How Often Should You Wash Your Dreads?

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Washing frequently is the solution to growing healthy dreadlocks. For one, shampooing helps dreads lock tighter because it helps prevent residue buildup. Plus, they can make your hair smell fresh, too!

After a week or two of having your dreads, you should wash them once per week. The cycle of your washes depends on a lot of factors. If your dreads are new or one month old at most, you should wash them every three to four days. It’s just a matter of finding a suitable shampoo.

As your dreads mature, you don’t have to fret about lots of fluffing and re-dreading. So feel free to wash your hair as often as you wish. Nonetheless, you should not go longer than about a week without washing.

When you wash, you should also expect a lot of loose hairs. So be prepared to ball them back into your dreads after your wash.

Should You Wash Your Dreadlocks?


We know that there are some dread heads who do not wash their dreadlocks. Regardless, we assure you that your dreadlocks will look better if you wash it regularly.

As you already know, the scalp secretes oil that helps condition the scalp. But too much of it can make your hair look greasy. Your scalp and hair’s natural oil can behave like a lubricant causing knots to slip and dreadlocks to basically fall out.

The locking process of dreadlocks is quite similar to how felt is constructed from wool. Human hair and animal hair fibers are both having scales along their exterior. These scales behave the same way when exposed to heat, moisture, and cold.

Apply hot water when you wash your dreadlocks. That’s because heat and moisture make the scales on the surface of the hair cuticle increase on a microscopic level. This causes the hair to get rougher and the agitation of scrubbing the dreadlocks makes the hair tangle and “felt” together.

When you are done washing, rinse your hair with cold water. This will make the scales lay back down and locks the hair in the form it was set into by the agitation.

This procedure along with friction endured day to day and from sleeping is what ultimately makes a lock of backcombed, twisted, interlocked, rip and twisted, and more. So surely unwashed hair will lock eventually, but washing does quite a bit to stimulate and aid in the process.

How Often Should You Wash Your Dreadlocks?

Some websites recommend that you should wash every three to four days, some recommend washing once per month. Meanwhile, we suggest washing your dreads weekly.

Regardless, give your locks a chance to set themselves without pulling out excessive amounts of loose hair. During this stage, we suggest concentrating only on washing the scalp as this is where all the excess oils will be. Doing so will help avoid unwanted trauma to the bodies of your locks.

It’s worth noting, however, that dreadlocks that are being caused by neglect can and often benefit from more frequent washing than 1 – 2x per week. However, once the locks become properly fixed, expanding out the frequency you wash with is ideal.

Once they have settled, you may prefer to continue washing once a week or extend the frequency to twice a week. You can also start to concentrate more on washing the bodies of your dreadlocks. We also don’t recommend washing your dreads too often because your hair must get the opportunity to dry thoroughly between washings. 

Dreadlocks that are not allowed to dry correctly have a chance of developing dread rot. It’s when mold and mildew grow in your hair.

Washing Mature Dreadlocks

If your dreads are already mature (e.g.., two years or older), make sure that you wash them at least once a week. During the rest of the days when you take a shower, you can employ an extra-large shower cap to shield them from the humidity.

Washing New or Baby Dreads

If you just created your dreads, wait for about a week before you wash them for the first time. However, if your scalp is still too itchy or oily and you don’t feel relaxed anymore, you can go for a mild wash on your baby locks.

Please be aware that washing your new dreads will make them look a little more loose and messy. But don’t worry! This is just a normal part of the procedure.

If you don’t wash your locks based on the thought that they will become messy, you will only be left with gunk and buildup that can infect your scalp.

Do My Dreadlocks Need a Deep Washing?

To obtain healthy dreads, it is advised to deep wash your dreadlocks 4 to 5 times per year depending on your lifestyle. The more active your lifestyle is, like if you often work outdoors, the more you are required to deep cleanse your hair. Doing so can help you discharge gunk, smell, product residue, and more!

How to Wash Dreadlocks

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

Dreadlocks are often unjustly scrutinized for being dirty and unkempt. But in reality, they are quite easy to maintain as long as the wearer is willing to wash and treat them regularly.

Shampooing Dreadlocks

Wet your dreadlocks. Start by running some water smoothly over your dreadlocks in the shower. There’s no need to fully saturate them 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 fair amount of shampoo into your palm. It’s better to apply a little shampoo at a time so you can control how much soap runs into your locks. If you’re applying a solid bar shampoo to your dreads, rub it first between your hands until it forms a rich lather.

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

Search for a natural, organic shampoo that is free of chemicals.

Work the lather into your scalp. Use both hands and the tips of your fingers, then 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 are joined, they are required to be strong and healthy.

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

Lightly squeeze the shampoo lather into the dreadlocks. Always make sure that there’s no shampoo residue left in your hair when you’re finished 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 extra time-consuming to rinse and it may also cause loose hairs to frizz.

Dry thoroughly. Once you finish showering, you’ll want to make sure that you let your dreadlocks dry fully.

Squeeze each lock with a towel to drive out the water absorbed into them. Let your locks air dry or blow it with a hairdryer on a low heat setting.

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

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

Rinsing Dreadlocks with Water, Baking Soda, and Vinegar

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

In a sink or washbasin, dissolve ¾ cup of baking soda in a few inches of warm water. It is absolutely safe to apply the mixture to your hair and scalp. Apply this solution once every couple of weeks, as too much baking soda can cause your hair to be brittle and dry.

  • If you prefer applying essential oils, you can attach them to the cleansing liquid during this step. A tablespoon of lemon juice will eliminate any odors and prevent mildew.

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

As your dreadlocks are fully wet, the baking soda will remove away dirt, oil, debris, and other unwanted buildups. If you don’t have the time or space needed to soak your dreadlocks, you can mix up the solution and spray 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 all the excess solutions. Turn on the faucet or get in the shower and give your locks a quick rinse to remove any remaining bits of the baking soda solution.

Wash your dreads until the water runs clear. The dirt, oil, dead skin, and other debris that’s been plucked from your hair will be noticeable in the discoloration of the water. You might even be astonished at how much cleaner your locks will appear afterward!

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

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

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

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

  • Attempt to squeeze as much water out of your locks as you can before letting them air dry or trying other drying procedures. Covering your dreadlocks with a dry towel can help bring the water out of them at a faster rate.

What’s the Best Drying Process for Locs?

Most experts recommend that you sit under a dryer for about 30 to 45 minutes. If you do not own a dryer, you can devise it yourself or let your hair air dry. What’s important is that it is dried fully.

If the hair is not dried perfectly, this can produce a mildew smell, which can be a bit difficult to get rid of.

How Do I Keep My Locs Feeling Fresh In-between Wash Days?

A spritz of little to moderate leave-in spray on both the hair and scalp can get the job done. The Oyin Handmade comes in three nourishing herbal leave-in hair conditioners that you can use any time of day.

Morning Care for Dreadlocks

In the morning, nourishing and revitalizing your dreads are necessary. Try applying a cocktail of essential oil like eucalyptus, lavender, lime, and mint, and combine it with distilled water to provide your dreads a fresh feel.

If you want to smoothen your dreads out a little bit for a more stylized look, feel free to apply some wax, like Bed Head by TIGI Manipulator Matte Cream for some grip.

Nighttime Care for Dreadlocks

When you’re set for bed, give your dreads gentle care! Try sleeping in a silk scarf or head wrap to help maintain your dreads and prevent them from breakage.

Signs That Your Hair Needs to Be Washed

There is no one set law for how often you should wash your locks. In the end, it depends on your hair requirements and what works for your schedule.

Locs are tangled and matted hair clumped together. During the procedure, different bits, sweat, dirt, excess oil, excess sebum, and hair products can be added to it. And as such, your locks are required to be cleansed.

However, there are signs that your locks present you when it requires to be cleansed.

Your Hair Feels Oily

It’s natural for the scalp to produce sebum, as it helps moisturize your scalp and hair roots. But overproduction of sebum and spraying too much oil on your hair can make your dreads look greasy. In times like these, you should cleanse your hair.

Your Hair Looks Dry

Your hair is habitually dry due to a lot of reasons. However, the main reasons could be bad product choices, clogging of the scalp follicles, and hair cuticles. Therefore, any new product whether it be oils or loc gels can definitely get its job done.

You can also opt to wash your hair to help to unclog the pores and hair cuticles. Doing so moisturizes your scalp.

Your Hair Has Dandruff

Dandruff happens when the scalp flakes. The scalp is usually responding to something in your environment whether it be the product, the water, the foods you eat, and more.

Whenever your hair flakes up, it’s surely time to wash your locks. You need to eliminate dandruff to leave a clean slate. If your scalp is experiencing some dandruff, ensure to use a shampoo with essential oils. These oils will help to eliminate the inflammation of the scalp for it to function effectively and not produce flakes.

Your Hair Smells

Your hair will have a slight or foul smell which means that it’s time to wash it. The odor could be a sign of excess oils, products, and sweat that have concentrated on the scalp. It could also mean that you’re experiencing a severe scalp or hair issue. As such, the scalp needs to be washed to eliminate all of the gunk that has been accumulated.

The Do’s and Don’ts of Washing Dreadlocks

Washing is a crucial action in maintaining healthy dreadlocks. However, there’s a proper way and a wrong way of washing dreadlocks.

Don’t Wash Dreadlocks Every Day

As opposed to what many people believe, you shouldn’t wash dreadlocks every day. Doing so will further drain them of moisture, making your scalp dry and cause dandruff.

Dreadlocks need moisture to maintain their strength and firmness. Without moisture, they will grow sensitive to frizz, split-ends, breakage, and other forms of damage.

Wash Dreadlocks at Least Once a Week

So, how frequently should you wash dreadlocks? It really depends on your hair type.

People with naturally oily hair can go for more extended periods without washing their dreadlocks. With that said, a great rule of thumb is to wash your dreadlocks about once a week. If you are a physically active individual who sweats a lot, however, you may require to wash your dreadlocks every three to four days.

Keep an eye on your hair and wash your dreadlocks when they grow too oily.

Don’t Use Kitchen Ingredients

Kitchen ingredients like mayonnaise and honey should stay in the kitchen. For whatever reason, some people wrongfully assume that such ingredients are helpful to their dreadlocks.

While it’s true that several products in the kitchen may give essential vitamins, they carry a slew of other ingredients that are not good for dreadlocks. For this reason, it’s suggested that you evade mayonnaise, honey, and other kitchen ingredients, sticking with actual shampoo and conditioner instead.

Do Use Residue-Free Shampoo

When preferring a shampoo, make sure it’s marked “residue-free.” As the name implies, shampoo touting this label will not leave behind any residue that would otherwise cling to your dreadlocks. A premium brand of residue-free shampoo will leave your dreadlocks clean and without any noticeable texture staying on the surface.

Don’t Use Scalding-Hot Water

Another tip to know when washing your dreadlocks is to apply lukewarm water.

Why is this necessary? Well, excessively hot, scalding water may harm your dreadlocks, changing the shape of your hair follicles and causing them to frizz.

Washing them with lukewarm water, on the other hand, will stop this from happening.

Final Thoughts

Treat your dreads with the appropriate amount of care and don’t ever neglect washing them. They may be delicate the first month, but by month two you can start treating your dreads like any regular hair that needs to be washed regularly.

Loc’d people will wash their hair occasionally whether it be every day, 7 days, 14 days, or even every month. Nonetheless, you have to listen to your hair requirements and wants. Based on the signs discussed above, your hair will let you know when it needs to be washed.

Get the right fix if you are suffering from any of these?