How To Get Rid of Buildup in Dreadlocks

How to get rid of buildup in dreadlocks

Aw man. If you’re wondering how to get rid of buildup in dreadlocks, it’s probably too late to help you prevent buildup. It doesn’t matter if you’re just starting dreadlocks or have had them for years, dreadlock buildup is one of the top things we try to avoid during our dreadlock journey.

We recommend spending a lot of time trying to prevent buildup in your dreadlocks. It’s much easier to prevent buildup than trying to get rid of buildup. And, a lot of dreadlock buildup will make people think your dreadlocks are dirty.

However, in reality, you’re likely going to buildup at least one time in your dreadlock journey. So in this post, we’re going to give you a couple of different tips that should help you get rid of buildup.

1. Wash Your Dreadlocks

Washing your dreadlocks should be the first thing you try when experiencing buildup in your dreadlocks. It’s simple, quick, and shouldn’t require you to purchase any new products.

We recommend washing your dreadlocks at least 2 times to see if that helps. If you see improvement, then you may need to repeat this again every 5-7 days.

Don’t try to remove all of your buildup in one wash session. Spread several washing sessions out over a month to reduce the potential damage shampoo-ing can do.

Now, depending on the type of buildup you have – washing your hair may not be enough to get the buildup out of your dreadlocks. The next method for removing buildup is a lot stronger than washing but does come with some risks.

2. Use Apple Cider Vinegar

Another way to get rid of buildup in dreadlocks is by using Apple Cider Vinegar. If you were to go to a salon or get this professionally done, they’d likely call it a “Dreadlock Detox” or something similar.

The process of using apple cider vinegar to remove buildup from your dreadlocks works due to the acidic nature of vinegar. The vinegar helps “loosen” the buildup’s hold on your hair strands and kills any mildew or bacteria that may be lurking in your dreadlocks.

However, you don’t want to use apple cider vinegar directly on your hair. Because vinegar is so acidic, it can damage and thin your dreadlocks if used directly on your hair (or used too often). Instead of using apple cider vinegar directly on your hair, you’re going to want to dilute it in water. Start with 2 cups of apple cider vinegar for every gallon of water.

Once you’ve diluted the apple cider vinegar in water, you’re going to want to let your dreadlocks soak in the water. You can soak your dreadlocks for 15-25 minutes to allow the buildup to break down.

After your loc detox, proceed to wash your dreadlocks. This will help remove any residual apple cider vinegar from your hair as well as push more buildup out.

Since vinegar is so acidic, we would not recommend you do this regularly. At most, we’d recommend every other month to be on the safer side.

The average person will not need to do a dreadlock detox often.


Like we said above, it’s much easier to prevent dreadlock buildup than it is to remove it. In an ideal world, you’d be able to prevent buildup forever. However, in reality, it’s likely that you’ll experience buildup at some point.

By using the methods listed in this post, you should be able to successful remove buildup from your dreadlocks. Depending on the severity of your buildup, it might not be possible to remove it all in one session. It can take weeks (possibly even months) to get back to a clean slate.

As long as you’re patient and following these methods correctly, you should have no problem removing buildup throughout your loc journey.

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