Q. Hey, I have a problem. I rinse my dreads everyday, and use either shampoo or bar soap like 2 times a week. I have had dreads since February and my dreads smell pretty bad. They smell like mold, or when clothes or towels are wet and old. How do I get rid of this smell?

A. Well, I think I know what the problem is… You’re wetting/washing them too much and they are always staying wet inside! If you wash them every day, they are like sponges, and they never get to fully dry out before they get wet all over again, and they start to smell. I would wash them one more time really well with the shampoo bar, wring them out, dry them with a hair dryer, and then wax all the fuzzies down once they are completely dry. Then don’t wash them for at least a week, just so they get a chance to air out and not be wet for a while. After that, only wash once a week and dry them really, really well after – sit in the sun and stuff if you can. Dreads only need to be washed once a week, really, or they do start to smell funky cuz they’re always wet.

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  1. My son is paralyzed …he sweats a lot what can I do to keep his dreads from that mold and mildew smell…he gets his hair professionally washed and conditioned about every three months we wash in between ……and even if we completely dry it it still gets wet because of the excessive sweating…I need help ..

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  2. try spraying water mixed with baking soda and conditioner on them

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  3. My Mom Told Me About The Mold And Every Now And Then She Does That Deep Washing With Vinegar. Imma Try The Vinegar Too. We Never Had Mold But Good To Start Ahead. Ohh && By The Way, I Deff Only Wash My Locs Twice A Month. I Think Every Week/Day Is Too Much (My Opinion) Cuz Yeah Locs Are Hard To Get Completely Dry. For The Week I Don’t Wash My Hair, I Use Dry Shampoo (Look It Up) && Its Pretty Good To Use For When You’re Not Washing Ya Hair.

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  5. hey ive had dreads for a about a year and half..and used wax..i didnt know better. but now i have mold in some of them and have cut some of it out-cuz its towards the end of the dread..i dont know what to use to stop that..ive heard vinegar or tea tree oil?? any ideas or personal solutions??

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    • No problem – you can fix this! The mold smell you are experiencing is from your dreads not drying out. This may or may not have had anything to do with the wax. Give them a really good wash in water as hot as you can stand it. make sure you work out everything in the dread. Dreads naturally build up stuff inside them with or without products used. Once you have them all clean DRY THEM COMPLETELY – use a blow drier. Only when your hair is absolutely dry, wash them again the next day. Wash them solid for a week making sure to dry them completely in-between and you will be golden. Don’t worry – easy peasy.

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  6. I work at a hog plant. so the smell is in my locks every night after work. and washing it sometime the smell still lingers. is there anything i can do to help eliminate the odor

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    • Ya, I had the same problem because I wear a hard hat at work and my hair ALWAYS smelled bad. A friend recommend Knotty Boy’s natural deodorizer spray. It is amazing, it removes the odour and adds a nice natural smell. I spray it every day after work.

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  8. to Sinse
    i think the problem here is the fact that with the dreds and using sea salt and baking soda it is not rinsing this all of the way out so when you play with it what you are seeing is the dried residue falling out from these products and i would suggest to use a clarifying shampoo from your salon that you go to to remove the residue that you have stuck on your scalp and hair from these products

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  10. i have had my dreads for a little over a year now; my hair does not smell, i have dandruff normally, but obviously i struggle with seeing the back of my head. so for a while now i’ll be playing with my dreads and then some will fall out, with gross white things sticking to them, i cannot tell if it’s skin cells. i usually wash once a week with lavender dr bronners , and use a baking soda and sea salt rinse once a month.
    any ideas on whats going on?

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  11. wow, im surprised no one mentioned vinegar! Ive had dreads for over 15 years and to be honest you should trust your own judgment.
    Question: how often do you wash? (sorry if i sound offensive, nothing intended). Like what a few have said here already. Your dreads should be dried thoroughly.
    Tip: I use vinegar. it worked all this time ive had dreads and all these amazing new dread hair products that get released every year or so offering the answer to smelly dreads, vinegar still works a charm.
    Use it straight from the bottle, diluted with water (no need for supa dupa natural spring distilled stuff…just tap water lol)
    Tip: Dont use off the shelf shampoo and expect it not to get stuck inside your dread. That goes for any “soap bar too”
    Tip: If you have to wash your hair… wash your hair. No one likes to smell someones head especially after the fact they have already left the room.
    Expect: Any product you use ‘will’ get stuck in your hair after years of use.
    Tip: If you have to wash your hair… wash your hair.
    Understandably: For you lot that have new dreads, its going to be diffecult to keep your dreads without washing but read below.
    Tip: If you have to wash your hair… wash your hair.
    Tip 2: Salt water. Dip your head in some some water to keep your dreads tight every so often and let them dry. Esp. when they are new.
    Tip: Dry your hair thoroughly
    I know by now you’ve noticed my spelling is appalling and i repeated a few sentences but really?
    Everyone with dreads, knows they will smell like a wet dog if not looked after. That means… Clean and Dry. NOT just Dry and especially not always with that new hair product released yesterday.
    You have dreads and be proud of what you have. Treate them well and they will treat you likewise
    Hope this rant helps…

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    • hey….have you maybe, uhm you know…tried washing them?

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  13. I wash my hair once a week.
    I tend to stay away from traditional shampoo’s because they have chemicals that leaves a residue on the hair. I use two products “grand poo bar” from http://oyinhandmade.com, I also use Dr. Bonner’s liquid natural soap (peppermint flavor).

    Using a hair dryer is the key to getting them to dry completely so that they don’t get moldy.

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  15. Knotty Boy just came out with a dreadlock deodorizer. It is an all natural shampoo-less cleanser. I’ve been wanting this for a long time! woohoo …


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  17. thanx for the sound advice, I am truly at my wits end as far as finding a solution to my stinky locks. i really love my locks and i’ve invested a lot of time and energy into preserving them, i keep them covered always and they are often wet from perspiration so they tend to smell bad after a couple of days,

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  18. Hey,

    I have thick dreads and this works well for me…you can go to a beauty supply store and but a “bonnet” drier or hair drier attachment(whole driers expensive, sleeve type things less than $10). The attachments are made of some kind of synthetic material. Put the nozzle of your hair drier on one end. The other side fits over your head, and there is a little sleeve connecting the two. It dies your whole head at once. Just cover your ears with something like socks, and turn that shit on. It will dry your locks thoroughly in no time at all. Just keep in mind that you may want to stop the drier after every 5 mins or so to make sure it’s all cooled down. Yes, it is meant to work on a hair drier, but it takes 2-3 times as long to dry locks than unlocked hair-it can overheat and burn out hair driers over time if you do not let them rest.

    Also, only wash 1x per week, and use a residue free shampoo or a shampoo with no conditioners/dyes/perfumes…I like tea tree oil shampoos because they seem to be good for my scalp-also, tea tree is antimicrobial (kills all the moldy fungusy goodness you have going on right now). The key-keeping them dry in the future.

    Good luck, hope it works!

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