Are dreadlocks dirty?

Are dreadlocks dirty?
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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 “make dreadlocks”. If you’re considering locs, steer clear from these 33 ingredients!!]

The Best Natural Recipes for Dreadlock Health: Get the Book Here!

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. Dreads are generally not 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. 🙂

Do your locs need a complete boost? Check out these 39 DIY all-natural recipes to revitalize your dreads!

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  1. Would you describe yourself as a neo hippie? Look, stereotypes exist for a reason and I ve definitely known some dirty weed-smoking hippies with dreadlocks. However, I m not one myself.

    1. Hi Anne,
      Same here! I wouldn’t call myself a hippie, although I love tie-dye shirts and putting flowers in my hair. LOL 😉
      But I don’t fit the weed-smoking stereotype. I have never touched a drug or smoked marijuana in my life so many of my friends and family were confused when I changed my hairstyle.
      In any case, I love dreadlocks and the stereotypes associated with it haven’t affected me 🙂

  2. I disagree, 1 week of not washing your hair means it’s dirty. Imagine if you work out, sweat, and your scalp sheds. By day 3 there’s grime, and your own B.O. (body odor) is now locked into your hair. Sure you can spray oils and such, but that’s the same thing as the example: dog pisses on couch, I spray Lysol until 1 week later, I can then clean the couch. Rinse and repeat. Piss=sweat.

    I workout with folks with dreadlocks, and they have terrible B.O that gets extended by their dreadlocks.

    Nadia, I’m sure you do take care of your dreadlocks, my experience has shown me distrust.

  3. Hair is always shedding on average between 50 to 100 hairs a day. Because dreadlocks cannot be combed or brushed out those shed, old, dead hairs remains in the dreadlocks. That seems far from sanitary. To many people, dreads tend to appear as if something nasty is growing in them. There does not seem to be a way to keep dreadlocks really clean!

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