How Do You Kill Bacteria in Your Hair?


Bacteria are literally everywhere, including in your hair and on your scalp. There’s no way to eradicate it, but you can take steps to reduce it. If you want to know how to kill bacteria in your hair, you’re in the right place. We’ll share the answer below.

Shampoo Can Remove and Inactivate Bacteria

Shampoos are formulated to remove dirt, debris, and oil from your hair. But that isn’t the only thing they do. They can also eliminate bacteria through two different mechanisms:

  1. When you lather your hair with shampoo and rinse, a substantial amount of the bacteria in your hair go down the drain. How well this will work depends on how vigorously you scrub your scalp and hair, how much shampoo you use, how well you rinse, and more. 

  2. Many shampoos contain surfactants and detergents that can eliminate or inactivate bacteria and fungi on contact. This effect greatly depends on the specific shampoo you have. 

Note: Shampoo will not be as effective for bacteria removal as hand sanitizer or antibacterial soaps and solutions. 

Shampoo Alternatives to Consider

Shampoo isn’t the only thing you can use to remove bacteria from your hair and scalp. There are other solutions out there for you to try. We’ll outline them below: 

  • Antibacterial shampoos - Antibacterial shampoos are formulated with ingredients specifically targeted to rid your hair and scalp of bacteria. The shampoo may be naturally derived or contain man-made chemicals proven to keep bacteria at bay. Some ingredients you’ll usually find in these types of shampoos include zinc pyrithione and ketoconazole. 

  • Sanitizing shampoo sprays - Sanitizing shampoo sprays were mostly used throughout the pandemic. People were doing everything they could to stay healthy and needed a hair-sanitizing solution they could use on the go. This type of spray promises to kill a specific percentage of bacteria on the hair and scalp - usually around 99.9%. Sprays like these may contain ingredients that reduce bacteria on other surfaces, like pillows and hair tools. 

Is Removing Bacteria from Hair Important? 

Did you know that not everyone needs to take special action to remove bacteria from their hair? Antibacterial shampoos and sprays may only be necessary when you suspect you may have one of the following conditions: 

  • Dandruff - When you have an itchy, inflamed scalp due to fungi or bacteria. 

  • Impetigo - This is a skin infection people get after coming in contact with staph or strep bacteria. 

  • Folliculitis - When your scalp gets bumpy, inflamed, and maybe even crusty and itchy due to bacteria in your hair follicles

*This is not an exhaustive list of conditions that may require antibacterial shampoos and sprays. 

If you think you might be dealing with one of the conditions above, we recommend contacting a local dermatologist for a consultation. They will closely examine your hair and scalp, make a diagnosis (if they find anything notable), and prescribe the medication or treatment you need. 

So, there you have it - everything you need to know about how to kill hair and scalp bacteria. If you haven’t checked it out yet, we encourage you to explore Daily Dose, a leave-in conditioner that drastically improves your hair’s health and appearance in just one use. We hope you found all the information you were looking for, and we wish you the best with your hair. 


Author: Andrea Reyes

Andrea is a mother, wife, writer, and natural hair enthusiast of 15 years. Currently on her natural hair journey, she’s been trying countless products and techniques to understand and embrace her natural hair. She is the creator of, a new website featuring informative articles that share tips, tricks, and techniques aimed to help others learn to love their hair through proper hair care. She writes with the hope of making hair care easier to understand and implement.


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