Are dreadlocks dirty?

Are dreadlocks dirty?

At first glance, someone may look at a person with dreadlocks and immediately assume that their hair hasn’t been washed in months or years. Don’t be that person.

Hair is not dirty if its properly washed and maintained. This statement remains true with dreads. 

Dreadlocked hair is not inherently dirty if its well cared for. In fact, clean hair knots better and faster than dirty hair does. For this reason, many people with dreads go the extra mile to keep their locs clean.

On the other hand, I can definitely see why this is such a misconception. 

For one, there’s a stereotype floating around is that dreadheads are dirty hippies. I’ve met very few of these neanderthals in my lifetime, but let’s be real— this doesn’t speak the truth of the majority of people who sport the hairstyle. Surely, a dirty person wouldn’t make it a priority to wash and brush their hair, so by natural processes, their hair will start to knot and eventually result in dreads down the line. To debunk that myth, I’ll be happy to tell you that most of the people who have dreads are actually normal clean people with professional jobs. It wouldn’t make any sense that someone would maintain their physical hygiene and ignore their hair altogether. Even messy-looking dreads are not dirty by default.

Another thing that makes people think dreads are dirty is that people with loose hairstyles have the freedom to wash, condition, and brush their hair on a regular basis. With dreads, you’re limited to washing them only once a week, and you can’t brush them at all (obviously). On top of that, anything that gets stuck on the inner part of the loc is virtually impossible to remove unless they’re brushed out. But if you’re not putting anything in your locs, you shouldn’t have to worry about that. 

[It’s unfortunate the things that misinformed people will put in their hair to “form dreadlocks”. If you’re considering locs, steer clear from these 33 things!!]

How Dirty are Dreadlocks?

There’s no “dirtiness scale” when it comes to dreadlocks but I think it’s safe to say that a person’s hygiene is directly correlated with the cleanliness of their locs. More often than not, dreads are neither gross nor dirty.

There are several videos on YouTube of people dissecting mature locs to see what they have accumulated over the years. This is one I particularly enjoyed watching— I’m sure you’ll be surprised to see what’s inside 10-year old dreads!


Today’s takeaway: When dreads are properly cared for and maintained, there should be no issues with dirt, mold, or stinky odors. 

So, the next best question would be: how do you properly take care of dreads? Everyone’s hair care routine is different but I believe daily and weekly maintenance is necessary. By ‘maintenance’ I mean a daily spritz of water and essential oils to keep the dreads moisturized and hydrated, and a weekly wash and scalp massage with residue-free shampoo. Also, a bi-annual deep dread cleanse is highly recommended and beneficial. 

If you’re interested in my complete maintenance routine, you can find that here

For my six favorite moisturizing spray recipes, click here

If you’re wondering which carrier oil works best for your hair type, you can read about those here

In any case, I hope this article was informative and helpful! Let’s finally lay to rest the misconception that dreadlocks are a dirty hairstyle. 🙂

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