Research doesn’t currently support the use of apple cider vinegar to treat dandruff over other remedies. But anecdotal evidence suggests it may have some benefit.

Although only supported by anecdotal evidence, proponents of apple cider vinegar (ACV) suggest it can treat dandruff by:

  • balancing the pH of your scalp
  • stimulating the shedding of dead skin cells from your scalp
  • reducing fungal growth on your scalp and hair

Keep reading to learn about the properties of ACV that might help fight dandruff and how to use ACV to treat dandruff.

Although there’s no scientific proof that ACV is an effective treatment for dandruff, it does have some properties that support those claims. These properties include:

  • Antifungal. A 2003 study indicated that compounds in ACV can prevent certain types of fungus from growing in a test tube.
  • Disinfectant. ACV is popular as a home disinfectant. Some suggest that it could kill fungi and bacteria that may lead to scalp problems such as dandruff.
  • Acidic. ACV is mildly acidic, with a relatively low pH of 2 to 3. Some suggest that it could help get high pH hair or skin back into balance.
  • Rich in acids, minerals, and live cultures. ACV is made by fermenting apples in a process that enriches it with acids, minerals, and live cultures.

Although ACV for dandruff isn’t scientifically supported, you may consider trying it based on the anecdotal evidence.

To use ACV for dandruff, the University of California, Berkeley suggests the following:

  1. Combine 1/2 cup ACV with 1 1/2 cups of cool water.
  2. Shampoo and rinse your hair as normal.
  3. Pour the water and ACV mix through your hair.
  4. Don’t rinse your hair again.
  5. Use conditioner if necessary.

Along with helping with dandruff, it’s suggested that this process will:

  • remove oil and dirt
  • balance your hair’s pH
  • make your hair look shiny and feel smooth
  • soothe itchiness

Just as you should with any new topical application, stop using ACV if it causes stinging, redness, or itching.

You may also want to consider shampoos that have ingredients proven to help with dandruff. These include:

  • zinc pyrithione, an antibacterial and antifungal agent found in Head & Shoulders and DermaZinc
  • selenium sulfide, an antifungal agent found in Selsun Blue and Head & Shoulders Intensive
  • ketoconazole, an antifungal agent found in Nizoral A-D
  • coal tar, which is found in Neutrogena T/Gel
  • salicylic acid, which is found in Baker’s P&S and Neutrogena T/Sal

Follow the label directions and if one isn’t as effective as desired, try another. If none of these anti-dandruff shampoos work to limit or eliminate your dandruff, talk to a doctor or dermatologist. They may recommend a prescription-strength dandruff shampoo or steroid lotion.

If you have an allergic reaction after using any of these products, including difficulty breathing, hives, or a rash, seek immediate medical attention.

In the natural health community, ACV is claimed to have many benefits, including treating dandruff. Research suggests that apple cider vinegar has the following health benefits:

  • It can kill certain harmful bacteria, according to research from 2018.
  • It can reduce blood sugar and improve insulin function, according to a 2017 study.
  • It can help people lose weight and reduce belly fat, according to a 2009 study.
  • It’s associated with lower cholesterol and triglycerides in numerous animal studies, including a 2006 study.
  • It may offer protection from certain types of cancer as shown in numerous studies, including research from 2016.

There’s no shortage of claims about the health benefits of apple cider vinegar online. Some of them are backed up with scientific research, while others are only supported by anecdotal evidence.

Using ACV for dandruff is one of those popular claims that isn’t backed up with scientific evidence.