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How to wash dreadlocks

DreadBay -Dreadlocks Shop & Salon in Sheffield

What's this magic method all about? I tell you what - BAKING SODA AND APPLE CIDER VINEGAR 

The first and most important thing you need to know is that it's not recommended to use this method more than once in a few weeks or even months. If used more often, baking soda may make your scalp dry and hair brittle, so don't consider it as a replacement of shampoo, it's only a way to make them extra clean just a few times a year.  

What do you need: warm water, a box of baking soda, apple cider vinegar.

The golden rule is NOT TO MIX together baking soda and cider vinegar. Baking soda is a base and cider vinegar is an acid. This means that mixing them together will cause a chemical reaction which neutralizes any cleansing power they have when used on their own.

How to do it:


  • Prepare a mixture of water and cider vinegar in a large bottle, mixed in a ratio 3:1.

  • In a sink or water basin dissolve about 3/4 box of baking soda in a few inches of warm water.

  • You can add some essential oils, if you like to use them, or just a tablespoon of lemon juice, which will freshen your locks and kill any odors.

  • Soak your dreadlocks in the mixture for 5-10 minutes and distribute it up to the roots.

  • If you feel you need a really deep clean, you can take even more than 10 minutes. On the contrary, if you don't have much time, you can pour the mixture directly over your hair, but it may not be as effective as soaking.

  • Remove your dreadlocks from the baking soda bath and rinse them with cool water. Make sure you get rid of any traces of baking soda, as well as the dust, dirt, oil, etc. Don't forget to rinse your scalp and wait for the water to run clear.

  • Remember about the bottle? Now grab it and pour through your locks. This will help to neutralize any remaining baking soda and balance the pH of your scalp.

  • You can rinse it out with water or just leave it on your locks to dry - as soon as it happens, the smell will disappear.

  • After reading my last article you know how to dry your hair, so now it's time to use the method that fits you the most.

Another golden rule to apply - if you have any dread accessories, like beads, on your locks, remove them before drying. If the hair trapped under any of such accessories won't dry properly, it can even start mildew. And I'm sure you wouldn't want that to happen.

Also, deadlocks extensions usually take much time to dry completely, so you must be patient.

And that's pretty much all I wanted to tell you about deep cleaning dreadlocks with baking soda and apple cider vinegar.

To sum up, the biggest advantage of this method is that nothing will help you get rid of residue buildup from ingredients in shampoos that don't wash out and sebum from your scalp like soaking your locks in baking soda water. On the other hand, apple cider vinegar keeps your scalp at a healthy pH level, which contributes to a healthy amount of sebum production. Apple cider vinegar kills bacteria and fungus thanks to acidic acid contained in it. It also stimulates the hair growth and can help prevent hair loss.

But, like everything, using baking soda and apple cider vinegar cleanse has not only pros but also cons, the mainly being that baking soda is very harsh on your scalp. It creates an imbalance with the pH of your scalp and in order to avoid that you MUST remember about rinsing your head and hair with the mixture of apple cider vinegar and water after. 

How to properly wash your dreadlocks

How to wash your dreadlocks

First general advice - the whole process of washing and mostly drying dreadlocks takes a lot of time, so it is better to start it early in the day. This way, by the time you go to sleep your locks will be almost dry.
Here are some advices on how to wash your dreadlocks with just shampoo and water, which is the method I always use.

Step 1 - wet your dreadlocks. First of all, run some warm, but not too hot, water over your dreadlocks and try not to make them completely soaked, as it will make harder for the shampoo to infiltrate them. For me, the most comfortable way to wash my dreadlocks is while sitting in a bathtub. Try that if you have one in your bathroom, so you will not get too tired quickly

Step 2 - squeeze some shampoo. Portion out a small amount of shampoo into your palms and foam it. It is better to use a small portion a few times (e.g. I always wash my dreadlocks at least two or three times which helps me to be sure they are 100% clean). If you use solid bar shampoo, just rub it between hands, like you do it with soap bar, until it forms a rich lather.

Step 3 - time to put shampoo on dreadlocks. Distribute gently shampoo into the spaces between the roots of your dreadlocks. Using the tips of your fingers give your scalp a good scrub to get rid of dead skin and remove excess sebum. Put special attention on the roots. It is the place where your dreadlocks are attached, so they need to be healthy and strong.

Step 4 - rinse the shampoo. Let it sit on your dreadlocks for 1-2 minutes. Then let it run through your dreadlocks, squeezing gently the shampoo lather into dreadlocks. If you want, to make sure all dreadlocks are perfectly clean, you can use a little extra shampoo to touch up each lock individually. Just try not to overdo it, as it will be a bit more time-consuming to rinse and may cause loose hair to frizz. If this happen, don't worry - as soon as the current situation is over, just make an appointment at DreadBay and I will fix it. Remember to make sure there is no shampoo residue remaining in your hair when you are finished washing.

Step 5 - dry your locks. Though it takes really LONG time, it is important to let your dreadlocks dry completely.

  • First, squeeze them with a towel to press out the water absorbed into.

  • If you have more time, wrap them in a dry towel (microfiber ones are the best for that, as well as tower turbans) and let it absorb the excess water.

  • Palm roll your locks, which will help getting rid the water that can still be inside your hair and, by the way, is the most effective, when locks are still wet.

  • If you really want to use a regular hair dryer put it on a low heat setting.

I can truly recommend using hood diffuser attachments to a dryer, which I always use, such as this one: "LINK".

For me it is the best method to dry dreadlocks and trust me, I've tried a lot. It makes the whole process of drying way faster and is safe for my locks. First, I put it on top of my head and dry the roots, then I pull all my locks up, cover them with the hood and dry. It allows the heat to be concentrated around locks and disperses it around hair.

Pay attention to your dreadlocks to dry completely. If they don't, they can start to come unlocked and smell. The worst, even grow mold. It happens when moisture becomes trapped in the lock for so long, that it begins to rot. Eeeew, who would want that?

Step 6 - enjoy your fresh and clean dreadlocks!

Step 7 - repeat after whenever you feel the need to.

Do not:


  • Wash your locks when they are freshly done. Dreads need some time to mature, tighten and set up. Better wait at least a week and make this first time be very gentle.

  • Use any conditioner on your locks, as they are designed to soften and detangled hair, which is the last thing you would want if you have a head full of dreadlocks.

  • Use any product that contains oils, waxes or knot-fighting agents - same reason as above.

  • Use dry shampoo.

  • Use waxes or glues on your dreadlocks - it is almost impossible to get rid of it and it does not make them look good, just on the contrary, to be honest, (more about wax on my website: "Choose natural dreadlocks".

  • Use heating caps such as this one: "LINK", as it is just not an effective way for drying head full of dreadlocks.

  • Use any type of hair dryer curlers such as: "LINK"

Which shampoo should you use?


  • Always use a shampoo that doesn't have a residue of any kind.

  • Look for a natural, organic types of shampoo that are free of chemicals, waxes and gels.

  • Solid bar shampoo is also a good idea.

  • If you feel the skin on your scalp is very dry, try using coconut oil on it, but remember to apply only a bit of the product directly onto skin.  


How to deep clean your dreadlocks

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