How to Detox Your Dreads Naturally?

how to detox your dreads

The decision to get dreads feels exciting, like you’re finally taking control of your natural hair! But as with any hairstyle, dreadlock maintenance is essential to keep them looking and feeling nutritious and healthy. 

Learning how to detox your dreadlocks is essential in keeping them looking and feeling nutritious and healthy. However, you may wonder what a “dreadlock detox” entails or if it’s even necessary for you.

Don’t worry – In this article, we’ll explore everything you need to know about detoxing your dreadlocks from start to finish. 

What Does It Mean to Detox Your Dreads?

Detoxing your dreads is an essential part of your hair care routine that goes beyond regular washing and maintenance to address the unique challenges of having dreadlocks. 

The oil your scalp produces, called sebum, can sometimes lead to buildup, making regular dread detox essential.

This deep cleansing ritual targets the buildup of product residue, dirt, and other impurities that tend to get trapped within the locs over time to promote hair growth. 

It also aims to rebalance your natural scalp oil production and pH levels, creating a healthy environment for scalp care and hair growth.

The term “detox” is often associated with removing toxins and impurities from the body, and when it comes to your dreads, the concept is quite similar. 

Just as the body benefits from occasional detoxification, your dreads also need a thorough cleanse to stay fresh, vibrant, and healthy.

Detoxing your dreads typically involves the following steps:

Preparing a specialized solution: A dread detox mixture usually contains natural ingredients like apple cider vinegar and baking soda, which effectively break down buildup and balance your scalp’s pH levels. Additionally, essential oils may be added for their beneficial properties and pleasant fragrance.

Soaking your dreads: Immersing your dreads in the detox solution allows the mixture to penetrate deep within the locs, dissolving trapped impurities and breaking down stubborn buildup.

Rinsing and conditioning: After soaking, it’s necessary to thoroughly rinse your dreads to wash away the dissolved buildup and any remnants of the detox solution. It also involves following up with a deep conditioner or hot oil treatment to replenish moisture and maintain the health of the locs.

Signs Your Locs Need to Be Deep Cleaned

Your starter locs are your crowning glory, and keeping them in the best possible condition is essential. But how do you know when it’s time for a deep cleaning? 

Here are some telltale signs that your dreads are asking for a detox. Pay attention to these indicators and treat your dreads with the care they deserve.

Dull, lifeless appearance: If your once-vibrant matted hair starts to look dull and lackluster, it’s a sign that buildup and pollutants rob them of their natural shine. A deep clean will help restore their radiance, making your locs look and feel fabulous again.

Heavy, weighed-down feeling: As product buildup and dirt accumulate in your dreads, they can feel more severe than usual. This weight can make your locs uncomfortable and more challenging to manage. A thorough detox will remove this excess weight, giving your dreads a lighter, more comfortable feel.

Unpleasant odor: Nobody wants their hair to smell bad, right? If you’ve noticed an unpleasant odor from your dreads, it could be due to trapped moisture, mold, or product buildup.

Itchy, irritated scalp: An itchy scalp can be a sign that your hair health is compromised, possibly due to an imbalance in your scalp’s natural oils or an accumulation of dead skin cells. 

Slow or stagnant human hair growth: If your dreads are growing at a snail’s pace or have reached a complete standstill, it might be time for a detox. Product buildup and an unhealthy scalp can hinder hair growth.

Excessive flaking or dandruff: If you notice an increase in flaking or dandruff, it might be a sign that your scalp is begging for a detox. A deep clean can help rebalance your scalp’s pH levels and reduce flakiness, giving you a healthier scalp and more beautiful dreads.

So, watch for these signs, and don’t hesitate to treat your dreads to a much-needed detox when they’re calling out for some attention. After all, healthy dreads are happy dreads!

How to Do a Dread Detox in 3 Easy Steps

Dread detox is a simple process that you can easily do at home. Follow these three easy steps to detox your dreads and get ready to enjoy lighter, cleaner, and healthier locks in no time.

Step 1: Gather the ingredients and supplies

Before diving into the detox, ensure you have everything you need. Here’s a list of ingredients and supplies you’ll want to have on hand:

  • Apple cider vinegar (8 – 12 tbsp)
  • Baking soda (11 – 16 tbsp)
  • Warm water
  • Essential oils (optional, 3 – 4 drops each)
  • A large bowl or wash basin
  • A towel
  • A shower cap or plastic bag (optional)

Step 2: Mix the detox solution

Now that you have all your ingredients, creating the magical detox concoction will leave your dreads feeling amazing.

  • Fill your large bowl or wash basin with enough warm water to cover your dreads.
  • Add apple cider vinegar and baking soda to the water. Remember, the recommended amounts are 8 – 12 tbsp of apple cider vinegar and 11 – 16 tbsp of baking soda. Don’t be alarmed when the mixture fizzes – the baking soda and vinegar are working together to break down buildup!
  • Add a few drops to the mixture if you’re using essential oils. Not only will they make your detox experience more luxurious, but they’ll also offer additional benefits like promoting hair growth or soothing an itchy scalp.

Step 3: Soak, rinse, and condition

You’ve got your detox solution ready, and now it’s time for the main event – soaking your dreads!

  • Carefully lower your dreads into the detox solution, ensuring that they’re fully submerged. You might need to gently press them down to ensure the solution penetrates yours locs.
  • Relax and let your dreads soak for 20 to 30 minutes. Use this time to catch up on your favorite show, read a book, or meditate. Remember, self-care is essential!
  • After soaking, gently squeeze your dreads to remove excess solution, and then thoroughly detox rinse your hair with clean, warm water. This step is crucial to remove the dissolved buildup and any remaining detox solution.
  • Finally, apply a deep conditioner or hot oil treatment to your dreads, and let it sit for the recommended time before rinsing it out. This will help restore moisture and keep your locs soft and healthy.

Having completed a dread detox, you should feel lighter, look more vibrant, and smell fantastic. To keep your locs in tip-top shape, aim to detox every few months or whenever your locs need extra attention.

Pros and Cons of Dreadlock Detoxing

Like anything, a dread detox has its pros and cons. However, the benefits undoubtedly outweigh the drawbacks.


Removes Product Buildup

Apple cider vinegar has natural cleansing properties, making it a fantastic option to break down and dissolve product buildup in your dreads. 

This gentle, all-natural cleanser can cut through even the most stubborn residue, leaving your locs feeling lighter and squeaky clean. 

With regular use, you’ll be able to maintain cleaner dreads and a healthier scalp, all while avoiding harsh chemicals.

Balances Scalp pH

Maintaining a balanced scalp pH is essential for scalp health. Our scalp has a slightly acidic pH level, and apple cider vinegar’s acidity can help to restore this balance. 

A balanced scalp pH reduces issues like itchiness, dandruff, and irritation, promoting a healthier hair growth environment for your locs to thrive. 

Some popular dread detox ingredients include ACV baking soda, and essential oils, which work together to cleanse your locs and scalp.

Fights Scalp Microbes

ACV is known for its antimicrobial properties, which means it can help keep your scalp free from bacteria and fungi that cause irritation, itching, and even hair loss. 

Incorporating a loc detox into your dread care routine can give your scalp that extra protection to stay clean and healthy, ensuring you have a strong foundation for your dreads to grow.

Reduces Frizz

We all want to keep our dreads looking their best, and one common issue is frizz. 

The acidity of apple cider vinegar helps smooth the hair’s cuticle, minimizing frizz and giving your dreads a more polished appearance. 

Detoxing your dreads can also help to remove dry scalp flakes and prevent further buildup.

Promotes Hair Growth

Who doesn’t want their dreads to grow faster and stronger? ACV stimulates better blood circulation to the hair follicles, encouraging hair growth by providing essential nutrients and oxygen to the hair roots. 

Regular use of an apple cider vinegar rinse can help you achieve longer, healthier dreads in no time.

Adds Shine

Rinsing your dreads with apple cider vinegar can help enhance their natural shine by closing the hair cuticle, allowing it to reflect light better. 

This simple deep cleanse can give your dreads a beautiful, healthy sheen that’ll make them stand out in the best possible way.

Prevents “Dread Rot”

Nobody wants moldy dreads! ACV’s antimicrobial properties can also help prevent dread rot (mold) from developing in your locs. 

By keeping your dreads clean and free from mold, you’re ensuring their longevity and overall health. 

Incorporating an ACV rinse into your regular dread care routine can save you from potential dread disasters down the line.


May Cause Dryness

For some people, using apple cider vinegar in their dread detox may cause dryness, primarily if used too frequently or in high concentrations. 

ACV’s acidic nature can strip away the natural oils that help keep your hair moisturized. 

To avoid this issue, it’s vital to dilute the vinegar with water and not overuse it. You can also follow up with a deep conditioner or natural oils like coconut or jojoba oil to replenish moisture.

Can Irritate Sensitive Scalps

If you have a sensitive scalp, apple cider vinegar might cause irritation or redness. 

It’s crucial to patch-test the diluted ACV solution on a small area of your scalp before using it all over. 

If you experience discomfort or irritation, it’s best to avoid using apple cider vinegar in your dread detox routine or consult a dermatologist for alternative solutions.

May Not Remove Stubborn Buildup

While ACV is excellent at removing most product buildup, more is needed for highly stubborn residue or heavy buildup. 

In such cases, a more potent clarifying shampoo or treatment may be necessary to tackle the issue. 

However, using ACV as a regular part of your dread care routine can help prevent such severe buildup from occurring in the first place.

Potential Allergic Reactions

Although rare, some individuals may be allergic to apple cider vinegar. Therefore, before using ACV in your dread detox, you must do a patch test on a small area of your scalp to ensure you don’t have an adverse reaction. 

If you experience redness, itching, or swelling, discontinue use immediately and consult your dermatologist for guidance.

Dos and Don’ts of Dreadlock Detoxing

When detoxing your dreads, there are a few essential guidelines to follow to ensure the best results and keep your locs looking fabulous:


  • Regularly wash your dreads to prevent excessive buildup. Clean dreads are happy dreads!
  • Use natural, residue-free products to minimize product buildup. Mother Nature knows best, after all.
  • Detox your dreads every few months to maintain a fresh scalp and healthy hair. It’s like hitting the reset button on your locs.
  • Learning how to detox dreads properly will help you maintain their appearance and overall health.


  • Use harsh chemicals that can strip your hair of natural oils. Your dreads deserve gentle, loving care.
  • Overdo the detox. Detoxing too frequently can lead to dry hair and an irritated scalp. Remember, moderation is key.
  • Skip deep conditioning after the detox. This step is crucial for restoring moisture and keeping your dreads soft and healthy.


How do I detox my locs?

Detoxing your locs is simple. First, gather your ingredients: apple cider vinegar, baking soda, and some water. 

Mix ACV and water in a basin, then add a few tablespoons of baking soda. Carefully submerge your dreads in the mixture and let them soak for about 20 minutes. 

Be sure to gently massage them to help break down any buildup. Once the time is up, rinse your locs thoroughly with warm water and follow up with a deep conditioner. Voilà! Your dreads will be squeaky clean and feel fabulous in no time!

Is detox good for dreads?

Yes. Detoxing your dreads has a positive impact on their health and appearance. A thorough detox helps remove product buildup, alleviates scalp irritation, and promotes hair growth. 

Plus, it’s a fantastic way to add shine and bounce to your locs. 

Remember to detox responsibly, don’t overdo it, and follow up with a deep conditioner or moisturizing oils to keep your dreads happy and hydrated.

How long should I detox my dreads?

The duration of your dread detox depends on the condition of your locs and the severity of the buildup. 

A 20-minute detox soak in a diluted apple cider vinegar and baking soda solution should do the trick. However, if your mature locs have a more stubborn buildup, you may need to extend the soak time or repeat the process. 

Remember to listen to your hair and scalp – if they’re feeling dry or irritated, it might be time to adjust the frequency or duration of your detox sessions. 

Keep in mind that it’s essential to maintain a balance to avoid causing harm to your locs.

Rahul Malpe

Rahul is a nutritionist and personal trainer with 3+ years of experience in the field of health coaching. He specializes in nutrition science, with a keen eye for how food choices, lifestyle habits, and physical activity impact our bodies. 

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