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How To Keep Your Dreadlocks Clean

We’ve lost count of how many times we’ve been asked how to keep your dreads clean or whether you can wash or shampoo them and I’m sure many of you have too! From clients asking advice to random people on the street asking too, just out of curiosity… And the answer is YES!

Contrary to popular belief, your dreadlocks CAN be washed and we would highly recommend it too.  It’s an ongoing myth that they cannot be washed, and it’s time to set that stereotype on the correct path.  Not only can your dreads can be clean and smelling great with the right products and correct care but shampooing your dreads also helps to encourage your dreads to mature and tighten up.

Can you wash dreads with shampoo?

Yes, you can wash your dreadlocks with a dreadlock shampoo of your choice. We would recommend a residue free dreadlock shampoo as these are made especially for dreadlocks in mind and contain no nasty chemicals and are residue free. We are a big fan of Dollylocks here at Hippy Happy Dreadlocks. It’s completely natural, vegan and smells divine.

Why is a residue free shampoo important?

Unlike regular shampoo, dreadlock shampoo is residue free. This means it contains no unnecessary chemicals, such as softening agents and artificial fragrance’s.  Many shampoos for regular hair will promise soft, shiny, manageable hair. This may be a desire for natural, loose hair but if you want to keep your dreads in good condition, you don’t need softening agents or anything artificial. We want to keep those dreadies clean, knotty and residue free!

When using a standard shampoo on regular hair have you ever even soap rings in the bathtub? A small ring of soap scum? This is residue and you don’t want this in your dreads. Yuck…

Whereas most of this residue will be rinsed away in loose hair, it won’t come out as easily in dreadlocks. Imagine that soap scum building up in your dreads? No thanks! Continuous use of regular shampoo in your dreads will result in residue continuously building up and it’s not the easiest to remove once it’s in there.

Residue-free shampoo is also meant to neutralize the effects left by the residue of other shampoos and conditioners. It’s a win - win situation.

Our Guide To Keeping Those Dreads Squeaky Clean

Over the years of having, making and installing dreadlocks we have trialed and tested different ways of keeping dreadlocks clean. After our research we have put together this helpful guide to keeping your dreadlocks squeaky clean and smelling sweet as!

Whether you have a full head of dreads, partials, a few accent dreads or extensions it’s important to clean them properly to keep them in tip top condition.

How to Wash Your Dreads

Ideally, you want to wash your dreadlocks in the morning so that they have the whole day to dry properly. Dreadlocks can hold A LOT of water so you need to ensure that they are completely dry after washing. Do not go to bed with your dreads wet as this can lead to smelly dreads from a build-up of mildew. Imagine leaving a damp towel screwed up overnight… It’s not going to smell great is it? And this is the same with dreads. Mildew can cause mould in your dreads if they aren’t dried properly over time. Wash in the morning!

How to Shampoo your dreads

Here’s how we recommend you shampoo your dreadies:  

- Wet hair

- Pour a small amount of shampoo on to your hands and massage into your scalp.

- Once you have massaged it into your roots, rinse and allow the water to run down your locks. When you rinse make sure that you squeeze your dreadlocks as you rinse them to make sure all of the product has been removed.

There’s no need to rub the shampoo directly on to the lengths of your dreadlocks unless they are particularly dirty

- Repeat as necessary.

- Squeeze excess water out and wrap a towel around your dreads. Squeeze out more excess water into the towel. You made need to use a second towel as dreadlocks can hold a lot of water.

- Once they are towel dried it’s a great time to give them a palm roll. Palm rolling works best when the hair is slightly damp. You can now leave them to dry throughout the day (perfect if it’s summer) or use a hairdryer with a diffuser on it, on a low heat to finish drying them.

How Often Can You Shampoo Your Dreads?

How often should I wash them? It varies from person to person as to how often you wash your dreads. Some people have oilier hair so may find that your hair needs washing more often.  Many of our clients will wash their hair once every week to once every two weeks. Some people once a month. When you have dreadlocks you may find that your hair washing routine (how often you wash it) changes once you have dreadlocks installed and realise you may not have to wash your hair as frequently as before. Although it may seem scary to wash them for the first time, they will be ok. Promise. Washing them will help them mature and keep your scalp healthy. When washing young dreads it is normal to experience fuzzy hairs as it takes a while for the dreads to mature and become established. This is completely normal and a part of your dreadlock journey.

Should they be washed every day?

Ideally do not wash your dreads every day unless you can guarantee that they will be dried thoroughly each and every time. For one reason it will make them go fluffier but more importantly if the dreadlocks are continuously wet they can end up smelling bad and dread rot may occur

What is Dread Rot?

Dread rot is caused by a lack of proper drying and can lead to mould or mildew. This is usually due to your hair remaining damp for 2 days or more.

So, in conclusion – Shampoo your dreads with a dreadlock shampoo, dry them thoroughly and you’re on the right track to healthy, happy dreads!

We hope you have found our guide on keeping your dreadlocks clean helpful, and if you’re looking for a new set of dread extensions, shampoos or salt sprays head to our shop! We’ve got a large selection of handmade human hair dreadlock extensions, dread beads, dread ties and dread care products.

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