You can wash your dreadlocks as little or as often as you so choose. I personally wash mine every other day but other people choose to only wash them once a week. However often you choose to wash them, as long as you keep the pattern regular then you will be fine. Here is a video where I talk through how your head gets used to how often you wash it and
how often you should wash your dreadlocks:
You can still shower your body as many times a day as you want. The only reason washing your dreadlocks every day is usually avoided is because they take so long to dry. See my "Showering without washing your dreads" post for more on that.
Soaps and Shampoos?
You won't want to use 'normal' shampoos with dreadlocks. They can leave residue in your hair, making it sticky and irritating. When the residue shampoo dries it will flake out like dandruff, an all round negative experience. You don't actually have to use shampoo with dreadlocks at all, I have been months at a time using only water, once your head gets used to not being washed with oil stripping shampoo it will re-balance it's oil production and you can survive just fine with only water. I tend to return to using shampoos though because it just gives me a cleaner feeling.
Shampoos I have used:
- RockingLocks - Liquid shampoo available in different sizes and also available in an SLS free variety. A straightforward residue free shampoo.
- Dollylocks - Available in both liquid and bar form. Organic, vegan and GMO free. The liquid variety is very strong and so only a very small amount is required and so one bottle will last for a long time if used appropriately.
- DreadHead HQ - The DHHQ liquid soap is widely available worldwide. While I cannot recommend most of their other products, their liquid soap is generally quite a popular residue free shampoo choice.
- Dr. Bronners - This is very hit or miss, some love it and some hate it. Bronners is not strictly a residue free shampoo but it popular due to it's friendly ingredients and because it's one of the only options that's widely available in stores. To use it on dreadlocks it needs to be heavily diluted down to 1:10 or more and even then if you have hard water it can be tricky to wash out effectively.
My Washing Routine
I wash my dreadlocks in the shower and I would fully recommend washing in the shower over washing in the tub. The higher the water pressure you have, the better! Power shower? excellent. Washing with a high pressured shower means you can wash your dreadlocks thoroughly and faster, it also means you're more able to wash out the excess soap.
- Get in the shower and soak the dreadlocks completely. If you have a weak shower it might take some time as the dreadlocks can hold a lot of water, depending on how long and/or thick they are.
- You can then apply the soap / shampoo if you're going to use it. I only use a little over a teaspoon of soap for head.
- I will apply the shampoo directly to my scalp. I will scrub it all over my head and the dreads will act like a scrubbing brush, moving it all around. You don't need to apply soap to the dreads themselves as the soap/shampoo will rinse from your head, through the locks.
- After that I wash the rest of my body, leaving my head under the shower, giving the dreadlocks as long as possible with water running through them as you really want to make sure all the shampoo rinses out.
- Make sure you scrub behind your ears and on your neck, these areas can get oiler than normal because the dreadlocks can keep your head warmer than normal hair - like wearing a hat.
- After I'm done washing the rest of my body I return to my head, spraying it with the shower on a high setting, rinsing out the soap.
- I will then squeeze water out of the dreadlocks, they don't have to be squeezed one by one, but I make sure I squeeze the water out of all of them.
- After one last soak I will turn the water off.
- While remaining in the shower I squeeze out as much excess water as I can. The more you can squeeze out, the better. Also the squeezing is a passive way of maintaining your dreadlocks and encouraging them to mature.
My Drying Routine
- Once they're squeezed I will roughly rub them with a towel to dry them some more. (Use a towel that definitely won't start flaking and leave bits of towel in your hair. You want a towel that you can really rub hard with, but not let any towel material fall out and get stuck in your hair).
- Wrap the towel around your body and then (possibly outside) headbang. Nod your head up and down shaking out the water that is left. This method really reduces drying time.
- You can then proceed to blow dry your hair, I do this while having a towel wrapped and leaning forward so as to trap the hot air within the towel and really heat the dreadlocks - be careful that nothing covers the intake at the back of the drier.
- After that I would continue with my day, usually using a headband to hold them back for a while because they will still be a little damp - depending on how long I had to dry them.
It's recommended that you don't wear a hat / tam while they're still wet because you can encourage mildew. Almost all negative odours that people can experience with dreadlocks is due to leaving them damp.
See my Deep Cleanse topic for a step by step deep clean tutorial!