How To Wash Your Dreads For The First Time

No matter what other people tell you: You have to wash your dreads! You have to be careful because not every shampoo is suitable for dreadlocks.

Dreadlovers designed their own shampoo specifically for washing dreadlocks. It contains no soap because soap residue causes flaking and/or excessive sebum production.

It contains no perfume and cleanses your dreadlocks in a thorough but non-aggressive manner.

The shampoo strengthens your hair without adding extra nourishment or care.

A shampoo that is too nurturing is not suitable for starter dreadlocks (so don’t use brands like Pantène or Fructis).

Read: How Often Can You Wash Your Dreads

How To Wash Dreads For The First Time

Here is a list of shampoo experts vetted which can work perfectly well for your dreadlock:

. Tingle shampoo (jamaican mango n lime) based on peppermint

. Detoxify (Osmo), a deep cleansing shampoo to use weekly

Other shampoos you can use are:

Baby shampoo (e.g. Zwitsal): Mild for the scalp. For some, this makes the dreads fluffy.

Knotty Boy Soap Bar: Some caution is advised here, as this soap often degreases too aggressively. This can be harmful to your scalp.

Herbal Essence is also suitable for washing your dreadlocks. Some of our customers use it without any problems.

Head and shoulders also work ok for many.

The perfect washing rhythm for dreadlocks is once a week. Always rinse your dreadlocks thoroughly and for a long time!

Read: How Do You Keep Dreads Moisturized

Swimming with Dreadlocks

Here is an interesting question: I would really like to have dreadlocks with extensions, but I go swimming at least once a week, more often in the summer. Can this be combined?

The answer is not a clear yes or no.

The first month we always recommend not to wash your brand new dreadlings or to get them soaking wet.

This is because new dreads are still quite delicate and need time to lock into a nice shape (this also applies to dreads that have not been put in with us).

Ideally, you should wet your dreads once a week after the first month.

Preferably wash your dreadlocks on the same day you go swimming, so they only need to get wet once a week.

Dreadlocks also dry a lot slower than ‘normal’ loose hair. Always dry them well after every wash/swim.

Going swimming with your new dreads won’t cause your dreads to fall out spontaneously (oef!), but it does encourage loose hair, which means they need to be touched up faster.

Water does help to lock your starter dreads in, especially seawater. Swimming pool water is not by definition worse for your dreads, but best rinse/wash them thoroughly after swimming to remove the chlorine.

In the first year, your dreadlocks often shorten a bit because the friction from washing, among other things, causes the knots to get even tighter.

If you often swim with new dreadlings, this process sometimes happens (too) quickly or violently. This is how you get rid of lumps or bumps.

If your dreads have been wet, it’s always a good idea to stretch them (gently!) lengthwise; this prevents shortening them too much and the formation of “bumps”.

In contrast, yes, you can have dreadlocks and go swimming regularly!, but definitely keep in mind that this often involves more maintenance.

How To Wash Your Dreadlocks For The First Time

Do not use too much shampoo, as this is where sebum can accumulate.

Preferably wash your dreadlocks in the morning (or long enough before bedtime), so they can dry completely during the day.

When you wash your hair in the evening, this can cause your dreads to “lie flat,” which can make them look crazy.

You can use a hair dryer in the winter to get your dreadlocks dry, so you don’t have to go outside with wet hair. Be aware that this causes loose hair.

You can get your hair towel dry by dabbing it dry and then wrapping a towel around your dreadlocks for 30 minutes. When your dreads are no longer leaking, it’s best to just let them air dry without a towel.

When you see that your dreadlocks are felting, you can stretch them lengthwise when they are wet. This will prevent your dreadlocks from shrinking.

Remember that a healthy dreadlock is somewhere between dry and oily, so don’t wash your dreadlocks too much!


Just like with regular hair, your hair will get tangled after washing, so especially in the days after washing, you should separate your dreads.

Why is it important to separate your dreadlocks?

You will save yourself several dollars! When your dreadlocks are properly separated, it will save you thirty minutes on touch-ups.

You train your scalp! Because you no longer comb your hair, your scalp becomes more sensitive. Regular separating counteracts this sensitivity.

When your dreadlocks are not properly separated, they sometimes need to be cut, so they do not form one giant dreadlock. Hair that has been cut is often too short to be pushed away when touching up, which only makes the situation worse!

After a few touch-ups, most of the loose hairs will have grown back quite a bit and can be stopped at the right dreadlock. Touching up your dreadlocks (especially the first and second time) is certainly not an unnecessary luxury!

Avoid friction

This is to avoid loose hairs that can grow into the wrong dreadlocks. For this, it is important to:

Avoid wearing hair bands and headwear as much as possible.

Dab your hair dry, and do not rub it dry after washing.

Wear your dreadlocks in a tail as much as possible in the beginning, also when sleeping (on top of your head, so you don’t lie on it).


You actually rarely need to use wax; it doesn’t strengthen your dreadlocks but only makes them stick.

When your hair is very dry, for example, during the summer when there is a lot of suns, a little wax is recommended.

It’s important, though: Too much wax will only make your dreadlocks greasier and, therefore, unhealthy. Wax in moderation!

The same applies to solutions such as loops or hooks. These techniques are not suitable for every hair type and can permanently damage your hair roots. So inform yourself well before you start!

Unwanted visitors (lice and nits).

Lice are attracted to a clean scalp; they attach themselves to warm places on your head (behind the ears, on the neck).

When you find a louse in your dreadlocks, this does NOT mean that you have to cut off your hair.

You can treat your hair with anti-lice products just like other people.

The product Paranix (available in pharmacies) seems to have the best results. However, acting quickly is the message, don’t give nits a chance to develop!

Dreadlocks are not shaping well?

If you have the feeling that your starter dreadlocks are not forming properly, you can rinse them with sea salt so they will form or felt faster.

To do this, sprinkle a handful of sea salt into your bath and then immerse your dreadlocks in it and dry them.

Only do this once a month, as using sea salt too often will cause your dreadlocks to break.

Do you notice loops or unevenness in your dreadlocks after a while: roll your towel-dried dreadlocks firmly between your palms after washing.

Another solution is to place a bead or pearl over the unevenness.