Dreadlocks Maintenance Guide

Dreadlocks maintenance can be different for everyone, because it depends on personal choices. For some it means seeing a loctician once or twice a year, for others it’s a routine to repeat monthly, weekly or even daily.

In this article we’ll look at the different steps for dreadlocks maintenance, including all our tips for an easy dreadlocks journey. You can read, get inspired, try something new, and create your own dreadlocks maintenance routine. Or, if you already have one, trying a few tweaks can help you improve it.


boy looking down with dreadlocks over face

Photo by Humphrey Muleba on Unsplash


Dreadlocks maintenance in 3 steps: 

  • Keep them separated
  • New hair will always try to knot together and your dreads will have the tendency to merge at the roots. Don’t forget to divide your roots regularly, by pulling your dreads gently from each other.  


  • Root rolling and palm rolling
  • For root rolling: 

    • Take one dreadlock’s root and hold it softly in the small space between index and middle finger. 
    • Cross your other hand over from the opposite direction, and overlap the two small spaces between fingers. 
    • Rotate your hands quickly to create a rolling motion around the root of your dread. This should direct the young hair in the right dreads.

    For palm rolling:

    • Hold your dread between your hands and roll it as if you were making a playdough snake. 

    This helps loose hair stay put, and minimizes bumps along the dreads.


  • Crocheting
  • If palm and root rolling are not enough for you, you can always contact a loctician and have a maintenance session done with a crochet needle. We created a tool that can help you find the closest loctician if you’re living in the Uk or in the Republic of Ireland: it’s a loctician directory with an interactive map.


    If you prefer to diy, choose one of these crochet hooks, and proceed as follows: 

    • Stick the hook inside and through the dread,
    • Catch loose hair on the other side and pull it back inside the dread. 

    For the roots, 

    • Hold the dread with your fingers and work the hook back and forth at the base, changing direction, until your hair is nice and knotted. 
    • Keep about an inch of loose hair at the roots to avoid too much tension on the scalp. It’s recommended to wait at least a couple of months between crocheting sessions.


    girl standing in front of graffiti on a wall with red dreadlocks

    Photo by Ashley Byrd on Unsplash


    Our tips #1: scalp health. 

    Because good dreadlocks maintenance starts where your dreads grow: the scalp!


    Tip 1: massage your scalp. With undreaded hair, there are daily actions such as combing, styling or playing with your hair which help to massage the scalp. These actions are very helpful for skin circulation, hair growth and skin regeneration, and prevent itchiness and dandruff. By wearing dreads we make our scalp less accessible, so it needs extra attention. It’s good to give yourself a head massage every now and then, trying to reach every square inch of skin under your dreads. 


    Tip 2: wash your dreads regularly. Your hair will lock better if it’s clean and you’ll risk scalp issues if you don’t wash it. Plus, washing is an opportunity to massage the scalp! Most dreadheads wash their hair once or twice a week, depending on many factors. And of course, a good dreadlocks shampoo is key because it will respect your scalp’s natural balance.


    Tip 3: use good products. If you have an irritated or itchy scalp, a refreshing spray can really help you. If your scalp feels too dry or too oily, changing up your washing routine and adding a conditioning oil can help you find balance. For anything that looks particularly bad or unusual, our advice is to speak to a doctor.

    NOTE: even if it sounds counterintuitive, sometimes the scalp is oily because it has too little moisture and tries to lock it in by producing a thick oil layer. A good conditioning oil can stop this issue by nourishing your skin deeply, and prevent its need for extra protection. 

    Our tips #2: Care for your hair

    Keep your hair soft and nourished so they don’t itch, and keep them clean so they knot easily. 


    Tip 1: a good washing routine is important for dreadlocks maintenance, as clean dreads make more friction and mature faster. If you’re interested, we created the Clean Dreadlocks Guide.


    Tip 2: to keep your hair nourished, we have a range of conditioning products on this page. Many dreadheads use these products right after the shower, giving the scalp a good massage.


    Tip 3: try a vinegar rinse, because it makes your dreads soft and balances your scalp’s PH. Because of its acidity level, a mix of vinegar and water has the effect of closing your hair’s cuticles. When the cuticles are closed, your hair is smooth and shiny; when the cuticles are open your hair is frizzy and swollen. It’s beneficial to have a vinegar rinse every three or four weeks (any more often can cause your scalp to dry). In the ACV dreadlocks rinse, apple cider vinegar is blended with other ingredients that have different positive effects, such as promoting hair growth.


    man with dreadlocks sat on table holding guitar

    Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

    Maintenance ideas to be careful with: wax and interlocking. 

    • Using wax is sometimes seen as dreadlock maintenance. Wax makes your dreads look neat and can be used for styling, but it should be an occasional, temporary fix: don’t use too much of it, or too often, or it will be difficult to remove. A safer alternative to wax is Dollylocks’ pomade, because it can be washed away easily. 
    • Interlocking is a root maintenance technique. To interlock your hair, you’ll have to open a space at the roots of a dreadlock, and you’ll pull that same dreadlock inside and through the space you opened, from the tip to the end. This causes a lot of tension on the scalp, and can create a “scar” where the division at the roots remains visible for months or even years.


    About the author

    Margherita Orso Pletti - Italian dread maker, youtuber and blogger living in the UK. Creator of dreadhead.it, website in Italian about dreadlocks.
    girl with dreadlocks walking through trees