How to Make Stinging Nettle Shampoo


Spring and summer mean an abundance of Stinging Nettle.  Stinging Nettle grows all over the Pacific Northwest, and this spiny friend can be used for food, medicine, technology (rope, craft, dye), and even for natural beauty products.

Click here to read Wolf College’s comprehensive Stinging Nettle guide, including how to find, identify, harvest, eat and cook stinging nettle.

Benefits of Stinging Nettle: A Healthy Scalp and Beautiful Hair

Although Stinging Nettle may seem like a plant you wouldn’t want to touch, it is easy to respectfully harvest and process. It is a staple plant to have on hand — Nettle is full of wonderful medicinal properties. Its properties include anti-inflammatory, stimulating, astringent, anti-bacterial, and healing. Nettle also has high levels of antioxidants, which help fight free radicals — free radicals damage our bodies and can cause aging.

Nettle promotes hair rejuvenation and can eliminate dandruff; it is also a natural remedy for eczema and oily or greasy skin and hair. Because Nettle contains high levels of vitamins and minerals which support skin and hair health, many commercial shampoos and hair care products contain it. But why buy a shampoo when we can make it ourselves?


Using Nettle in a shampoo or rinse will help make our hair brighter, shinier, thicker, and healthier. So, we can make our own Nettle shampoo with organic and natural ingredients for beautiful and happy hair!

How to Make a Shampoo: the Dirty and the Clean

To make a shampoo, we need to address 2 main categories: a detergent and a conditioning agent.

The Dirty: Commercial shampoos are often full of harsh chemicals that fall under the ‘big 3’ : detergents, conditioning agents, and foam boosters. The detergents found in most commercial shampoos are called sulfates, which are harsh and drying, and can strip our hair of its protective oils and irritate our scalps. To remedy these damaging detergents, conditioning agents are added in to give the appearance of soft and shiny hair. However, conditioning agents are usually chemicals called polymers, silicones, and quaternary agents. Silicone isn’t water soluble, so it won’t wash out in the shower. Instead, it will build up and leave our hair flat and dull (especially for us wavy and curly haired girls). As for foaming agents and ‘boosters’, I’m unclear why we associate foam with cleansing power. Shampoo doesn’t need to foam to do its job. Most foam ‘boosters,’ like Cocamide DEA, are actually harmful chemicals that have no real business being in our products.

The Clean: Herbal shampoo! You can’t get much more natural than using organic plants and herbs. Gentle oils like Sweet Almond or Jojoba provide moisture and shine, and act as carriers to infuse our hair with the medicinal and healing properties of the herbs we are using. We can also add Essential Oils for fragrance and a little extra boost of herbal goodness. Not only are herbal shampoos beneficial for our hair and bodies, they are also friendly to the environment.

Nettle shampoo is easy to make, sustainable, and promotes self-sufficiency. It is an activity the whole family can participate in, too! Nettle shampoo is safe for children but be careful to keep out of eyes as the Castile soap will sting.

Ingredients for Nettle Shampoo:

8 oz Nettle-infused water ** included in the directions
3 oz Dr. Bronner’s liquid hemp Castile soap (unscented)
3 tbsp aloe vera juice
1/4 tsp jojoba or sweet almond oil
25-35 drops of essential oil * we used peppermint and rosemary

You will need: 1 oz of dried Stinging Nettle leaves, a pot, stir stick, clean bowls, and shampoo containers

Directions for making Nettle Shampoo:

First, we need to infuse the water with Nettle. For 8 oz of water, we will need 1 oz of dried Nettle leaf (by volume, not by weight). You can harvest Stinging Nettle yourself ahead of time and dry it, or you can purchase dried Nettle leaves (my favorite resource for bulk herbs is Mountain Rose Herbs).

To infuse the water with the dried Nettle, pour boiling water over the dried Nettle and allow it to steep for at least 4 hours to up to 10 hours. Once steeped, strain through a cheesecloth or jelly strainer bag into a clean bowl.

Next, add in the Castile soap, stirring until combined thoroughly.

Now stir in the oils, aloe vera juice, and the EOs. Stir until combined. Pour into the shampoo containers and shake thoroughly.

Don’t forget to label with name, date, and ingredients!

Shake well each time before using, since the ingredients will separate naturally.

Note that this shampoo has a fairly short shelf life (1-2 weeks) because it is made with an herbal infusion. It is a good idea to make small batches so that it is always fresh. You can also store the shampoo in the fridge to prolong its shelf life, or add in a natural preservative like Grapefruit Seed Extract or vitamin E oil.


Why we used what we used:

Nettle leaf: high levels of vitamins and minerals; thickening, brightening.

Aloe Vera Juice: antioxidants, antifungal properties; moisturizing, great for dry or damaged hair. Vitamins and minerals such as Vitamins A, B1, B2, B6, C, E, Calcium, folic acid and amino acids

Castile Soap: the ‘detergent’ in our shampoo. Gentle enough for hair while still being cleansing

Sweet Almond or Jojoba oil: Mimics the natural oils/sebum that our skin and hair produce; it’s non-greasy and absorbed quickly. Rich in vitamins B complex and E.

EOs: we used peppermint and rosemary. Peppermint for the invigorating properties, cooling and good for oily hair. Rosemary stimulates hair follicles – promoting growth, has antimicrobial and antiseptic qualities.

Hannah | 2014

Hannah began her apprenticeship at Wolf Camp in 2013 and graduated as a lead herbal instructor in 2014.  Join Hannah and other Wolf College wild chefs during our annual Wild Cooking & Ethnobotany Expedition: The Herbal Foray the second week of July on Lake Sammamish near Seattle.

Hannah graduated from the University of Oregon in 2014 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Foreign Languages. She has her own blog, where she writes about her love for crafts, animals, plants, cooking, and the outdoors:


  1. I have found for best hair results:

    1. Make Stinging Nettle infusion (steeped 4+ hours).

    2. Apply to hair at night and massage into scalp, do not towel dry, let it dry naturally.

    3. Sleep with the dried infusion in hair

    4. Wash out in morning with castille soap or other chemical free soap.

    Plus I drink 32oz (1 liter) of the Nettle infusion everyday.

    After doing this for 6 months every single day, my gray hair has gone back to its natural brown and my hair regrowth has been incredible.


    1. are u sure to drink nettle infusion daily? can we take nettle infusion orally?


      1. Thank you for your question! Yes, you can drink nettle infusion daily provided you have harvested the nettle at the correct time (please see my complete nettle blog post) and that you like it. If you choose not to harvest it yourself, I know that Traditional Medicinals carries it and they are a very reputable company. If you try it and find the taste is not to your liking, I encourage you to add some mint or steep it with a teaspoon (or more!) of fresh needles from an edible pine family tree from your region. Here in Western Washington, some of my favorite needles to add are Douglas fir, Western hemlock tree, grand fir and spruce. Local raw honey makes it really tasty, too! Try it and see what you think. As with everything, your body may not care for it or may love it.

  2. I tried the DIY nettle Schampoo today by following your recipe and instructions, but it left my hair feeling heavy, greasy yet a bit dry and hard to comb. I’ve used all natural schampoos before by doing them myself but I’ve never used castile soap, could it have been the soap? Is there anything I need to think about when using it? I would really appreciate any suggestions or answers as I am trying really hard to make my hair well and regrow it. I’ve gone back to commercial schampoos so many times, although I try and choose the most natural ones as possible but I really don’t think that’s good for my hair either.

    Thank you,

    Kind regards,


    1. Thanks for the comment Maria. I’ll pass it along to Hannah for response, but castile soap is very intense and super drying, so my skin as well as hair cannot handle it. Hopefully Hannah will have an alternate suggestion that will work for you. Thanks again, – Chris


    2. Just reading this now…in July, but had to tell this person that it is NOT the nettle doing this to your hair. IT IS THE CASTILE!!! I have been using stinging nettle as a final rinse since age 13…I make a large pan of tea with it, and pour it, barely cooled, over my hair as a final rinse. Strain out all leaves, etc, first. I am 65, and my hair looks wonderful. Drink a little with honey.


  3. Hi,

    When it says 1 oz. dried nettle, does this mean by weight or by volume? I did it by weight and it filled almost half a quart mason jar (dried). The 8 oz. of water barely covered it. This is when I realized the 1 oz. nettle may need to be measured in a liquid measuring cup (volume), and not on the scale by weight… Could you please clarify?

    Thank You!


    1. Hi Jennifer – Yes, it is indeed by volume. I’m so sorry about the confusion and will add that clarification in Hannah’s blog. – Kim


  4. Hi,
    Can the nettle be picked at any time of the year for when it is juiced and used for a hair tonic or colour for soap or dried and powdered to add to soap and not just before the flowers appear as for making tea. The nettles have started to flower here in the UK but I would like to use some of them for soaping if it’s OK. Marilyn


    1. Hi Marilyn – If using the nettle externally, it should be fine for most people to harvest and use after it is flowering. 🙂


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