I feel like speaking on “how often should you wash your dreads” is like

starting a never-ending argument, as there will always be someone who will react in shock if you say “one week” or god forbid “three weeks”.  There are very different reasons for the times.  Because you need to strip your hair of all its natural oils and wash every day, doesn’t mean everyone has to do the same.

Over my career, people have told me they washed their

hair anywhere from every day to “it’s been six months”.   In a few instances they were away and no one knew how to fix their hair.  I will admit that some of the times, I had to grab some gloves because you never know.  

When I get asked “how often should you wash your dreads”, I say it depends on what is happening with

your hair right now, that is:

  • If you are just going on your dread/loc journey, I say every 3 weeks.  This is because it allows the hair to set and this is around the time the new growth is visible.  This will not happen if you are interlocking your hair because it is done so tightly.
  • When your dread/locs are starting to lock, then you can do 3 weeks or a month.  I have had people lose their minds and say this is so nasty but it is not.  Afro-textured hair is rarely oily  or clumpy unless the person applies a lot of product, like gel or wax.  At this stage you want to get the hair to stay in place so the locking process speeds up.
  • Should your dread/locs become dirty or dusty before the 3-week-period is up, you should get them redone before. Sometimes, I  recommend using witch hazel to clean the scalp instead of washing if they really need to feel the hair is clean; their hair is short; of a softer texture or the scalp is itchy.
  • After the dread/locs are firm,  you could wash them every 2 weeks if you like.  I do not suggest weekly unless you are maintaining them immediately.  Of course, if you do not care how it looks, you can certainly do that.

Since the lockdowns, I have found people have become comfortable with waiting for longer periods before doing retwists.  If this translates to longer periods for “how often should you wash your dreads” at home, I have no idea.  I just know sometimes I have had conversations with them about encouraging the bad talk about dreads/locs.

By Paula Barker, Silkie Locks Hair Design

Books:  “Dreadlocks, A Hairstylist’s Manifest”, “Talking Hair” & “Filling My Head”.


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