How to Wash Dreadlocks?

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While having locks may reduce the amount of time you spend styling your hair daily, you still have to do the work in maintaining it. This includes re-twisting and fully washing your hair. Otherwise, it can lead to product buildup and hair breakage.

Dreadlocks are a timeless and totally cool hairstyle, but you might be wondering how to properly wash it. However, let’s first try to understand the causes why it gets dirty instantly.

Are Dreadlocks Dirty?

It is undeniable that some people assume that dreadlocks are dirty. After all, it looks challenging to clean.

But here’s the thing: Hair is not dirty if it is correctly washed and kept. The same thing is true with your dreadlocks. 

In fact, neat hair knots are better and grow faster than messy hair does. Hence, people with dreads go the extra mile to keep their locks clean.

However, we understand where the misconception that dreadlocks are dirty came from.

For one, there is a stereotype that dread heads are dirty hippies. But opposed to popular belief, people with dreads do take care of their hair more. Otherwise, their locks won’t flourish.

It doesn’t make sense for a person to keep personal hygiene but neglect his hair, either.

Second, people with loose hairstyles have the liberty to wash, condition, and brush their hair regularly.

With dreads, you are restricted to washing them once a week, and you obviously can’t brush them at all. On top of that, anything that gets stuck inside the dreads can be challenging to remove unless they are brushed out.

How Dirty Dreadlocks can Be?

There is no such thing as “dirt scale” when it comes to dreadlocks. However, it is safe to assume that a person’s hygiene correlates with the cleanliness of their locks.

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

Should You Wash Your Dreadlocks?

Of course!

We understand that some dread heads do not wash their dreadlocks. Regardless, we guarantee that your dreadlocks will look more desirable if you wash them regularly.

As you already know, the scalp secretes oil that aids the condition of the scalp. It can act as a lubricant, letting knots slip and dreadlocks fall out. But too much of it can cause your hair to look greasy.

How you create dreadlocks is pretty similar to creating wool. Human hair and animal hair fibers are both producing scales along their surface. These scales act the same way when exposed to heat, moisture, and cold.

Apply a little bit of hot water when you wash your dreadlocks. That’s because heat and moisture allows the hair scales to progress on a microscopic level. This makes the hair get rougher and the rubbing of dreadlocks makes the hair tangle and “felt” together.

Once you are done washing, rinse your hair with cold water. This will cause the scales to lay back down and lock the hair in.

This process, along with friction experienced daily, is what makes a lock of backcombed, twisted, interlocked, rip and twisted dreads. Sure, soiled hair will lock eventually, but washing does quite a bit to stimulate and support the process.

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

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

Signs That Your Hair Requires Washing

There are no set rules of how often you should wash your locks. In the end, it only depends on your hair conditions and what works for your schedule.

Locs are tangled and matted hair tramped together. During the process, various bits, sweat, dirt, excess oil, excess sebum, and hair products can be attached to it. And as such, your locks are needed to be washed.

However, there are signs that your locks show you when it needs to be cleansed.

Your Hair Feels Oily

It’s natural for the scalp to create sebum, as it aids moisturize your scalp and hair roots. But excess production of sebum and spraying too much oil on your hair can make your dreads look greasy. In moments like these, you should wash your hair.

Your Hair Looks Dry

There are various reasons your hair dries. It can be due to wrong product choices and clogging of the scalp follicles and hair cuticles. Therefore, any current product, whether it be oils or loc gels, can get the job done.

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

Your Hair Has Dandruff

Dandruff occurs when the scalp flakes. It’s normal for the scalp to respond to something in your surroundings, whether it be the product, the water, or the foods you consume.

Whenever your hair flakes up, it’s definitely time to wash your locks. You need to eradicate dandruff by using a shampoo with essential oils. These oils will help to subside scalp inflammation, preventing the production of flakes and dandruff.

Your Hair Smells

Your hair will produce a slightly foul smell, indicating that it’s time to wash it.

The odor could be a hint of excess oils, products, and sweat that have accumulated on the scalp. It could also indicate that you’re encountering a severe scalp or hair issue. As such, you should wash your hair to get rid of all of the gunk that has been accumulated in your hair.

What’s the Best Way for Washing Locs?

First and foremost, you have to learn how often you need to wash your hair. This can differ from one person to another. You can use shampoo weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly.

Once you’ve determined how often you should wash your dreads, hair experts suggest starting by pre-pooing your locks with apple cider vinegar or baking soda rinse. 

You can effortlessly create your hair care solution at home by combining some of the liquid or powder into a spray bottle and diluting it with water. Afterwards, you can apply it to your scalp and gently massage it.

This mixture releases up oil, buildup, or debris from the hair and scalp, making it easier to shampoo.

Next, lather some clarifying shampoo onto your palm and work it into the strand of your locks and scalp. Experts recommend that you wash the ends of the locks by grinding them together. You may also need to use some shampoo two or three times to get an absolute wash.

If you require a good cleanser, try Eden Bodyworks Peppermint Tea Tree Shampoo. It is light and free of parabens and sulfate, assuring that it can clean your hair without leaving any residue.

How to Clean Dreadlocks

Dreadlock is a hairstyle that has been around since ancient times and only became popular in African and Caribbean countries. It is made when sections of hair are matted together into long, rope-like strands.

Dreadlocks are frequently unjustly scrutinized for being dirty and unkempt. But in reality, they are quite easy to keep clean as long as you are ready to wash and treat them regularly.

Shampooing Dreadlocks

Wet your dreadlocks. Start by letting some water run lightly over your dreadlocks in the shower. There’s no need to completely saturate them because the more water your locks take, the harder it will be for the shampoo to be absorbed. For best results, apply lukewarm water.

Squeeze a little amount of shampoo. Squeeze a fair amount of shampoo onto your palm. It’s better to use a little shampoo at a time so you can control how much soap goes into your locks. If you’re applying a solid bar shampoo to your dreads, lather it between your hands.

Always apply a shampoo that doesn’t leave residue. Look for a natural, organic shampoo that is chemical-free. It is not advised to apply gels, waxes, and other chemicals on your dreads, either. That’s because it can point to residue buildup in the hair.

Massage the lather into your scalp. Don’t forget to clean and take care of the roots as well. Since this is where your dreadlocks join, they should also be strong and healthy. Using both hands and the tips of fingers, employ the shampoo in-between the roots of your dreadlocks while massaging your scalp.

Rinse the shampoo through the locks. Let the shampoo stay in your head for a minute or two. Bow your head so that the lather will go through your locks as you rinse.

Slightingly squeeze the shampoo lather straight into your dreadlocks. Make sure that there’s no more shampoo residue left in your hair when you’re finished washing.

If needed, you can apply a little extra shampoo to touch up each lock individually. Just don’t overload it or it will be more time-consuming to rinse and can also cause frizzy hair.

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

Squeeze each lock with a towel to press out the water, let your locks air dry, or use a hairdryer on a low heat setting.

If there is still moisture remaining in the locks, they can unlock and even grow mold. This is called “dread rot.”

It is when moisture becomes restricted inside the matted hair for so long that it begins to form mildew.

Rinsing Dreadlocks with Water, Baking Soda, and Vinegar

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

In a sink or washbasin, dilute ¾ cup of baking soda in a cup of warm water. It is absolutely safe to apply the mixture straight 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 also add them to the cleansing liquid during this step. A tablespoon of lemon juice will eliminate any odors and deter mildew.

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

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

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

Rinse your dreads until the water turns clear. The dirt, oil, dead skin, and other debris that’s been removed from your hair will be obvious in the discoloration of the water. You might even be shocked at how much cleaner your locks will feel!

Prepare a large bottle of water and vinegar, blended at a 3:1 ratio, to rinse over your scalp and lightly through your dreads. Pour the mixture straight through your locks after washing out the baking soda solution. This will discard any remaining baking soda, balance your scalp’s pH level, and soften frizzy hair. You can leave this in (any vinegar smell will fade as it dries) or rinse it out yourself.

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

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

NOTE: Try to squeeze as much water out of your locks. Wrapping your dreadlocks with a dry towel can help bring the water out of them at a faster pace.

What’s the Best Drying Process for Locs?

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

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

The Do’s and Don’ts of Washing Dreadlocks

Washing is a vital step in maintaining healthy dreadlocks. However, there’s a right and wrong way of washing dreadlocks.

Don’t Wash Dreadlocks Every Day

As opposed to what many people think, you shouldn’t cleanse your dreadlocks every day. Doing so will reduce the moisture of your scalp, causing dryness and dandruff.

Dreadlocks require moisture to keep their strength and firmness. Without moisture, they will become sensitive to frizz, split-ends, damage, and other forms of breakage.

Wash Dreadlocks at Least Once a Week

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

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

Always keep an eye on your hair and wash your dreadlocks when they become too oily.

Don’t Use Kitchen Ingredients

For whatever purpose, some people wrongfully believe that pantry contents are helpful to their dreadlocks. But kitchen ingredients, like mayonnaise and honey, should only stay in the kitchen.

While it’s true that some products in the kitchen may give necessary vitamins, they carry a slew of other ingredients that are not suitable for dreadlocks. For this reason, it’s recommended that you avoid mayonnaise, honey, and other kitchen ingredients, adhering to actual shampoo and conditioner instead.

Use Residue-Free Shampoo

When choosing a shampoo, make sure it’s labeled “residue-free.”

As the name indicates, residue-free shampoo will not leave any residue behind that can stick to your dreadlocks. A premium brand of residue-free shampoo will leave your dreadlocks clear and without any obvious texture.

Don’t Apply Very Hot Water

Another point to know when washing your dreadlocks is to use lukewarm water.

Why is this important? Well, very hot, scalding water may harm your dreadlocks, altering the shape of your hair follicles and making them frizz. Washing them with lukewarm water will prevent this from happening.

Do My Dreadlocks Require a Deep Washing?

To achieve healthy dreads, it is prescribed 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 must deep cleanse your hair. Doing so can help you excrete gunk, smell, product residue, and more!

What Happens if You Never Wash Your Dreads?

Even if you did not apply anything to your dreadlocks, you will still have sebum buildup.

Sebum is natural oil created by your scalp that gives your hair a greasy look. If you don’t wash your dreadlocks for months, it will surely feel and look dirty.

The good news is that clarifying shampoo can eliminate this and clean your scalp.

If you are applying oils and other products to your hair, it will combine with your scalp sebum. This can cause buildup and slows down the hair locking procedure.

Final Thoughts

Treat your dreads with the appropriate amount of care and don’t forget to wash them. They may be delicate the first month, but by month two you can treat your dreads like any normal hair that needs to be washed regularly.

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