Washing regularly is key to growing a healthy head of dreads, as shampooing helps dreads lock tighter, faster by removing slippery, detangling natural oil buildup. As an added bonus, they end up smelling minty-fresh and sweet-smelling!
One to two weeks after starting your locks, begin carefully washing them once a week or so, depending on need. Our How to Wash Dreads instructions below show how to give your scalp a good scrub with both the Knotty Boy Dreadlock Shampoo Bar or the Liquid Shampoo - designed to rinse cleanly through your locks, leaving no residue. (Most regular, even 'all natural' shampoos are full of softeners and waxes that untangle knots - exactly what you want to avoid!) A clean scalp is a healthy scalp, and minimizes irritation and itch. See our Dreadlock Maintenance Tutorial for more info on itchy scalps. Wash on, Knotty ones!
Step 1 - lather
Wet scalp and locks, and if using the Bar, get it wet, too. It becomes very foamy, so either work up a good, thick lather in your hands and scrub it onto your scalp, or you can rub the Bar directly on your scalp between the locks and work up a lather.
If using Liquid Shampoo, pour a small amount into the palm of your hand and spread evenly around your scalp, working it in with your fingers. It contains no SLS or other foaming agents, so you won't get a ton of lather, but it's still working!
Step 2 - gently scrub
Once lathered up, get down to the scalp with your fingertips and give it a thorough, gentle scrub all over. Let the Essential Oils sit for a minute or two.
Step 3 rinse & repeat
Rinse thoroughly, allowing the Shampoo to run down and through your dreads. For extra cleaning, grasp your dreads in small bunches and run your hands from root to tip, cleaning them without too much handling. This is the best way to clean new, still-soft locks without damaging all that hard work you've put into them.
Repeat shampooing and rinsing if necessary. You will be able to feel how squeaky clean your scalp is after it's been rinsed, or if not, that another shampooing is needed.
Step 4 - drying
The last step of the process is just as important as the rest - drying. It is critical that your dreadlocks are allowed to completely dry after each wash in order to prevent that musty, wet-dog dread stank.
Gently squeeze out as much water as you can with a towel (some like to alternate whipping locks around to a favorite song with the squeezing part, getting as much water out as possible). Air drying your locks works great, but if they're getting wet more than once a week, it's also worth investing in a blow dryer and using it on 'Low' to speed things along.
Finish up with a little Knotty Boy Locksteady Tropical Tightening Gel (not Wax, in case there's still moisture in there!) to palmroll those flyaways and frizzies back into place with, and increase lock tightening.
Squeaky clean, groomed, salon-fresh locks that you did yourself right at home!
How often should I wash my dreads?
We recommend once per week. But that doesn't mean you can't shower as often as you like. Just slip on a Dreadlock Shower Cap!
I wash my dreads every day, but they smell terrible! What am I doing wrong?
As we've seen in this Tutorial, washing your locks is a really great idea - but you, Knotty friend, may have a case of "too much of a good thing"! Your dreads smell bad for a very simple reason: they aren't drying completely in between washings. Dreadlocks must get 100% dry, all the way to the middle, before you wet them again. This is especially important if they are new and you are still applying Wax, as the Wax can trap moisture inside the lock, leaving you with a nice, funky mildewy smell if they weren't dry first.
But have no fear! To banish the stink, wash your locks thoroughly one more time with Knotty Boy Dread Shampoo (its Essential Oils help kill the mildew) and then blow dry it on 'Low', or sit out in the sun until they are completely dry, inside and out. Normally you can simply air-dry your locks, but it will be key to get yours totally dry as quickly as possible. Then, from here on out, try to stick to a once-weekly washing schedule only.
My itchy scalp is driving me crazy!
A new, and from the point of view of your hair follicles, radically new hairstyle can create physical stress, and dandruff, itch, and heat can result. Unless you have a good reason to suspect a medical condition, in which case we recommend consulting a physician, take a deep breath and trust the process.