Dreadlocks are matted coils of hair usually seen on men and women with longer hair. Those with dreadlocks need to follow a hair care routine that's different from those without to keep their hair odor free and to maintain the style. The usual routine of daily shampooing, conditioning and styling can have an adverse affect on dreadlocks. Because they are thickly matted, dreadlocks don't dry out as well as other hairstyles. The result can be the retention of moisture, causing a musty mildew smell.
Wash your hair once a week using a dreadlocks shampoo that doesn't contain oils that can cause your hair to retain moisture. Concentrate the shampoo on your scalp. As you rinse off, the shampoo that washes down your dreadlocks is enough to clean them.
Squeeze the dreadlocks carefully with a towel to absorb as much moisture as possible. If the towel is wet after drying, grab another towel and give the dreadlocks a good squeeze again.
Head outside, if possible, and sit in the sun to dry your dreadlocks. The sunshine and fresh air help to speed up the drying process, while freshening your hair and preventing mold and mildew from growing inside the coils. If it's not possible to sit outside long enough, use a hair dryer to thoroughly dry your dreads.
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Spray your scalp with a mixture made of 1 oz. white vinegar and 9 oz. water between washings to combat itchiness and freshen your hair. Spritz a cloud of the diluted vinegar into the air and walk through it to get a light misting on the hair. Allow the misting of vinegar spray to air dry on your scalp and dreadlocks.
Avoid circumstances that will get your dreadlocks wet without the option of thoroughly drying them. Keep a rain hat handy, and use a shower cap in the shower, between shampoos.
Don't use hair conditioner after shampooing because it locks in moisture, which can lead to odor-causing mildew.
Mary Ylisela is a former teacher with a Bachelor of Arts in elementary education and mathematics. She has been a writer since 1996, specializing in business, fitness and education. Prior to teaching, Ylisela worked as a certified fitness instructor and a small-business owner.