No one wants moldy or mildewed hair. Unfortunately, the convenience of leaving the hair wet and covered or pinned up for extended periods of time can bring you face to face with a moldy hair disaster. Those who wear dreadlocks, wigs, weaves, braids, buns, ponytails or any style that restricts air flow to the hair while it is still damp are common victims of moldy, mildew smelling hair. Common causes of mildewed or moldy hair include improper rinsing and drying of the hair after washing and inadequate shampooing frequency.

How to Remove Mold from Hair

You can remove mold or mildew from hair by using a clarifying shampoo. Select a sulfate-rich clarifying shampoo. Detergents like ammonium and sodium lauryl sulfate will help strip and rid the hair of product buildup. Rinse hair thoroughly under warm water to prepare your hair for shampooing, then follow the shampoo with a moisturizing deep conditioner treatment. Rinse the hair and allow it to dry completely before styling.
Alternatively, mold has also been found to respond to essential oil spray treatments. These treatments are safe for the hair. Tea tree oil, a relatively expensive and pungent essential oil; and grapefruit seed oil, an odorless, more economical oil are popular mold-fighting oils. The How to Kill Mold website recommends diluting 2 tbsp. of tea tree oil or 20 drops of grapefruit oil in 2 cups of water and then spraying the solution on your mold problem. The water dilution should help to control the strong odor of the tea tree oil, and very little is required of each mixture to take care of most mold problems.
Vinegar is another popular remedy for mold removal and can safely be used on the hair when diluted. The odor from vinegar can also be quite offensive, so follow any vinegar spraying with clarifying shampoo for best results.

Preventive Measures

If your hair is currently “loc’d,” be sure to thoroughly shampoo, rinse and fully dry your locks each washing session. Shampoo and product residues left over from not properly rinsing can become a breeding ground for bacterial growth. Not using a shampoo at all, and not allowing saturated locs to dry completely, can also cause problems with mold and mildew growth.
Those who wear wigs and weaves should ensure that their hair is completely clean, conditioned and dry prior to placing extensions in the hair. Additionally, individuals who wear their hair in braids, ponytails, buns and other styles where damp hair may become trapped and susceptible to mold and mildew growth should consider allowing the hair to fully dry before arranging the hair in those kinds of styles. Those who must wash the hair while it is in a long term style like braids should take great care to ensure that the hair is dried thoroughly each time it is allowed to get wet.