Recently I had to go on a search for how to remove Vaseline from hair. Unfortunately, T pulled down the diaper caddy one morning and there was a tub of Vaseline in there. Before I realized this had happened, she had managed to smear herself top to bottom with it as well as the carpet! Her hair was covered. If you are looking this up then I am sorry that you are dealing with this mess!
I found her sitting on the floor happily scooping out more than half the Vaseline tub, yes like the large tub, everywhere. I really wish I had taken a picture. She was so happy and I was so angry!!!
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How I Handled This – Probably Don’t Do What I Did!
As soon as I found her I angrily put her in the shower and soaped her down. I shampooed her hair and then desperately washed it with dish soap. It was better but the poor child was still a greasy mess. I’m sure if she was my first child I would’ve taken a bunch of pictures and laughed about it some. However, she isn’t and I had trouble finding any humor in the situation. I needed to get to work, because of course it happened on a day I worked, and it was such a total mess. I held her in the shower and sprayed down my screaming child, then I dried her off real good with a towel and hoped that it would absorb some by the next day.
I want to paint you a picture of this though. Because I did finally find the humor in it as I vented to some of my clients about it. Getting angry in situations like this really doesn’t help anything! We don’t have a bathtub, our home was converted to fully handicap accessible for previous owners so they turned the tub into another shower. I gained a handy stroller ramp into the house but lost a bathtub when we moved here. There are also these almost accordion doors on the showers. I do thankfully have a handheld showerhead. So because I was angry I didn’t just strip down and get in with her. Instead, I’m holding her in there with one hand while trying to wash her down with the other hand as she tries desperately to get out. This was quite difficult for me since she was completely covered in Vaseline. So I was covered in water and Vaseline by the time it was all over. And we were both, I’m sure, quite traumatized by the whole experience!! She was also still very greasy.
Why Vaseline is So Hard to Remove
Vaseline or petroleum jelly is used to coat and protect the skin. This means that it keeps moisture in and everything else out. Even water and soap! She managed to coat several of the items in the diaper caddy as well as herself. It was a mess to clean up. Dish soap and very hot water worked for most things. There is still a coating in my bathroom sink that I need to scrub some more to completely remove after washing the items. I started working on the spots on the carpet but haven’t gotten back to it. That may be a post for another day.
What I Did After I Did Some Research
The next day her skin was pretty much all good. She has eczema so it probably was good for her skin. Her hair, however, was still oily looking and it felt crunchy and greasy at the same time. I decided to try some of the methods I had found online. Someone had said that Vaseline themselves recommend scraping out what you can and then blowdrying to liquefy it and use a paper towel to blot out what you can. Then shampoo with a shampoo that does not contain a conditioner.
I started with this. However, we had already got most of it out before this point so I didn’t feel like it had done much good and I waited to wash her hair again until I tried something else. It probably would’ve worked better if I had done it right after it happened. She also is so young I was worried about using the blowdryer on the highest setting. I read about using both peanut butter or an egg to get Vaseline out of hair…T is allergic to both so they weren’t options for us to try.
So next I had read about using either an oil or a powder. Oil breaks down oil so this made sense even though it seems counterproductive. I work in skincare and I know how oil breaks down the oil in your pores and makeup to clean skin. I love love love my oil cleansers for my face! I have also been known to be a dry shampoo junkie so I am a pro at knowing how well cornstarch works at absorbing oil. I used to make my own with cornstarch and some cocoa powder for my dark brown hair that worked like a charm. I kept a largemouth shallow mason jar full of it with a big powder brush and it worked great. I decided to give this method a try. I was trying to figure out the best way to apply it to a not even 2-year-old though, I was afraid having any kind of open container of powder near her was an accident waiting to happen.
I am a total hippie when it comes to some things and I always have containers around that I have kept to reuse. I found an empty spice jar container in my cabinet…perfect! So I let T have my phone for a few minutes and she wasn’t completely cooperative but it helped. I sprinkled it starting at the roots, working my way to the ends, section by section. I brushed it through as I went and worked it into her scalp. Her hair was a nice powdered color but the texture was beginning to feel normal again! It absorbed the Vaseline like a charm. I went ahead and left it on her for a couple of hours while she played and then shampooed her hair as normal. I even conditioned it after and it was finally back to her normal hair.
Like I said before, I wish I took pictures of it when it happened. These are starting from day 2 – after we had shampooed and washed her hair with dish soap, before and after the cornstarch, bathed (in our blow-up tub), and back to normal. She woke up the next day with her typical fluffy messy curls! She is never very good at staying still so they aren’t the best pictures but it gives you some idea. Also, she doesn’t have a ton of hair so I’m sure this is a bigger job with thick hair!
What I Probably Should Have Done From the Beginning
All in all, it wasn’t too terrible but if I had stopped to research before getting angry I would have done it differently. I think it would have been best if I had scraped as much as possible out right away, then blow-dried it and blotted all I could with a paper towel. After I couldn’t blot out anymore I would have gotten in the shower with her and used a regular bar of glycerin soap or dish soap and a washcloth to wash her body and hair, repeating maybe once before shampooing normally. I may not have needed to use the cornstarch at all if I had started out that way.
I am going to go ahead and list out all the methods I read about on my search for you because it also sounds like different things worked for different people. I would try the gentlest options for removal first with the exception of the corn starch method, it is very gentle but I would try one of the other methods to wash the Vaseline out some and let hair dry again before using it! Once you have found the method that works for you I would condition your hair well so you do not end up with damage from using harsh cleaning agents to remove Vaseline from hair! Like us, you may have to use a combination of these methods to remove all remnants of the Vaseline!
How to Remove Vaseline from Hair
1. Blow Dry Method – Remove as much Vaseline as possible from hair. Blow-dry hair to liquefy the Vaseline. Blot out as much as you can with a paper towel. Shampoo with a non-conditioning or clarifying shampoo.
2. Corn Starch Method – This was the final step that worked for us. You can also try baking soda or baby powder. I applied it from roots to ends, massaging into the scalp and combing through. I sprinkled it on with an old clean spice jar but if it wasn’t such a young child, you could apply it with a tissue or your hands. I think shaking it on was super easy though if you have something to use or a baby powder container. Just be careful with anyone that could be sensitive to breathing in baby powder or talc powder. I even let it sit on the hair for a little while before shampooing and conditioning as usual. I wouldn’t use this as your first method though, I would try this for any Vaseline that remains in hair after trying a method of washing it out first.
3. Bar Soap Method – Instead of using shampoo, scrub hair with an ordinary bar of soap, glycerine soap, or Burts Bees Shampoo Bar of Soap. Rinse and repeat as necessary. Conditional as needed or as you normally would.
4. Coca-Cola Method – Pour Coca-Cola, Pepsi, or RC Cola in hair, work through, rinse. Repeat if necessary. Soda is known to clean up blood, corrosion on car batteries, toilet bowl stains and more. I would definitely condition afterward!
5. Peanut Butter Method – Apply peanut butter liberally to the hair (or the part of the hair where the Vaseline is). Leave it on for around 10 minutes while massaging it throughout your hair. Once it is thoroughly mixed in use a comb to remove the Vaseline and peanut butter mixture from hair. You will actually want to use cold water to rinse your hair. This is the most effective way to remove the remaining blend of peanut butter and Vaseline. After you’ve rinsed it with cold water, wash your hair with shampoo and conditioner and hot water like normal.
6. Egg Method – Beat eggs in a bowl, lather into hair, rinse it out and shampoo as usual. People noted the odd texture of washing your hair with eggs and worse the smell but many seem to find it effective.
7. Dish Soap and Hot Water Method – I think the dish soap got a good amount of the Vaseline out of T’s hair. I couldn’t use super hot water with it because she is so young. It may have done the trick with hotter water and a second wash. Dish soap has stronger cleaning agents in it to break down grease and baked-on food so it works better than shampoo. They use dish soap to get oil off of animals after oil spills. That was the first thing I thought to use because of this! Because of the harshness of the soap be sure to condition afterward.
8. Gojo Hand Cleaner – Wash hair with Gojo Hand Cleaner by working through in sections, combing through as you go. Use a paper towel to remove excess product and shampoo and condition as usual. This cleanser is meant to remove dirt, oil, and grime from working on cars and construction sites. It really works to break down hard to remove grease from hands and can be a way to break down the Vaseline in hair!
9. Oil Method – You can use olive, jojoba, coconut, or baby oil. Work through hair completely. Squeeze out as much as possible before shampooing. Shampoo or use dish soap several times to remove all the oil and Vaseline from hair.
10. Baking Soda Method – Besides using baking soda to absorb the Vaseline in your hair you can use it for its abrasive properties. To do this mix one teaspoon of baking soda with baby shampoo or your own shampoo if you don’t have baby shampoo, then wash and rinse out. It is kind of a gentler DIY version of the Gojo Hand Cleaner. It won’t break the Vaseline down but it will work to break it loose from your hair. I imagine you could mix it with dish soap to get a stronger abrasive cleanser if you have already tried gentler methods. Just be careful not to overdo it or you could end up with dry damaged hair!!!
11. Vinegar Method – Apply a mixture of half warm to hot water and half vinegar to hair. Shampoo and condition as usual.
12. Clarifying Shampoo & Hot Water Method – Shampooing several times with a clarifying shampoo and hot water may be enough to get Vaseline out of hair if it is a mild case and not smothered as my daughter was!
If you were reading this because you were searching for how to remove Vaseline from hair I hope this helps you get you or your little ones hair back to its original state. If you stumbled upon this article I hope my pain gave you a little laugh! Please if you have been here and tried any of these methods let me know in the comments how it turned out. If you have a method that you used that isn’t here please share it with us!
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