Do Dreadlocks Smell Bad? [Ways to Keep Dreads Smelling Good]

Dreadlocks are stylish and hip hairstyles, but that’s not all there is to them. Dreadlocks are also a massive commitment because they are semi-permanent, and contrary to what many people think, they need a lot of management.

Many people think dreadlocks are easy to handle because you can simply lock ’em and leave ’em, but that is far from the truth. People with dreadlocks have to observe a hair care routine to keep it stylish and odor-free.

We’ll be answering one of the most asked questions about dreadlocks in this article, which is, do dreadlocks smell?

Do Dreadlocks Smell Bad?

There’s a widespread rumor that dreadlocks are always unkempt, dirty, and they smell. Not only is that untrue, but it is also hard to understand how so many persons continue to opt for dreadlocks if they actually smell.

Generally, dreadlocks don’t smell, provided you wash them frequently, dry them properly, and maintain them well. 

However, like any other hair you can think of, it can become unkempt and absorb dirt or smell from the environment. 

If you have dreadlocks or you are looking to make the commitment, you ought to know why your dreadlocks may smell, and how to prevent them from smelling bad.

Why do my dreads stink?

If your dreads stink, there has to be a reason; and it isn’t simply because they are dreads. Let’s find out what causes dreads to stink.

1. You don’t wash and dry them properly

Improper washing and drying is probably the most common reason why dreads stink. Many persons don’t wash their dreads as frequently as they should. 

You ought to wash your dreads once a week or once in two weeks to avoid long-term dirt storage, environmental odors, and other particles.

When you wash your locs and don’t dry them properly, the moisture leftover will smell damp and unpleasant. When your dreads stay damp, molds can grow in them and cause a stink. Use a hairdryer or sit under the sun to dry them after washing.

2. Sweaty Scalp

Sweaty scalps also contribute, and they mostly come about through genetics, which means you cannot do anything to reverse it.

However, you can manage your locs better if you have a sweaty scalp. Frequent and extreme exercise can also make your dreads stink even if you don’t have a sweaty scalp genetically.

One way to handle sweaty scalp is to wash your hair frequently and dry your scalp properly after every wash. You can use diluted baking soda, Lockology Scalp Cleanser, diluted apple cider vinegar, or Witch-hazel to clean your scalp and all partitions properly.

3. You are exposed to environmental odors

Your dreads can and do absorb smells from your environment, especially smoke. If you keep dreads and you also smoke, it’s a given that your dreads will most likely smell, unless you wash them extra frequently.

Food and chemicals at home and in the environment also mess with the smell of your locs.

While you can’t avoid all these situations, you can cover your hair when in such environments, and then wash your hair afterward if they begin to stink.

Do dreads ruin hair?

Another question many persons have asked is whether or not dreads will damage their hair. Will my hair fall out? Will it become damaged? 

Well, it is quite the opposite with dreadlocks; they don’t ruin your hair; they protect it.

However, let’s be fair; as with any other hair, some improper maintenance habits can cause your hair to get damaged.

When on dreadlocks, avoid using chemical dyes, and pulling the hair too tightly, especially when packing it. These actions might cause damage or make your hair pull out.

Dreadlock Mistakes that ruin your hair

  1. Excessive touching and scratching your dreads can expose the scalp to bacteria, cause inflammation, and sores.
  2. Putting excessive pressure on the roots when styling the hair can cause patches and make your hair fall out. Sometimes, the hair never grows back in such places.
  3. Heavy dreadlocks can pull at the roots of your hair, cause it to thin, and eventually fall out. If your locs are too long and heavy, consider cutting them or reducing the weight.

Using the wrong shampoo can leave residue in your hair and make your scalp itchy and your hair loose. The best shampoo for you is a sulfate-free one.

  • Chemical Dyes are bad for any hair, and they can cause massive damage to dreadlocks. Chemical dyes strip off most of your hair’s natural oils and leave you with dry and damaged hair. Sometimes, the dye may even remain within the hair and cause your hair to fall out.

If you have dreadlocks, it is best to avoid chemical dyes and opt for safer and more natural options like henna.

Effective Methods to Keep Dreads Smelling Good

One mistake many persons make is thinking that they can continue the routine of using shampoo and conditioner on their dreadlocks. If you use conditioner on your dreadlocks after shampooing, it will lock in moisture and mildew, which will cause the locs to stink.

Let’s look at two methods you can employ to keep your dreads smelling good.

1. The Washing and Drying Method

Wash your hair once every week with dreadlock specific shampoo that doesn’t contain oil

Pour the shampoo on your palm and apply it to your scalp, not your dreads. When you rinse, ensure that the shampoo washes downwards to cleanse your locs.

Use a clean towel to squeeze your dreads carefully and take out the moisture. You can use a hairdryer or sit under the sun to speed up the drying process and prevent mold from growing.

2. Hair Spray for Fresh dreadlocks

In between washes, you can use hairspray that will keep your dreadlocks smelling fresh and looking vibrant.

1. Shower Spray 

The shower spray is simply a mixture of several oils in a spray bottle that you apply on your dreadlocks occasionally to keep them fresh.


  • 30 drops of Cedarwood
  • Distilled water
  • 15 drops of Eucalyptus
  • 30 drops of Lavender
  • 25 drops of Lime
  • 25 drops of Orange
  • 40 drops of Peppermint oil
  • 30 drops of Rosemary
  • 15 drops of Tea Tree 
  • Glass spray bottle

Use this spray on your hair often in between washes, and your hair smell amazing, will be healthier, and more protected

Rosemary, cedarwood, and Lavender make your hair grow stronger and faster, while killing off any mold or mildew, in your dreads.

Eucalyptus combats dandruff, repels tick, and gives your hair a fresh, natural scent, while peppermint offers relief from itching.

Orange and lime both smell good, and Tea tree repels dandruff, fungus, insects, and other scalp issues.

2. Hair and Scalp Spray

You can make a simple mixture of white vinegar and water to spray your scalp occasionally between washings. It prevents itchiness, makes your hair fresh, and prevents it from smelling.

 You can also spritz it into the air and walk through it to get some amount of the diluted spray directly on the hair, after which you allow it to air dry on your scalp and dreadlocks.

Final Words:

Just like other hairstyles, dreadlocks shouldn’t smell. Rather, they should look chic, stylish, and make you feel beautiful.

I hope the tips and directions above can help you prevent stinky hair, and grow dreadlocks that you are proud of.

Remember, proper maintenance is the key to clean and healthy dreadlocks.