The Top 3 Dread Detox Recipes for Healthy Locs - How to Grow Dreadlocks (2023)

Having dreadlocks comes with the possibility that build-up and dirt can get trapped within your locs. To maintain healthy locs, it’s important to keep them clean inside and out; otherwise, you can get a scalp infection or stunt your hair’s growth. Throughout this article, you will learn the ins and outs to dread detoxing. Hopefully, by the end, you’ll feel knowledgeable enough to detox your dreads!

What Does Dread Detoxing Do?

Dread detoxing is exactly what it sounds like–a process your dreadlocks undergo to cleanse and remove built-up dirt from them. Detoxing is much different than just regular shampooing in the sense that it cleans deep within your dreads. It removes all of the dirt from the inside as opposed to shampooing which just cleans the scalp and the surface layers of your dreadlocks.

Detoxing has many benefits, such aspreventing mold and mildewfrom fostering within your dreads, killing scalp infection-causing bacteria, stimulating hair growth, and keeping your scalp healthy. Overall, it doesn’t hurt to give it a try, so why not?

How Often Should You Detox Your Dreads?

Detoxing is a very drying process because it, essentially, is stripping your hair of all added substances. That includes moisture, dirt, and oils which can leave your hair feeling very dry and brittle. Therefore, detoxing should not be done more than 2-4 times per year, or once every 3-4 months, even less.

I also heavily recommend that you do a deep conditioning treatment immediately after detoxing your dreads to protect and maintain the integrity of your hair.

How Do You Know You Need a Dread Detox?

If you’ve had dreads for a while now and you haven’t gotten a detox yet, it’s probably about time you get one. However, if you’re not sure, here are some signs that your locs need to be deep cleaned.

Your Locs Stink

If yourdreadlocks stink and still stink after washingthem multiple times, then it’s time for a detox. This means that there is bacteria or something within your dreads causing that smell that needs to be cleaned out.

Your Locs Feel Sticky

If your hair feels sticky after washing it, it needs to be detoxed. There is something within your dreads producing a sticky film on the surface, so you need to detox your dreads to remove whatever build-up is causing it to feel that way. Leaving your hair sticky will only make it more prone to dirt and lint which will only cause more build-up within your dreads.

Your Locs Look Dull

I’m not saying that every time your locs look dull you need to detox–then your hair would be super dry–however, if your hair is dull on top of the other signs, then it’s time for a detox. A grayish cast on top of your dreads usually means that it’s build-up sitting on top of your dreads.

How Long Does a Dread Detox Take?

This depends on which method of detoxing you use, but generally, the detoxing process takes anywhere between a few minutes to a few days. Typically, the longer the process, the more of a detox effect it has; however, this isn’t always the case.

An apple cider vinegar detox usually takes anywhere from thirty to forty minutes, and about the same goes for detoxing with lemon juice. You can also choose to detox your dreads using baking soda which you should leave on for about forty-five to sixty minutes.

For some of these, you may be able to leave the detoxing solution on overnight for a greater detoxing effect, but many of these have such strong detoxing agents that leaving it on to strip your hair more would end up doing more harm than good.

What Happens if You Don’t Detox Your Dreads?

You should be detoxing your dreads regularly to get rid of build-up, stop the growth of mold and mildew, and maintain the overall health of your scalp. If you aren’t detoxing your dreads at least once a year then you are exposing yourself to scalp infections due to an accumulation of bacteria over a long period.

Also, by not detoxing your dreadlocks, you make it harder to maintain a neat, non-frizzy appearance. Because you make yourself prone to split ends, they eventually make their way up the shaft of your dreads and cause stubborn–almost “built-in”–frizziness.

Split ends become very hard to manage once they make their way inside your locs, so why not prevent them by detoxing and routine trims?

How Do You Do a Detox?

The simple answer would be to dilute a detoxing agent in water and let your hair soak in it for about thirty minutes to an hour. However, each process is different, so I’m going to take some time to explain each one to you.

It’s most common to create a liquid detox solution and just let your hair sit in it anywhere from thirty minutes to an hour, but some detoxes don’t result in liquid consistency. For those, you will need to apply the paste to your dreads and let it sit on top.

When it has dried, the detox effect is over and you can rinse off your dreads. However, even with paste-y detox, try to dilute it enough to get it to a more liquid consistency so that way it can penetrate through to detox within your locs.

Most Popular Recipes

There are a few different ways to detox your dreads. I am going to go in-depth and explain the most common and effective methods such as lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, and baking soda.

Dread Detox Recipe With Lemon Juice

For this recipe, you will need

  • A bowl (large enough to fit the length of all of your dreads)
  • Lemon juice
  • Water
  • An oil of your choice

To start, fill the bowl with enough hot water that all of your dreads will be saturated. Then add about 5 tablespoons of the oil of your choice and enough lemon juice until it becomes fragrant from a standing position.

The amount of oil you add to the solution is up to you, but make sure there’s a 2:1 ratio of oil to lemon juice to reduce the stripping effects of the lemon juice. Use freshly squeezed lemons because the processed kind contains additives damaging to your hair, and strain the pulp out of your lemon juice before adding it because once it’s in your dreads, it’s almost impossible to get out.

Let your dreads soak in the mixture for about thirty to forty-five minutes while the water is still hot. Follow up by shampooing your locs with a clarifying shampoo to completely remove the mixture and any remaining build-up.

Whatever you do, do not leave the mixture on overnight as the constant exposure to lemon’s acidness can cause structural damage to your dreadlocks. You might also notice that after you rinse out the solution, your locs appear lighter. This is because lemon’s acidic properties can strip some of the melanin from your hair causing it to be lighter.

The Pros and Cons of a Lemon Juice Detox

– Has anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties– If left on for too long or not diluted enough, it can cause structural damage to your locs
– Balances the natural oils on your scalp– Applying too much and too often can leave your hair extremely dry and fragile (it can also cause irreversible damage)
– Can soften the hair for a short time– Over time, it disrupts the locking process leaving your dreads loose and frizzy
– It’s a natural grease remover– If you don’t rinse it out all the way it can dry and leave your locs sticky which only attracts more dirt and lint
– Maintains the pH of your hair which prevents dandruff– Burns open cuts or wounds on the scalp
– Strengthens your hair follicles which reduce hair loss– Can leave your dreads dull
– Stimulates hair growth– Your hair can turn green if used before exposing your hair to chlorine and the sun at the same time
Removes added chemicals from your hair such as chlorine

Dread Detox Recipe With Apple Cider Vinegar

This is probably the most common, and strongest, detox recipe for dreadlocks. For this recipe, you will need

  • A bowl (large enough to hold the length of all of your dreadlocks)
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Oil/s of your choice

Depending on which apple cider vinegar you use, you might have to strain it beforehand to remove any floating pieces that would be a pain to remove from your locs later. Fill your bowl with hot water, about two cups of apple cider vinegar, and about three to five tablespoons of the oil/s of your choice.

Again, how much oil you add is up to you. They’re just there to make the stripping effects of the apple cider vinegar less intense and to add shine and softness to your locs afterward. After your detox solution is made, soak your dreads in it for about thirty minutes to an hour, and you can even leave this solution on overnight. Just tie a plastic bag around your locs, to keep heat circulating, and wear a bonnet and you can wash it out the next day.

When you’re soaking, which you should be doing whether you choose to leave it on overnight or not, be sure to rake through as if you were washing your dreads throughout the process. Once done soaking, wash twice with a clarifying shampoo, to ensure the complete removal of the solution, and deep condition afterward to restore moisture.

The Pros and Cons of an Apple Cider Vinegar Detox

– Are rich in vitamin B and C– If not thoroughly rinsed out, can leave an odor
– Inhibits the growth of fungus, bacteria, and lice– Can leave hair very dry
– Limits dandruff
– Balances hair and scalp’s pH

Dread Detox Recipe With Baking Soda

Baking soda is generally added to other detoxing solutions to mitigate the effect; however, you can make a paste-y detoxing with just baking soda as well. For this recipe, you will need

  • A bowl large enough to fit your entire dreadlocks
  • Baking soda
  • Oils of your choice for added shine and softness

All you need to do is dilute however much baking soda you add in hot water along withthe oils you choose. You can even add a little bit of lemon juice to this detox for a deeper clean. Leave the mixture on for up to a day (not forgetting to soak first and scrub) unless you added the lemon juice, then leave on anywhere from thirty minutes to two hours.

This mixture doesn’t have to be a liquid solution if it’s easier for you to apply it as a paste. Instead, add the water to the baking soda instead of the other way around. However, be aware that this will increase the stripping intensity of the detox, so you will only be able to leave it on for about an hour.

After using this method, I recommend following up with an apple cider vinegar detoxing rinse to balance the pH levels of your hair and then washing with a clarifying shampoo for the most effective clean. Never mix baking soda and apple cider vinegar in one solution because they will cancel out the detox properties of each other. Then follow up with a deep conditioner to restore the stripped away moisture.

The Pros and Cons of a Baking Soda Detox

Absorb oil and residueAre very effective at removing build-up from withinOffsets pH of hair and scalp, so have to follow up with an apple cider vinegar rinse to restore the balanceVery harsh on the scalpLeaves scalp and hair extremely dry
– Absorb oil and residue– Offsets pH of hair and scalp, so have to follow up with an apple cider
– Are very effective at removing build-up from within– Very harsh on the scalp
– Leaves scalp and hair extremely dry


What is the best detox for locs? ›

A 20-minute detox soak in a diluted apple cider vinegar and baking soda solution should do the trick. However, if your mature locs have a more stubborn buildup, you may need to extend the soak time or repeat the process.

How long does it take to detox your dreads? ›

Immerse your dreadlocks into the basin, making sure that they are completely submerged in the water. Soak your dreadlocks for 20-30 minutes, allowing the water and detox powder to penetrate the hair and remove any impurities.

How long should locs sit in detox? ›

Q: How long should I let my locs soak in the detox? Allowing 20-30 minutes minimum in the detox is very important. Q: Do you shampoo, then detox afterwards? The detox should be done prior to your regular cleansing.

What does apple cider vinegar detox do for locs? ›

If you are looking to deep cleanse your dreadlocks, an apple cider vinegar (ACV) rinse is a great option. ACV helps to balance the pH level of your hair and scalp, removes buildup, and leaves your locs feeling clean and refreshed.

How do you detox dreads step by step? ›

You can use rosemary oil, lavender, cedarwood, almond oil, castor oil, or other hair growth oil.
  1. Mix the Detox Solution. The first step of the detox procedure is to mix all the ingredients into the water. ...
  2. Soak Your Dreads for 20 Minutes. Now, soak your dreads in the detox solution for 20 minutes. ...
  3. Rinse and Deep Condition.
Apr 7, 2022

What happens if you detox your locs too much? ›

Though many people swear by ACV rinses and detoxes, because it is such a powerful ingredient it can strip too much from the locs, leaving them dry and brittle.

Should I detox my dreads with hot or cold water? ›

Okay, we know we're exaggerating here, but the answer to whether you should shampoo with hot or cold water is, well, neither. Though this may not lead to the most pleasant shower, washing your locs with warm water is the best way to ensure your locs are clean, but won't wind up dry and frizzy.

How often should I Retwist my locs? ›

For example, you may only need to retwist your locs every six weeks, but you might have a friend whose locs require retwisting every four weeks. Ultimately, it's down to which loc phase you are currently in, the qualities of your hair, and what your daily routine looks like — diet, exercise, activity level, etc.

What is the best shampoo for locs? ›

Top Shampoos For Dreadlocks 2023
  • Jamaican Mango and Lime Tingle Shampoo.
  • Dreadhead HQ Dread Dreadlock Soap.
  • Knotty Boy Dreadlock Shampoo.
  • Dollylocks Coconut Lime Grapefruit Shampoo Bar.
  • Knotty Boy Dreadlock Shampoo Bar.
  • Dollylocks Tea Tree Spearmint Dreadlock Shampoo.
  • Knatty Dread Dreadlocks Shampoo.
  • Dollylocks Locking Powder.

What to do after detoxing dreads? ›

Step 5 – Rinse the hair

Once you've removed enough, rinse your hair in the shower. After the dread detox, you can complete your regular washing routine by using a clarifying shampoo, a deep conditioner, and a moisturizer. This process can work even for long curly hairstyles for men.

How do you moisturize locs after detoxing? ›

The best option is to use natural oils and water to infuse and lock in the moisture. Get a spritzer bottle and fill it with water and a natural oil like jojoba, sweet almond oil, olive oil or coconut oil and spray it on your locs. Three parts water to one part oil is a good ratio.

Is baking soda good for dreads? ›

As your locs soak, the baking soda will strip away dirt, oil, debris and other unwanted buildup. If you don't have the time or space needed to soak your locs, you can mix up the solution and pour it directly over your head for a quick cleanse.

Is detoxing good for locs? ›

So should you detox your locs? Yes, healthy locs are good, but make sure the products you are using are buildup free products to avoid detoxing as often. If you use a product line like Dr Locs on your locs then you shouldn't need to do a detox, because there shouldn't be any buildup in the locs.

Can you use white vinegar instead of apple cider vinegar to detox locs? ›

You can also use vinegar, whether you use white vinegar or apple cider vinegar. They both work well and they both work great. You could definitely use a vinegar rinse, just before you shampoo also, and that will kind of help eliminate some of the odor and some of the itchiness off the scalp.

How long to detox locs with apple cider vinegar? ›

Fill your bottle half with apple cider vinegar and half with water. Shake it well to mix them together. Squeeze the contents into your dreads and allow to sit for 3-5 minutes. Wash it all out!

Can you use white vinegar instead of apple cider vinegar to detox dreads? ›

Can you use white vinegar to detox dreads? Yes, distilled white vinegar can also be used in place of the ACV dread detox. Apple cider vinegar is better because it contains more minerals and vitamins than white vinegar, however they'll both work well for a periodic detox treatment.


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