How to Properly Wash Your Dreadlocks

Hair hygiene is important, and washing the hair helps eliminate dirt and debris accumulated over time. But washing dreads the way you wash your normal hair might result in some challenges, which is why it …

Hair hygiene is important, and washing the hair helps eliminate dirt and debris accumulated over time. But washing dreads the way you wash your normal hair might result in some challenges, which is why it is important you should know how to wash dreadlocks.

To wash dreadlocks, you start by wetting your dreads and scalp with clean water. Afterward, pour shampoo into your hand and work it into locs until it lathers. Next, rinse off the lather and dry hair thoroughly to avoid buildup of microorganisms.

While these steps above are easy, there are different ways to get this done, depending on the locs stage, hair type, and scalp. There are also recommended products to use.

Read on to get detailed information about washing dreadlocks and other necessary things you should know before washing.

Are You Supposed To Wash Dreads?

Yes, dreads require frequent wash for optimal growth and to get rid of unpleasant odor. If the dreadlock is still in its early stage, you should wait for around 4-6 weeks before washing. The reason is that the starter locs are not tightly locked and could untangle on exposure to water and shampoo.

For teenage dreads, your activity level determines when a wash becomes necessary. A busy person prone to sweat should consider getting the first wash by the 4th week. For mature dreads, it is advisable to wash as often as possible.

Here are a few reasons why you should wash your dreadlocks;

  • Reduces Hair Lock time: Washing dreadlocks makes the hair rougher, increases tangling, and boosts locking.
  • Reduce the chance of developing dandruff and itchy scalp: these conditions result from the accumulation of dirt on the scalp. Washing locs and scalp on a regular basis reduces your chances of having any of these conditions.
  • Oil Control: While oil is good for the maintenance of dreadlocks, excess oil from the scalp results in a greasy appearance that makes hair unpleasant. Washing your dreadlocks help minimize the oil level secreted by the scalp.
  • Healthy, clean, and light dreadlocks: Washing dreads regularly helps keep the hair healthy, free from dirt and light

How Often Do You Wash Dreads?

For healthy scalp and odor-free dreadlocks, you must wash your hair at least once a week. The duration with which you wash your dreadlocks depends on factors, including the dread stage and level of activity.

Dread stage: The stage of the dreadlock determines how often you wash them. For mature dreads, washing at least once a week keeps the hair in good condition. It is advisable to wash the dreadlocks more than once a week to reduce the chances of dandruff, itchy scalp, and odors. On the other hand, it is advisable to wait for a week before the first wash for new or baby dreads. If your scalp gets too itchy or greasy and makes you uncomfortable within the week, you can go for a gentle wash. But you should note that washing new dreads would result in a few loose hairs because Loc’s are not mature yet.

Level Of Activity: This also determines when to wash your dreads. The scalp of a very active person produces more sweat and oil. If left unwashed for a certain period would result in the development of odors, microbial growth, and itchy scalp.

If you work in a dusty environment, washing your dreadlocks at least two or three times a week using shampoo is ideal. This helps get rid of dust and debris on hair.

Generally, washing the hair as often as possible is necessary to grow healthy and appealing dreadlocks.

Can You Wash Them Too Often?

For mature dreads, no number of times is too often because the hair is locked already and washing it regularly boosts the locking process. But if dreads are still relatively new, washing the locs often might unravel them, which means starting the locking process all over again.

What Happens If You Wash Them Too Often?

Remember, dreads are a large combined mass of hair, and washing too often might result in hair not drying properly, which causes dread rot. Below are signs that your dread needs washing;

  • Hair feels too Oily: Excess oil in hair clogs up pore spaces and leads to suboptimal hair growth and development. So it is best to wash hair when it starts feeling too oily
  • Hair Appears Dry: Clogged pore spaces make dreadlocks appear dry. In this case, it requires thorough washing using proper dreadlocks care products. These products ensure moisture remains on hair for a long period
  • Dandruff: This is an unpleasant condition that causes flaking of the scalp. It appears on hair due to reactions from environmental factors such as diet, medication, or hair products. When dandruff becomes prominent on hair, it is advisable to wash it.
  • Smells Unpleasant: This is a sure sign you need to wash your dreadlocks. Odors often occur due to moisture buildup because of improper drying of locs after washing or sweating. Always dry your dreads thoroughly after washing using a hairdryer or leaving the hair open for longer before putting on a bonnet.

There are different types of shampoo available for washing the hair, but not all are ideal for washing dreadlocks. Using a conventional shampoo on your dreadlocks would produce suboptimal results and cause more harm than good.

Lion Locs shampoo and conditioner is one of the best-recommended dreadlock care products made from vegan and organic ingredients. It works effectively and safely to cleanse off dirt, residues, and chemical buildup from locs and scalp without causing damage or leaving dreads dry. It also serves as a leave-in conditioner to hydrate, soften, and keep your locs smooth.

In addition, this Lion Locs product for dreadlocks contains nourishing ingredients that help prevent hair loss and improve hair growth. It does not contain sulfates and other harmful chemicals. What’s more, it is ideal for all ages, locs, and hair types.

Shampoo Options

Many people think they need special shampoo to wash dreadlocks, which is not often the case. All you need is a product that gets into the locs to get rid of excess oil and dirt.

Only use shampoos made from purely natural and organic ingredients because they do not leave residues on hair. These shampoos help prevent irritation and dandruff. They also make hair grow fast as they help balance its pH. They are also grease-free and make the hair lock faster.

Avoid products that contain silicone as they leave residues on hair, making it heavier and more difficult to wash.

Can You Use Normal Shampoo?

Normal shampoos are usually not suitable for washing dreadlocks because they contain synthetic additives that prevent matting. They also contain ingredients that loosen knots and leave residues that clog hair pores in the long run, extend drying time, and cause odors.

Using conventional shampoo also traps chemicals in dreadlocks that inhibit hair growth, causing itching and unpleasant hair conditions.

Can You Wash Dreads With Liquid Dishwashing Soap?

While it is not usually advisable, you can wash your dreadlocks with liquid dishwashing soap. It is a fact that dishwashing soap eliminates grease effectively, and it does so on dreadlocks too. So, if your dreads feel extremely greasy, you can use liquid dishwashing soap as a clarifying shampoo. Washing dreadlocks with dish soap also helps get rid of dandruff and other unpleasant hair conditions that cause itching.

Liquid Dishwashing soap leaves no residue on hair, which in turn increases friction between dreads, making dreads lock faster and tighter. Avoid dishwashing soap on color-treated dreads as it might wash off the colors.

Always wash with a regular dreadlocks shampoo after using dishwashing soap. The reason is that dishwashing soap strips the hair of natural oils essential for optimal hair growth and development. Besides, using dishwashing soap on your dreads often leaves the hair looking dry. Other reasons why using a liquid dishwashing soap regularly on hair is a bad idea include;

  • It removes the epicuticle, which is a layer that protects your hair cuticle. It also dissolves the cuticle and cell membrane complex
  • It is difficult to rinse off, causing a buildup that could trigger dermatitis on the scalp.
  • It contains ingredients that weaken hair strands and cause them to break from the inside, leading to hair loss in the long run.
  • Using dishwashing liquid regularly is unhealthy for the scalp as it dries it out.

Washing Dread Process

Washing your dreads is not rocket science. It just needs a little care and extra attention to detail than you give conventional hair.

Products Required for Washing Dreads

To wash your dreads effectively and leave them squeaky clean, you need dreadlock shampoos. Unlike most conventional shampoos, these products are often purely natural and leave no residue.

There are different types of dreadlock shampoos available on the market, depending on the hair condition and hair type. There are shampoos ideal for washing oily scalps, dandruff-prone hair, and daily use.

How Do You Wash Your Dreads? What’s The Process?

After getting an adequate shampoo for your hair type, the next factor to consider when deep cleaning dreadlocks is the age of your dreads. You do not wash baby dreadlocks and mature dreadlocks the same way.

Baby Dreadlocks: Since the locks are not tight yet, washing could make them untangle easily. Before washing, stretch a nylon stocking over your head or put rubber bands at the tips and base of your baby dreads. It is also advisable to wash baby dreads at least once a week to keep them healthy and neat.

Mature Dreadlocks: the natural oils released by the scalp to lubricate the hair sometimes makes dreadlocks at this stage look unpleasant. Below are steps on how to wash dreads.

  • Soak hair in running warm water
  • Apply shampoo to hair roots and scalp
  • Using fingertips, scrub the scalp to rid it of excess sebum and exfoliate dead cells, which could hinder hair growth
  • Let shampoo stand on hair for some minutes
  • Rinse dreads using lukewarm water
  • Rinse by holding the head down and allowing shampoo lather to run through locks
  • Squeeze locs gently and release them
  • Ensure there are no shampoo residues left on locs after washing as they could cause scalp irritation

The above steps are the ideal way to wash your dreadlocks for that squeaky clean feel.


Can You Sleep with Wet Locs?

 No. When your dread is wet, it is fluffy or soft. Sleeping with your dreads in such a state will mess it up, especially when it is a new dread. The best practice is to allow dreads to dry before sleeping.

How Long After Getting Dreads Can You Wash Them?

How often you wash your dreads depends on your scalp. For a dry and oily scalp, wash every two weeks. You can go as long as four weeks before washing for a normal scalp. The reason for washing oily, dry scalp every two weeks is to remove excess oil and dandruff that can make dreads look dirty and unhealthy. 

Does Washing Your Dreads Make Them Lock Faster?

Washing dreadlocks regularly makes them lock faster. Water helps them tangle more. However, you must be ready to retwist them to stay in shape and appear aesthetically pleasing. 

How To Clean Scalp Without Washing Locks? 

Deep cleaning dreads don’t have to only be with water. Depending on the type of scalp you have, you can keep the scalp clean by gently exfoliating it with Glycolic acid or any other scalp scrubber.

To do this, divide dreads into different sections, then soak the cotton ball into the scalp scrubber and dab it onto the roots of your hair gently. This method will help to remove dead skin cells, dirt or dandruff. Continue this process until the scalp comes out neat. 

Can You Use Conditions On Locks? 

Your goal is for your dreads to knot together tightly, but conditioning won’t help you achieve that goal as it unravels locs. The best practice is to wash dreads with dreadlock shampoo, rinse with water and gently pat dry. 

In summary, clean and healthy dreadlocks are aesthetically pleasing and comfortable. Washing your dreadlocks often helps eradicate odors and other unpleasant hair conditions like dandruff and dermatitis.

How often you wash your locks is dependent on their age and your level of activity. While it is okay to wash baby locks once a week, so it does not unravel, washing mature locks once a week would lead to a buildup of odors.