True or False – Are Dreadlocks Dirty?

For a long time, the world has had a conception that the words ‘dreadlock’ and ‘dirty’ have some kind of correlation. Dreaded hair is no dirtier, or cleaner for that matter, than undreaded hair. The …

For a long time, the world has had a conception that the words ‘dreadlock’ and ‘dirty’ have some kind of correlation. Dreaded hair is no dirtier, or cleaner for that matter, than undreaded hair. The messy look can come off as dity, from a distance, but in reality that is far from the case. People who wear dreadlocks often go a long way to keep their dreads clean. 

It is a common practice to stereotype people based on their looks, consciously and unconsciously. In some cases, you may not even realize you are doing it. 

But, don’t be the person who automatically assumes someone is dirty solely based on the fact that they have dreadlocks. If you are going to be that person, base it off of personal hygiene, not their hairstyle. 

Are Dreads Dirty? 

Dreadlocks are no different than undreaded hair when it comes to cleanliness. If hair is properly maintained and washed regularly, then it is not dirty; same goes for dreads. In fact, clean hair actually knots a lot faster than dirty hair does! With that being said, people with dreadlocks tend to go to great lengths to keep their hair clean, for the knotting process to happen faster. As well as keeping it healthy. 

Dreads are generally not dirty, and it all comes down to a person’s personal hygiene. If you are a dirty person, you will have dirty dreads, and vice versa; if you are a clean person, you will have clean dreads. 

Why are dreadlocks perceived as dirty? 

If dreadlocks aren’t generally dirty, why are they perceived that way? For a long time, dreads have had a bad reputation of being dirty, causing many people to believe that only dirty hippies or lazy surfers have dreads. The main cause of this theory is none other than stereotyping

Hippies actually tend to have dreadlocks because they are easier to maintain when traveling; we know from personal experience. 

People with dreads obviously can’t brush their hair, and are limited to the number of times they can wash their hair without harming their dreads. Whereas people without dreadlocks are free to comb or brush their hair freely whenever they want, and can wash it as many times as they feel necessary. 

Now, it is easier for things to get stuck in dreads compared to undreaded hair, especially the inner part of the locs. However, as long as you avoid putting things in your hair, that shouldn’t be an issue. 

Do people with dreadlocks wash their hair?

People with dreadlocks wash their hair just the same as people with undreaded hair. In the beginning stages of dreadlocks, it is common to not wash them as often for the first couple of months. But, once they start to lock and form, then it is easier to wash and care for without disrupting the knotting process. 

It is quite common for people with dreadlocks to wash their hair about once a week, or potentially every other week. Washing on a regular basis will not only keep your locs clean, but happy and healthy as well. 

Maintenance and hair treatments such as vinegar soaks, or application of oils and moisturizers are also just as important as washing. Proper maintenance will help eliminate all the build up from over time and other environmental factors that can damage dreadlocks. This process should happen on average every 3-6 months to maintain strength and to keep your locs healthy. 

Do Locs Tend to Smell?

Dreadlocks are essentially matted hair, which has the potential to hold more odors quicker, and for longer periods of time. However, that does NOT necessarily mean they will smell bad. If you properly maintain your hair and wash it on a regular basis, your dreads should never smell. 

But, what actually makes dreads smell? Here are some common factors:

  • Improper care: This is often the main cause of dreads smelling bad. It all comes down to having healthy and clean personal hygiene. It is very important to take proper care of your dreads and give them the attention they deserve. Don’t neglect your hair just because you have dreadlocks. 
  • Mold growth: It is possible for dreads to start to grow mold due to them being wet or damp for long periods of time and not drying properly. When washing dreads, try and do it early in the day; that way they have plenty of time to air dry throughout the afternoon. 
  • Sweat: The combination of excessive sweating and improper care can cause the sweaty odor to linger around in dreads. 
  • Environmental odors: Various pollution factors and elements in the air can linger on hair a lot longer causing a bad smell; for example, cigarette smoke. 

The best way to prevent dreadlocks from smelling bad is to always keep a regular washing routine. In addition to that, be sure to avoid sleeping in dreads that are wet or damp. If you do happen to notice a stench coming from your dreads, don’t panic. This can easily be eliminated by doing a proper detox and extra maintenance for a few weeks. 

Do Dreads Damage Your Hair? 

Dreadlocks are often said to damage your hair in the long run, however, once again, the stereotype about dreadlocks is incorrect. Dreads actually do the complete opposite of damage. They protect and shield your hair, and give your hair more strength overtime. 

To understand this, we need to assess dreaded and undreaded hair types. 

Hair that is not dreaded is subdued to way more harmful products then dreaded hair. Undreaded hair is frequently styled with heat, and comes in contact with sprays, gels, and hair growth products. Products that are often used to make your hair ‘look good’ can actually cause a lot more damage to your hair overtime compared to dreadlocks. 

On the other hand, dreadlocks are not subjected to as many harmful products and chemicals. Additionally, there is little to no heat used on dreads. Most of your hair is protected from environmental factors by a shield or outer layer, the hair on the inner side of your dreads are almost never subjected to harmful factors. 

The correct amount of washes your hair should be subjected to on a weekly basis has always been a controversial topic for many years. Should hair be washed every day, every other day, every week? 

When hair is washed on a daily basis, not only does it clean, but it also strips it. This is an unknown fact to many people; when hair is washed daily, natural oils and moisturizers that hair produces are also decreased or eliminated. When undreaded hair goes without natural elements, it looks dirty or greasy and is thus washed even more; and it is a continuous cycle. 

Dreadlocks should be washed weekly, but not quite as often as undreaded hair. This lets your hair continue to produce and contain the natural elements it needs to stay healthy overtime, without being subjected to harmful products. Now, the initial installment of dreadlocks can be damaging at first, dependinging on the method of installment, but the damage is done and can be easily fixed overtime. 

When it comes down to it, keeping dreadlocks clean and healthy is no different than keeping undreaded hair clean and healthy. It is important to keep a daily routine of personal hygiene, with or without dreadlocks. Washing your hair, doing proper maintenance, and not neglecting your hair are the best ways to keep dreadlocks from smelling; that goes for undreaded hair too. 

So, are dreadlocks dirty? No, not generally. A person’s hygiene is directly related with the cleanliness of their locs. There shouldn’t be a problem with smell, mold, or dirty odors as long as dreads are properly cared for. We hope that over time, the misconception of dreadlocks being dirty will be an issue of the past.