Although there are some anecdotal reports that baking soda is an effective dandruff treatment, there’s no research to support that specific claim.

There is, however, clinical evidence that baking soda may damage hair and irritate the skin.

Keep reading to learn more about why some people use baking soda on their scalp and precautions to be aware of.

Although research hasn’t proven baking soda to be an effective treatment for dandruff, anecdotal evidence suggests that people have had some success with it.

Proponents of using baking soda for dandruff often cite the following studies to support their position, though the research doesn’t explicitly mention dandruff:

  • A 2013 lab study indicated that baking soda has antifungal properties.
  • A 2005 study of 31 people with psoriasis found that itchiness and irritation were reduced with baking soda baths.

According to a 2014 study, the pH level of the average scalp is 5.5. Typically, the hair shaft has a pH level of 3.67. Maintaining this balance is important for hair health.

The research also indicates that baking soda has a pH level of 9 and concludes that using shampoos with high pH levels can result in increased:

Short-term effects

At first, baking soda may seem beneficial: It can remove buildup and dry out your scalp. But over time, it can irritate your scalp and strip your hair of its natural oils.

Long-term effects

The pH of your skin is important to its barrier function. If pH rises, it could result in water loss, making your scalp:

PH, or power of hydrogen, is an indication of acidity levels. The pH scale features 14 units:

  • Anything 7 and above is alkaline, or basic.
  • Anything under 7 is acidic.
  • Pure water has a pH of 7, which is considered neutral.

Different parts of your body have different pH levels. For example:

Don’t confuse these two products, which are used to help baked goods rise, even though they’re both:

  • typically found in the kitchen
  • white powders
  • have similar names

The primary difference between the two are:

  • Baking soda, sodium bicarbonate, is naturally alkaline and, in baking, is activated by liquid and an acid.
  • Baking powder contains sodium bicarbonate and an acid and is only activated by a liquid.

Depending on your particular condition, a doctor will most likely suggest a shampoo with specific characteristics to treat dandruff. These shampoos may contain:

  • zinc pyrithione, an antibacterial and antifungal agent
  • coal tar
  • salicylic acid
  • selenium sulfide, an antifungal agent
  • ketoconazole, an antifungal agent

Although some anecdotal evidence suggests otherwise, baking soda isn’t a proven treatment for dandruff. Because of its high pH level, long-term use of baking soda can damage your hair and skin when used as a shampoo.

If you’re considering using baking soda to address your dandruff, talk to a doctor before starting any new treatment. A doctor can suggest the right treatment plan for you based on your symptoms and current health.