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The Ultimate Guide to Washing Dreadlocks

The Ultimate Guide to Washing Dreadlocks

Have you ever wondered why it was important to keep clean hair? Like many of us, you probably didn’t but understood having clean hair was a necessity to clean hygiene. However, with everything that is done, there is a reason. There are many benefits to having clean hair: light/free, reduces build-up, head acne, and more. All essential benefits, but the main one is that clean hair promotes healthy hair growth.

So why an article about washing locs? To provide readers with a breakdown of the process, which will help them understand how the hair interacts with different chemicals and products, facts that can be beneficial in the future. 

As we discuss washing locs and the different methods used to do so: how often and with what products; we will also discuss the why behind keeping clean hair. Reason: locs mature better when the hair is clean. 

Let’s discuss this. 

According to MedicalNewsToday.com, should you wash your hair every day?, "Washing the hair less often can help the scalp remain healthy” (MedicalNewsToday.com), this can be beneficial for those who typically have dry hair and find it hard to prevent itching and flaking of the scalp. For certain hair types, this will help keep the hair soft and shiny. 

There are other cases, for example, washing the hair regularly, helps prevent hair acne and other ailments. People with oily scalps may develop acne on the scalp or along the hairline, (MedicalNewsToday.com). The importance of understanding this is that one should know how the scalp and hair absorb oil and other products to choose the best product to wash the hair. This will be helpful to determine how much time and product should be used to cleanse the hair because not all shampoos are created equally. 

As the article mentions, washing the hair promotes healthy growth. But how often should the hair be washed? For those with an oily scalp, the hair may be washed more than a person with a dry scalp. 

How does this relate to locs? When hair begins to lock, the hair type will stay the same. Therefore, depending on the hair type and thickness, it is vital to either wash the hair every day or once a week. Additionally, choosing the right product for the hair ensures the product is strong enough to penetrate the locs, which helps keep the hair moisturized. This is known as the hair absorption rate. Hair type 3A tends to become weighed down if too much oil is applied, which can eventually make one’s locs look heavy and dirty.

On the other hand, a person with 4C hair could have the same amount of oil in the hair, but the effects will not be the same. This understanding is essential in choosing the proper hair regimen.  Per healthline.com, washing your hair daily is a personal choice, but one should want to have clean hair because there are many benefits to having clean hair. 

What Does This Mean? 

Like most things to properly take care of, you must understand the proper way of maintaining the health of your hair. To do this, ask yourself the following questions:

  • How does my hair feel after applying oil? 
  • Does my hair look greasy and/or heavy all the time?
  • After washing my hair, and it dries, do I have dry patches?
  • Does my hair break off easily?
  • Is my hair fine or thick?

Each question is important to pick the best washing method for the locs, because...

Each hair type responds differently. For example, thin, fine hair is known for feeling weighed down after oil is applied, whereas wavy hair tends to be drier. This is key because wavy hair absorbs oil differently and will require oil to stay moisturized versus fine hair, which would benefit from being washed every day—wavy hair, once every week. Key, understanding your hair type is essential to wash the hair properly. Not taking the time to understand your hair can lead to future damage and/or breakage.

So Why is Clean Hair Important?  

Many articles mention the importance of washing the hair.  Some articles recommend washing the hair daily, where others say once a week, depending on hair type. Please note – locs will not change the hair texture, but the locking process may. 

According to Raging Roots Studios, clean locs promote healthy loc growth, as well as stronger locs. This is very important to keep in mind because, in this article, we will discuss the different ways to wash locs, starting from the benefits of choosing the right product to how often one wash their locs.

Not only does clean hair promote healthy loc growth, but it helps the hair to lock easier and prevents unnecessary build-up, which can cause breakage as your locs mature. 

Myth: Hair locks better when it is dirty.

In the past, many believed the hair had to be dirty to grow dreadlocks. This assumption carried a lot of credibility, due to the fact dreadlocks were commonly seen on people who were homeless.

According to Move Mag, "The most important thing when you have dreadlocks is to keep them clean and odor-free. Clean dreads become tighter and require less maintenance, while dirty ones are harder to maintain" (m.news24.com). 

Clean hair is the foundation for creating locs. So is understanding the benefits of properly washing and managing the locs, during each stage of growth. 

The loc washing - dos and don’ts. 

To promote healthy loc growth and maturity, it is vital to ensure you have an in-depth understanding of the importance of washing locs. 


  • Use residue-free shampoo.
  • Wash hair based on hair absorption rate. 
  • Take your time and make your hair shine.
  • Choose the best drying method for your hair.


  • Overwash.
  • Use too many products.
  • Tug and pull.
  • Rush the process.

Understanding the hair and what to do and not to do, will empower you to make the best decision when purchasing products for your locs and creating a consistent schedule. 

Future benefits - developing a schedule early, helps to a successful transition from one stage to another. 

As locs mature, there can be a change in the amount of time it may take to wash your locs. Washing times often increase; however, the process will become easier.  Developing a schedule helps navigate through changes like this.

It is also good to note, washing locs can be challenging to some and fun to others. How you approach the task makes the difference and is completely up to you. Understand, depending on the length and texture of the hair, washing times will vary and cannot be predicted. 

Loc Washing Techniques

Different ways to wash locs and the products to help you do this successfully.

Below is a breakdown of the different methods one can use to wash their locs. Each method serves its own purpose. 

Deep Wash: a washing technique that deeply penetrates the hair to prevent breakage and dryness. This method is beneficial if the hair and/or scalp is dry. (This is usually done with a deep conditioner and is a two-step process. First, wash the hair with shampoo (residue-free) and then utilize a deep conditioner. Always remember hair type matters.) 

Co-Wash: a washing technique that uses conditioner to moisturize the hair and add moisture to dry/damaged hair. (This is usually accomplished with a conditioner and is a one-step process. Shampoo is not required for this method.)

Routine Wash (basic wash): is the normal wash and go technique. This technique is used on a normal wash day. (This process can be either a one or two-step process. Shampoo or Shampoo and Conditioner).

How do you wash dreadlocks?

Step-by-Step Guide to Washing Locs.

Wet Hair (Make sure all hair is wet).

  • Once wet, apply shampoo.
  • Lather the scalp.
  • Starting from the roots, apply shampoo while massaging.
  • Then move to the locs, while massaging each loc to ensure the shampoo penetrates the loc.

Understand - the amount of shampoo you use depends on the length and thickness of the locs. Using too many products can cause excessive build-up. 

Once hair is fully covered in shampoo, Rinse.

Allow water to run through the hair while massaging the scalp.

Rinse and Repeat

Rinsing and repeating help to make sure all shampoo is out of the hair. Also, how often you wash your hair depends on the technique. Please note – if washing the hair with a residue-free shampoo and a decision is made to condition, you will need to wash twice. Shampooing is one process, and conditioning is another.


MoveMag, Faeza. How to keep your dreadlocks clean and healthy-looking. 25 11 2016. Article. 23 12 20019.

Remedies, 1Stop Natural Home. Natural Hair: Quick Wash and Go Routine for Locs. 04 29 2017. 

Renee, Jocelyn. 7 Ways to Start Locs: Benefits, Drawbacks and What to Expect. 26 11 2019. https://curlynugrowth.com/7-methods-to-start-locs-drawbacks-what-to-expect/

Roots, Raging. The History of Dreadlocks. 12 11 2019. Article. 2019 26 11. ragingrootsstudio.com/the-history-of-dreadlocks/

Schmidt, Allison. How Often Should We Wash Different Hair Types? 14 12 2016. Article. 23 12 2019.

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