Get the Funk Out of Your Dreadlocks! Check out these Quick Tips on How to Wash your Locs

Posted on Friday, July 19th, 2013 at 3:34 PM

By Jennifer Obiuwevbi

How to Wash Dreadlocks - BellaNaija - July2013Last week I ran into an old school friend of mine who, for as long as I can remember, has had rough dreadlocks. Even back then in school he used to get punished constantly for not keeping his hair neat. And I didn’t blame school authorities, his hair was always a hot mess. So now, as I was talking to him, all I was really doing was trying not to stare at his hair. I really wanted to find out if it had changed from its former dirty state.

It turned out he had realized that just because you have dreadlocks doesn’t mean you should not pay attention to it. A lot of people, I have come to realize, think that having dreadlocks is an excuse for letting your hair run a-mock. But the reality is, the more hair you have, the more your responsibility to it.

When it comes to keeping and maintaining dreadlocks, there is a lot of work to be done. Maintenance requires a lot of products and this could cause build up in your hair. There are two things you need to note when it comes to maintaining dreadlocks.

The first is that just as much as you add products to your hair, you have to monitor the extent to which they are used. Secondly, as you add products to your hair, you have to take care of their after effect.

A lot of people always associate having dreadlocks with un-serious individuals or those who do not keep good hygiene. This is mostly due to the fact that some of those that have dreadlocks do not know how to take care of it. Here are a few important things you should know when it comes to washing dreadlocks and check out some cool dreadlock style inspiration.

Start Early
When your dreadlocks are at the early stage, it is important to begin and maintain a washing culture. You could decide to wash your locks every 3 or 4 days and maintain that schedule for a while so you hair adjusts to it. This would help your dreadlocks establish their individual patterns.

After a month or two, you can then begin to wash them every other day

Use Residue-Free shampoo
Always use residue free shampoo. This residue is sometimes left behind after washing your hair and could cause a bad build up on your locks or scalp. For dreadlocks, this problematic residue are those left behind by traditional soaps made from animal fats or vegetable sources like olive oil or coconut oils.

The residue build up could prevent the hair from locking properly which could make your dreads look poorly done or rough. It could also lead to dread rot which is the growth of mildew in the dread, leading to bad smell.How to Wash Dreadlocks - BellaNaija - July2013004

Pattern your shampoo to your dread growth
Dreadlocks go through different stages of maturity. Therefore it is important to pattern your shampoo to the current stage of your dreads. The type of shampoo your hair would require when it is at an early stage is different from when it has reached mid-length.How to Wash Dreadlocks - BellaNaija - July2013006

Make sure to get all the water out
After you have washed your dreadlocks, be sure to rinse them out properly. Dreadlocks consist of a lot of hair and you could become tired of continually rinsing them, but it is very important that you do so. Not rinsing your dreadlocks properly could lead to more build up on your scalp which could eventually lock more dirt and cause dread rot.How to Wash Dreadlocks - BellaNaija - July2013005

Instead, when you are done washing, continue pouring water on them until the rinsing water turns clean. After this squeeze the excess water out while in the shower or otherwise and place them in a lint free towel. When they have dried considerably, use a hand drier or standing hair drier to dry them of completely.

Moisturize & use Dread wax to hold in place
After washing, the dreadlocks may loosen as a result of the method of washing. To remedy this, after you have washed the locks and they are now dry, apply some dread wax in a twisting motion. This takes the loose strands of hair and locks them back in place. After you have waxed your hair, then use a dread cap to hold the dreadlocks in place while they wax.How to Wash Dreadlocks - BellaNaija - July2013007

There are a lot of tips and tricks to keep your locks and your scalp healthy like using rose water, baking soda, vinegar etc. Watch this HowCast video on how you can get your dreadlocks clean and healthy.

Dont forget to share any tip you may have on washing dreadlocks with us.

Photo Credit: | Ariyatoday | Mimimagazine | Lanredahunsi | Africanaturalistas |

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  • 32 Comments on “Get the Funk Out of Your Dreadlocks! Check out these Quick Tips on How to Wash your Locs”

    • Sim July 19, 2013 at 4:12 PM

      Yayyyyy! BN finally did something on dreads, so excited :D:D:D.
      I’ve been locked for 18months and counting and absolutely loving it! It’s pretty tough in the beginning, especially since most “locticians” in Lagos use trial and error and actually know nothing. The guy that started my dreads actually used bonding glue! yes bonding glue, took me about 6 months to get them all out, very messily (sic) I must add, and suffice to say I’ve not been back there since I started them.
      I usually wash weekly, except I have like 2 or 3 hot sweaty days in a row. I also do this cleansing mix with baking soda + salt (good for baby locs) + essential oils (teatree -very important, lavender, rosemary —thank god for Vanity Oils and The kinky apothecary and all the other guys…), leave on for about 30 mins and then rinse off with an ACV mix.
      I also use giovanni’s 50:50 shampoo, traditionally a nappy hair shampoo, but it works. Note : No conditioner!
      It’s not very practical to lock yourself, it’s a lot of work. I have tried a lot of dreadlock guys, (a lot!), but so far, the one person I can say has been the most…. erm “okay”, has been South-south at Bobbys in Ikeja, he relocks for like 6/7k but it’s usually worth it, no spritz, hard rubbing or anything, he uses interlocking method and there’s this girl at l’espace that also tried with my hair, name’s Gloria, she does palm rolling, but palm rolling doesn’t last as well as interlocking IMO, costs 4 – 5k.
      I know one is supposed to tie a silk scarf and all to bed, but I usually forget and doze off, the few times I do it though, I’m able to stay longer between relocking.
      I also recently heard of someone supplying Knotty boy products in Lagos, I will share exact details when I get them, if anyone is interested.
      Hope this helps.

      • Jackie August 21, 2013 at 3:34 PM

        Hi dear, thanks for the useful info, my hair is still at baby stage and growing it out naturally first cos i tried the artificial dreads which lasted 6months cos i dint want to cut my hair at first. I’m gonna try out the stylist you mentioned at bobby. Cheers

    • Toyin Oshinowo July 19, 2013 at 5:13 PM

      Can I just say that it is obvious that whoever wrote this article does not have Locs. (Dreadlocks is actually a derogatory term that should be used to the barest minimum) I would advise if you are going to write about something then do your research thoroughly.

      First, the video that you got from YouTube is widely inaccurate!!! You should have looked at the comments, and the number of views to see that this video made no sense! In addition, did the woman in the video have locs?? I think not.

      Yes, like anyone else you should wash your hair………. but once every 3-4 DAYS?! Do you wash your relaxed hair that often? Besides for those with starter locs, they should not wash their hair more frequently than once a month or else the hair will not loc.

      “After washing, the dreadlocks may loosen as a result of the method of washing. To remedy this, after you have washed the locks and they are now dry, apply some dread wax in a twisting motion. This takes the loose strands of hair and locks them back in place. After you have waxed your hair, then use a dread cap to hold the dreadlocks in place while they wax.”

      What the heck is DREAD WAX? If the author knew any better, she would know that people use beeswax to loc their hair. Using beeswax however is not the prefered choice because it can trap dirt and flint into the loc making it look grey. Another point to make is that twisting is not the only method used to loc hair. There is interlocking which is usually adopted by individuals that have soft less coily texture to their hair.

      Another issue I have is that people who loc their hair NEVER dry their hair before twisting their hair in place.

      Dread Cap? Really? Do you even know what dread caps are? How many people in corporate positions are you recommending to wear dread caps to work because they want to maintain their hair??

      “Pattern your shampoo to your dread growth
      Dreadlocks go through different stages of maturity. Therefore it is important to pattern your shampoo to the current stage of your dreads. The type of shampoo your hair would require when it is at an early stage is different from when it has reached mid-length.”

      What the heck are you going on about? The type of shampoo used on locs is not dependent on the maturity of the locs!!! The frequency on how you shampoo can be dictated by personal preference and also by the maturity of the locs.

      The list goes on and on………

      My final point is this. It looks like the Author has taken information from those individuals that grow free-form locs. This is not representative of the images of the celebrities with locs that you have plastered on this post. DO YOUR RESEARCH BEFORE YOU WRITE ARTICLES!!!

      • Nomy1 July 19, 2013 at 5:44 PM

        BN collects articles from people o! I think you should have written your views on dreadlocks way before now and handed it in. That way you won’t go to all the trouble of writing corrections! Easy on the heavy criticism abeg! As you no tell us before now, no kill person wey 1st talk!

        • deep July 20, 2013 at 9:11 AM

          Responses such as your make me wonder for the future of Nigeria. So watery, so ignorant and laced with petty sentiment. Why is Toyin supposed to calm down? Jennifer’s article is poorly researched and highly misinforming. It deserves to be heavily edited, if not taken down altogether.

        • Confuzzled July 20, 2013 at 11:24 AM

          @Deep please help me tell her o!!

          Toyin hit the nail on the head with her comment and applaud her for it. The author gave outdated information in her article, and was called out on it. That’s the way it should be.

          We’re in the 21st century, information on proper care and maintenance of locks is free and easy to find on the internet, there’s no excuse for this poorly researched article.

      • Sim July 19, 2013 at 6:13 PM

        Hi Toyin, First, I think you should put the Pankere down :D. When I saw the title too, first thing I thought was, “Is Jennifers hair loced”? I see you’ve been doing this wayyyy longer than me, but a couple of things I think I should mention:
        1. I don’t care what they are called, “dreadlocks” “locs”, kinibigdeal? My hair’s my hair, no matter what it’s called. It’s not derogatory to me, might be to Jamaicans/African Americans, but frankly, don’t matter to me. It’s not spiritual to me, it’s just a hairstyle #datsall. That being said, I get @runnergirls point about dreadlock being rastafarian and all.
        2. Yea, I agree with you, the video is pretty much useless
        3. Starter locs can actually be washed every 2 weeks
        4. There is something called DREAD WAX you know, at least Knotty boy’s got dread wax. Not sure I would recommend it, just saying it exists
        5. I usually lock my hair while wet, but if you’ve got a lot of growth and will be using wax, it’s advisable you do it dry, so there won’t be trapped moisture causing mildew and all that. Sure that’s what she means.
        6. I have no idea what a dread cap is
        7. Patterning shampoo to dreads growth rate? Don’t have enough info about that to say a lot, but sounds like a load of bollocks.
        Bottomline: I think they did their research based on the limits of their own knowledge, BN, next time I would advise you get someone with locs to actually do an article on their experience in NIGERIA or at least get an interview with one of these celebs as to their hair regimen, I have always wanted to know how Dakore maintained her dreads.

      • Anon July 19, 2013 at 6:28 PM

        Calm down dear! It’s only a commercial.

      • Tunmi July 20, 2013 at 2:49 AM

        the criticism is necessary and well done. Next time BN will be sure to get it right.

      • Drpeperempe July 20, 2013 at 3:51 AM

        I thought I was the only one wondering what the article was on about. I’ve had my locks (nothing dreadful about them) for 4.5years and its mid back length and I don’t remember maintainace being so hectic! I have freeformed for about 1 yr during that time and only just started styling often. Locks are not that tedious o.

    • Runner Girl July 19, 2013 at 5:13 PM

      I’m pleaseantly surprised to see a Nigerian blog advocating locs. These are all great tips even un-loced natural hair
      - The style you have featured are manicured locs or just plain locs
      - dreadlocks usually refer to the Rastafarian hairstyle which involves no manipulation or styling of the hair – letting it grow and loc unfettered
      - When you say dread wax, what do you mean? Beeswax which is typically suggested for locs is actually bad for the hair since it tends to trap lint and dirt. There are other locing creams and gels available which are lighter and still hold the hair in place.

    • jinkelele July 19, 2013 at 5:30 PM

      bookmarked, these tips are great. @sim thanks for ur info, plant to start dreads in about 5yrs time when i hit another age milestone

    • Idak July 19, 2013 at 5:47 PM

      There is nothing dreadful about locks.

    • Chic July 19, 2013 at 5:59 PM

      You can also dilute your shampoo with water in a spray bottle to make it easier to spread it on your hair. I do this when I have braids and it works like a charm

    • Bunmi July 19, 2013 at 6:45 PM

      Dread wax, dread cap, 50-50 shampoo…… endless list! i’ll just keep my kinky hair kinky! that’s all…

    • Amira July 19, 2013 at 6:50 PM

      I’m in support of anyone promoting natural hairstyles that match our features more as opposed to the Peruvian or Malaysian hair been promoted on a nigerian blog.

      • Chigbo July 23, 2013 at 7:40 AM

        The only locks I ever liked we’re Dakores

    • Sandra July 19, 2013 at 6:52 PM

      When it comes to locs I look up to ‘Chesalocs’ on YouTube. She does an amazing job and has had her locs for almost 10yrs. I personally think she has a lot more experience than the other folks I have watched on YouTube.

    • FRIED RICE July 19, 2013 at 7:11 PM

      i cant stand dreads on woman! its soo unattractive! but to each is own oo! i always think they are shango or ifa worshipers. lol

    • nikki July 19, 2013 at 10:53 PM

      Thanks for the article. I would love to feature some women with dreads who are over 40 on my blog. It’s all done by email. If you know a woman over 40 with beautiful dreads please have her contact me at . Thank you!

    • Eve82 July 19, 2013 at 11:30 PM

      This article is not for me :)

    • habakai July 20, 2013 at 12:53 AM

      see eh, when i had dreadlocks i called them dreads, locs, dreadlocks, even dada sef, all na de same. i am aware of all that talk about it being dreadful and what not…..biko na “dreads” dem be. if you want to call it something else more power to you.

      that being said, if this is the quality of advice they are giving on dreads on bellanaija, me sef i suppose contribute sha. because i sabi pass the author o.

      first of all if you want to starts dreads, you need nothing fancy. all you need is PATIENCE o. you can start it with comb coils or two strands twists or normal calabar. i started mine with two strand twists-the only products i used were water and grapeseed oil, dasall- and i washed them the week after i started them with little to no unraveling. most naija locticians shoud be shot on the spot, too expensive and the amount of rubbish they put in people’s hair eh, chai!

      you can wash them as much as you think is best for you and there are different types, so no worry. you will find the one that fits your needs. whether you want freeform, all you do to that one is wash your hair and don’t comb or condition it, your hair will surley form dada but it won’t be uniform. or if na semi free form you want, you start with comb coils or two strand twist or calabar and maintain the parts you make. or if na proper cultivated dreads you want, you fit twist dem or you fit latch dem. anyone wey sweet you.

      as for products, beeswax na ekwensu. heavy butters are a no no, shea butter will build up after a time, same with cocoa butter. aloe vera gel, water and grapeseed oil (any oil with minimal smell will do )work well well for me. but sha me my hand is tight when it comes spending money on hair. so there are plenty plenty product lines that cater to locs, dada, dreads…whatever you want to call them. so do your research and find what works for you.

      google na your friend when it comes to dreadlocks, don’t let locticians hold you to ransom o.


    • Idak July 20, 2013 at 5:56 AM

      Different strokes for different folks!!
      A woman in locks can do almost no wrong in my eyes.

    • milly July 20, 2013 at 5:59 AM

      I just locked my permed hair with undergrowth in the US and I was advised not to it ,as it will undo the locks,I can only clean my scalp and with cotton wool and methylated spirit every week while I add the essential natural products and go in to relock every 3 months with lock twister.
      I believe it depends on your hair texture,as you cannot wash locked permed every week, it will loosen and most ladies here carry lovely dreads and look natural , not Nigerian ladies that will do anything to resemble Caucasian ladies and really if weave does it for you fine, but for me I locking all the way.

    • Toyin Oshinowo July 22, 2013 at 12:26 AM

      Thank you @deep and @Confuzzled.

      To @Nomy1 its that kind of complacency that frustrates individuals that see value in good quality. For the record I do write about my hair experience and share my experiences on and offline. Writing for BN is not a priority for me, however if BN intend to post information they should take the time to do the proper research. As a well read blog has a responsibility to make sure that the information it puts out is up to date and accurate.

      For those that don’t mind the term ‘Dreadlocks’. The term dreadlocks originated with the Jamaicans. It was a derogatory term used to describe an early sect if the Rastafari who were amongst the marginalised poor of Jamaica. So for many people, it is the equivalent of black people using the word n*gger on themselves and on those that choose the hairstyle as a fashion choice……… food for thought huh?

    • Crystalwhite July 22, 2013 at 3:04 PM

      I have been on locks for the past 3 years and it has been such a beautiful experience,my locks makes me stand out from the crowd cos i look so unique, so diffrent. I found out it,s cheap when you get a good loctician,out here in Calabar we have lots of girls with locs cos we have good ones out here.Good for me i don;t get to spend time in front of the mirror combing or brushing a weave and locks can be actually twisted so i get to rock my hair in diffrent styles.
      Funny enough they are really cheap to maintain,i carry my hair two or three months at a stretch without having sleepless nights on what to do to the hair.
      And the only thing that has been applied to my locks for the past three years apart from the lock cream is just honey,split get and lottabody,no other chemicals. I pray the Mr Right will love it cos i intend to rock it as my wedding hair

      • Chigbo July 23, 2013 at 7:39 AM

        Can we see pics? I might consider going natural then…..

    • Madam Butterfly July 25, 2013 at 6:53 PM

      Woa! Well, am over 40 and closer to 50! Have had locs for nearly 10 years. My two cents contribution to this is rather simple, BN should have got the basic research done properly. It was a rather jumbled article that could have been written better, but nothing you cannot solve with “google”.

    • mimi November 22, 2013 at 5:00 PM

      Am in need of a hairstylist(dreadlocks) i wana use ma dreadlocks for ma wedding next year i need sum one who can style it properly for me.. Its like 7years old….ma location is ph

    • debbie January 22, 2014 at 7:22 PM

      Im a dreadlock specialist trained in london uk Ive been in dis Biz for over a decade now just relocated bck to nigeria ,Bella nija Pls do ur research well dis article about dreadlock is knothing to write home about,Pls get a professional for all ur writeup Its very important so u dont mislead innocent people reading your article.

    • ada February 9, 2014 at 8:48 PM

      Debbie can I pls have your contact cos am looking for a good loctician

    • Dreadillocks March 19, 2014 at 12:11 PM

      Never going back to a “loctician” in naija. Some guy put a huge amount of “let’s dread in my hair. I retwist my hair wet and clip it in place… Works for me. I also use rosemary oil(homemade), coconut oil and olive oil for my hot oil treatment. Please. DO NOT let anyone use Shea butter to retwist your hair, trust me the buildup is NASTY. And use aloe vera for conditioning. I’ve been locked for 8 months and that’s the best advice I can give. Also use residue free shampoo. The article BN posted is a whole lot of BS. Big ups to Toyin for calling the writer out.