How to Maintain Your Dreadlocks as They Grow

Maintaining dreadlocks is very different from maintaining other natural hair styles. Dreadlocks don’t need to be brushed and don’t require regular trimming. Like other natural hair styles dreadlocks need to be kept clean. Contrary to popular belief clean dreads lock up and tighten faster than dirty dreads. While other natural hair styles require combing to put stray hairs back in place, dreadlocks need to have stray hairs tucked back into the dread so they can dread up and lock with the rest of the hair. You'll also notice that dreadlocks look better and better over time. As they continue to mature they become tighter and smoother and they require less maintenance. Your maintenance routine will vary depending on the age of your dreads and the method you used to start them. The two most popular methods for starting and maintaining dreadlocks in natural black hair are twisting/palmrolling and latching.

How to Maintain Dreadlocks Started with Palmrolling or Twisting

Dreadlocks started by Palmrolling / Twisting are delicate. The biggest concern is that the hair will un-twist before it really begins to lock. This can make the palmrolling / twisting method pretty tedious and nerve racking. Because it's difficult to wash the twists without them un-twisting many people avoid washing their hair and scalp for a month or even more. This leads to other complications like itching or unusual head odors. This may be the cause of many dreadlocks rumors related to washing or rather not washing dreadlocks. Two weeks or so between washings is more common. If your scalp is already comfortable with infrequent washing, maybe because it tends to be dry, and your hair is fine and highly textured, the ideal dreadlock texture, you may find that your twists hold up pretty well, especially if you are careful with them.

Maintaining the twists is pretty easy, especially in-between washings. Your job is to keep them twisted. While you are driving or watching tv your hand will go exploring your head looking for dreads that are in need of twisting. Twist them at little as you notice them. You usually begin by twisting the dread around until it us under very slight tension from the twist. Then, hold it so it can not un-twist you roll it back and forth between your fingers or palms. This helps the "spirals" of the hair slide in against each other and helps the lock compress further. In textured hair types it is not difficult to over twist and damage the hair. Avoid twisting the same locks repeatedly. It's better to leave them be than to over do it.

After each washing you'll notice the twists will feel looser. Some people completely re-twist their dreads after each washing. It is not usually necessary to re-twist after every washing. Strong healthy hair (take your vitamins , eat as many raw fruits and veggies as possible) can withstand more re-twisting but if it doesn't need to be done there is no reason to spend the time to do it. Re-twisting after every other washing is usually fine, especially if you are able to wash them carefully and not disturb the twists. One tip is to wash them while wearing a nylon stocking cap. This helps to protect the dreadlocks during washing. If you try this method take care to rinse the dreadlocks extra well since the stocking will tend to make getting all of the soap out of the dread more difficult.

Re-Twisting your locks is very straight forward. For detailed information on twisting and re-twisting your locks with Knatty Dread Cream check out the twisting and re-twisting section here.

You simply spin the lock until it us under enough tension to compress it while at the same time applying some dread cream directly to the dread, working it in as you twist it around and around, always to the right or "clockwise". Finally you pin, clip, or attach the dread in some manner to hold it in this twisted position while you dry it, usually with the help of a hair dryer. Take care not to over heat the hair as it will do more harm than good. Let it dry completely and sit for at least 3 hours if possible. Then you can release or un-clip the dreads. For more detailed

Keep those dreadlocks residue free and reap the benefits.

The tighter the locs are, the fewer stray hairs you will have and the smoother the locs will look. Washing locs with the proper soaps and shampoos is essential to keeping them tight. The problem with the majority of shampoos, natural or otherwise, is that they leave residue in the hair after they are rinsed out. You can easily detect this residue by smelling the hair, or your hands, after you have used the shampoo. If the shampoo has left a scent, it has left residue behind. These residues can cause itching when they build up inside your locs and they can make it hard for thicker locs to dry properly. Above all, the residues act as a lubricant making it very hard for the hair to lock and the locs to tighten. This is why it is highly recommended that you use only residue free soaps and shampoo’s on your dreadlocks.

Residues can also cause scalp irritations. Many of the reasons our scalps are dry and itchy is because of residues, whether they come from shampoos, conditioners, or chemicals. Using a residue free shampoo will get your scalp clean every time you wash it. Oils can be used in between washings to keep the scalp moisturized if dryness is an issue. It's much better to add these oils if, when and where you need them rather that trying to include them in your shampoo. In this way you have complete control and you can keep your scalp happy and healthy by giving it what it wants.

We are proud to offer a completely residue free dreadlocks shampoo. You'll notice after several washings that your dreads will begin to dry faster after each washing. This is not only convenient, it also prevents troublesome mildew from growing in thicker locks.

Wearing a Head Scarf

Dreadlocks do tend to pick up lint and fuzzy’s even if they are very clean. This is usually a big problem when you are sleeping. Pillow cases and sheets that don’t shed a lot of lint will help. Wearing a head scarf on your head will keep lint and feathers out of your locs while allowing your dreads and scalp to breathe. Head scarves also have plenty of room for longer dreads to stretch out and they can be bought larger so they don’t squish your dreadlocks down too much.

Washing Dreadlocks

Whenever you wash your dreads get them as dry as possible afterwards. Don’t leave them covered in such a way that they can’t dry completely. It is good practice to squeeze as much water out of them by hand as possible before wrapping them with a dry thirsty towel for about 10 min and then finally letting them air dry or drying them with a hair dryer. This will ensure that the dreadlocks dry all the way through. Leaving them wet will cause them to smell like a stinky wet towel. Nasty! Ensure shampoo residues are not permitted to build up inside your dreads and slow the drying process. Choose a residue free dreadlocks shampoo.

Dreadlock Breakage

Breakage is another concern because dreadlocks can get pretty heavy as they get longer. It is possible for them to break off at the root if they are not properly moisturized. Continued use of Knatty Dread Cream keeps dreads moisturized. If you know that your hair is prone to breakage you can help by supplementing your nutrition and if you've not started your dread yet you can start them a little thicker. If your dreads are thin you can keep them at a reasonable length to avoid breakage. More info on growing healthy natural hair here.

Using Rubberbands

Rubberbands can be very useful when you are starting and maintaining dreadlocks. While putting rubberbands on too tight can hurt your dreads, wearing them snug, to gather the hair at the roots of your dreadlocks, can help your dreads tighten faster than they normally would. Rubberbands are also handy for keeping new dreadlocks separated. As a general rule, if you are not able to roll the rubber bands up and down the dread they are on too tight.

Loose hair and the Loose Hair Tool

Using a loose hair tool is an ideal method for taking care of loose hair at the root and throughout the dread. The important thing to remember with using the loose hair tool is that you need to twist or clockwise rub your dreadlocks after you have used the loose hair tool method. If you do not twist your dreads afterwards the loose hair can work it's way back out of the dread.

Fixing loose hair in the middle of a dreadlock

  1. Take the loose hair tool and push it into and down through the middle of the dreadlock. Insert it about 2 inches from where the loose hair is. Make sure you push the hook in until the little latch is past the other side of the dread and loose hair.
  2. Thread the loose hair through the hook and flip the hook into the closed position.
  3. Now pull the loose hair with the tool back through the middle of the dread.
  4. When you are close to the spot where the tool was inserted push the tool forward and out of the dread.
  5. The tool will open, leaving the loose hair inside. Now just close the latch and slide the tool out.


Fixing loose hair at the root of a dreadlock

  1. Follow the same steps as above. The only difference is that you'll always insert the loose hair tool into the dreadlocks about 2 inches from the roots/scalp and slide the tool through the inside of the dread until it pops out at the roots and gets past the other (not loose) hair at the roots. That will make it easy to put the loose hair into the latch without catching any other hair unintentionally.


It's important to remember is that you need to twist or clockwise rub the hair once it is in the dreadlock so it will lock up and it won’t fall back out.