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How to Wash Your Hair in the Sink | Step-by-Step

Knowing how to wash your hair in the sink is a smart option when you’re short on time, traveling, or don’t have access to a shower. It’s quick, easy, and requires very little to get the job done.

Washing Your Hair in the Sink: A Summary

There are three main ways to wash your hair in the sink: with a bowl, a cup, or your hands. Let’s take a closer look at each of them.

  1. Choose whether you want to wash with a cup, bowl, or your hands
  2. Gather and prepare your materials near the sink
  3. Change into an outfit you’re comfortable getting wet, and consider grabbing a towel
  4. Get your hair wet
  5. Add your shampoo and cleanse
  6. Rinse
  7. Add optional conditioner
  8. Rinse again
  9. Squeeze out the water
  10. Air-dry or blow-dry to finish

Of course, this is just the summary; there are some very important things to consider in our step breakouts below. Be sure to read until the end — your hair will thank you!

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How to Wash Your Hair in the Sink in 10 Steps

The process of washing your hair in the sink is simple, and it’s a helpful skill to have when circumstances don’t allow for a full shower. All you need is water, shampoo, and an optional conditioner.

You’ll be so skilled at washing your hair in the sink, you might opt for it more often when there’s no time or place for a shower, but clean hair is calling you. Here’s how to do it.

1. Choose How You Want to Wash It

You can choose whether you want to wash your hair with a cup, bowl, or your hands. Here’s how these three methods work.

When washing your hair in the sink with a cup, you’ll bend over, placing your head into the sink. Then, you’ll fill the cup with water and pour it over your hair until it’s wet.

Then, you’ll add shampoo to your hands and work it into your hair. You’ll finish up with the cup method by rinsing the shampoo out with more water from the cup and repeating with conditioner if you choose.

To wash your hair in the sink with a bowl, fill the bowl with water and pour it over your head until your hair is completely soaked. You’ll repeat the same steps as you would when using a cup. Another option to use a bowl to wash your hair in the sink is placing your hair in the bowl and then filling the bowl up with water.

You can then dunk your head deeper into the bowl to completely submerge your hair. Using your bowl like this saves water and eliminates the need to raise the bowl and pour it, which can be pretty heavy depending on the size of the bowl.

With the bowl method, you’ll need to empty and refill the bowl a few times: first at the beginning of your wash process, then again after getting the shampoo out, and once more after removing the conditioner to get a clean rinse.

The hands-only method requires the fewest supplies and can be done nearly any time, anywhere. As long as you have access to a kitchen, bathroom, or even laundry room sink, you can get a good hair wash in.

Washing your hair in the sink with your hands will require a bit more work since you won’t have an apparatus to hold the water. You can simply turn the water on in the sink and use your hands to move your hair around under the faucet, ensuring every strand gets drenched. 

You can also cup your hands to fill them with water as needed, but it won’t be as effective at carrying large amounts of water from the faucet to your head.

2. Gather and Prepare Materials

If you’re using a bowl or cup, gather and prepare your materials near the sink. You’re going to need:

  • Shampoo bottle
  • Conditioner bottle
  • Cup or bowl (optional)

Other things you may want to consider gathering to make the process easier and a bit more comfortable include:

  • Towel to wrap around your shoulders
  • Clip to secure the towel around your shoulders
  • Towel on the floor to absorb any water that drips as you wash your hair

These aren’t necessary, but can certainly be helpful.

Read Next: The Best Shampoos in 2024 and The Best Conditioners in 2024

3. Change Into Something You Can Get Wet

Now it’s time to change into an outfit you’re comfortable getting wet and, as mentioned before, consider grabbing a towel. If you don’t have any clothes available that you’re okay with getting wet, you can simply wrap yourself in a towel to keep your important clothes dry.

4. Get Your Hair Wet

Let’s get the hair washing started! Get your hair wet in whatever method you prefer. If using a cup or a bowl, you can fill it up and pour water over your hair until it’s wet.

Alternatively, you could dunk your head under the faucet to drench your hair that way. A third option (if your bowl is big enough) is to fill the bowl with water and dunk your head in to get your hair wet that way.

5. Start Cleansing

Add your shampoo and cleanse. Squeeze a dollop of shampoo into your hand and massage it into your scalp. Be sure to get it all over, including the back of your head if possible.

Focus on your scalp, which can be a bit more difficult when you’re upside down over the sink, as shampoo’s primary role is cleaning dirt, sweat, sebum, residues, and pollutants from the scalp

6. Rinse

Once you feel like you’ve thoroughly scrubbed your entire scalp with shampoo, you can rinse all the suds from your hair with cool water until it runs clean. You shouldn’t feel any residual shampoo lingering.

If using a bowl, you can dunk your head in the bowl of clean water and wring out or scrunch your hair to shake the shampoo loose. Once you feel most of the shampoo is out, either let fresh water from the faucet run over your hair or re-fill the bowl with clean water and dunk your head again.

7. Use Conditioner If Preferred

If you’d like, add a dollop of conditioner to your hand and massage it into your hair, being sure to avoid contact with your eyes. You can pay more attention to the ends of your hair with conditioner to ensure they’re getting ample moisture. With low pH and antistatic properties, conditioners can help reduce friction between hairs.

Read Next: What Exactly Is Hair Conditioner?

8. Rinse Again

Rinse all the conditioner from your hair with cool water, using either your cup, bowl, or hands.

9. Remove Lingering Water

Use your hands and then a towel to squeeze as much water from your hair as possible; you don’t want it dripping all over the place as you air-dry or style it! If your bowl, cup, or sink are filled with water, you can drain them and remove water from there as well.

10. Dry and Style

Once you’ve squeezed out as much water as possible, blow-dry or air-dry your hair to finish drying it completely. Style as preferred!

Frequently Asked Questions

Woman washing her hair in the bathroom for a piece on how to wash your hair in the sink


Below are some of the most frequently asked questions about washing your hair in the sink. 

Is it OK to wash your hair in the sink?

It’s ok to wash your hair in the sink as needed. It’s not a great long-term or permanent solution, however, as you’ll be washing your hair upside-down which can disrupt the direction in which you’re smoothing your hair cuticle.

Should I wash my hair in the sink or shower?

Washing your hair in the shower is easier for most people as it allows for convenient cleaning of both hair and body. For those who may not be able to shower or who are short on time, washing hair in the sink can be a helpful and quick alternative.

How can I wash my hair without showering?

You can wash your hair in the sink or by using comb-out dry shampoo, which is a great option to absorb sweat and oil without the need for any water.

How long can you go without washing your hair?

Many people go several days, some potentially even weeks, without washing their hair. However, studies show that overall satisfaction with both scalp and hair condition is achieved when washing hair 5-6 times per week.

How do hospitals wash patients’ hair?

Hospitals often use either a comb-out dry shampoo or use a basin with a tube in the bottom that keeps the bed dry when draining water. Other options include a no-rinse shampoo camp, shampoo trays, and inflatable basins.

So, How Do You Wash Your Hair in the Sink?

If you’re looking for a way to wash your hair without showering, knowing how to wash your hair in the sink is a good alternative, though it’s not a great long-term or permanent solution.

But as long as you have access to a sink and shampoo/conditioner (and perhaps a towel or clothes you’re ok getting wet), it can be a quick solution to get clean hair when you need it. Happy washing!