How To Get Vinegar Smell Out Of The Hair | Quick and Easy

Washing your hair with vinegar has wonderful advantages. It is a natural remedy that can help turn your hair smooth and shiny and remove odors, like cigarette smoke. 

But a big problem with a vinegar hair rinse is that it tends to leave behind its pungent smell.

To get rid of the vinegar smell in your hair, you have to wait for the hair to air-dry and then use a blow dryer. If that doesn’t help, washing your hair with shampoo can do the trick. You can also massage your scalp with baking soda or try masking the smell with essential oils.

In this article, we will explain these methods in detail. First, we will look at some possible ways that you can try to remove the vinegar smell from your hair. And since prevention is better than cure, we will also be sharing some tips on how you can avoid this problem in the future.

Table of Contents

Why Vinegar Rinses Work and Why They Leave Behind That Horrible Smell

Store-bought vinegar is a mix of about 95% water and 5% acetic acid, depending on the concentration. This 5% of acetic acid is responsible for all the benefits and the pungent after smell. 

Unfortunately, this 5% is also responsible for the wonderful properties of this substance.

The acetic acid helps keep your hair free from bacteria and at a balanced pH level. It is also credited with promoting healthier hair growth by exfoliating the scalp. 

But despite being present in a low concentration, the acidity of acetic acid is so high (pH 2) that it needs to be further diluted if you do not wish to leave behind any smell.

If your hair still smells after it has dried, here are a few things you could try:

Shampooing Your Hair Thoroughly

If your hair continues to smell like vinegar after it has dried, then you should consider shampooing it. Get any brand of commercial shampoo and then wash your hair with it. 

Rinse your hair with cold water rather than warm. Even though warm water feels nice, it can intensify the smell of the vinegar.

Once you have rinsed the shampoo off, use a blow dryer to dry your hair completely. You can also apply some fragrant hair oil or hair cream to mask the smell. 

In most cases, this should do the trick in permanently removing that vinegar smell from your hair.

Massaging Your Scalp With Baking Soda

If the shampoo solution from above doesn’t work or doesn’t have enough time for it, you can massage your hair with some baking soda to remove the smell. 

Baking soda has a natural neutralizing effect on the acetic acid in the vinegar. As a result, applying it to your hair can help remove the residual smell.

  1. Take half a cup of baking soda and massage it into your scalp.
  2. Massage it thoroughly with your fingertips, and make sure that you reach the ends of your hair. 
  3. Once applied, leave it for about 15 minutes. 
  4. Then, brush the baking soda off from your hair. 
  5. Finally, rinse your hair with some cold water and then leave it to dry.

This should help you take care of the smell.

Masking the Smell of Vinegar in Your Hair

If nothing works and you’ve tried everything, your best bet will be to mask the smell of vinegar from your hair with a stronger but pleasant smell.

Hair oils or creams are the first that come to mind. They are certainly the easiest of the solutions. But if you want a more natural solution, you should consider a lemon juice rinse. 

Rinsing your hair with lemon juice will completely mask the vinegar’s smell. The smell of the lemon will fade away along with the vinegar.

The same thing works for any essential oil rinse. You can make a solution using one of your favorite essential oils and rinse your hair with it. Like the lemon, the pleasant smell will stay long enough to mask the vinegar’s smell while it’s there. 

You could choose between different flavors, including lemongrass, peppermint, and lavender.

This may feel like a temporary solution, but it isn’t. This is actually a pretty good solution. The smell of vinegar that remains after a vinegar rinse is often temporary. 

So no matter how bad it smells, it will eventually come off on its own. Rinsing it with essential oils or lemon juice will practically cover the smell while it lasts with something stronger and more pleasant.

Preventing Bad Vinegar Smell in Hair

We’ve looked at some great solutions to the problem of having vinegar smell in your hair. But this shouldn’t discourage you from rinsing your hair with it again. There are a few things you can do to try and avoid leaving behind the horrible smell:

Dilute the Solution Further

Add more water to the solution. If your hair still reeks of vinegar after washing & drying, there’s a good chance that vinegar ratio to water was a bit too high. The ideal concentration is five parts water to 1 part vinegar.

Consider using a spray bottle to evenly spray your scalp and then use your fingers to spread it until the roots, rather than pouring the solution directly over your head.

Mixing With Lavender or Lemongrass

This should be done four weeks in advance, prior to your vinegar hair rinse. Take a 1-qt glass jar, fill it halfway with lavender leaves or lemongrass, and then fill it with white vinegar. 

Store this mixture in a cool and dark place for four weeks, making sure that you shake the jar daily.

By the end of the four-week period, rinse your hair. The smell of the lavender or lemongrass will mask the smell of the vinegar.

Add Essential Oils to the Vinegar Solution Before Using It

Once you’ve diluted the solution, add some scented essential oil in the mixture before spraying it on your hair. Like the previous solution, this also helps mask the smell of the vinegar. But the difference is, it won’t take four weeks and can be done right before you rinse your hair.

Essential oils from lavender, lemon, and peppermint are a popular choice.

Squeezing Fresh Lemon Into Your Vinegar Solution

This is another quick solution that you can use if you don’t have any essential oils. Get a fresh lemon and squeeze it into your vinegar solution. You can also add the lemon peels into the solution. 

When you spray the solution, the lemon’s smell will completely neutralize the smell of the vinegar. You don’t have to worry because the vinegar will still do its job.

This will leave your hair with a nice lemony smell right after the rinse. Once it’s dry, the smell will fade, helping you avoid the vinegar scent altogether.


Rinsing your hair with vinegar has plenty of advantages. But unfortunately, it can also leave a horrible smell behind. In most cases, diluting the solution enough using five parts water to 1 part vinegar will do the trick. 

Please wait for your hair to dry after the rinse and then blow dry it once more. If that doesn’t work, there are other solutions like using shampoo or massaging your scalp with baking soda.

The best and long-term solution to this problem is to avoid it altogether. This can be achieved by masking the smell of the vinegar solution before you rinse your hair.

Written by Christina Bowler

We're a team of hair care enthusiast that have been in this industry for a very long time. Since 2019 we've been writing helpful articles to help you find the right tips, tricks, and products that you might want. Feel free to ask us questions on the contact page.

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