Do Dreadlocks Smell

Probably dreadlocks are the most hyped hairstyle among women and men worldwide. But messy locs, especially the blonde one, look really dirty and smelly. But do dreadlocks smell, actually? If yes, then how to make them scent good?

The dread rots on the scalp and locs and causes a foul odor in your hair. There are multiple reasons why you locs growing molds, but thankfully, there are some ways that can prevent dread rots.

However, if you can bring some changes in your hair care practice, then you may never experience this issue with your locs. Read on to find out the reasons behind bad odors and how to fix the issue effectively.

Are Dreadlocks Dirty? 

People usually think that dreadlocks are dirty, but dreadlocks are generally not dirty. But the cleanness of dreads depends on the hygiene habits of the person.

There are some habits and mistakes that people usually make with their dreadlocks that build up mold in their braids; thus, their locs scent bad. However, there should be no trace of molds, dirt, and stinky dreads with proper maintenance and care.

Why Do Dreadlocks Have A Bad Smell?

Why Do Dreadlocks Have A Bad Smell?

There’s some habit that can make your dreads smell bad. Such as:

1. If you tie your damp dreads up before going to bed, it can make your locks smell foul.

2. Improper washing or not washing your dreadlocks frequently can make your faux locs scent like rotten fruits.

3. Mold growth in dread rot when you don’t allow your locs to dry completely before making your hairstyle. This habit can cause a mildew-like scent that can be challenging to remove.

4. Environmental odors, such as food smell, smoke, and especially air pollution that you can’t control, can make your dreads smell bad.

5. If you work out daily or your scalp sweats pretty often, you need to wash and shampoo your hair; otherwise, it’ll make your dreads smell foul.

How To Make Dreads Smell Good?

You now know some common habits that make your dread’s scent foul. Now let’s know some easy and useful habits to make your locs smell good all the time.

How To Stop Your Dreadlocks from stinking?

How To Stop Your dreadlocks from stinking
  1. Cleanse and Condition Your Dreads: The key habit of making your dreads smell good is cleaning your dirty dreads with a mild shampoo and using a deep conditioner on your hair afterward. Washing dreads twice or thrice a week should be enough.
  2. Add Essential Oils for Additional Scent: Besides using hair moisturizer, use essential oils, such as peppermint oil, lavender oil, tea tree oil, etc. It’ll add some additional scent to your dreads.
  3. Allow Dreads to Dry Completely: Never tie wet dreads and always allow them to dry 100%, especially if you apply wax to your hair.
  4. Use White Vinegar Rinse for Mold Prevention: Use the white vinegar rinse technique once a week or two. It’ll get rid of any kind of bad scent by killing molds.

Note: If you have an unbearable odor coming from your dread and don’t know how to get rid of your really smelly head, you can wear head wraps until you find the solution.

What Causes Mold In Dreadlocks? 

What Causes Mold In Dreadlocks?

When you wear dreadlocks or other hairstyles of locs, you have to bring some changes to your hair care routine

The major reason you may see mildew or mold buildups is not letting your locs dry completely after the shower and not cleaning locs properly. Never leave your dreads stay damp, and always blow dry or air dry your wet locs.

How To Maintain Your Dreadlocks As They Grow

Here’s how you should maintain your faux locs as they grow:

  • Visit a professional hairstylist once a month to get advice on how to keep your dreads healthy during this period.
  • If your dreads start to loosen, consider re-twisting them.
  • Use tea tree essential oil to keep your dreads smooth and shiny as they grow.
  • Apply hot oil treatment once a month to ensure hydration of your dreads.
  • Use shampoo that washes down your dreads and scalp; also, don’t use conditioner after shampoo, as it’ll lock moisture on your dreads.

How To Wash Dreadlocks

First of all, never wash your hair when you have locs with soaps or regular shampoos and use wax on dreads. It’s because the wrong shampoo can leave residue in your dreads.

Wash your dreads once or twice a week with a purifying shampoo to remove excess oil and dirt from your scalp and dreads. To wash your hair, take a large bucket with a warm distilled water and residue free shampoo mixture, then dip your dreads and rinse them.

How To Dry Your Dreadlocks After Washing Them?

You have to pay attention to the drying process when you have locks. After taking a shower, squeeze out as much water as you can from your hair. Then use a soft clean towel or microfiber towel to wrap your hair.

After wiping the excess moisture, use a hair dryer to dry your hair. You can also air dry your hair, sit under the sun, and wait until your dreads are completely dry. 

Why Does Dreadlock Smell Bad After I Wash It?

Why Does Dreadlock Smell Bad After I Wash It

If your locs smelling bad even after washing your hair, it must be because of the growth of molds. In that case, you have to work on removing dread rots from your hair. Again, it’s being said essential oil spray can help to reduce the dread rots growth on the scalp.

What Does Apple Cider Vinegar Do To Locs?

This method can balance the pH level of dreads and reduce locs smell. It is also proven to kill dread rots and lice growing in locs. If you have frizzy hair, vinegar can also help in smoothing them.

Take a spray bottle, mix distilled white vinegar and water, and spray them on the scalp and other hair. Make sure you let the vinegar spray dry in your hair, and wear a shower cap during the shower for two days. 

How Do You Treat Dread Rot?

Unfortunately, the effective way to treat your dread rots is to cut or comb out the stubborn molds. Although alive and still growing mildew can be killed by using vinegar. But if this technique doesn’t work, you’ll need to cut or comb your braids and redo braids afterward.

Signs Of Mold In Dreads

The primary sign of mold in locs is a bad smell. If bad odors are still coming from your hair after washing them with shampoo, it indicates that your locs have molds.

The odor will be similar to wet gym socks or scent like a damp clean towel stored somewhere for two days. It can be pretty challenging to remove the molds, but using the apple cider vinegar rinse technique can kill molds eventually.


How to Start Dreadlocks?

First, wash your hair with a purifying shampoo, use a blow dryer to dry your hair, or sit outside to dry hair naturally. Now section your hair and start making braids for your dreadlocks.

How to Avoid Mildew in Your Hair?

The best way to avoid mildew is to dry out moisture completely using a hair dryer, clean dreads and scalp properly, and apply essential oils.

How to Remove Dreadlocks Without Cutting?

If you don’t want to cut dreadlocks, you should maintain them from the beginning. Keep the hair smooth and sleep on a silk cover for fewer knots. This way, you can comb out the locs easily.

Dreadlocks Bad For Your Hair?

No, they are not if you do it the right way. But dreads cause tension between hair and scalp, which leads to hair loss, headaches, and even neck pain.

Is it good to get dreads wet?

Yes, but leaving your dreads wet for a long time isn’t good as it can cause rotting smells.

What is the best shampoo for mildew hair?

Look for a purifying shampoo rich in sulfate, sodium lauryl, and ammonium. Make sure you rinse your hair and scalp thoroughly after cleaning to washes all residue.

Is Knotty Boy good for dreads?

Knotty boy for dreads is made with natural hemp seed oil to help you maintain healthy dreads.

Is clarifying shampoo good for dreadlocks?

Yes, clarifying or purifying shampoos are best for dreadlocks as they are residue-free and cleanse dreads and scalp perfectly.

Do Dreadlocks Cause Hair Loss?

Yes, dreads cause high tension between the scalp and hair roots that can eventually cause hair loss.

What does “Dreadlocks do not mean patchouli oil and weed” mean?

Patchouli oil is a mixture of sweet, woody, and spicy smell, and, of course, dreadlocks don’t smelling like it when they’re maintained properly.

What did Giuliana Rancic say about Zendaya’s dreadlocks?

In 2015, Giuliana Rancic made a comment on Zandaya’s dreadlocks by saying that Zendaya’s locks smell like patchouli oil or weed, which was not only stereotypical but also racist.

How do you get Freeforms dreads?

Freeform dreads allow you to grow hair naturally and freely. Once your hair grows, you have separate the small locks and redo your dreads again in your desired size.

How do you wick small dreads?

Grab around four or six strands of dreadlocks and secure them using rubber. If you want to create four wicks with your small dreads, make sure you divide them neatly and equally.

How do you freshen up goddess locs?

The best way to keep them looking fresh is by using a protective style spray. The product will not only help protect your hair from heat styling tools, but it will also bring out the shine that Goddess Locs have become known for.

How do you get the moldy smell out of locs?

To get the moldy smell out of locs, try washing them with an anti-fungal shampoo, using a baking soda rinse, and thoroughly drying them after washing.

What not to wash your dreads with?

Avoid washing your dreads with heavy oils, conditioners, or products that leave residue, as they can cause buildup and make your dreads smell.

What does vinegar do to dreads?

Vinegar can help remove buildup from dreads and restore pH balance to the scalp, but should be used sparingly and diluted with water to prevent damage.

How do I stop my dreads from smelling?

To prevent dreadlocks from smelling, make sure to wash them regularly with a residue-free shampoo, thoroughly dry them after washing, and avoid using heavy products or leaving them damp for extended periods of time.

What does mold in dreads smell like?

Moldy locs can have a musty, unpleasant smell similar to mildew or dampness.

Can I spray perfume on my dreadlocks?

It’s not recommended to spray perfume directly on dreadlocks, as it can cause buildup and make them smell worse. Instead, try using essential oils diluted with water for a lighter scent.

Why do dreads smell when wet?

Dreads can smell when wet due to trapped moisture and lack of proper airflow, which creates a conducive environment for bacteria and mildew to grow.

Why do my locs smell weird?

Locs can smell weird due to various factors, including buildup, sweat, trapped moisture, or mildew, which can be addressed by regular washing, thorough drying, and avoiding heavy products.

Why shouldn’t you get dreads wet?

Getting dreads excessively wet or leaving them damp for extended periods of time can lead to trapped moisture, which can cause odor and mold growth.

How often do you wash your dreads?

How often you should wash your dreads depends on your hair type, scalp condition, and lifestyle, but generally, washing them every 1-2 weeks with a residue-free shampoo is recommended.

How long can you keep your hair in dreadlocks?

Dreadlocks can be kept for many years, even decades, with proper care and maintenance, but it’s important to periodically assess their condition and address any issues like buildup or damage.

How do you detox your dreads?

To detox your dreads, try using a clarifying shampoo, baking soda rinse, or apple cider vinegar rinse to remove buildup and restore pH balance to the scalp.

Why do my locs smell weird after washing?

Locs may smell weird after washing due to residual moisture, buildup, or not drying them properly, which can be addressed by thorough drying and proper ventilation.

What do moldy locs smell like?

Moldy locs can have a distinct smell similar to mildew or dampness, which can be unpleasant and requires immediate attention and proper care.

What is the white stuff in my locs after washing?

The white stuff in locs after washing can be residue from products, shampoo, or hard water, and can be addressed by using a residue-free shampoo and rinsing thoroughly.

Why does my hair smell bad even after shampooing?

Even after shampooing, hair can still smell bad due to residual moisture, buildup, or scalp issues, which may require additional cleansing or treatment.

Why does my hair smell funky?

Funky-smelling hair can be caused by sweat, bacteria, or trapped moisture, and can be addressed by regular washing, thorough drying, and proper ventilation.

How do you get the weird smell out of your hair?

To get rid of weird smells in your hair, try washing them regularly with a residue-free shampoo, using a clarifying treatment, and avoiding heavy products or leaving them damp.

Should I wash my locs after sweating?

Washing your locs after sweating can help remove sweat and prevent buildup, but make sure to thoroughly dry them afterward to prevent mold or mildew growth.

Does washing hair mess up dreads?

Washing your hair, including dreads, with a residue-free shampoo and proper drying techniques should not mess up the dreads, but rather keep them clean and healthy.

How can I detox my locs at home?

To detox your locs at home, try using a baking soda rinse, apple cider vinegar rinse, or a clarifying shampoo to remove buildup and restore pH balance to the scalp.

What bugs live in dreads?

Bugs, such as lice or mites, can potentially live in dreads if proper hygiene and maintenance are not followed, so regular washing, drying, and inspection of the scalp and locs.

How dirty do dreads get?

Dreads can accumulate dirt, lint, and debris over time, depending on various factors such as lifestyle, environment, and maintenance practices. Regular washing, thorough drying, and proper care can help minimize dirt and debris buildup in dreads.

How do you tell if your dreads are damaged?

Damaged dreads may show signs such as frayed or split ends, thinning or weak spots, or a general lack of strength and resilience. Regular assessment of your dreads’ condition and addressing any issues promptly can help prevent further damage.

What is the white stuff in my locs?

The white stuff in locs can be residue from products, shampoo, or hard water, and can be addressed by using a residue-free shampoo and rinsing thoroughly.

What is dread rot?

Dread rot is a condition where mold, mildew, or bacteria grow within the dreadlocks, causing them to decay and emit a foul smell. It requires immediate attention and thorough cleansing to prevent further damage.

What does dread budding look like?

Dread budding is a natural process where new hair grows from the root and pushes the existing dread upwards, creating a bulge or bump. It is a sign of healthy hair growth and is not typically a cause for concern.

Does dying dreads damage them?

Dying dreads can potentially cause damage, as the chemicals in hair dye may penetrate the dreads and affect their structure. It’s important to use hair dye specifically formulated for dreads and follow proper dyeing techniques to minimize damage.

How long does a dread last?

Dreadlocks can last for many years or even a lifetime with proper care and maintenance. Regular washing, drying, and addressing any issues such as buildup, damage, or mold promptly can help extend their lifespan.

Can you save a moldy dreads?

Moldy dreads may be salvageable depending on the severity of the mold and the extent of the damage. Professional assistance may be needed to thoroughly cleanse and treat the dreads to remove mold and restore their health.

What is the sticky stuff in my dreads?

The sticky stuff in dreads can be residue from products, sweat, or environmental factors, and can be addressed by using a residue-free shampoo, rinsing thoroughly, and avoiding heavy products.

Can mold grow in hair?

Mold can potentially grow in hair, including dreadlocks, if proper hygiene and maintenance are not followed. Regular washing, drying, and inspection of the scalp and dreads can help prevent mold growth.

Are dreadlocks good for hair?

Dreadlocks can be beneficial for hair as they can provide protection, reduce manipulation and damage, and promote natural hair health. However, proper care and maintenance, including regular washing, drying, and addressing any issues promptly, are important to keep dreads and the hair underneath healthy.


You now have an idea about do dreadlocks smell, what causes the odor, and how to remove the smell from your dreads. It can be a bit tricky to make your dreadlocks smelling good all the time, but it’s pretty easy to make them stinky.

However, besides the smell, locs can make hair loss. That’s why you should ensure that while making the locs, you aren’t creating stretches in your scalp.

By Cindy Mahlangu

Hey there! I'm Cindy Mahlangu, a pro hairstylist with a serious passion for natural hair care. My mission? To inspire and educate others on the beauty and benefits of protective hairstyles. Through my creative writing, aim to empower individuals to embrace their unique hair texture and confidently care for their locks. So, whether you're rocking locs, braids, or twists, join me on this hair journey and let's achieve healthy, fabulous tresses together!

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