We have all been there—your shower is broken or you’re traveling and don’t have access to one. But your hair is feeling greasy, and you need to wash it. Not having access to a shower doesn’t mean you can’t wash your hair. There are many methods for effectively cleaning hair without taking a full shower.
In this guide, I’ll outline the top techniques to wash hair without a shower, so you can keep your locks fresh and clean!
Options for Washing Hair Without a Shower
When you can’t use your shower, the first thing many of us think of is finding another shower to use. Visiting a gym, a friend’s house, or a relative’s house are great options to wash your hair without a shower. But there are also many products available that allow you to wash your hair without water. The best method depends on your circumstances. Here are the top options:
DIY Bucket Method
To wash your hair without a shower, you will need to assemble some key items first:
Bucket or plastic basin: A bucket or plastic basin big enough to fit your head is essential to holding the water for rinsing. Select one that allows you to lean over comfortably.
Cup: Have a large cup, pitcher, or jug handy to scoop and pour water over your hair. Something with a handle is ideal.
Mild Shampoo: Opt for a gentle, sulfate-free shampoo that won’t strip your hair. Baby shampoos often work well.
Towels: Keep some old towels or small microfiber towels close by to dry your hair. Having several will allow your hair to dry faster. While not mandatory, a shower mirror, shower chair, or shower caddy can come in handy if you need to balance items or want to see the back of your head.
Once you have gathered the needed supplies, set up your DIY hair-washing area:
- Place your bucket or basin in the shower, bathtub, or on a water-resistant floor surface.
- Fill the bucket halfway with warm water. Having additional hot water in a tea kettle allows you to top it off if needed.
- Dilute a quarter-sized amount of shampoo into the water and mix well. This prevents you from overusing shampoo.
- Have your cup, towels, and other items within arm’s reach.
If you have long hair, tie it up in a loose top knot bun to keep it out of the way:
- Brush your hair well to remove tangles first.
- Then loosely twist it into a bun shape on top of your head.
- Secure with a hair tie, scrunchie, or clip.
This allows you to access the roots and back of your head easier.
With your DIY hair washing station set up and your hair tied back, it’s time to wash:
- Start by leaning over the bucket and submerging your entire head in the water.
- Saturate all your hair thoroughly, running your fingers through it to get it good and wet.
- Apply a bit more shampoo directly to your roots if needed.
- Gently massage shampoo into the scalp using your fingertips, not your nails.
Rinsing requires some finesse without shower water pressure. Here is an easy method:
First, use your wide-tooth comb or wet brush to detangle the ends:
- Start brushing several inches below the roots.
- Work your way down through the hair slowly.
- Go section by section.
Then use your cup or pitcher to rinse in sections:
- Have a towel handy to keep water off your face.
- Tilt the head to one side and pour cups of water over that area, away from the scalp.
- Repeat, working around your whole head until the shampoo is gone.
Take your time! Rushing can leave patches of shampoo behind.
Going to the Gym
If you already have a gym membership, visiting the gym for a quick rinse in their showers can be one of the easiest ways to wash your hair without your own shower.
- Bring any hair products or accessories you use in the shower so you can wash your hair like normal. Travel-sized shampoo and conditioner, hair bands, etc. can help you feel prepared.
- If you were already planning to get in a workout, do your exercise first and then wash up afterward. Knock out two tasks in one trip.
- Most gyms have private changing areas and showers available for member use at any time they are open. Call ahead to double-check their shower policy if you’ve never used it before.
Having a gym with showers nearby gives you easy access if you ever find yourself needing to wash hair without your home shower.
Going to a friend’s or Relative’s House
If you don’t have a gym membership, visiting a friend or family member who lives close by can allow you to use their shower. This is often the easiest solution when you’re in a bind.
- Give them a call first to make sure it’s okay to come over for a quick shower. Most people are happy to help out.
- Pack shampoo, conditioner, a brush, a hair dryer, etc. to bring with you.
- Make sure to thank them and offer to return the favor if they ever need to use your shower.
Assuming you know someone with a shower nearby, this can be one of the quickest and simplest ways to wash your hair without your own shower.
Using Dry Shampoo
Instead of washing hair with water, using dry shampoo allows you to absorb oil and add volume without water. This makes it perfect for times when you don’t have shower access.
- Dry shampoo comes as an aerosol spray or powder, depending on the brand. It works by absorbing dirt and oil from your hair.
- To use it, shake the bottle well, and then spray or sprinkle it directly onto your dry, dirty hair. Focus on the roots and work your way to the ends.
- Massage it in with your fingers to distribute, wait a few minutes, and then brush it out thoroughly. This absorbs the oil and dirt, so your hair looks freshly washed.
- Dry shampoo works best on hair that hasn’t been pre-wetted. Use it preventatively if you know you won’t be able to shower that day.
Having some dry shampoo on hand can help tide you over when shower access is limited. While not a true substitute for water washing, it helps freshen up dirty hair in a pinch.
Trying Out Shampoo Caps
Shampoo caps are a unique product designed for washing hair without water. They are sealed caps that contain cleansing shampoo, allowing you to thoroughly cleanse your hair simply by massaging the cap.
- Shampoo caps are made from materials like silicone that create a gentle but tight seal against your head. This lets the shampoo lather and cleanse your hair.
- To use them, start with dry hair and massage the cap all over your head to build up the shampoo into a lather.
- After 10–15 minutes, remove the cap and use a towel to absorb excess shampoo and water.
- The caps are comfortable, easy to use, and provide a thorough clean without any water being needed.
Shampoo caps offer a simple alternative for achieving squeaky clean hair without a shower available. The hands-free application makes hair washing easy anytime, anywhere.
Using No-Rinse Shampoos
No-rinse shampoos function similarly to shampoo caps, allowing you to cleanse hair without any water needed. The thick shampoo formula traps dirt and oil which is then absorbed with a towel.
- No-rinse shampoos are typically thick gels or foams that you apply directly to dry hair.
- Work the product throughout all your hair, coating every strand from root to tip.
- After massaging thoroughly, use a dry towel to absorb the shampoo and lift away dirt and oil.
- Formulas are pH balanced and gentle, cleaning hair without drying it out.
If you like lathering up hair with shampoo the old fashioned way, no-rinse formulas allow you to shampoo as usual without water. The handy formulas make washing hair on the go a breeze.
Buying Hair Washing Equipment
While less convenient for one-off situations, investing in specialized hair washing tools allows you to wash hair without shower access indefinitely. Products like portable shampoo bowls and cape systems give you everything needed for a water wash without a typical shower.
- Consider cost, storage space, and frequency of use when deciding on hair washing equipment. These systems take up space and cost more than other options.
- A portable shampoo bowl lets you wash hair by simulating the sink. It has a section to drape long hair into.
- Shamp-Ease and other systems include a cape, bowl, and chair for a complete salon-style hair washing experience without a shower.
While pricier and less convenient for travel, hair washing equipment allows you to replicate a wet wash experience without shower access in your own home when needed.
As you can see, just because you don’t have access to a shower doesn’t mean you can’t properly cleanse and freshen up your hair. With strategies like visiting other showers, using specialty waterless hair products, and purchasing hair washing equipment, you have many options.
Some methods, like using a friend’s shower or the gym, provide a more complete wash when needed. Others, like dry shampoo, help freshen hair in a pinch. And portable hair washing systems allow you to recreate a wet shampoo experience anywhere. Choose the best method based on your needs and length of time without shower access.
The next time your shower is out of order or you’re staying somewhere without one, remember you have alternatives. A broken hot water heater or travel accommodation doesn’t have to mean days of dirty, limp hair.
Using the convenient hair washing methods outlined above, you can keep your hair fresh and fabulous even without your own shower. Don’t let a lack of shower access ruin your hairstyle!
Founded by Sophia Rodriguez, IGXO Cosmetics is a PETA-certified, cruelty-free, and vegan makeup brand.