Washing Dreadlocks?

My son has very long dreads and every time he washes his hair they smell very bad. What can he shampoo them with?


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By Emily V (Guest Post)
October 14, 20080 found this helpful

Hello, I would say the reason your sons dreadlocks smell is not because you are washing them, but because they are not drying in a reasonable amount of time. It's weird but I was having the same problem with my daughter, she has very long hair. As soon as she would get out of the shower, she would put her hair in a bun and leave it, sometimes for a day and a half, when she put it down it would be kinda damp and STINK.

Finally I thought it has to be the bun, now she lets it air dry for a bit before putting it u., Since you cant really let dreadlocks dry, try taking a blow dryer to then you probably wouldn't have to dry them all the way, just a drying start. Hope this help. Emily

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By velsgal from Missouri (Guest Post)
October 15, 20080 found this helpful

Have you tried dred lock shampoo? It is made especially for dreds. Good luck!

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October 15, 20080 found this helpful

Send or take him to a beautician, or someone who maintains natural styles. Let them shampoo his hair once or twice, and give you both guidance on the best ways to keep them clean at home. It could be anything from staying wet too long, to the wrong shampoo leaving a film which sours, to rinsing inadequately, to needing a cider vinegar rinse on occasion, or even any product used between shampooing and twisting such as oils or wax.


Having a stylist see the hair firsthand will give you the best direction to go in the future. Locs need a different kind of care and different products from other natural or processed styles. Good luck!

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By Beth (Guest Post)
October 16, 20080 found this helpful

Make sure that he is rinsing them well. Takes a lot of squeezing like you would a sponge. Use a non-residue shampoo. As others have advised, it's the drying that is most important. Blow dryers will not work on dreads. You as mom or someone else can assist him. I dry my son's for him. Get several kitchen/dish/hand towels. The smaller ones. Take one or two at the moist dreads and lay it in the towel, squeeze. Start at the top and squeeze your way down to the end. Take that dread and flip over the top of his head on the other side. Then another, and another. Flip each over the top. I usually do his head in 1/4s Sometimes a hair tie (covered no metal not elastic) to hold a 1/4 section when it is done.


Then when all dreads have been squeezed, go back to the beginning and take groups of them like 10 or 12 at a time and resqueeze the ends really good. Air dry. NEVER wash hair late at night. It will not dry before sleeping. I assume that he wraps his dreads at night (most people do). NEVER wrap wet dreads.

When washing it is important that the scalp be cleaned well, not just the dreads. Also I suggest a shea butter shampoo and conditioner, or something designed for dreads. Go to, they have some good products. Especially the Cooling Peppermint Moisture Spray. Not only good for the hair and scalp, but EXTREMELY refreshing and smells great.

Also, I am not sure what ethnicity you are, but PETROLEUM is TERRIBLE for anyone's hair, but especially Caucasian hair. Also it clogs the hair follicle. Makes the sebum harden and can cause baldness. Not exaggerating, check it out. Research baldness and sebum and you will see what I mean. NEVER put any type of petroleum on dreads. In fact the less stuff you put in them the better. I have learned a really good method of maintaining them for new growth also. If you want more info email me at sledgeomatic1 AT or my son a knottyboylocks AT (no affiliation with the business I suggested). Beth

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October 16, 20080 found this helpful

eww. Think of all the dirt wrapped up in those things. The tv show "What not to wear" actually had a guest on yesterday with dread locks.


They are not appealing nor is the person approachable.

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October 19, 20080 found this helpful

It doesn't matter as much what brand of shampoo to use but that the hair isn't properly dried when done. He should sit under a hair dryer or out in the sun to let the hair dry and also not tie it up until it is dry and that should help with the smell. Washing the scalp is also very important and also not using anything with petroleum in it as that will trap oil and dirt as well as clog the follicles.

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November 25, 20080 found this helpful

Rinse well with White Vinegar and then press each dread dry with towels. The vinegar smell goes away and at the same time, it kills any bacteria that may be breading in the hair.


allow to sun dry or use a dry cap--like at the beauty shops. Good luck!

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January 9, 20090 found this helpful

I had a boyfriend with dreadlocks. He was able to wash his hair every day just by mixing up a bottle of 1/2 cheap shampoo and 1/2 water. His hair was perfectly clean every day. Oh, and he was actually really appealing AND approachable, regardless of what other posters opinions might be.

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March 28, 20090 found this helpful

It sounds like your son has developed some nasty mildew in his locs. Washing with Apple Cider Vinegar should work. I had this happen to me due to not thoroughly cleansing my locs, and putting them together in a knotted bun while still damp. However, in my case, I didn't want to take any chances on the mildew remaining or infecting my roots, so I washed my hair with shampoo several times, then dipped my dreads in a large bucket of water bleach solution, being very careful not to get it on my scalp, as this may cause serious scalp irritation.


Finally, I rewashed my hair with shampoo several times, to insure that all of the bleach had been removed from my locs. My hair now smells fresh as a daisy! To prevent the re occurrence of mildew, make sure your son washes his locs thoroughly, then allows them to completely dry after each washing.

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December 31, 20121 found this helpful

In the first place if a person has dreadlocks they should learn to take care of them on their own and not rely on mother or girlfriend. Second, a trip to the beauty shop once a month (aside from frequent washings at home) is a must. Then, use a shampoo especially for the locks. If using chorine bleach, the vinegar rinse should take place after because vinegar nutralizes bleach. Also don't use dish towels for anything but dishes.

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