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Typically associated with the Rastafari movement, dreadlocks, also known as dreads, are spirals of matted or entwined hair. The dreadlock hairstyle requires proper maintenance and specially formulated hair products as your spirals of hair continue to grow and strands entangle themselves. However, too much maintenance can lead to mold and mildew issues if your dreads are not given enough time to thoroughly dry out on a regular basis. In addition, certain products can leave behind residues that also wreak havoc on dreads by encouraging bacterial, mold and mildew issues.

Make an apple cider vinegar hair rinse. Vinegar kills mold and can help balance your hair’s pH levels. Additionally, a solution like this will aid in removing residue often caused by hair products. Combine 1/3 cup of apple cider vinegar into a quart of water. Thoroughly mix the solution and pour it into a plastic bottle that you can seal with a lid. Use this solution to inhibit mold growth once or twice per month.

Remove mold from locks by using a clarifying shampoo. Choose a shampoo that contains sodium laurel sulfate as an ingredient. This type of shampoo helps to eliminate product residue and aids in reducing mold levels because it pulls moisture out of your scalp and hair strands. In addition, choose a clarifying shampoo that does not contain any fragrances as scented products can leave residue behind. However, don’t use this type of product more than once a week because it tends to dry hair out as it strips your locks of beneficial oils and moisture. Apply a deep conditioning product to your hair once you have completely rinsed out the clarifying shampoo.

Apply an essential oil, such as tea tree oil, to your hair to inhibit mold growth. Mix 2 tbsp. tea tree oil with 2 cups of water in a spray bottle. Shake the ingredients to thoroughly mix them. Evenly apply this solution to your locks on a regular basis. Tea tree oil will not only help deter mold growth, but it also helps to eliminate any hair odor problems you might have.

Wash your dreadlocks once a week with a residue-free shampoo. This type of shampoo won’t leave much residue behind and therefore aids in reducing mold and mildew growth. Do not, however, wash your locks more than once a week because your dreadlocks will not be given an opportunity to thoroughly dry out.


Because moist environments are more susceptible to bacteria, mildew and mold growth, give your locks enough time to dry out by sitting in the sun.

About the Author

Linda Mitchell

Based in Olympia, Wash., Linda Mitchell has been writing education-related articles since 2001. She began as a journalist - covering education, business and entertainment sectors - at the "Drayton Valley Western Review" and the "Lloydminster Meridian Booster." She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English literature and psychology from Concordia University of Alberta.