How to Wash Dreads?


Dreads have been around for quite some time, and we have to say, it’s one of the gorgeous hairstyling methods of all time.

In this method, all your hair strands are carefully braided or ‘locked’ into separate bunches of thick braids to give a rope-like structure to your hair.

Not only is it really pretty to look at, but it’s also casual as you don’t have to spend extra time doing your hair every morning.

But that being said, dreads do need care. And most often than not, people have no idea how to wash dreads. At least, not properly anyway.

Dreads require a very sophisticated and specific hair-washing technique to keep them ever-fresh and lively.

So, don’t fret if you don’t know what you’re supposed to be doing with your dreads. We are here to help you out with a step-by-step guide on dreads washing along with some much-needed info on drying them.

Read through the entire article to know all about them.

Table of Contents

How Often Do You Have to Wash Your Dreads?

Despite having a casual style, even dreads need to be washed every once in a while. While normal hair requires vigorous washing every day or two, dreads should be washed once a week for the first few months.

After they have transitioned to mature dreads, you can extend the washing period by another half of a week or so.

However, the rate of washing your dreads corresponds to the rate of product build-up in your hair.

Not everyone’s hair is the same, and most often than not, working or living in a harsh environment will accelerate the rate of product build-up in someone’s dreads.

In that case, the washing period needs to be changed accordingly. It’s highly recommended that you don’t wash your braided hair more than once a week.

Since all your hair is braided, i.e., locked in together, extensive washing will cause them to get loose and come apart.

Keep that in mind before orchestrating your personalized hair-washing schedule, and it should be fine.

How to Avoid Product Build-up in Your Dreads?

Well, technically, you cannot avoid product build-up in your dreads or hair. Our hair constantly interacts with the outside environment and gets in all sorts of dust, dirt particles, dead skin cells, etc.

And since your roots, i.e., the base of your hair, is somewhat oily, all those minuscule particles are getting stuck right there and causing build-up.

This is the primary reason why your hair (even normal hair) gets matted if it goes unwashed for a few days. That being said, even though you can’t stop the whole build-up process, you can certainly minimize the overall rate of build-up.

By following a few easy steps, you can keep yourself safe from grease by ensuring fresh and lively hair at all times.

For example – if you are going out in the sun or a dust-filled place, cover your hair with a scarf to protect it from the UV rays and dirt.

Always dry your dreads properly. Otherwise, your hair will retain moisture from water, and that will weaken the roots and invite more build-ups.

And finally, always wash your dreads in time exactly as instructed to keep them free from all the accumulated dirt and grease.

A Step-By-Step Guide on How to Wash Dreads

As previously mentioned, washing dreads is a sophisticated and complex procedure that you need to carry out carefully. Any wrong or ignorant steps will mess up your dreads and might even cause excessive hair fall.

So, for your convenience, here’s a step-by-step guide on how to wash your dreads:

Pre-wash Arrangements

Yep. Before you wash off the dreads, there are some things you need to do to get rid of extra product build-up residues. That way, your hair will be less dirty, and it will also prepare the hair for further rejuvenation.

First of all, make a concoction at home using either apple cider, baking soda, or vinegar. For baking soda, use two tablespoons per mug of water, and for cider and vinegar, the ratio should be about 1:4.

Once you have prepared the concoction, lie down against the basin and then pour the concoction of soda/cider/vinegar over the hair.

Try to cover the roots as you go, as that’s where the residues are. The water must be lukewarm so that the reaction takes place more vigorously. Fill the basin up with the concoction, and then leave your dreads in there for 15-20 minutes.

Once enough time has passed, you’ll find that the water has become much dirtier and greasier with a murky color if you take the dreads out.

If there’s a lot of build-ups, repeat the same process once again to get rid of even more dirt. Repeat two-three times or until you feel satisfied with the result.


Wait a while after you have used the homemade soda/cider/vinegar on your dreads. In the meantime, you should dry your hair so that it’s not as damp. After an hour or two, you can start shampooing your hair.

Go for a specific shampoo made for dreadlocks. Regular shampoo won’t work as well. Use water to wet your roots and scalp, and then gently massage the whole scalp with the shampoo.

Try to use as much shampoo as you need to cover the whole area.

Please wait a while after massaging so the shampoo can work its magic. After that, gently rinse off the product and let the water run down your dreads so it can clean them from within.

Like the soda concoction, you can shampoo for a second time if your dreads are too dirty.


You can’t dry your dreads the same way you usually dry your free hair. Remember that your hair is in multiple braids. Improper rubbing with a towel will cause nasty knots inside the dreads, and it will be a nightmare to fix them.

Instead, if you have a dryer, sit under it for about 30 to 40 minutes. The same goes for blow-dryers.

However, it’s better if you let them dry naturally or in warm sunlight. It will take longer but will provide a better result.

Before drying, do remember to take out all the extra moisture from your dreads. Use a towel and press against the dreads so that the water seeps out of them.

Trust me; you don’t want wet or soft roots when you have a hairstyle as demanding as dreadlocks on your head.

Plus, it will create nasty dampness that will lead to a mildew-like smell in your hair. So, try to avoid that all costs if possible.

Again, if you are in a swimming pool for a long time, the chemicals can harm your dreads a lot as well. Keep an eye out for that and get out at the first signs of trouble.

Should You Treat Baby Dreads vs. Mature Dreads Differently while Washing?

In fact, you should. Baby dreads are messier than mature ones, and if it’s your first time with dreads, your scalp will itch a lot. The itching and virgin hair will lead to messy dreads that get way dirtier than usual.

So, for the first few weeks, these baby dreads need extensive care while washing. After it’s been a while, your hair will adjust itself to the new condition, and you won’t have to work as hard on them.

Should You Use Conditioner in Your Dreads?

The whole point of a conditioner is to make your hair silky and smooth. And that directly contradicts the whole braid-like styling of dreadlocks. So, no. You really shouldn’t use conditioner on your dreads.

However, recently manufacturers have brought out special conditioners that cater to dreads specifically.

But it would be best if you didn’t use it instantly unless you have gotten the green signal from your hairstylist. Besides, instead of a conditioner, it’s better to use a hot oil treatment anyway.

An Organic Alternative

Use tea tree oil or rosemary extracts to massage your scalp thoroughly. The remarkable healing properties of these essential oils will rejuvenate your roots and liven up your dreads.

If needed, you can go for a deep cleanse at a professional spa every two-three months as well.

Many registered facilities or practitioners also have a range of herbal tonics and remedies that are great for hair like these.

Not only will they work to freshen up your hair from within, but they will also strengthen your roots to support the dreads completely.

Furthermore, you can go for a detoxing procedure at your local spa to detoxify your hair from all the gunk and grease build-up.

You will also get a nice scalp massage that will help you to relax and unwind from all your worries and troubles for a while.

We cannot but recommend the herbal products and procedures as they are truly the best for all types of hair, including dreads.


So, how did you find our guide on how to wash dreads? Hopefully, most of your confusion regarding dreads and their maintenance has been cleared out in this article.

And as long as you remember the tips correctly, you’ll have long and luscious locks that everyone cannot but envy.