oil
Posted by Mia (Chicago, IL, USA) on 10/17/2008

I've had rather intense dandruff for the last year, especially when it starts to get cold and dry outside. Fancy anti-dandruff shampoos, super mosturizing conditioners, cold water showers, even some crazy stinging stuff my dermatologist recommended didn't work. Sure, it might slow it for a week, but then my scalp would get used to it and go right back to it's naughty ways. Tried the ACV last night (50% AVC, 50% water with some tea tree oil in a spray bottle), left it on for about 10 minutes and then showered, and guess what? I didn't scratch my head at all that night, and woke up with no dandruff!! Ok, well, I saw ONE flake, but it was all alone, rather than the usual accompaniment of hundreds of friends. Best of all, it didn't smell as bad as people say after putting the tea tree oil in it.

Cost: $1 for ACV, $1.29 for spray bottle and $7.59 for tea tree oil. Altogether less than that nasty smelling tar shampoo. Yeah! Thank you!


1 User Review
5 star (1) 

Posted by Dick (Raleigh, North Carolina) on 03/09/2008

I have a very Itchy Scalp. No Dandruff. I have tested for two months eating off the grocery shelf canned beets. I eat two (1 to 1 1/2 inch diameter beets)in the morning and two in the evening. Every day. It works.


3 User Reviews
5 star (3) 

Posted by Madeline (Sacramento, Ca) on 05/20/2017

My hairdresser was noticing I had a flaky scalp every time I got my hair cut. I tried borax to get rid of my dandruff and it works great. I mix about two tablespoons in about a cup of warm water, no need for exact measurements, and pour half on my hair and scrub it around, then do the same with the next half and rinse. Using it once a week with regular shampooings in between is probably good for maintenance.

The first time I did it, I used cold water and the borax didn't really dissolve, and I thought, well that must be how it works, by exfoliating! But it is the borax itself, so go ahead and use warm water to dissolve it. It does clean my hair and leaves it nice and soft. And my hairdresser reports no dandruff to be seen!

Replied by Raul

Borax for dandruff - Question

After recently discovering the "Borax Cures and Health Benefits" video on YouTube, I bought some Mule Team and tried about a tbsp in hot water, let cool, then poured over scalp. There were no adverse reactions to my knowledge, but it immediately created suds which I was not expecting at all - according to other users' reports there were little/none. Might anyone know the reason for this? Was my hair/scalp super acidic? Or just a lot of a particular mineral? Thanks.

(I don't yet have enough applications to verify if it helps with the dandruff.)

2218 posts


I have used and recommended Borax for oral and topical use quite a bit, but have never experienced suds or heard of suds appearing unless I added something else to make suds. I have in the past added a little bit of regular shampoo to make a minimal amount of suds and add a little fragrance.


Posted by Lisa (Thousand Oaks, Ca, Usa) on 07/01/2012

I often see posts asking for help with dandruff and itchy scalp. I was plagued with this problem for a very long time. When I read about borax here on earth clinic, I decided, why not? That was a couple of years ago. Once I used it, I have not been bothered with an itchy scalp or dandruff since. I do have to say though that over those couple of years I've done an awful lot of detoxing as well. Still, I remember the relief I had from the borax for my issues! Hope this helps others, Lisa

Replied by Shigure

Anyone know how Lisa used the borax? Internally or externally?

Replied by Josephine
(San Diego)

I don't have dandruff, but I wash my hair with Borax. Probably read it in EC. I just mix 1/2cup or so of Borax (the mule kind) in a metal camping mug with the hot shower water and pour over my hair. I gently scrub as if I had normal shampoo and rinse out. It does leave my hair clean! I have dry hair not oily. When I do an oil treatment to moisturize my hair I have noticed the Borax does not clean my hair so I will use my regular shampoo. I color and straighten my hair and have noticed over time that my (expensive) shampoo/conditioner from the salon was leaving my hair in worse shape. Borax and an ACV rinse has helped quite a bit. Hope that helps.

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