Home » Hairstyles » How to Wash Dreadlocks [Complete Step-by-Step Guide]

How to Wash Dreadlocks [Complete Step-by-Step Guide]

Washing dreadlocks is a lot easier than you think. However, many people still avoid the style as they believe the rumors that dreadlocks are hard to clean.

Taking care of your dreadlocks can indeed be confusing, but you should know that you can still wash your dreads. You can’t make dreadlocks from dirty or oily hair.

So, ensure that you wash your hair before doing the hairstyle. Moreover, unwashed dreadlocks become slippery as they build on natural oils.

You cannot make proper dreadlocks when this happens, as the oils prevent your hair from curling up and sticking to one another.

How to Wash Your Dreadlocks?

There are many ways to wash dreadlocks. However, with this walkthrough guide, you will be on your way in no time.

So, let’s see how to clean your dreadlocks in three simple steps.

Step 1: Choose the Right Products

choose products

While you may think that you will need special, expensive products to wash your dreads, you should know that it’s all about wetting your hair and removing those natural oils.

However, if you still want to use special products, take care not to overdo it and strip the excess oil from your hair. So, when washing your dreadlocks, it’s crucial to choose the right products and, more importantly, know how to use them. After buying the product, make sure that you read the instructions on the label to learn how to use it right.

Also, there are certain products that you might want to avoid, especially those that consist of silicone. These products can make more dreads than you may need, and they also tend to make them heavier than usual.

Step 2: Start By Applying Shampoo

It would help by cleaning your hair by applying shampoo to your scalp. Take some shampoo in your hand and gently massage it on your scalp.

When massaging, ensure that it gets all the natural oil caught up in your dreads. After applying the shampoo, leave it for some time before rinsing it off.

Also read: Best Shampoos and Conditioners for Dreadlocks

Step 3: Use a Conditioner to Moisturize Your Hair

Once you are done applying shampoo and leaving it to settle, you can use the conditioner that provides the much-needed moisture to your hair.

When you have finished applying the conditioner, you should leave it for some time before washing it off with warm water. Here too, you should make sure that you don’t leave it for too long as it can fluff your hair strands.

How to Dry Dreads After Washing?

How to Dry Dreads After Washing?

It’s crucial to dry your dreadlocks after washing them, as leaving them wet for too long can cause rotting due to mold formation. If you leave your hair rotting for some time, it produces a foul smell, and you may also need to cut it off.

So, make sure you dry your dreads after washing them. The following sections will guide you on drying your dreads after washing them with shampoo and conditioner.


So, now that you are done washing your dreads, you can begin with the first step in the drying process, wringing. Press your hair with your hands and twist it to drain the excess water. Repeat the process throughout the length of your hair to get all the water out.

Use a Towel

After pressing your hair with your hands to drain the excess water, wipe it with a towel – preferably a microfiber towel. Continue to wipe your dreads with the towel until the dampness goes away and they become completely dry.

Hair Drying

Hair Dryer for dreadlocks

So, now that you have entirely wiped your hair with a microfiber towel, you can move to dry your dreads using a hairdryer. Make sure that you dry all around by moving the hairdryer appropriately.

Palm Rolling

Palm rolling is one of the most effective ways to dry dreads. With this technique, you can also remove water trapped inside your dreadlocks. To palm roll, your dreads effectively, start from the root of your hair and slowly work your way downwards.


If you feel that water is still dripping from your dreads even after drying it with a towel or hairdryer, you can shake your head vigorously to get it off. You can also shake your dreads to throw out the excess water.

However, if you have too long a dreadlock, you will carry more weight, especially wet. The excess weight you take because of your dreads can sometimes cause unnecessary stress to your neck. You may experience pain when swerving your head back and forth or sideways.


If you notice that your dreads are still wet, you can spread them out so that they dry up quickly before going to bed. So, by spreading your dreadlocks in all directions, you will ensure that they dry fast.

How Often Should You Wash Your Dreadlocks?

How often to wash dreadlocks

There’s no doubt that you should wash your dreadlocks frequently. However, how often you should clean them depends on several factors, including the age of the dreads.

As far as the age of your dreadlocks is concerned, it would help to wash your dreads based on whether they are new or mature.

Drying new locks is easy as there is lots of space between them. Mature locks, however, are more matted and retain lots of water. So, they may not be as easy to dry as new dreadlocks.

Likewise, how fast your dreadlocks dry up also depends on the thickness of your hair. If your locks are too thick, they take more time to dry. While you may feel that the outer layer of your thick dreadlocks is dry, there is much water inside. Also, shorter locks dry more quickly than longer ones.

Don’t wash your dreads every day as mold formation risks. However, it would be best if you wash your dreads after going for a swim or after soaking in the rain.

You might also like: Best Oils for Dreadlocks

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. Can You Wash Dreads with Regular Shampoo?

Products for dreadlock washing

No. You cannot use regular shampoos for dreadlocks as they contain fragrances, softeners, thickeners, conditioners, and many other chemical ingredients. Your dreadlocks won’t matt and will loosen and come off using regular shampoos.

2. What are the Best Ways to Wash Dreads Without Getting Them Tangled?

If you want your dreadlocks to grow naturally, then you might want to try shampooing them. However, make sure that you dry them after shampooing and rinsing.

Alternatively, you can also use a mixture of baking soda, vinegar, and water. However, be careful not to mix baking soda with vinegar as baking soda is a base, and vinegar is an acid. So, the reaction neutralizes the cleansing powder.

What you can do instead is dissolve three-quarter cups of baking soda with some water and add a tablespoon full of lemon juice. Now, what this does is that it drives away the foul smell caused by the mold on your locks. You can apply the mixture to your hair but make sure that you do it only once every couple of weeks.

After applying, let it soak for about five to ten minutes, and you can then rinse it off with cold water. After rinsing it, you must mix water and vinegar in a bottle in a 3:1 ratio and apply it gently over your scalp in between the locks to leave your dreadlocks smooth and without the frizz. You can then towel dry your hair.

3. Can You Use Conditioner for Dreads?

No. You cannot condition dreadlocks as conditioners are counterproductive and do more harm than good.

4. What to Do if Your Dreads are Smelling?

What to Do if Your Dreads are Smelling?

If your dreads are smelling, you can try any of the following ways to eliminate the foul smell.

  • Wash your head once a week, especially in the morning.
  • Use a residue-free shampoo.
  • Clean your scalp using apple-cider vinegar every once or twice a month.
  • Dry your deadlocks.
  • Drink enough water.

5. What are the Benefits of Washing Dreadlocks?

There are many benefits of washing your dreadlocks regularly.

  • Washing your dreadlocks promotes their healthy growth.
  • Washing keeps the locks tight and prevents them from becoming slippery and tangling due to the natural oils.
  • Dreadlocks smell good and fresh when you wash them regularly.

6. How Do You Wash Dreads Without Shampoo?

Yes. While you can wash your dreadlocks with just water, experts don’t recommend it, and it doesn’t do much to remove the dirt and the natural oil that accumulates between them.


Hairstyling may be a fashion statement, but it also reflects your personality. So, if you have dreadlocks as a style and are not sure how to maintain them, go to an expert such as a hairstylist.

Alternatively, you can go through this guide and get some tips on washing or cleaning your dreadlocks.

By washing your dreadlocks regularly and keeping them clean, you can rest assured that they will grow to good lengths.


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I’m Aida and this is my blog where I write mostly about beauty & make up related stuff, but I like to spice it up a bit with lifestyle and photography posts. Or with whatever that comes to my mind. Hope you will enjoy the reading enough that we will ‘see’ each other more often!

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