How to Wash Dreadlocks 2024: 5 Simple and Effective Steps

Cleaning Dreadlocks Simplified: Though it might appear daunting, the process of cleaning dreadlocks can easily integrate into your hair care routine with the right approach and skills. Often referred to as “locs,” this versatile and widely adopted hairstyle can suit people with diverse hair types and textures. Nonetheless, to maintain their vitality and health, it’s crucial to provide them with appropriate upkeep and washing.

The key to adequately washing dreadlocks is using the right products and techniques to clean and care for your locs. This will help minimize buildup, maintain a healthy scalp, and keep your locs looking their best for weeks. In this article, we will dive into the essential tips and tricks on thoroughly and effectively washing your dreadlocks, ensuring they remain as vibrant and beautiful as the day you first got them. So roll up your sleeves, grab your favorite shampoo, and let’s get started on the journey to vibrant locs!

Why Washing Dreadlocks Is Essential

How to Wash Dreadlocks

Caring for your dreadlocks is crucial to maintaining a healthy scalp and intense, vibrant locs. Washing your dreadlocks should be a part of your regular hair care routine. Regular cleansing helps to keep your scalp clean, prevents itching and dandruff, and promotes growth. Let’s delve into some reasons why washing your dreadlocks is essential.

First and foremost, washing dreadlocks helps remove dirt, sweat, and excess oil buildup from your hair and scalp. This is a crucial aspect of maintaining good hair health. Failure to do so may lead to bacterial or fungal growth, resulting in clogged hair follicles, inflammation, and even hair loss. Dreadlocks, by their very nature, tend to trap and hold dirt and oil more than other hairstyles, which is why it’s even more important to keep them clean.

Another essential reason to wash your dreadlocks is to prevent unpleasant odors. Like any other hair type, dreadlocks can accumulate smells from various sources, such as sweat, smoke, and environmental pollutants. Regularly washing your dreads keeps them smelling fresh and clean.

Additionally, washing your dreadlocks helps to tighten and maintain their structure. During the washing process, the water penetrates the dreadlocks, causing them to shrink and tighten. This is a natural part of the locking process and essential for keeping your locs neat and well-groomed.

In summary, washing your dreadlocks is essential for keeping your scalp healthy, maintaining the integrity of your locs, preventing unpleasant odors, and promoting hair growth. Establishing a regular washing routine that includes using the right products will ensure your dreadlocks look and feel great and help them last as long as possible.

Choosing the Right Shampoo

When washing dreadlocks, the key is selecting the right shampoo.

Dreadlock-Specific Shampoos

Selecting a shampoo specifically designed for dreadlocks can make a significant positive impact on their health. Many dreadlock shampoos focus on being residue-free, as residues can accumulate inside the dread and cause issues, such as build-up or molding. Often, these products avoid ingredients like silicone and unemulsified oils that might work to unknot or smooth the hair. Some popular dreadlock shampoos include:

Gentle Natural Alternatives

If you prefer a more natural approach to washing your dreadlocks, several effective solutions exist. Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) is often included in the list of natural ingredients to help clean your dreadlocks. Here’s a simple recipe for an Apple Cider Vinegar rinse:

  1. Combine 1/2 cup of organic raw Apple Cider Vinegar with water in a 1:4 ratio
  2. Add a few drops of your favorite essential oil such as eucalyptus or tea tree oil
  3. Pour the mixture over your dreadlocks, making sure to cover each one thoroughly
  4. Let it sit for a few minutes and then rinse your hair with water

Another effective natural alternative is using Moringa & Avocado Power Greens Hair Tea Rinse. This rinse helps cleanse and nourish your hair while promoting healthy hair growth. Simply follow the directions on the product, and you’ll have fresh, clean dreadlocks in no time!

Remember to be gentle when applying and massaging any shampoo or rinse into your dreadlocks, as vigorous scrubbing can cause damage or frizz. Maintaining a routine for washing your dreadlocks regularly is essential to keep them clean, healthy, and looking great.

Preparing Your Dreadlocks for Washing

Washing dreadlocks requires more attention and care than your usual hair routine. To ensure your locs get the proper treatment, it’s important to prepare them for the washing process. This will ensure a better cleanse and minimize potential damage to your locs in the long run.

First, gently detangle your dreadlocks using your fingers or a dreadlock comb, starting from the ends and working your way up to the roots. This helps remove any loose hair, dirt, and residue that may have accumulated between washes.

Next, prepare a pre-wash rinse solution to help loosen buildup on your scalp and locs. You can choose between an apple cider vinegar (ACV) or baking soda rinse for this step. Create an ACV rinse by mixing equal parts water and apple cider vinegar, or a baking soda rinse by dissolving 2-3 tablespoons of baking soda in 4 cups of warm water.

Once your pre-wash rinse is ready, apply it to your dreadlocks, properly saturate your hair from the roots to the tips. Let the rinse sit in your hair for about 5-10 minutes, giving it enough time to break down the dirt and build up.

After the pre-wash rinse, the final step before washing is to wet your dreadlocks in warm water thoroughly. This helps open the hair cuticles, allowing your shampoo to do its job more effectively. Don’t forget to use a residue-free shampoo that’s designed explicitly for dreadlocks. This will ensure you’re giving you locs the best care without causing additional buildup.

Now that your dreadlocks are adequately prepared for washing, it’s time to move on to the washing process. By following these steps, you’re on your way to maintaining clean and healthy dreadlocks in the long run. Remember that patience and consistency are crucial to preserving this unique hairstyle.

How to Wash Dreadlocks: The Washing Process

Washing dreadlocks can be different from washing regular hair, but it’s not too complicated.

Proper Washing Technique

First, saturate your locs with warm water in the shower. Make sure they are entirely wet before moving on to the next step. Squeeze a modest amount of dreadlock-friendly shampoo into your palm and work it into your hair, focusing primarily on the scalp. Massage the shampoo into your scalp using your fingertips, moving from the front to the back in circular motions.

It’s essential to avoid using regular shampoos, as they can cause unwanted buildup in your dreads. Instead, choose a shampoo specifically designed for dreadlocks, such as a residue-free shampoo or one made with natural ingredients like apple cider vinegar.

In between washes, you can refresh your strands by using essential oils or by spritzing your hair with a water and aloe vera mixture, as suggested by All Things Hair.

Rinsing Thoroughly

After thoroughly massaging the shampoo into your scalp and working it through your dreads, it’s time to rinse. Make sure the water is warm but not too hot, and rinse your hair multiple times to ensure you remove all the shampoo. You can also consider using an apple cider vinegar rinse to help remove any residual buildup from your dreads and soothe the scalp while maintaining the hair’s natural pH balance.

Once you’ve rinsed your hair well, gently squeeze the excess water from your dreads, starting at the roots and moving toward the tips. Avoid vigorous rubbing or twisting, as this can cause damage to your locs.

Now that you know the proper washing technique and the importance of rinsing thoroughly, you’re well-equipped to keep your dreadlocks clean, healthy, and looking their best. Happy washing!

Drying Your Dreadlocks

How to Wash Dreadlocks

Keeping your dreadlocks dry and well-maintained will ensure they look great and stay healthy. This section explore three different methods for drying your locs: the Squeeze and Pat Method, Using a Microfiber Towel, and Air Drying. Remember to always be gentle with your dreadlocks to avoid any damage.

Squeeze and Pat Method

The Squeeze and Pat Method is a simple yet effective way to eliminate excess water from your dreadlocks. After washing, section your locs and, starting from the roots, gently squeeze the water out by moving your hands toward the ends. Be sure not to twist or wring your hair, as it can cause damage to your locs. Once you’ve squeezed out the water, pat your dreadlocks dry using a clean towel.

Using a Microfiber Towel

A Microfiber Towel is an excellent option for drying dreadlocks since it’s highly absorbent and gentle on the hair. Wrap your dreadlocks in the towel and gently press on it to absorb the water. You can gently squeeze your locs while wrapped in the towel to remove more moisture. Be cautious not to rub your locs with the towel, as it may cause frizz and damage.

Air Drying

Air Drying your dreadlocks is the most natural and least damaging method, but also the slowest. After using one of the above methods to remove excess water, leave your locs to air dry. This can take several hours, depending on the length and thickness of your dreadlocks. To speed up the process, you can sit in a well-ventilated area or use a fan to create air circulation around your locs. Avoid direct sunlight, as it can cause your hair to fade and weaken over time.

Maintaining Clean Dreadlocks

Keeping your dreadlocks clean and healthy is essential for their longevity and appearance. In this section, we’ll discuss the frequency of washing and how to keep them fresh between washes. By following these guidelines, you can ensure your dreadlocks remain in excellent condition.

Frequency of Washing

It’s essential to strike the right balance when washing your dreadlocks. You should aim to wash your hair at least once every 2-4 days to keep them clean and remove buildup. However, it’s best not to wash them every day, as this can strip your scalp of natural oils.

Keeping Them Fresh Between Washes

To keep your dreadlocks fresh and clean in between washes, consider some of these tips:

  • Dry shampoo: Utilize a dry shampoo to absorb excess oil and refresh your scalp. Keep in mind to choose a product that’s suitable for dreads and won’t cause buildup.
  • Use a hair tie: Keep your dreadlocks away from the face, allowing your scalp to breathe and avoid transferring oils from the face to the hair.
  • Sleep with a satin or silk pillowcase: These materials help reduce friction, which can help keep your dreadlocks fresh and less tangled overnight.
  • Essential oils: Add a few drops of your favorite essential oil, like lavender or tea tree oil, to a spray bottle with water. Lightly mist your dreadlocks for a refreshing and pleasant-smelling touch-up.

Common Washing Mistakes to Avoid

Washing dreadlocks can be a bit challenging, but it’s essential to keep them clean and healthy. While cleaning your locs, there are some common mistakes that you should avoid. By removing these pitfalls, you can maintain your dreads in excellent condition and prevent any damage.

One common mistake is using the wrong shampoo. Regular shampoos might contain ingredients that can cause build-up in your locs. Instead, use a clarifying shampoo designed explicitly for dreadlocks, as these products can efficiently remove dirt, oil, and residue without harming your hair.

Another widespread washing mistake is not thoroughly soaking your dreads before applying shampoo. Use warm water to wet your hair correctly and give your dreads enough time to absorb the water. This will help distribute the shampoo evenly and ensure proper cleansing.

When applying the shampoo, avoid using excessive amounts. Concentrate on lathering your scalp, where most dirt and oil accumulate. Then, gently massage the shampoo into each loc. Too much product can lead to residue build-up, making it challenging to rinse entirely.

Rinsing your dreadlocks thoroughly is crucial in removing all shampoo residue. Inadequate rinsing can result in product build-up, leading to itchiness, odors, and mold growth. Spend time ensuring all the shampoo is washed out of your dreads, carefully squeezing each to release trapped suds.

Lastly, remember that dreadlocks take longer to dry than regular hair. Don’t go to bed with wet locs or keep them in a damp environment for an extended period, as it can lead to mold and mildew. Thoroughly squeeze excess water out of your locs, then use a microfiber towel or a hairdryer on a low heat setting to help them dry faster.


Are you supposed to wash dreadlocks?

Yes, it is essential to wash dreadlocks regularly to keep them clean and healthy. Contrary to popular belief, clean hair is necessary for knotting and locking. The frequency of washing will depend on the age of your dreads, lifestyle, and your personal preference. 

What is the proper way to wash locs?

To wash locs, wet them thoroughly with warm water and apply a small amount of shampoo to the scalp and roots. Massage the shampoo into the scalp and let the suds run down the locs. Rinse thoroughly with warm water, and repeat the process if necessary. Avoid over-saturating the locs, and be gentle when washing to prevent unraveling or damage.

How often should you wash dreadlocks?

The frequency of washing dreadlocks will depend on your dreads’ age, lifestyle, and personal preference. For younger dreads that are not twisted with gel, washing twice weekly with a tightening shampoo is recommended. For older dreads, cleaning once per week or adjusting according to how your scalp reacts is recommended.

How do you wash dreads for beginners?

Wash dreads for beginners thoroughly with warm water and apply a small amount of residue-free shampoo to the scalp and roots. Gently massage the shampoo into the scalp and rinse thoroughly with warm water. Avoid over-saturating the locs, and be gentle when washing to prevent unraveling or damage. 

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