Are Dreadlocks Dirty?

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At first glimpse, someone may stare at a person with dreadlocks and quickly assume that their hair hasn’t been washed in months or years. Don’t be that person.

Hair is not dirty if it is properly washed and maintained. This statement is also true when it comes to dreadlocks. 

In fact, neat hair knots better and faster than messy hair does. For this reason, many people with dreads go the extra mile to keep their locks clean. On the other hand, you will notice why there are people filled with misconceptions.

For one, there is a stereotype floating around that dread heads are dirty hippies. But contrary to popular belief, people with dreads take care of their hair more than those who don’t.

And it doesn’t make sense for a person to maintain personal hygiene but neglect his hair.

Another thing that makes people think that dreads are dirty is that people with loose hairstyles have the freedom to wash, condition, and brush their hair regularly.

With dreads, you are limited to washing them once a week, and you can’t brush them at all (obviously). On top of that, anything that gets stuck on the inner part of the lock is virtually impossible to remove unless they are brushed out.

How Dirty Dreadlocks Are?

There is no “dirtiness scale” when it comes to dreadlocks, but it is safe to say that a person’s hygiene is directly correlated with the cleanliness of their locks. However, dreads are generally not dirty.

When dreads are properly cared for and maintained, there should be no issues with dirt, mold, and stinky odors.

Everyone’s hair care routine is different but daily and weekly maintenance is necessary. This includes a daily spritz of water with drops of essential oils. Doing so keeps the dreads moisturized and hydrated.

A weekly wash and scalp massage with residue-free shampoo can also help. Plus, you should do a bi-annual deep dread cleanse.

Do Dirty Dreadlocks Dread Better Than Clean Hair?

There is a general misconception that hair must be dirty when starting your dread journey. But that is not the case.If you fall for this myth, then you are likely to end up with stinky locks that are tough to wash.

Dreadlocks are not Inherently Dirty

With proper maintenance, dreads are just as clean as regular hair. In fact, they sometimes demand less maintenance than regular hair.

Clean Hair Dreads Better Than Dirty Hair

Neat hair, which is less grimy and greasy, will dread faster. Eliminating the oil from the hair with a cleansing agent during and after the dreading process will make it more efficient. The difference lies in the formulation of the shampoo or soap you apply to clean your hair.

Keeping Your Dreads Clean

Dreadlock is a hairstyle that has been around since time immemorial and became popular in African and Caribbean countries. They are set when sections of hair become matted together into long, rope-like strands.

Dreadlocks are frequently unjustly criticized for being dirty and unkempt. But in reality, they are quite simple to keep clean as long as the wearer is willing to wash and take care of their dreads regularly.

Use Residue Free Shampoo for Dreadlocks

Most soaps and shampoos from the supermarket carry residues, preventing the hair to form dread. That’s because the conditioners, moisturizers, fragrances, and coating factors in these products limit hair from locking up.

This is why you should use a residue-free soap or shampoo to clean your dreadlocks.

Wet your dreadlocks. Begin by running some water gently over your dreadlocks in the shower. There’s no need to make your hair soaking wet because the more water your locks absorb , the harder it will be for the shampoo to seep in. For best results, use lukewarm water.

Squeeze a small amount of shampoo. Squeeze a moderate amount of shampoo into your palm. It’s better to apply a little shampoo at a time so you can regulate how much soap goes into your locks. If you’re using a solid bar shampoo to your dreads, rub it between your hands until it forms a rich lather.

Always use a natural, organic shampoo that doesn’t leave any kind of residue. It is not recommended to use gels, waxes, and other additives on your dreads, either. That’s because it can lead to residue buildup in the hair.

Work the lather into your scalp. Using both hands and the tips of fingers, apply shampoo in-between the roots of dreadlocks while massaging your scalp.

Don’t neglect to clean and take care of the roots. Since this is where your dreadlocks connect, they need to be strong and healthy.

Rinse the shampoo through the locks. Let the shampoo rest in your head for 1 to 2 minutes. Then, bend your head downward so that the lather will run through your locks as you rinse.

Lightly squeeze the shampoo lather into the dreadlocks. Make sure that there’s no shampoo residue left in your hair when you’re done washing.

If you want, you can apply a little extra shampoo to touch up each lock separately. Just don’t overdo it or it will be more time-consuming to rinse and it may cause loose hairs to frizz.

Dry thoroughly. When you are done showering, you’ll want to make sure that you let your dreadlocks dry fully.

Squeeze every lock with a towel to press out the water absorbed into them. Let your locks air dry or use a hairdryer on a low heat setting.

If too much moisture lingers in the locks, they can begin to come unlocked and smell or even grow mold.

”Dread rot” is when moisture becomes confined in the matted hair for so long that it begins to mildew. Thus, as your dreadlocks tighten, you may have to begin using a hairdryer more often after washing to ensure that the hair inside the locks is getting dry.

Rinse Your Dreadlocks with Water, Baking Soda, and Vinegar

Avoid mixing the baking soda and vinegar. Baking soda is a base and vinegar is an acid, mixing them will create a chemical reaction that neutralizes any cleansing power the two substances have on their own (which is a lot).

In a sink or washbasin, disintegrate ¾ cup of baking soda in a few inches of warm water. It is perfectly safe to use the mixture on your hair and scalp. Use this solution once every couple of weeks, as too much baking soda can make your hair brittle and dry.

If you prefer using essential oils, you can add them to the cleansing liquid during this step. A tablespoon of lemon juice will kill any odors and prevent mildew.

Dip your dreadlocks for 5-10 minutes. Immerse your dreadlocks straight to the baking soda solution up to the roots. Dip your locks for up to 10 minutes or longer if you require a deep clean.

As your dreadlocks are completely wet, the baking soda will strip away dirt, oil, debris, and other unwanted buildups. If you don’t have the time or space required to soak your dreadlocks, you can mix up the solution and pour it straight over your head for a fast cleanse.

Rinse with cool water. Take out your dreadlocks from the baking soda bath and wring out the excess solution. Turn on the faucet or get in the shower and give your locks a quick rinse to clear away any lingering bits of the baking soda solution.

Rinse your dreads until the water runs clear. The dirt, oil, dead skin, and other detritus that’s been extracted from your hair will be noticeable in the discoloration of the water. You might even be surprised at how much cleaner your locks will feel afterward!

Be sure that your scalp takes some direct exposure to the water as well.

Prepare a large bottle of water and vinegar, combined at a 3:1 ratio, enough to rinse over your scalp and lightly through your dreads. Pour the mixture through your locks after rinsing out the baking soda solution. This will eliminate any remaining baking soda, balance the pH of your scalp, and soften loose hair frizz. You can leave this in (any vinegar smell will evaporate as it dries) or rinse it out.

Towel or air dry. Give your dreadlocks enough time to dry. If you’re in a hurry, use a hairdryer on the ends and shafts of your locks and allow your roots to finish air-drying.

Your dreadlocks must be completely dry before you cover them with a hat, tam, or scarf. Otherwise, these items will trap the remaining moisture in the locks and make it harder for them to escape.

Try to squeeze as much water out of your locks as you can before letting them air dry or trying other drying methods. Wrapping your dreadlocks with a dry towel can help draw the water out of them faster.

Keep Your Hair and Scalp Healthy

Wash your dreadlocks regularly. Contrary to popular belief, dreadlocks demand washing just as much as other hairstyles.

You should strive to shampoo and roll your dreadlocks every three or four days, especially when they’re new. Once they’ve completely locked up, you can start washing them once a week or more often, depending on your hair type and how oily your scalp can get.

Most people with dreadlocks wash them at least once a week. If you have particularly oily hair or if you exercise frequently, work outside, get dirty, or sweat a lot, you may benefit from more regular washings.

Nonetheless, you can still bathe normally between washings without having to shampoo your locks.

Take care of your scalp. Dreadlocks place a lot of weight on the scalp as they get heavier. Aside from the hair itself, you must keep your scalp clean and moisturized.

Whenever you’re washing your locks, always take a few moments to massage your scalp actively with your fingertips. This supports proper blood flow and will stimulate the follicles. That way, you won’t have to fret about your locks becoming fragile or falling out.

Freshen your locks with essential oils. Apply a couple of drops of tea tree, peppermint, or rosemary oil along with your shampoo. Essential oils moisturize the hair, eliminate itchiness and irritation around the scalp, and leave your hair smelling nice.

They are far better than perfumes, spray-in fragrances, and scented cleansers, as they won’t hurt your locks or leave behind any residue.

Avoid conditioners and similar products. Conditioners are produced to relax and detangle hair, which is the last thing you’d want if you want to have dreadlocks.

In general, you don’t necessarily need to condition your dreadlocks. You should also be careful about using any other products that contain oils, waxes, or knot-fighting agents. Frequent use of these products can weaken the structure of your dreadlocks and make them much harder to manage.

A residue-free shampoo, salt-water tightening spray, and pure aloe gel should be all you need to keep your dreads looking clean and great.

How Long Can You Go Without Washing Dreads?

Having clean dreads is necessary. Hence, we recommend that you wash your hair every two weeks at most.

Some people go for five months without washing their dreads as part of a neglecting lifestyle. They claim that it helped with the locking process. However, these people used nothing in his hair except for coconut oil.

Eventually, they experienced a lot of sebum and gunk, so they applied an Apple Cider Vinegar to wash their dreads. After two washes, their dreads were almost clean.

“Almost” because it still has dirt, gunk, and buildup.

How to Clean Your Dreads After Months of Not Washing?

If you haven’t washed your dreads for months, you will be required to separate them first.

The build-up will have the new growth twisted together, so it is easier to pull them apart before washing. Have someone help when you wash your hair to soften the gunk, then dip your dreads in an ACV rinse. After, you’ll need to complete the process with a peppermint and tea tree treatment.

Shampoo your dreads and apply a homemade natural oil mixture directly to your scalp. Conditioning your hair is optional.

Increase Washing Days

There is a test that you can do to determine when it’s time to wash your dreads.

If you used to wash your dreadlocks twice a week then extend it to once a week. Examine your hair and note any sebum build-up.

Does your scalp get itchy? Can you still wait for another three days?

When you have a washing schedule that works, stick with it. To aid with an itchy scalp while lengthening your washing time, combine two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar and a cup of water in a spray bottle, then apply it to your scalp.

Essential oils like peppermint and tea tree can help improve your gap between washing. Because they carry antifungal and antibacterial properties, they can surely soothe an itchy scalp.

Some individuals can wait two weeks without washing their hair, although they use the apple cider vinegar mix.

How Long Should I Wait to Wash My Dreads After a Retwist?

The longest you can wait to wash your dreads after a retwist is two weeks.

To keep your hair neat, you can use a stocking cap or dread cap. It will be challenging, but you will surely love the results.

There may still be some gunk that will be left along with your locks. But after a couple of ACV rinses, your hair will be build-up free.

What Happens if You Don’t Wash Your Dreads for Months?

Even if you apply nothing in your dreadlocks, you will still have sebum buildup.

Sebum is natural oil produced by your scalp that makes your hair look greasy. So if you don’t wash your dreadlocks for months, you will certainly feel and look dirty. The good news is that clarifying shampoo can get rid of this and clean your scalp.

Now, if you are applying oils and other products to your hair, it will combine with your scalp sebum. This increases build-up and slows down the hair locking process.

Final Thoughts

When you think of dreadlocks do you picture matted strands of hair that haven’t been combed or well washed in years? This is a common misunderstanding.

Yes, the permanent, firmly coiled locking technique enables low hair maintenance. But experts say that most people with dreadlocks shampoo their hair once a week.

The fact is that if you do not wash your hair, it will produce a bad odor. Dreadlocked hair must be washed regularly and demands the same maintenance as loose hair. Regularly washing and drying your dreads will guarantee that your locks stay in place and your hair smells great.